It’s been a rough tough year teaching

Teaching back in Canada: no surprises but here’s what I noticed.

There are a lot of disengaged kids, particularly among grade 7s. They don’t want music class. I worry, thinking of teaching them next year. Let’s hope I can engage them. It is endemic across the District.

The little ones are fine, a few argumentative ones but fine.

There is one kid who swore at me profusely.That’s his issue. I’m saying nothing.

It is good money but not a lot of satisfaction.The room is teeny tiny. I can’t use most of my knowledge because I simply don’t have enough space to teach. So frustrating.

The Tramp Stamp

I was in a Grade 8 English class in Saudia Arabia. I was doing a novel study of “The Outsiders”. There came a page, whereby it spoke of “white trash”.The mostly Muslim students said to me ‘Miss what is white trash?”

I pondered this and thought: hmmm , how do I even begin to explain this foreign concept of white trash?

So I thought for a moment and said “well, its white people who have no education. It’s white people who cover themselves in tattoos.

“What’s a tattoo Miss?”

“It’s a marking that you deliberately do to your body, you know, like “the tramps stamp”

“What is a tramp stamp Miss?”

Now I knew I was way in over my head.

“Well….it’s a marking on your body on your lower back if you are female”

“Hey!”, said one student, one of my favourite kids. My Mom has one of those, right on her back!”

“Back paddle, back paddle”

“Oh well, I must have that wrong. I, uh….yeah….. no I uh mean well anyway, in The Outsiders, they are just talking about white people who are poor.”

The kids still didn’t get it. To them “being white” meant holding ALL the cards and all the money and all the power.

Man, did I have to back paddle that day!!

THE STORY OF LASH

Well.. this is a funny story. Well…. maybe not so funny.

We taught in Cumberland from 1995-2001. Round about 1997, a student came in with the name Lash.He had come from Argyle Secondary School, my old high school. He had a Mohawk. By Wednesday he had convinced several of the red neck country boys to also don a Mohawk. He convinced a group of students to go out on the back field and sacrifice a rabbit, carrying a bloody rabbits’ paw in their pocket. He told young girls to use the Bible pages as toilet paper. This power of this one boy was remarkable.

By Friday afternoon, he was expelled from the school. Monday morning, the redneck boys showed up with their Mohawks, and apparently Elvis, their leader, had left the building. So now what?

What a strange week that was!

Funny Jubail stories

When I first got to Jubail I was simply, horrified. Day One, after the insane bus ride up to Jubail from Damman, had us going to a faux Thai restaurant.A rat ran right across my path.

Holy sh**, where have we landed? The town, “Man town” was filthy. It was full of Indian and Pakistani men and lots of Saudis. I was the only woman for miles. The restaurant was atrocious.

Matthew,the Christian bus driver and overall helper at Jubail , would often go to buy my prescription drugs. Back then all I needed was Nexium and Iron pills. I had to take a lot of iron pills before menopause.In fact, my hemoglobin was so low, my Doctor wondered how I was able to stand.

I’d be teaching English and there would be a soft knock at the door:Matthew would hand me my drugs and off I go, back to English! Really, it was hilarious!

But it was impossible for women to get around anywhere in Jubail with a car and a driver-impossible.There was no taxi service to be had either. What a ridiculous place it was.

We DID have a lot of fun there once Dave had a car, our little Toyota RAV 4. We couldn’t go anywhere prior to that.

There was the Ya-Ya- bus though.If you missed it by one second, he was gone. He waited for no one.

Once he took off on a family so none of them could get to school. Mind you, they were frequently late but I can just imagine how hard it was to pack up three little kids and two teachers before 730am every morning-that was tough.

Well, more Jubail stories later!

Penny Coat, Penny Flight

Now when I look back at this little story, it doesn’t seem so interesting, but it was at the time.

I had gone into the Driftwood Mall and had been trying on some coats. I saw a very long maxi coat:it was black. It fit me perfectly.

“How much is it?”, I asked. The young gal said “Oh, it’s a penny.”.

“No, how much is it really?”

“It’s a penny. It’s a penny coat. We often have coats and dresses on sale for a penny.

I had never ever heard of this. Well, I walked off with a penny coat!

The next week it was New Years Day. January 1st, 2005 it was. I was planning our trip to Scotland but I thought I’d throw in another country. I was looking at flights all over the world and lo and behold, I came across a “penny” flight to Poland. The flight was with an airline called “Wizz Air”. The flight landed in a strange town called Katowice-never heard of it. Remember, we really knew nothing about overseas flying at this time.

