Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rawkin' Bloggin' Noggin' Award

Grandy gave me this award last week.

I was only JUST able to find and pick it up yesterday!

Thank you Grandy! You rawk too! :)

I've got a rawkin' bloggin' noggin' award

 

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blankets And T-Shirts And Needles Oh My!

I've just mailed two boxes of supplies to a wildlife rehabilitator I know, and will probably send another 2 boxes-worth once I can find actual boxes to put them in!

I called her a couple of weeks ago and went through a bunch of my spare supplies with her on the phone. I already had an idea of what she'd be able to use but I wanted to check before sending anything. When I have a lot to donate, she's a good person for me to start with because she networks with other animal shelters and rehabbers in her area and can distribute excess supplies that she can't use herself.

What types of things are good to send (or consider sending?)
Leftover Medical Supplies:

Some of these are day to day items, and some are items that might be left over after treating a sick pet or human.
  • Medicines (human or animal, prescription or non) that are no longer needed but have not expired. I believe they can use them 6 months past their expiration date, but I'm not certain.
  • Blood glucose monitors and supplies
  • Lactated ringers (I know... you all have boxes of those lying around your house ;) )
  • Unused sterile needles
  • Eye droppers
  • Syringes with no needles attached -All sizes. Especially small. (Used is ok if they're clean and you make it clear that they are not sterile. They'll be used for feeding.)
  • Wee wee pads (the kind you use for pets or the kinds used in hospital beds)
Leftover Pet Items:
  • (See the medical section above)
  • Pet food that hasn't expired. Dog, cat, bird... anything.
  • Plastic pet carriers
  • Pet food bowls
  • Hairball remedies
  • Wee wee pads
  • Specialty items for exotic pets if they shelter them, like ferrets, iguanas, hedgehogs, chinchillas, servals etc. including toys, pet water bottles, bedding, cages, treats. (Cages and toys are usually not needed for wildlife, but you can always ask.)
Leftover Baby Items:
  • Cloth diapers
  • Burp cloths
  • Wee Wee pads (disposable or non)
  • Baby oil
  • Baby shampoo
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby food
  • Esbilac or other milk/nutritional supplements
  • Pedialyte or other electrolyte supplements
Toiletries:
  • Tweezers
  • Vasoline
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Q-tips
Other Household Items:
  • Anything that can be used for bedding like blankets, towels, old t-shirts... (I've just put aside several orphaned pillow cases I will probably never use. They'll go to her in the next round.)
  • Electric blankets
  • Food scales (good for weighing small animals)
  • Blenders
  • Dawn dishwashing liquid (Often used for removing grease from birds)
  • Day to day supplies like paper towels, laundry detergent, trash bags, and cleaning products (ask which ones).
  • Gift certificates: Grocery stores, hardware/houseware stores, pet stores, office supply stores...
Those are the obvious things. Obvious to me anyway. Beyond that, individual shelters or rehabbers might have more specific needs. Some might even need office items like a computer, printer, or a digital camera (particularly for shelters adopting out animals)... they all vary.

Spring brings in all kinds of baby wildlife (Birds, foxes, raccoons, deer, possums, squirrels... you name it!) It's one of the busiest times for shelters and wildlife rehabilitators. If you have a bunch of spare towels, t-shirts and blankets, some old medical supplies you can no longer use, or some pet food you thought your dog or cat would like that they HATED but you haven't thrown away "just because," consider calling a local shelter or rehabber and seeing if they could use it. Many of these people are volunteers and they could use all the help they can get.

PS: I checked Google to see if I could find an online list of common supplies used in rehabilitation and sheltering and didn't find a good one. But I did come across this article which interviews several of the rehabbers I know. It's funny this popped up because I wasn't searching for their names or for NY.


 

Monday, April 28, 2008

Alarm Clock

About 2 weeks ago, I set my alarm clock, woke up before it went off (as I generally do), got up, put my murphy bed up into the wall (I have a murphy bed), and went about my day. About an hour later, the alarm went off. Closed up in the bed. I'd forgotten to turn it off before getting out of bed, and there it was chirping away -as it would continue to do all day- until I turned it off. There's no auto-off on this alarm. It doesn't turn itself off after a certain amount of time.

