Giselle Budchen’s Jawline and Other Un-wrappable things I’d like for Christmas

We all have Christmas lists, right? Chock full of stuff and non-stuff and maybe a new Wii. Here’s my list of unwrappable, slightly unpurchasable things that I’d like for Christmas. In event that you haven’t bought me anything yet, any of these will do.

The ability to speak and understand any language

Yeah, I know I asked for this for my birthday, but nobody bucked up and got it for me. C’mon guys. This would be mighty handy with travel looming on my horizon. It would also help me live out my personal fantasy in which I overhear someone running their mouth in another language and I calmly (and shockingly!) respond in their language. With one eyebrow raised and intense eye contact. Ooooh.

Hang time with Little Sister Yes and Yes
A month after my return to the states, Little Sister Yes and Yes packed her worldly belongings into a tiny car and drove herself down to Phoenix. And while I envy her weather these days, I do miss the girl. So, sis. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle and hang for a week, eh? I will even bring some of Grandma’s chocolate/peanut butter/Ritz cookies. Or I’ll bring them and try not to eat them on the way.

A White Christmas
This will be my first non-tropical, Northern Hemisphere Christmas in four years. If it is not positively snow-filled, I am taking my toys and playing elsewhere. Possibly Bolivia.

Several Calm, Drama-Free Months
The next four or five months of my life are shaping up to be, well, rife with plans and changes and Big Important Decisions. I am 80% excited, 20% pukey about this. So here’s hoping that it all goes as well as possible.

Giselle Bundchen’s Jawline
So. I come from a long line of button-nosed blonds. And while we have been blessed with nice feet and good calves, DNA has not smiled on us in terms on jawlines. Friends, I fear there is a waddle in my future. I think I have a few good years left, as the waddle traditionally arrives in tandem with our 35th birthdays, but I’ve been preparing by compulsively applying neck cream every night and developing a method to suck in my jawline. So if anyone has Giselle’s number and knows if she’d be willing to share the love, hook a sister up, kay?

What un-wrappable things do you want this Christmas?

Ready the Kleenex

photo by pearson251

So. I teach ESL to southeast Asian refugees. I love my job. I do. It’s amazing and humbling and I spend a good deal of time playing bingo and teaching chants about ‘be’ verbs. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

Several of my students are KaRen, an ethnic minority from eastern Burma. In the past fifty years, the KaRen have made several attempts to lead insurgencies against the military dictatorship and failed. When these attempts failed, the military began to ‘ethnically cleanse’ the country of KaRen, forcing more than 120,000 of them into refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border.Though only intended for temporary use, many refugee camps housed KaRen for 10-15 years. The camps are halfway between a shanty town and a prison, where refugees live in tents or huts, aren’t allowed to leave the camp without a permit and aren’t taught the language of their host country. Refugees bide their time until they are allocated to a new host country, something that they often have no say in.

This is the history of my students. Now that they have been in Minnesota for a few months, they know how to take the bus and where they can buy coconut milk. They’ve experienced snow and escalators are officially old news. Now that they’re experts on American life, they get quite excited at the prospect of new students who they can surely ‘break in’ and impress with their knowledge of this cold, new place. They were all a’fluster when I told them on Monday that we’d be getting new students the next day.

On Tuesday, I ushered three demure KaRen women into the classroom when one of my students jumped out of his seat and started yelling … because thousands of miles away, years ago, in the mountains of Thailand, they all lived in the same camp. And now here they were again, in my tiny classroom in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Needless to say, I had to busy myself with my dry erase markers for several minutes so I wouldn’t weep over the joy of it all.

More teaching fun:
In which the existence of beavers is questioned
English names chosen by my Chinese Students
Adventures in Non-traditional Adulthood: Teaching ESL Abroad

A list of lists

photo by jschumacher

You know what I love so hard? I mean, in addition to cheese and kittens and globe-trotting.

Lists. Oh friends, I love them. Not only those uber-productive, plan-making, world-domination-plotting lists, but lovely, hilarious, ridiculous ones. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Favorite songs from 1998
  • Top five animals
  • Best words ever
  • Fictional Characters that would be my best friends
  • Smells that I love
  • Scary things I don’t ever want to touch
  • Songs that can be categorized as “Sparkly”
  • Best songs for air kicks
  • Food to eat when I’m downtrodden
  • Movies that I have seen more than ten times
  • Names that I will never saddle my children with
  • Things about me that are awesome

What lists do you make?

KGB Style

I have had an infatuation with Russia since the third grade, when I found a book stuffed full of bizarre, macabre Russian fairy tales in my elementary school library. I’m fairly sure I was the only one who ever checked this book out, as everyone else was put off by the the cottage with chicken feet on the cover. Babies.This love is compounded by the fact that I’m often mistaken for a Russian when I’m traveling abroad. I suspect it has less to do with my blond hair and more to do with my oddly sulky ambient expression. If I’m not giggling behind my hand, I apparently look like I should be slurping borscht and glaring at soldiers over a copy of ”The Brothers Karamazov.”

So if I was to move to Russia tomorrow, what would I wear?

Okay, so I’m well aware that Russians probably don’t wear sickle and hammer t-shirts. But I’m nothing if not committed to a theme! Please note the lovely riding boots for running over icy cobble stones, the Moscow caliber parka, the hat (probably made from the hide of a Czar’s pet bear) and the babushka-worthy scarf. I would wear this while I read ‘Anna Karenina,’ snuggled against the steamy windows in the Trans-Siberian’s dining car.

Because I’m sure that Russian women often dress in a manner that approximates those delicious little nesting dolls, right? Okay, no. But! This outfit would be perfect for running through fields of poppies during the first days of spring. I suspect it would also be good for making piroshki with my Mommachka or wearing to a party where I would drink too much vodka and do that impressive kicking dance.

And this little ensemble? Well, this is obviously for those nights when my bearded, Mafia boss lover takes me to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance in Leningrad. We smoke too much, nibble on bliny and loll in the huge velvet seats of our theater box. I am thoroughly exhausted by the other molls, but make pleasant chit chat in an attempt to be friendly.

What country’s couture do you covet?