We landed in Katowice and a shuttle bus took us to Krakow. A very nice Polish girl and her Philipino-American husband Bernie Morillo(still see him on the facebook!) took us to a student cafe where we had hot soup , bread and beer. They just chucked Niall a beer too: Żywiec was their “Lucky” beer.

They met us again later in the trip. They made sure we got to the Air b and b safely and I remember the Polish gal reading the driver the riot act in Polish “no funny business”- and demanding he take us right to the hotel. So that was hilarious! We had a fantastic trip, seeing a classical and jazz festival.We also went to Auschwitz, which was very sobering. Niall enjoyed it too although it was a very long day. I don’t even know how we got there. Then we returned to London, meeting Billy and going to Ronnie Scott’s.

Denmark Musings 2010 Christmas

We had landed from Saudi and had to walk a long ways in the snow. I remember dragging my suitcase to an Air B and B. We got there and then proceeded to the main street of Copenhagen. I was overwhelmed with the Christmas sights. The Danes strode along the main street, their long blonde hair and their leggy legs, seemingly floating on air: they looked to me like the Elves of Lothlorian. I was mesmerized and gob smacked all in one. We had tickets to dinner and a jazz show in Copenhagen. The waiter said “you will have to sit at a family table, with other people.” We said “Sure”. Everything was the antithesis of Saudi Arabia. Then he says “Oh well, I hope you don’t mind, but with each course I will bring you a different wine from Tuscany.”

“Oh, I really don’t mind at all!” Hello Denmark!

The Jazz was great, the food was amazing. The Danish hot dogs and the trip to Pandora were both divine.

Then came the trouble: the snow storm of the century. Paris shut down, Amsterdam shut down, Frankfurt shut down: snow, snow snow ice ice ice, wind wind wind: nightmare.

I noticed the first night that our flight wasn’t going anywhere the next morning so we thought ” well let’s get a ticket to speak to the agent just in case”.

Dave was smart to get a ticket, number 158. Off we went for an 11 hour frolic in downtown Copenhagen. I think we went to a Danish Catholic Church, lunch, museums, everything. We came back to the Executive suite in the Hilton (KLM had given us an executive room plus tons of food vouchers PLUS entrance to the Danish Christmas buffet which was incredible). At 6pm I went on line and noticed our flight to Amsterdam-Cuba was cancelled…again! I said “Dave, what are we gonna do?” Dave and I rushed down to the KLM ticket office. We got there and in 2 minutes they called ticket #…158. Oh my God. The luck of it. Uncanny.

They managed to schedule us onto a flight Copenhagen-Paris-Havana. The flight tried to take off the next morning but had to turn around. Too icy. We tried again 5 hours later.

Success but then we had literally seconds to catch the Havana flight. I have never run so fast in all my life.My heart was almost exploding. Funny side thought was, throughout the entire journey Dave was “sat” beside very large people. In this next flight he was “sat” beside two very large American ladies. There was a very large man sitting beside Dave on the flight Copenhagen-Amsterdam and there is no way he made the Havana flight.

We literally sat down (Air France) and within 3 minutes the plane took off. At least that is how I remember it.

When we finally got to Havana, Livi and Niall were so glad to see us. Of course our luggage was two days late and I had not clothes at all to wear. It was our 2nd time staying at Mary’s Place. We had lots of Havana fun. The kids had eaten terrible, terrible meals waiting for us-we were two days late. Then we took them to “La Fresa y chocolate” and they loved it. The real name of the restaurant is “La Guarida”.

Then we went on to Cayo de Santa Maria to Ensenachos: a full on resort.

https://www.iberostar.com/hoteles/cayo-ensenachos/iberostar-ensenachos/

It was beautiful but the weather was terrible!

Then we said goodbye to the kids and took a flight back to Denmark. I had started a big fight with Kirsten the night before. Kirsten was egg in me on, saying “why was I paying for Niall’s cell phone?

She had just had us waste $2000.00  on a spot for her then boyfriend Shawn, to join us in Cuba.. But he never showed up. So yeah I was a bit touchy on topics about money.

I paid for Niall’s cell phone because we were in Saudi and I wanted a life line to him and if it was up to Niall, he’d never ever get a phone. So that’s what you do when you are a parent.

Anyway we said goodby tot he kids and it was mega awkward. Livi and Niall got on the bus to catch a plane from Cato de. Santa Maria to Havana and then to Vancouver.

Kirsten left later and it was all very awkward. I guess I shouldn’t have risen to the bait. I should have just kept my mouth shut. Good advice. One of these days I’ll take it.

We got to Copenhagen and Dave’s luggage did not arrive. There he was in Cuban clothing:sandals, shorts etc-no winter clothes. It was 20 below.