I think I was in the middle of doing something, or maybe I was just trying to get out the door because, for whatever reason, I didn't feel like I had the time to take down the bed again and turn off the clock. So I unplugged it. I told myself I'd plug it back in before bed and re-set it that night. Well I didn't. And every night for the past two weeks, when I've gone to bed, I've rolled over at some point to check the time, seen my blank clock staring back at me, and told myself that I would plug the clock back in "tomorrow." I know... why not get up and do it then? The door to the murphy bed blocks the closet when the bed is down, and the outlet is in there. So that'd mean putting the whole bed back up again to plug in the clock, and once I'm in bed, I want to stay in bed, not do calisthenics!

For the past two weeks I've done fine. I don't usually need an alarm to wake up. (I didn't that morning!) I can see the clock on my DVD player or my stereo from my bed so I've looked to those when I needed to know the time and it's been fine.

This morning, however, I needed an alarm. Again, the clock was not plugged back in. I woke up early and wanted to go back to sleep, but you know how that works... Wake up early, go back to sleep, OVERSLEEP. But I could really use the extra hour and half of sleep right now. Really.

So, I went to my PDA to set that alarm. Battery low. It turned itself off. No problem. I reached for my cellphone to set its alarm. Battery low. It turned itself off.

So now I'm up.

I really need to plug that dumb clock back in. (And charge my phone and PDA!)

Edit: At ten minutes to 9, my phone rang. I picked it up, said hello, the phone beeped and the battery went dead. I called the person back on my other phone and learned that my 9:30 appointment was cancelled. I could go back to bed. I tried but about 15 minutes later I got up for good. -I think my home was invaded by some kind of energy-sucking vortex last night. Which, oddly, would be kind of in keeping with a dream I had...


 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

B Is For...

  1. B is for Baked goods. I like most home baked things but I don't usually buy store bought cakes, pies or cookies. I'd rather make my own if I'm really craving something. Or just eat a chocolate bar!
  2. B is for Basketball. Which just reminded me of the song from the musical Runaways. A great show if you know any teens young enough to do it. Very powerful show when you're young. Great acting piece. (Aaaand now I've got those songs stuck in my head!)
  3. B is for Boys. My whole life I've had about an equal number of male and female friends. Even when I was younger and it wasn't "cool" to be friends with boys! I never understood that. I remember adults and kids being shocked that I had boys at my birthday parties, and that I was actually friends with them! (Imagine the horror!)
  4. B is for Bazooka Bubble Gum. Anyone remember that? That little pink rectangle, covered with a slight dusting of powder, and that indentation down the center. Were we really supposed to split that? Like an aspirin? Do they still make that? I loved reading those comics.
  5. B is for Blue. In recent years, I've taken a liking to medium and light blues.
I think yesterday's list was too long. So I'm stopping at five today :)


 

Saturday, April 26, 2008

D Is For...

  1. D is for Donuts which, believe it or not, I don't like. I'm not sure why. Everybody likes donuts. I like the idea of donuts. They look pretty, I want to like them, but they make me queasy. I think it might be the grease they're fried in. I don't like those fried dough things with powdered sugar that you can get at fairs either. Same queasiness.
  2. D is for Doodle. I got kicked out of 2nd grade for doodling. Someday I'll tell that story. And yes I was let back in! (I should start keeping a list of the stories I say I'm going to tell you guys "someday.")
  3. D is for "Don't play that" as in "Homey don't..."
  4. D is for Discover. A great word in any situation.
  5. D is for Delivery. Sometimes a surprise, sometimes a convenience, usually a good thing in my book.
  6. D is for Dracula. I'm not into Dracula or vampires, but I once had a hotel room in Italy with huge windows directly across from my bed that looked exactly like the windows Dracula always few through. I checked and there was no way someone could climb up to them, but I was kind of wondering if someone might swoop in one night. Staring across the foot of my bed at those windows was a bit creepy, but also kind of cool -in a very creepy sort of way.
  7. D is for Drink. I drink 8-12 cups of water a day. I really do. I have a container that holds 4 cups of water and I generally go through that 2-3 times a day. I'd never be able to keep track of or remember if I'd had 8 or 12 separate cups of water, but with the larger container, I can remember and keep track of 3!
  8. D is for Double. My mom is a twin. There's TWO of her! Twins supposedly skip a generation. Every time my sister got pregnant I told her "It could be twins!" My friend's sister in law gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) and the next time she got pregnant they figured that they'd be covered whether they had a boy or a girl because they had clothing for both sexes left over from the twins. Know what she had? ANOTHER set of twins! Boy and girl again. -They're not getting pregnant anymore! (And no fertility drugs. Just a natural twin factory!)
  9. D is for Dreams. Another area I should talk about more. I've always had a pretty active dream life.
  10. D is for Done. I like being done with things. And now I'm also done with this list! :)

