Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Carpet, Honor, Europe
That title, in a nutshell, is why I've been absent from these hallowed halls the past 14 days -- the inherent duality of the universe has been completely and utterly evident in that space of breathing and blood flow that I occupy, trapping me inside an existential yin-yang constructed of both ouchy mountains and comfy clouds.
A fortnight ago, my bathroom toilet decided to plot its revenge for my continual assaults and quietly overflow while I was at work. Of course I didn't discover it until several hours later, so I returned home not only to my usual floor-full of already-stained, beige, tract housing carpet, but with the added bonus of squishy sound effects, and after a few days, unbearable stank. All the carpet in the house had to be pulled up and industrial fans had to run for about a week to dry the place out. I suppose it's not so bad. I wanted laminate anyway.
Though nominated last year, this year, I was elected Teacher of the Year for my particular school by my peers. I will now have to write an essay and move on to the district-wide competition (which reminds me of winning the 4th grade spelling bee). The prize at this level? Unparallelled daily congratulation at work, and free lunch with my boss. Woot.
Some money came in. The last few times that happened, I just paid off credit card debt. This time, I decided to go to Europe with it, and to go alone. I leave tomorrow for London and will also ride the Eurostar (Chunnel) train to Paris (under the ocean!!) and spend a day there. Let's hope my high school language skillz don't fail me: "Ou est le salle de bain, s'il vous plait?"
Other than my 2 hour jaunt into Mexico this past summer, this will be my only time to have left the warm, comforting shores of Mother America. I'm scared and somewhat anxious, but excited to realize something I've been dreaming of for the past 25 years or so. I have already been instructed not to involve myself in any international political affairs while I'm there.
I have a plethora of mixed feelings: guilt because I'm going and everyone else I know wants to go but can't afford it, fear that I'll be hated as a typical fat American or forget all the French I know or someone will look askance at me on the plane (for 7 hours) because I might take up an extra inch or two in the seat, that I'll accidentally lapse into my "really good" British accent... But beyond all that, I know it will be smashing. I idolize the British for their steadfastness and snobbery and wit and class, and I respect the French for being the existential, intellectual, artistic folk they are, even in the face of hatred from the most good-looking, popular nation on Earth. I expect to get a better view of who we are by walking among those who aren't us.
Every time I leave Texas and visit other places, I enjoy it, but I appreciate Dallas all the more. So I know I'll be glad while I'm gone, and gladder when I get home. Pray I don't exceed TSA suitcase limits for Mr. Kipling's and tea.
“I'm from a little place called England ... We used to run the world before you.” -- Ricky Gervais