We had to take three trains in frickin freezing weather to get up to Olgod.

We made it. Suzanna had Danish flags flying.She had gathered together clothing for Dave, borrowing shoes, trousers, sweaters, from relatives. Suzanna is a living Saint. Then we had the most wonderful visits in Denmark and that is when Pele told me the story of his friend Nick. I will never ever forget that story.

A FUNNY STORY ABOUT ISRAEL/PALESTINE

I went on a pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine September/October 2019. It was superbly led by Fr Bob Holmes aka “Hobo”.

On one of the “Bethlehem” days, we has Mass in St Catherine’s Chapel, a small chapel associated with the Church of the Nativity. There was a Muslim lady on our trip named Ensaaf. She was very nice but she muttered things about the Jews which were entirely inappropriate. Anyway, during the Mass, she ate/drank the Eucharist, ie body and blood of Christ. Some people were incensed but I found it astonishing! The Catholic in me didn’t flinch because the world traveler in me just found it full circle and hilarious.

Later on at 7pm we gathered for our usual dinner. As the  Palestinian waiters were passing around the plates, I KNEW, absolutely KNEW, that the meat was pork. These were clearly very nice pork chops. Others in the group insisted it was chicken or lamb. Again, I just laughed at what was to transpire. Ensaaf, having taken the blody/blood of Christ at 9am, good Muslim lady that she is, was now about to eat a pork  chop.

I’m watching and waiting for her reaction. I say to her : “So Ensaaf, you’ve had quite a day. Eucharist in the morning, pork in the evening”.

“It is not pork, it is chicken!”, she insisted.

“Ok, let’s ask the waiter” What is it?

“It is pork Madame”, said the waiter. Ensaaf scolded him a bit in Arabic but it was not his fault. The throngs of Russian Orthodox pilgrims wanted pork and that’s what they got. You don’t mess around with the Russians. They basically fund the Holy Land with their constant pilgrimages. If you don’t time it right, you could end up in a 2 hour Russian Orthodox lineup to see the baby Jesus manger.

I could tell Ensaaf wanted to be sick and I understood, but I said…….

“Well Ensaaf, look at it this way. You confused the heck outta God today. He figured at 9am you started batting for our team, so he thought “Oi vay, let’s give the girl a pork chop to seal the deal!”

She was not amused. I hope she finds it funny now. For me, it was a delightful Saudi full circle moment. I would love to see this happen in downtown Khobar. Oh my!

Coming back home after 10 years

It has been a big learning curve. Here are my observations since June 2019 when we came home for good, apparently!

The Feminization of Boys

I was in the nail salon. A large man and woman came in with their 9-10 year old son.The boy should have been in school. Instead the parents brought him to the nail salon for a pedicure.The Mom asked him if he wanted polish.The boy hesitated and , I think, because his Father said “no” for him, the boy said no. But if the Dad wasn’t there, I think he would have taken polish, as his Mother wanted him to. What in God’s name is going on? Why are  women today (this gal looked about 40) deliberately feminizing their sons? I just don’t get it. If you’re gay, ok, good for you, be gay. I’m fine with that. But why is there a trend amongst parents today to overtly feminize their boys?

Last evening I was at a musical. Some of the choices struck me as very , very odd.

It has a Greek theme whereby there were “sisters”: the lead actress would say “Sisters of Greece”.Two of the “sisters” were boys wearing dresses. Why? Why not say “brothers and sisters of Greece” and have the two boys, both excellent dancers, dressed according to their biological gender? I just don’t get it. Here were these two boys happily dancing around in gowns. 10 years ago? Would have never happened. Forget the genderization, it was just such an odd directorial choice. I absolutely just don’t understand this!

A lot of people here “make up” problems. BC is paradise:beautiful air, clean streets, free medical, most people can afford dental, most people can afford good food and housing.

So because there are no real problems, people make sh** up. Honestly, this whole allergy to my perfume  business is ridiculous.There is no problem with my perfume or anyones’ perfume overseas. Overseas, everything smells, sometimes good, sometimes bad but no one, NO ONE ever complained about my very expensive beautiful perfume.Well the only person to really complain is my husband and I have limited the amount  I use but come on people! When I wear perfume into the schools, all the kids walk in the room and say “Oh wow it smells so great in here!

Sigh….I don’t know what to do with my own culture any more. It is so messed up here.

10 years later I see a very liberal Social Justice warrior attitude has taken hold.Everyone is  afraid to have an opinion. If you disagree with a SJW, you are called out and demonized, for daring to disagree with him/her.That’s not democracy, that’s fascism, a one way conversation. What a world, what a world.