Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ozark Justice

I hope I'm not stepping NWA Crime Report's toes, who might have been too busy to catch all these.

Don't these remind y'all of that SNL skit called Appalachian Emergency Room?

5: 39 a. m. A man on Robinson Hollow Road in Siloam Springs reported his wife hit him because he could not get the car started.

5: 44 a. m. A woman on Southeast 14 th Street reported her sister calling and threatening physical harm to her, her boyfriend’s children and her pets.

8: 53 a. m. A woman at 7306 W. Wedington Drive reported her neighbor “moons” her every time she goes to the sink to do the dishes.

1: 21 p. m. A man at 307 Leflors Ave. reported steaks stolen from his freezer.

2: 33 p. m. A caller in Farmington reported four or five chicks inside portable toilets.

2: 40 p. m. A woman on Stoner Lane reported her husband hit her for changing the radio station.

5: 10 p. m. A woman on Bonnabel Lane, Rogers, reported a child accused her of stealing his mother’s cigarettes.

6: 15 p. m. A woman at 2501 S. W. Eighth St. reported a “for sale” sign broken by a frozen turkey thrown.

6: 46 p. m. A woman at 160 Roundtop Road, Sulphur Springs, reported her boyfriend threatened to shoot her cattle because he believed she shot his dog.

7: 50 p. m. A woman in Fayetteville reported her husband tried to run her over with a tractor.

10: 08 p. m. A man at 1140 N. College Ave. reported a male acquaintance told him and his wife that they don’t know who they’re dealing with.

11: 44 p. m. A man at 306 S. Main St. reported his son cannot get handcuffs off.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Human Rights Field Trip

Some of my students standing over the platform built for today's ceremonies at Central High.

D. and I took my students to Little Rock on Friday for the social justice-themed trip we take every term. Central High was a madhouse, as you might expect the weekend before a big anniversary like this one. We were able to see the Emancipation Proclamation at the Clinton Library and had a really great visit to the Heifer Ranch. I really do feel blessed to take these students to visit these sites, and discuss the ways America protects and supports Human Rights, as well as the ways they're's good to experience a culture in all its complexities. At Central, we met a woman who grew up in Little Rock and lived through the "Lost Year," and a man who was sent with the 101st Airborne to protect the Nine and escort them to school every morning. I was pretty much close to tears the entire weekend.

We returned to the Ozarks tired but full of good memories. Sunday we went to a party where people brought instruments and played together. A song could include guitars, mandolin, bongos and opera singers on backup vocals. Imagine those sounds wafting out over this vista:

It was really beautiful. All of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Part of My Job Description

My most recent group of students arrived over a month ago. One student is in a wheelchair. I've alluded to this before but although he arrived just fine, his wheelchair arrived WITHOUT ITS BATTERY. Yes, that's right...somehow the geniuses (geniusi?) at Lufthansa or United managed to lose the battery somewhere between Frankfurt, Germany and Chicago. We took care of the student as best we could, giving him a manual chair to use while we figured out what do to next. I'm not sure how many of y'all have experience with wheelchairs, or people who need them, but I imagine being forced to only use a manual wheelchair after having an electric chair is similar to being on crutches.

I sent his electric wheelchair to a local company who do a fantastic job fixing wheelchairs and dealing with all accessibility issues. They gave him a loaner and replaced his batteries, which was no easy task seeing as how it's a foreign-made wheelchair that looks and is built like a German tank. He finally got his original wheelchair back last week, with new batteries installed. The invoice for everything was over $1,000.

Meanwhile, I've been calling our local airport, O'Hare, Lufthansa, and United. United's automated phone network HAS GOT TO BE THE WORST EVER! And once you get a real human being, it's some poor soul in India who has no idea what's going on. I'm not exaggerating by saying that I've spent over six total hours on the phone and on hold with United Airlines Central Baggage personnel (all call center reps from India). I got a different answer each time I called, only adding to the confusion and my frustration level. One woman who sounded like she might have been with Corporate called me within the first week. Unfortunately I was busy with the students and couldn't answer my phone. Luckily she left her number with her message saying she wanted to work with us to figure out what to do. Unluckily, I called her OVER TWELVE TIMES (not in one day...who do you think I am, Jon Favreau in Swingers?), each time leaving a polite message to call me back so we could resolve this. You have no idea how hard it was to stay polite each time. I feel like a zen master of temper control now.