 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Code Fix Re: Yesterday's Post

Remember the code I told you about yesterday? The one that will highlight the blog owner's comments and set them apart from visitor comments? Well there's a problem with it. -But I fixed it. :)

<ENTERING GEEK MODE>

I wrote to the blog owner who posted the original code so they will probably (hopefully) make this, or a similar, change on their site, but for now, here's the code fix for anyone who's interested:

Follow the instructions on this page, but when you're done, delete this line:

<b:if cond='data:comment.author == data:post.author'>

and put the following line in its place:

<b:if cond='data:comment.authorUrl == &quot;INSERT THE URL FOR YOUR BLOGGER PROFILE HERE&quot;'>

Make sure you insert the URL for your blogger profile where it says "INSERT THE URL FOR YOUR BLOGGER PROFILE HERE"

What this fixes:

Previously, the code would check to see if the blog owner's name matched the commenter's name. If you have a unique name like "Nora-bee" :) chances are none of your commenters will have that same name as you. But if your name is Melissa or Joe or Hillary or Alice, or another more common name, then any other person coming to your blog that has the same name as you would also have had their comments highlighted just like yours.

With the code fix above, blogger will check your blogger profile URL against the URL of the person leaving a comment (instead of comparing your names). Could someone still input your blogger profile URL as theirs and pretend to be you? Sure. So it's not 100% foolproof. But that's a lot less likely to happen than someone having the same name as you.

And at the risk of getting a little more geeky on you here:

If you're fairly decent with coding, you should also be able to adapt the code for multiple blog authors by using multiple "if" statements with corresponding styles.

</END GEEK MODE>


 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

When I Get Back To My Comments...

Still super super busy right now. But when I catch up on my comments, it'll be much easier to see which replies are mine, because I just learned how to put my comments in a different color from visitors' comments! (Not in the pop up window, but in a post, like this.)

I learned how to do this here Tips for New Bloggers -Yay! :)

Edit: I found a small problem with this code and explained how to address it in my next post.



 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Letter "P"

There's one week left to NaBloPoMo, and I have had NO TIME to read through more letters! This isn't to say that I didn't read through lots already. I did! I've almost read through them all, but not everything is "suitable for posting" and I haven't had a chance to read through the remaining ones to see what's left.

So let's change tactics for tonight. Tonight, let's celebrate the Letter "P".
  • "P" as in "Part Of Everything."
  • "P" as in what my friend is doing in her jug this weekend.
  • "P" as in I think I may need to order a pizza.
  • "P" as in pretty soon, I'm going to bed! ... so maybe that pizza's not such a good idea.
  • "P" as in plans to: finish reading the rest of those letters, catch up on my blog reading, do laundry, go to the post office, shop for groceries, fix two computers, meet a friend for dinner, get a haircut, stop global warming and... Drat! The elevator's being repaired tomorrow. Well that cuts out laundry!

 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ur-Ine Luck

A friend and I went out to lunch today, but before we ate I accompanied her to get some quick bloodwork done. One of the things her doctor ordered was a 24 hour urine sample. If you've never done one of these, it involves peeing into a special jug for an entire day. When they gave her the jug to take home, I asked "Do you have a bag for her? You know... so she doesn't have to walk around NYC with a big urinal in her hand?" and they said "Sure, there's one right here." and they put the jug in a bag and handed it to her. The bag was opaque, and had the lab's name and logo on it. It also had the words "24 HOUR URINE SAMPLE" in large black letters on both sides.

Later during lunch we had to feed the parking meter. I told my friend I'd do it since I'd finished eating, but once I got outside it occurred to me that I might not remember exactly what her car looked like. I had a vague idea (blue, minivan...) and I knew which block we parked on, but what if there were similar cars nearby? Then I remembered our excursion before lunch and I was suddenly extremely confident I'd be able to spot the correct car: Blue, minivan, -with a big bag that says "24 HOUR URINE SAMPLE" lying on the back seat.

-Theft deterrent for the 21st century.


 

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Inch Picture Frame

small blue picture frame with flowers around the border and a faded note behind the glass

Dear Melissa,

This is so that someone you care about can always be with you.

Congratulations, know that I have faith in you & love.

[Name omitted]
A graduation present from a High School guidance counselor after a particularly harrowing year. Her note has always meant far more to me than any photo.


