Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why not go out on a limb? - June 13, 2007

Plane tickets to Austria just went up three hundred dollars over night. I could kill someone. Not really, but still, I feel sick about it. I knew I shouldn’t have waited, but Rudi – the one getting married - didn’t respond to me soon enough with the “a-ok” and the computers at work yesterday wouldn’t load the payment page properly. Maybe if I hold out a bit longer a deal will present itself. See, I’m supposed to go to Europe for Rudi’s wedding. I know what you’re all thinking, Why are you going to Europe when you’re in Asia for a year…Shouldn’t you be exploring Asia? And yes, it is damn expensive, but you see, I made a promise a long time ago to Rudi. Plus there’s another pull that I’ll get to in a minute. Rudi – if you make your way back to the earliest postings on this blog – is a good friend (whom some refer to as the Austrian Kenny G.) that I made in Australia while on a trip comprised of international students traveling along the eastern cost. It was “the east coast odyssey”, though much less an odyssey than per se a romp of sorts. Beyond the majority of Americans, there were three Europeans on the trip: Rudi, Daniel, and Jonathan. Jonathan has pretty much left the picture since becoming a father back in Denmark. Who would have ever thought a child shakes up your priorities? As for Daniel, the Swede, I can’t get him out of my life. He obsessively stalks me everyday on Skype and Gmail chat, seemingly in this for the long haul. Daniel will also be making his way to the wedding in Austria, thus making it a reunion of sorts. We better not have to share a bed.
The other deciding factor in this European sojourn is that my dearest Emily will be in Europe around the same time, so I’ll be joining up with her in Rome after the wedding festivities wind down. She will be traveling around Italy for three weeks with her friend Patrice, so I’m quite psyched about the prospect of jumping her bones, ahem, I mean licking her face, ahem, I mean spending some seriously quality time with her for about five days.
I had to find subs for all my classes and was particularly nervous about running the whole charade by my boss, but she just put it matter-of-factly:
“A few years ago we had an American teacher. His name was Alex. Alex went back to the States for the December holidays and promised us he had found a sub. After the December holidays, several students came and complained that no teacher had shown up for class and so they had missed out on a week of studies. So we fired Alex. We also fired Miguel, the one who was supposed to sub for Alex.” Point taken. I’m actually at the middle school right now having finished up with my daily dose of 7th graders. Thankfully, my last class after lunch was serendipitously cancelled due to some sort of assembly. Still, that didn’t stop the last class before lunch from ruining my day. The first three hours were fine, but I was ready to murder the last class. I decided to test out having a quote of the day, though I should’ve known in advance that metaphors would be lost upon such little buggers. Today’s quote was by Will Rogers and went as follows (try not to laugh): “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” So after first hour met me with universal faces of incredulity, for the subsequent periods I added a visual aid for clarification. I drew an incredibly lame tree to illustrate a “limb” and defined the word “risk” for them. You know, because going out on a limb is like taking a risk, right? Anyway, I also drew some fruit hanging from one of the tree limbs and captioned it “this could turn out to be the best fruit ever”. Then I pantomimed for the class what it meant to go out on a limb by awkwardly simulating climbing out on a tree branch. If that wasn’t enough, I further explained that the risk of going out on a limb was that there existed no such guarantee of not falling or the fruit being delicious, but that if they didn’t try, they’d never know. Still, after all this hand-holding, in the initial 15 minutes I’d allotted, most of the students hadn’t even managed to copy down the quote. So I made my way around the room and worked with various kids on an individual basis. “Write down something” I said. “Anything! Don’t worry about drawing the tree, I just put that up there to help you. I want you to tell me what you think this quote means in real life. What does it mean to not know if you don’t try? What are some things that could be considered ‘going out on a limb?’” So after another 10 minutes, as I made my way around the room, everybody was still fixated on drawing their trees. I was infuriated. “FORGET ABOUT THE TREE” I screamed while erasing the tree off the board. “I swear to God, if another one of you keeps drawing that tree, I’m gonna strangle you. Write, don’t draw. Got it?”
I gave them one last chance. Ten minutes later, everyone was still drawing the tree. I hate 4th hour. The other classes might not have been brilliant, but at least they didn’t fixate on the tree. My favorite interpretation of the quote came from a meek girl in 2nd hour. She said, “The fruit is too sweet and a monkey will come eat it.”

Back home, my Dad is supposedly getting 1-2 phone calls a day from people interested in buying my car. He’s been having more success than I did when I tried, though my best effort consisted of a small ad hoc sign in the window facing away from the street. Still, as soon as people hear the price, they take off for the hills. How can people think that a 2004 Mazda 3 in perfect condition is gonna go for under 10g’s. They must be smoking crack.


It’s official: I’m going to Europe. I found a decent flight on Turkish Airlines flying into Vienna on July 12 and leaving out of Rome on July 20. There was a flight leaving on the 19th for $45 cheaper with only a two hour layover in Istanbul as opposed to the nine I’ll be forced to endure, but I figured it was worth it for one more night with my lady; but a small price to pay for love.

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