Saturday, October 22, 2005

Karaoke Lives!!

I believe that most (if not all of you) reading this blog know of my love (read: obsession) with karaoke. Well, it has been a while since I have climbed the karaoke stage to perform, and I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to arrange an evening of karaoke fun when I come to NYC in December. Fear not - you have been spared - my thirst for song has been quenched, my hunger sated.

My friend S and her boyfriend P just moved into a new apartment, and she recently had a housewarming party to celebrate. Well, one of my compatriots, P, has a karaoke machine, and he brought it to the party. Well, you can guess how the rest of the evening went. This is a picture of my friend A and I belting out something. At one point later in the evening we had a marathon session, when we sang 'Bad Girls', 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy', and another song with this theme (the name of which I cannot remember a week later. Hmmm.). I was mighty impressed with A - she sang with a mike in one hand, and in the other hand a half-full glass of red wine with nary a drop spilled.

First Aid

As a teacher, I am required to have First Aid certification. We were supposed to have a two-day course during orientation back in August. However, that didn't work out, and the course took place today and last Saturday, from 9am until around 4pm. I will admit, I was dreading this, as my weekends are the only time for me to recover from the week just passed, and refuel for the upcoming week.

It turned out to be a really interesting 2 days, and I learned a great deal - while I hope that I am never faced with a serious trauma situation, I feel fairly confident that I could provide some help (after getting over the initial shock and fear). One of the things I learned that struck me was the fact that in Germany you are not only morally obligated to help, but also legally obligated. So if you see a car accident, if someone passes out in a store, someone falls off their bike, etc., and you stop and look but don't help, you can be criminally prosecuted. If you have taken a first-aid course (which ALL German drivers must do in order to obtain a driver's license) then your obligation is even greater. We were told that if we are assisting someone who has been in an accident, and there are people standing around gawking who refuse to help when asked to do so, and don't leave when asked to do so (because they are not helping) we can write down their license plate number or take their name down and turn them in to the polizei. If people stand around and look and don't help, they are just as criminally liable as if they had caused the accident themselves. Crazy, huh?

I find this moral expectation/obligation interesting (for lack of a better word). It goes in contrast to the Germany of 60 years ago - I don't recall this moral conscience existing then. Is this now a by-product of that time, that experience?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

So I've got a few nuggets of amusement to share...

A group of girls who were my students last year accosted me one day recently. Their mission? To find out my age. I told them that was my personal information, and there was so much whining and pleading that I relented and told them that I was older than 30, but younger than 40. The ringleader, aghast, let out a bloodcurdling, eardrum-piercing shriek. "You're older than 30???!!??!! I thought that you were only 28!" I walked away thinking that I was glad it wasn't my birthday yet...

One of my current students came up to me after math class recently to ask about my musical tastes. She's one of my favorites, a husky, slightly tough-seeming (none of the boys mess with her), sweet faced girl with a Louise Brooks bob. She quietly asked, "Ms. M, do you like to listen to music?" I told her I did. I thought she would ask me about some top 40 group/singer, so I was caught off guard when she next asked, "Do you like System of a Down?"

When I recovered my composure, I told her that I knew some of their songs, and that I did like them. She nodded her head and quietly said, "cool." We talked a little bit about their new album (her verdict: pretty cool), and then she went off to her next class. (Her older brother is the resident musician - plays guitar, writes his own songs, wants to start a rock band. So no surprise that she's into System of a Down.)

There are more tidbits, many more, but I'll spare you (and you know who you are, sitting there rolling your eyes, thinking, "oh boy, another story about her students..."). I am trying to be better about this...

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Costly (and Stupid) Mistake

This past Wednesday, 21 September, was 'Back to School Night' at my school. This was an evening when parents come to meet with teachers, look at their child's books, and basically get a better sense of what is going on during the school day.

As a homeroom teacher, I had to give a 1/2 hour presentation to my students' parents, after which I was ambushed by the parents of my students from my other classes (math, english, science) with questions and requests for special attention for their child (these requests of course came from the parents of those children with whom I have the biggest problems because of their behavior. Figures.). By the time I got out of school and home it was after 10pm. As if I wasn't already exhausted after being at school for over 12 hours, I had a parent meeting the next morning at 8am to discuss a student who is having some problems in math.

Before you begin to wonder, 'what the f*ck is she going on about??', this is all to give you a sense of where I was mentally by the next morning, the morning of the costly (and stupid) mistake.

So...on Thursday morning I managed to get up early (or earlier than usual) so that I would get to school before 8am. I was feeling pretty good about being a bit ahead of time instead of rushing. I got my stuff together, and then went to the door to leave. I usually just then grab my keys as I walk out the door, but this time I picked up another set, as I was looking for F's car keys (he had asked me to close the sunroof on his car before it rained). I was annoyed because I couldn't find the car keys, and so I just put that set back on the hook, went out the door, and closed it behind me.

As the door shut, I realized with horror that I did not have my keys in hand. I stood there, not believing what had just happened. But I had to get to work and to this parent meeting, so I just continued downstairs. Well, I got to the front door of our building, and tried to open it, but it was locked, and when the door is locked, you need your key to open it.

Now I started to panic.

I was trapped - I couldn't get in my apt, and I couldn't get out of the building. We have only 2 neighbors in the building: J, who lives next door, and the dentist, who has her office on the floor below us. It was only 6:45 am, and the dentist wouldn't be there until at least 7:30am, so I couldn't wait there for her to let me out. I hated to ring J's bell at this hour, but I had no other choice. Thankfully, she was home (and awake), and she let me out.

I left F a frantic message, realizing that he couldn't come back from Frankfurt that night because he was going to Hamburg for a work function. So he was my 'secretary' (his words) and he arranged for a locksmith to come at 5pm. J would let me in to the building, and we would wait together for the locksmith.

The locksmith did come - he was a portly fellow (big like Brian Dennehy) who put on a good show - grunting and shaking his head and tsking at me about how difficult this job was. Anyway, after 25 mins he gave a big heave against the door and went flying through it. Luckily the door didn't sustain any damage.

My wallet, however, did . The picture you see above is the bill for my mistake. It cost 120 euros just for this joker to show up. I am looking into the possibility of having a key sewn into my flesh so I never forget my key again.