 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On The Steps Of The Catholic School

After my mortified friend told me about her son's latest trick, I told her we had to put this story in "letter format" so I could post in on my blog. We wrote this in the car:

Dear God,

Please forgive my son for standing on the front steps of his Catholic school during dismissal time and yelling out "Hey mom! Guess who this is!" then throwing his arms out to either side, closing his eyes, and hanging his head down diagonally (in front of all the teachers, kids, and other parents!)

He knows not what he does.

And, more importantly, please do not hold this against me because I have no idea where he learned that!

 

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Update

I didn't have time to type out a good CATS story last night so I typed it out today and added it to the bottom of yesterday's post (after the letter).


 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Now And Forever


Dear Melissa,

MERRY MERRIER MERRIMENT!

I hope your New Year is as joyous as mine...

...I'm finally out of CATS!

I'm [info omitted] doing a new musical [musical name omitted]. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful the whole experience has been, is, seems to be becoming. Life truly exists outside the litter box.

Pretty much every dancer in NYC performed in CATS at one time or another. In my opinion, working as a swing (a "swing" understudies more than one role) in CATS was one of the hardest jobs on Broadway.

Most musicals have very distinct chorus members. As such, in a group number, someone playing the role of a baker might sing baker-type lyrics and dance in a baker-type way, while someone playing a seamstress might have a slightly different set of lyrics and choreography in the very same number -something more seamstress-like. Not so in CATS.

In the Broadway production of CATS, most of the song and dance numbers required precision dancing and singing, with every cat doing identical movements and singing identical lyrics (different harmonies, but the same words and the same timing). That was part of the beauty of CATS. Everyone leapt into the air at the exact same time, with their arms, legs, and heads at the exact same angle, and everyone landed together with equal precision. I never saw one cat land even a split second before the rest.

I once asked a friend "I understand swinging for five parts that have slightly different blocking or lyrics from one another, but when you're understudying five cats that have the exact same lyrics and choreography in most numbers and the only difference is where they're positioned onstage, do you ever forget which one you're playing that night?" And she said "Yup! Sometimes I'll be skipping down stage left, see a black cat already in my spot, and think "which cat am I???" Then I look down at my hands and go 'Crap! I'm ORANGE! -Upstage right!'"

NaBloPoMo small badge

 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Caught Up On Comments

I think I got them all :) Sorry for the delay. I've been immensely busy!

 

Out Sick

3/18 Please excuse Melissa from school 3/17 as she was home and not feeling well.

It's really much cooler looking when you can see my dad's old company letterhead at the top and his signature at the bottom, but whatcha gonna do. The funny thing is that I still have this. Shouldn't I have turned it in?

* Note: I'm not out sick today! Just still busy!


 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letters To The Laundromat

To the Spanish Speaking Men at the laundromat:

If you have a question or need help with something, yes I speak spanish. If you're hitting on me, "No hablo espaƱol."

To the Old Men at the laundromat:

If you're hitting on me, I also don't hear well.

To my female, married, in her 60s, and totally not hitting on me neighbor who saw me on my way back from the laundromat, in my sweats (half of which I wore to bed last night) my "I can't be bothered with my hair right now" baseball cap, and my "please nobody make eye contact with me right now" dark sunglasses, and gave me a huge smile and out of nowhere said "You look GOOD!"

I love you.

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Art Isn't Easy

A "filler" course my friend took to finish up her last few credits.

We have to do a wire sculpture of ourselves expressing an emotion. My group is doing 'our body expressions towards shock - something tragic that's happened' -how depressing. I'm literally taking wire and wrapping myself in it. So far, my sculpture looks very bad, but what do I care? I took the course pass/fail.

Follow Up Conversation

HER
I wrote that?

ME
You don't remember wrapping yourself up in wire?

HER
I think that was my senior year...

ME
Are you sure about that? Because I think you may be having a "senior" year right now! ;)


 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Best Friend In Elementary School

C was my best friend in Elementary School. To be honest, I'm not sure if I was her best friend, but I had more fun with her than with anyone else I can remember when we were young. When she moved a whole state away I was devastated. We wrote on and off for about 5 years. She moved two more times, then we finally lost touch.


Hay Kid, Where the ________ (oBSanity) have you been? I'm in a good mood. I feel like Writting all my long lost friends (not that your one of them) but you do Come Close!! Consitiring I haven't seen you in 2 years and Kerrin in 3 or 4. I'm writting her next (comforting hah)

Right now I'm sitting in my room listening to Meat Loaf (Paradise By the Dash Bord light) WOW!!!!


