Showing posts with label Chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Job satisfaction

For three short, but blissfully fulfilling years of my life, I had a cush job. I was showered with presents on a regular basis. I had foreign men fawning all over me. I ate the finest cuisine and attended soirees held in my honor. It was a life of excitement, romance and danger.

Foreign diplomat, you ask?

Nope, I was an ESL teacher in Chicago.

Not what you were expecting, was it?

This was pretty much the best job of my life.

The presents:
I received tons of gifts for every holiday and at the end of each semester. These were actually students who loved coming to class. And they appreciated my hard work! Sometimes I even received gifts just because: a bunch of flowers here, a plate of tamales there. These students were like the most attentive boyfriend in the world!

You may call me shallow and materialistic, but answer me this: Who among you could resist being showered with gifts? Who out there wouldn't have her heart melted at the gift of an enormous Tweety Bird stuffed animal? A Tweety who was wearing rollerblades and holding a rose? (It was Valentine's Day, after all.)

Foreign Men Fawning All Over Me:
There was Joel, a hot 19 year old who regularly tried to get my attention in class so he could flirt. One day, when I asked for a volunteer to use the word "plenty" in a sentence, Joel said, "Teacher, I have plenty love for you!"

And what red-blooded woman out there doesn't appreciate romantic marriage proposals from handsome, Hispanic men?

Okay, yeah, Marcus may have offered me $3,000 to marry him so he could get his green card, but that doesn't mean his love for me was any less genuine or passionate.

Finest Cuisine
Most of my students were Hispanic or Polish and they were all very generous. When they learned what a pig, glutton, hefty eater gourmand I was, many of my students brought me plates of delicious food. I was afloat in pierogi and tamales, mole and posole.

And when we had our end of the year parties? I was plied with horchata, tostadas, guacamole and three milk cake. I just drooled on my keyboard at the memories.

Danger and intrigue
You don't think teaching ESL is dangerous? Well, let me relate a story, then. My first semester, I taught an advanced ESL class and the final consisted of giving an oral presentation. One student, a dance teacher at his local community center, asked if he could have the children in his class come and perform. I was delighted at the opportunity to learn more about his culture.

The children came to class, adorable in their authentic Mexican garb, and they danced their hearts out.

While swinging machetes around their heads.

Yeah, I got in big trouble when the Dean heard about that one.

Adorable kids in authentic Mexican garb, sans machetes


For more posts about ideal jobs, stop by the Spin Cycle at Gretchen's Second Blooming.

Second Blooming

Saturday, August 7, 2010

road tripping adventures

Last week, we made our customary pilgrimage to Chicago for Danny's therapy. Since the kids are accustomed to driving the three hours to Chicago, they are typically quite cooperative in the car. I used to pack all kinds of treats, books and toys to keep them occupied, but lately, I have become lax. I might throw a box of Triscuits in the car, along with a bottle of water, but it's basically up to the kids to entertain themselves.

Until this trip, it has never been a problem.

Charlotte happened to sleep quite late the morning of our departure, which I am guessing is what accounts for her unprecedented energy in the car. She rarely stopped talking the entire ride, and this girl has nothing even remotely resembling an inside voice. Danny had the box of Triscuits at one point and was dutifully sharing them with both Charlotte and Tommy when Charlotte started whining and crying. Charlotte insisted that Dan give her precisely 5 crackers, and her requests ("I want 5 crackers! FIVE! FIVE! FIVE! Gimme FIVE CRACKERS, DANNY!!!") got whinier and more strident until I felt like my ears were going to bleed.

I think she finally stopped screaming when Danny threw the box of crackers at her.

Like I said, the kids are typically pretty subdued in the car, and this is especially true of Danny. For some reason, though, this trip was different. Almost as soon as we left our town, Danny was asking me if we were in Chicago yet. Anytime we passed a building--even if only a farmhouse--he repeated his question: "Are we in Chicago now, mom?"

It got even worse when we passed anything that remotely passed for a town, no matter how small. Danny would squeal, "Yay! We're in Chicago now!" and he would moan when I contradicted him. How he could mistake Neoga with Chicago, I will never know.

I finally got the kids to settle down and listen to some music. We were getting pretty close to the city and only had another 35 minutes or so in the car left, when all of a sudden I was assailed by an ungodly stench. I couldn't figure out what it was, but it seemed to be emanating from the back seat.

As I tried valiantly to breathe through my mouth, I heard Charlotte say, "Danny, put your shoes back on! Your feet are sweaty!"

Remind me to never, ever allow Danny to wear Crocs without socks.

While in the city, I took the kids to the zoo. Despite a torrential downpour and very, very high temperatures and humidity, we soldiered on and saw every manner of mammal, fish and bird. At the end of our visit, I decided to splurge and take the kids on the zoo tram ride.

Not since choosing to wear shoulder pads in the 80s have I made such a grievous error in judgment.