So once I had the whopper one grand invoice and still no answer from the airline, I put together a hell of a letter restating everything above (in firm, professional language of course, though) and faxed AND mailed it to United Airlines.

LO, AND BEHOLD, this same woman who failed to return all twelve of my previous messages I've left over the past month just now called me back. They're sending out the reimbursement check tomorrow.

It's a small victory. A drop in the bucket of air travel horror stories. But still....I feel a little vindicated.

So...the next time an airline loses something very important to you, all it takes is hours of phone calls, a month or more of wrangling, a detailed letter, and the corporate fax number and address and maybe, just maybe, you will get reimbursed for something that was never your fault in the first place!

Wilco Report

Simply put, Wilco fucking rocked. We had great seats (thanks, Lisa and Graham!) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. They played nearly all the songs I wanted to hear, both old and new, and just threw themselves into each one, right after the other. I missed all but the last three songs of Dr. Dog which sucks, and I'm sorry that more people weren't inside listening to them either. But I can't really complain because what could be better than seeing a band I love live and having them deliver everything I expected and more? And tonight we're going to see Lucinda Williams! It's an embarrassment of good live music riches around here!

And if I ever wondered what my generation looked like, I know. I think every Gen X-er in Arkansas was in the audience. Lots of tattoos, beginnings-of-crow's-feet, cowboy boots and ironic t-shirts.

Some blurry photos...the lights were as good as the sound.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In The Meantime...

Blah. I don't feel like I have much to say. I loved waking up Saturday to the first foggy, crisp morning of fall. D. played music in Eureka last weekend, which is always fun. I'm taking time off from work this week to a.) volunteer at Stella's school, and b.) see Wilco and Dr. Dog in Little Rock! I can honestly say I'm equally excited about both. I want to get to know the teachers and kids at Stella's new school and I can't wait for D. to see Dr. Dog live. Both times I've seen them, they've put on a superfun, infectious show. You can't help but want to jump around and sing along.

I've been keeping up with y'all, though.

I turn to The Iconclast for my daily local news opinions. I read the news every day but don't always put it all together so concisely and smartly as he does.

Jeff Mac is one hilarious dude. And what a service he's providing!

Lori at Out of a Stormy Sleep is an incredible everything - writer, photographer, reader, recommender, explainer, muser, inspiration. I try to just soak up whatever she's offering each day.

Ho hum.

In other news, it's Hitchcock week on AMC. When did they decide to start running ads? BOOO! We've already watched The Birds and now Rope tonight. Such cheesy, hammy, creepy good fun.

I'm slowly hoisting myself back on the Healthy Eating Wagon. Tonight's dinner was fish tacos (fish baked, not fried) on sprouted corn tortillas with brown rice & veggies, tomatillo/serrano salsa and cilantro lime cream sauce (made with yogurt, not sour cream).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Needing a Current Events Hiatus

I'm identifying very closely with Ms. Garbo. "I never said 'I want to be alone,'" She said, "I only said 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference."

The high point of my day was the fresh strawberry/ginger/orange/lemon sorbet I made for dessert. And I'm trying to give up sugar for a few weeks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Name For a Metal Band, Maybe

Caravan of Martyrs.

So again here comes the Date That Is Now As Permanently Ingrained in American History as July 4th.

I hugged two Muslims, three friends, my boyfriend and my daughter today. How about hugs instead of Moments of Silence in memoriam from now on? They're much more comforting.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Making Up For Lost Time

"Are you still alive?" asked the email I received this morning.

The short answer is yes, of course I am.

I could bore you with my usual listing of The Things That Keep My Life Busy but I bet most of you could write it for me at this point.

And then there's the fact of some bizarre illness I seem to have acquired. I woke up yesterday morning with a KILLER headache. Now, I'm no stranger to headaches. I probably average a headache every other day or so. I ignore them until I can't turn my head without grimacing in pain. Then I take ibuprofen. This headache was different. It was constant and throbbing and impossible to ignore. Accompanying the pain were overwhelming fatigue and a complete loss of appetite (!). Doctors out there (Alisson?)....could I have a brain hemorrhage? Whatever this sickness is, it's engulfed my entire weekend and therefore I hate it passionately.

