Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who Isn't At Least A Little ADD These Days?

Well, I was gonna post pictures of our July 4th dinner but there were technical difficulties and the pictures are lost and the card needed reformatting and so I got cranky about cameras and cards and card readers and USB ports and operating systems and computers and technology in general. The Snowball Annoyance Syndrome. Sort of like getting a parking ticket and then the next thing you know you're pissed at government, religion, and human nature. It happens to me all the time.

This was the weekend I took my students to Little Rock for a series of social justice-themed tours. The entire trip was fraught with fuck-ups and frustrations from the get-go. I taught the students the phrase "a comedy of errors," which best describes the whole process of just trying to get 13 international students, my boyfriend, and me out of town and on the road.

But eventually we did leave, only now with D. driving a 12-passenger van with 10 students and me driving a last-minute rental car with the other three. I try not to give personal details about my students, but I do need to mention that this group has had an extraordinarily high number of medical emergencies, physical ailments and disabilities, and circumstances requiring a lot of personal attention. It's not their fault, but this group is just really high maintenance in that way. The last group needed a lot of mediation and interpersonal kinks worked out...I just never know what I'm going to get and what the dynamics will be.

D. was beyond awesome and helpful and supportive, though. Initially I asked him to come with me because I like his company and thought it'd be fun. He had no idea he'd end up working the entire time. I think he got a real sense of why I come home sometimes and just want to lie down, alone, in a dark quiet room. My job requires me to be a translator, problem-solver, chauffeur, ambassador, and assistant. And sometimes, like this weekend, Cruise Director, Julie McCoy.

I like Little Rock. I always enjoy visiting. It's about three or four times the size of Fayetteville so that means there are about four times more things to do and interesting things to see but also that it's that much more stressful to navigate and survive in.

I do love being with the students as they learn about the Central High School Crisis, or The Heifer Ranch. They bring their experiences with bigotry, poverty, and overcoming hardships in their countries, so they pay extra close attention to how the U.S. deals with these issues. They seem alternately impressed, disgusted, confused, and dazzled by our country. "Hey," I try to relay to them, "Join the club." I watch as they process it all, comparing their countries with ours. I see how, through their eyes, we get some things right and are rather misguided about other things. It makes me feel lucky and, once in a while, proud to be an American, but also ashamed and embarrassed by our glutton, hubris, selfish intentions, etc., etc. I just try to embody the good associations....and deny and suppress the ways in which I am the typical ugly American.

On to other stuff....

Speaking of typical ugly Americans...that's pretty much what I think about Live Earth. I wonder how much waste was produced and energy used as a result of those concerts....

I don't write much about my mother. But I could and maybe I should....there's several books' (not to mention thousands of therapy dollars') worth of material in that relationship. We've been estranged for the better part of a year and I believe that's been very good for me. I will say that this particular paragraph in Cary Tennis's column struck me:
"(T)here are alarming similarities between moms and seasoned con artists. Both are brazen. Both act as if there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. They both tend to take charge in stressful situations whether they have the required expertise or not, and both are used to coming up with bogus excuses for doing things their own way. They think on their feet with blazing speed, and their complicated pseudo-logic is known to cloud the mind. Con artists and moms both have elaborate sets of rules that don't make sense. They both engage in hocus-pocus crazy talk. And they both know how to seize authority through sheer force of will, and in seizing authority paralyze the opposition."
So, you know, take from that what you will. And no, the irony that I'm of course ALSO a mother is definitely not lost on me.

Also, check it out - my hometown in the New York Times! It's a shame the article didn't mention some of the best aspects of Eureka Springs: how it's a haven for weird and unique people, the astounding natural beauty, and some indefinable energy that just makes it Taos, or Key West.

Oops. I'm late for dinner. We're invited for a homecooked Thai noodles at one of the student's. Yum.


ReckenRoll said...

"Sort of like getting a parking ticket and then the next thing you know you're pissed at government, religion, and human nature."

Oh my god. I've never heard it summed up so well!

Also loved the perspective on moms and con artists. Apparently I am slowly becoming my mother and a con artist. Although, that skill set also works well in PR.
Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I hear the stress in your writing about your job but I also hear your fulfillment. You have the right to feel stressed when it comes to taking a large group of people that may not know each other well on an outing. Heck, I get stressed going places with a group of people I DO know well.

At my job I feel like a mediator, principal, and unlicensed psychologist.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

What was it about the US Live Earth concert that makes it different that the ones held elsewhere? Or are you saying that the entire worldwide event was a bad idea?

Alannah said...

I guess this is what bothers me about Live Earth: It seemed to be a massive concerted (ho! nice pun, Alannah!) effort to bring attention to global warming and environmental issues and I can't help but think about ALL THE MONEY spent promoting and organizing the concerts, and then all the waste produced as a result and I just don't think there are enough PSAs in the world to counteract the sheer amount of financial and physical waste produced. If all that money/effort went straight to global environmental work instead of concerts, think of what could happen!

This really comes down to something about people, or human nature, that bothers have to spend a shitload of money in order to raise a minor shitload of money for charitable causes. This goes for charity balls, dinners, events, concerts, etc. The whole idea of "well, if I'm gonna donate money, I'd better get something in return."

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Se você quiser linkar meu blog no seu eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. (If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. If he will be possible add my blog in your blogroll I thankful, bye friend).

Anonymous said...

Is rodrigo one of your international students? How sweet of him to visit you on your blog.

Alannah said...


I think Rodrigo is something of a globe-trotting blog slut. He's been making the rounds....

5 of 9er said...

I use to have the biggest crush on Julie from the Loveboat... probably still do.

Jeff Mac said...

Flossie! Long time, no nuthin.

Just had to say that I totally agree about Live Earth. These things always come off like a bunch of famous people spending untold cash congratulating each other for how compassionate they are.

Then again, Eddie Izzard was involved, so I guess I'm good.

Alannah said...

OMG Jeff Mac!

I'm so gonna link to you!

Jeff Mac said...

Link it real good, Flossie. (And thanks!)

Hope you're well down there, holding down the fort for the lefties!