Everyone was tired and cranky. It was already well past 1 pm, which is Tommy's normal nap time, and we were all muddy from the rain and puddles we the kids insisted on jumping in and splattering over all bystanders. My patience was worn thin, so I thought the tram ride would be a nice, peaceful break.

Tommy was not happy about the rule that every kid needed to sit in a seat or in a lap. He wanted to wander around and flirt with the cute 16-year-old Romanian girl sitting across from us. He bucked and flailed as I wrestled to keep him in his seat. It was exhausting.

The nice Romanian man and his daughter, who were impeccably dressed and groomed, smiled at us and commented on how dirty my children were. They also happened to notice that Tommy's diaper was hanging precariously low.

This is when Tommy decided to attempt to climb into the seat next to the beautiful daughter and throw up all over said seat. Luckily, none of the puke spattered her, and I even happened to have exactly two wet wipes in my purse and was able to clean it speedily. Still, I felt somehow responsible for my toddler's unpleasant bodily excretions.

It turned out I didn't have long to agonize about the vomit though, because Danny and Charlotte decided they both wanted to sit next to me, though only one seat was actually available. Whining and angry recriminations followed. I came *this close* to throwing my precious offspring to the hippos, as we passed the Amphibians.

We were stuck on this tram for about 45 minutes. The longest 45 minutes of my life. I thought 45 minute of Chemistry class in high school was long. Yeah, that was like the blink of an eye compared to the glacially slow passage of time on that tram. Oh, that tram!

Oblivious to my agony, the tour guide kept prattling on and on about all the wonders of the zoo. At each stop, she would remind us to keep our extremities inside the tram and would go on to inform us that no food or alcoholic beverages were allowed on the tram.

As I listened over and over again to the prohibition of alcohol, I couldn't help thinking that these zoo workers were mocking me. Though I no longer drink alcohol, if anything were to drive me to fall off the proverbial wagon, it would be wrestling an 18 month baby into a tram seat, while listening to the high pitched keening of my four-year-old daughter because her brother wouldn't sit next to her. This all in 90+ degree weather.

It took every ounce of willpower not to turn to the clean, good-looking and very civilized Romanian family and beg them to adopt and rescue me from this squalor that is my life.

Instead, I went back to my mom's house and passed out in her bed while Danny and Charlotte watched hours of cartoons and Tommy napped.

I'm sure my Mother of the Year Award is in the mail.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Mumbers--back with a vengeance

In honor of Kia's happy return to blogging, I thought I would post a Monday Mumbers this week. So, here goes:

5 pairs of underwear I have thrown out this week.
1 pair of pajama bottoms that have joined the underwear in the trash.
1,237 number of baby wipes we used in one day last week.
1 the number of double dosages of Miralax I gave Danny because I thought it would help clear up his constipation.

In case you're wondering, it worked. (Bill notes: I laughed, I cried, it was more disgusting than "Eraserhead.")

1 number of times Charlotte said to Bil, "Hey, Daddy, I'm going commando today."
You can see I have been busy teaching my daughter really valuable information, right?

0 number of hours I have spent teaching Charlotte something useful like how to spell her name or tie her shoes.

217 number of miles I traveled with the kids to get to Chicago. About an hour outside the city, I heard Danny smacking his lips noisily. I peered into the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of green construction paper and Froot Loops--the Christmas tree they made in school. I commanded Danny not to eat the Froot Loops.

He said, "Mom, I'm not eating the Froot Loops; they are glued on. (Like, Duh, mom!) I'm just licking them. And they are deeeeeelicious!"

He continued to exclaim over the tastiness of the cereal and then decided to share his treat with me, handing me a sodden mess of green construction paper, sugary starch material, and all manner of artificial flavoring and colors, all the while insisting that I partake of this delicacy.

I'm thinking maybe I should pack more snacks for our road trips.

11 number of times I have laughed to myself over the fact that the OT receptionist referred to Pulaski Day as "Roman Pulaski" day. I'm pretty sure ole Casmir Pulaski--who according to wikipedia, "was a Polish soldier, member of the Polish nobility and politician who has been called 'the father of American cavalry,'" who also saved George Washington's life--might take issue with being confused with Roman Polanski, child rapist and fugitive from law.

But what do I know?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

bad, bad news

My cousin's ex-husband, who is a Chicago police officer, is in the hospital in critical condition after having been in a terrible car accident. The accident happened as he sped to the scene of a crime this past week. Because another driver did not get out of his way, D's police car crashed into a pole.

Apparently, as D was trapped and unconscious in his police SUV, a couple of men actually stole his gun and wallet, and while doing so they may have made the injuries even worse. He suffered some spinal injuries and, as anyone who has taken a First Aid class or watched an episode of ER knows, moving a person who has hurt their back and neck is probably the worst thing you could do. So, not only did these onlookers not help, but they likely caused more damage as they committed a crime on an unconscious and seriously hurt cop.