Friday night I hosted a reception for my students and their weekend hosts. This is the weekend they spend in an American household. I was proud of the match-ups I'd arranged. Then I had to dash over to Rogers, Ark. to try to catch the last of D.'s performance with a band who were playing this opening party for an arts festival. The arts festival was held at the new fancy outdoor mall. The party was in an unfinished "loft space" overlooking The Sunglass Hut, Gymboree, Haagen Dazs, P.F. Chang's, etc .etc. In some ways I guess it was an apt embodiment of the uneasy relationship between the arts and financial benefactors. There was no air conditioning in the "loft," rendering the party extra stuffy, despite the thunderstorm rolling in. That storm sat over us all weekend, only enhancing my headache-y, listless demeanor.

I've been reading the blog of a dead artist most of the afternoon.

Last week I went with a group of Japanese students to Terra Studios and used it as an opportunity to take amateurish artsy photos and be an unwilling and unknowing host to at least 20 seed ticks. Maybe I have Lyme Disease? Alisson?

Things I've Been Watching:
  • Top Chef (Glad Howie's gone. Sad that Tre is. Looking forward to Anthony Bourdain next week!)
  • Volver - I can't believe it took me so long to see this film. It was really really really good. Probably the best thing I've seen this year. GO SEE IT! It's one of those rare films that is centered around women and isn't embarrassingly sentimental. I loved the acting, loved the plot, loved the faux magic realism....JUST GO SEE IT ALREADY!
  • Little Children - I felt suckered by the critics into watching this film. It was excruciating! Okay, so it was beautifully filmed (I'm an admitted sucker for artful cinematography), but the story and the way it unfolded just made me cringe. I tried to slow fast-forward it with the subtitles on (an old trick when I can't bear to watch a film anymore but can't just turn it off and walk away either) but D. wouldn't let me. Compromise is key to a good relationship, I've been told, so I nearly died sitting there for all eternity while this film dragged on and on and then ended with a sickening, dull thud.
  • loudQUIETloud - A Film About The Pixies - I'm a diehard Pixies fan, so I loved the shit out of this. There's something so....authentic about that band. Doing things for the money, balancing marriage, kids, and a career, rehab, mortality, middle age, man's all here. And of course really great concert sequences.
Things I'm Listening To:
  • This American Life - I listened to last week's episode at six a.m. and when the adopted son gives his speech and thanks his parents for all they'd done, I was choking up. Sobbing at six a.m. is an odd sensation. This week's episode was equally good. And emotional in a different way. I'M embarrassingly sentimental...sheesh.
  • The new Ryan Adams. I give it a vote of "eh."
  • Old favorites - The Pixies (see above), The Replacements, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello. It's hard for me to seek out new stuff when I know I can always come back to my favorites.
Things I'm Looking Forward To:
  • Lucinda Williams in concert September 20. Front row balcony seats with my sweetie.
  • A theoretical vacation in the Smoky Mountains sometime soon?
  • Spoon in concert September 30 - for free!
  • Cooler temperatures.
  • The end of my daughter's teenage years. Or at least the end of her teenage attitude. Light at the end of the tunnel? We haven't even GOTTEN to the tunnel yet. Ugh.
  • Anthony Bourdain at the Fayetteville Public Library October 19! I hear he's cooking....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Funnel Cakes, Carnies, and Dust, Oh My!

Last night D. and I took my students to the Washington County Fair. Maybe it's growing up in Arkansas that instilled in me a deep appreciation for gaudy, tacky, colorful, offensive, loud, trans fat-filled, stinky, horribly wonderful things like county fairs. D. doesn't really get it, but he went along like the trooper he is. Plus, it was fun introducing the students to something so classically American.

How can you not love a place that sells enormous confederate flags, gives away knives as prizes and sells t-shirts like this one (click on the picture to read the fine print - gotta love those misogynistic punchlines)?

The big duck might be a little creepy.

For Lori Mocha:

All this pink and neon makes me a little giddy.

Those might be telenovela stars airbrushed on the background of Extreme Pow'r. I couldn't figure it out.