I just can't get this out of my mind, and my mom just informed me this evening that there is a chance that D won't make it. And if he does survive, it is highly likely that he will be paralyzed.

I can't picture D being paralyzed. He's a big, strong, boisterous man, who was always ready with a joke. He always seemed really eager to please and befriend people. Before he and my cousin separated, I spent a good amount of time at their house. They lived a mile away from my parents' house, and I often babysat their daughter after D went to work and before my cousin got home from her job as a nurse. Though I have only seen him once in the last 8 years or so, I just can't stop thinking of him and hoping he will pull through and not just survive, but someday walk again.

The only thing I can do is pray, I guess, and I have been doing that quite a lot. If you are so inclined and think of it, maybe you could include D in your prayers, too. I'm sure he would appreciate it and I know I would, as would my other cousin, 'The Lil Mom That Could'.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


This weekend, we went to Chicago to attend the wedding of my oldest friend. Dave moved in down the street from us in 1975 and has been a part of the family ever since. He was best friends with my twin brother, but was really like another brother to all of us. In fact, often in college Dave would introduce me to people as his sister. He was an only child and loved all the action at our house; we spent so much time with him over the years that my parents joked about claiming him on our income taxes. We played, laughed, fought and leaned on each other; I even dated him, for like 2 days in high school, before we decided it was just too weird, like dating a family member.

The wedding was beautiful. I was so happy for Dave, but a bit nostalgic. As I stood in St. Symphorosa (the Church where almost all major life events for the Porch family have taken place) a wave of memories washed over me. All the hockey games and water fights, all the high school dances and late night talks, all the days spent at the park playing softball and hanging out. The wedding was like one major flashback. And despite, or maybe because, my childhood was really very happy, reliving the memories was a bit sad for me. First, there was the realization that things will never be the same again. We have all grown up and moved on. We have families and jobs and real adult problems and responsibilities. A part of me misses those carefree days, especially after the last year, which has taught me a little something about the kind of fear I think you can only feel as an adult. Fear of loss, mainly, as in fear of losing a parent, a child, a loved one. Of course, I realize too that along with the responsibility and problems, come amazing opportunities to love and connect to people in ways different from what you are capable of as a child. So, though, I miss childhood, I am able to let it go with just a few longing glimpses back.

The second reason for the nostalgia is that I am looking back in a different way than I did a year or two ago. Now, I am seeing things through the eyes of an adult who realizes that her parents weren't as perfect, or even as happy, as she once thought. You see, my mom and dad are getting divorced. And I think this wedding, for whatever reason, really made me face what that means. All kinds of emotions I didn't realize I was feeling surfaced and I am not sure how to deal with them at all. It's crazy, really, because I feel like I am the thirteen-year-old heroine of some book like, "Are you there God, it's me Margaret?" I feel torn between my two parents and my loyalties to each. I want to help them see the good in the other and quit fighting. I want to make all the tension go away. I want it to all go back to the way it was, as imperfect as that may have been. More than anything, I don't want to know about any of it. I hate knowing that my parents feel anything but good things for each other. I want to protect them both, but more than that, I want to make it unnecessary to protect them.

I don't even know how to articulate some of the strange feelings that have come over me. I feel like this divorce almost changes the past, the "happy" childhood that I lived. As if our family was all fake. At the wedding this weekend, I ran into a girl who lived on our block for a few years. Jeanine's parents had had a really ugly divorce and she kind of glommed onto my family, which actually happened to us a lot. We had several different friends or cousins living with us at one time or another, mostly because of the major dysfunction in their own families. Despite our quirks and craziness, we were the safe harbor for these friends of ours. Jeanine, who had always been a major drama queen--self-indulgent and self-absorbed--spent long stretches of time at the wedding waxing prolix about how our family helped her. She was completely wasted, which I am sure only served to loosen her tongue, and she started to really grate on me. When she mentioned my parents and how she had always loved them and how they were her role model for healthy relationships, yadda yadda, I had the perverse urge to fill her in on the fact that Ma and Pa Porch were splitting up. It was only my lack of emotional fortitude that stopped me; I just knew I didn't have the energy to comfort her after I spilt the beans.

As much as Jeanine annoyed me at the wedding, she was right about something. My parents were really special to a lot of people. They were always around and were very supportive to us and our friends. My house was the place everyone hung out, and they all love my parents. Dave, Jamie, Luigi, Renee, Mary Kay, Dave Lewis, among others, really looked to my mom and dad as second parents. I know this divorce doesn't really change anything about the past, but it's hard not to feel that it does. I guess I really have some issues I need to deal with. I thought I was OK with it all, that I was mature enough to just want what was best for my parents. I guess I thought I was too old for it to hurt so much.

I was so wrong.