So who do like now? I'm maddly (love spelling) in Love with two Boys...

 

Sunday, April 13, 2008

To My Friends In Essex...

There's no "R" in "Melissa."

Envelopes addressed to M E R L I S S A

Anybody can speak with a cockney accent. Not everybody can spell with one.


 

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Operation Santa Claus: The Gifts

Yesterday I posted my letters from 2007's Operation Santa Claus. These are the gifts they received.

The girl who asked for a baby doll got this.



She also got a Santa coloring book and crayons which I forgot to photograph.


The 4 and 5 year old boys
each received a talking Power Ranger that morphs into a plane.






Each also got a Polar Fleece hooded sweatshirt.




Each boy had a two year old sister. They both received this.



The talking Dora was a no-brainer. As soon as I saw I had little girls under the age of 5 on my list I checked off "Dora, Dora, Dora..." -Dora is like crack to little girls in the USA. But what's the deal with there being almost NO Dora products for kids under 3 years old?! Most of what I saw labeled for "3 years old and up" would probably be FINE for a 2 year old, but I wasn't about to take that chance with a stranger's kids. This was the only Dora toy I could find that said it was ok for 2 years old and up! Luckily it was a pretty cool one.

In addition to Dora, both 2 year old girls also got this.



The 2 year old girls' clothes were difficult because I wanted to get stuff that a) wasn't ugly, and b) was stretchy and soft, not stiff. Particularly the pants. Plus they had to be the right size and price!

The little girl who believes in Santa got
a Disney Princesses hat and gloves, and a very soft fluffy pink "boa type" scarf.




And another talking Dora :)




The two sisters who like Barbies got a Barbie each:




And since they like to play house, I bought each each of them some Barbie furniture. One of the girls got the couch and table set, which had about 10 little accessories that you can't see well in the picture.



The other girl got the bathtub set (which also has about 10 accessories). At first I thought the bathtub looked boring, but then I remembered how much kids like playing with water. -And let's not forget the flat screen TV to the right of the tub that every bathroom has!



Since the letter implied that the girls liked playing together, I figured they'd share these so it's kind of like both kids got both.


So that's it. Each child had 2 gifts to open, except for the one with the hat, gloves, scarf, and Dora. She had 3 boxes. Each had 6 mini candy canes taped all over the outside of their boxes and two sheets of stickers. Each had a gift tag on their box that was addressed to them and said the gift was from Santa.

As I said in my original post back in December, there were other letters from people with greater needs, but I was specifically looking for people requesting toys. There were many other letters requesting clothes, or items for larger families that I wouldn't have been able to afford. I chose the ones I knew I'd be able to do.

And boy am I glad the post office had the letters sorted by boroughs! (A borough in NYC is like a town. We have 5 boroughts in New York City: Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens.) When they asked if I had a borough preference I mentioned my own as an afterthought. I'd planned to mail everything so it really wouldn't have mattered, but by the end of the day, when I realized there really wouldn't be time to mail them all, having letters from my borough is what made it possible for me to get everything delivered in time.
Operation Santa Claus 2007
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | A little more here | The Last Delivery
The Letters | The Gifts


 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Operation Santa Claus: The Letters

A few people asked if I could post my letters from Operation Santa Claus. These are the ones I answered. (Did I ever mention that I'd only planned to answer 1 to 3 letters? Yeah... that didn't happen!)








(Back of letter)









Text from the letters above:

Dear Santa,

Hello

how are you I hope you are fine. My name is [name omitted] I am good at school in [name of school omitted] and I listen to my teacher. I konw my mommy works hard to give us food.

I wish I could have a baby doll.

Thank you Santa.

Dear Santa Claus,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am aware you must be very busy as I am sure that this year in particular there are many children writing to you with requests for gifts.

I am sorry to say that I am one such woman writing on behalf of my two children. I have written to you for the previous four years. Perhaps given that English is my second language and you are probably not fluent in spanish. However I am the mother of a very good son, [name omitted] who is four years old and a not-always-so-naughty 2 year old daughter named [name omitted] who would greatly appreciate any gifts you are able to afford them. Mommy is not always able to grant Christmas.

[Girl's name] is a size 3T in clothing and a size 7 in shoes. As for [boy's name] he is a size 5 in clothing and his shoes are a size 11.

On behalf of my family I would greatly appreciate any assistance. Thank you!

All the best and Happy Holidays.

Dear Santa Claus,

My name is [name omitted]. I am a single mother. I have two children my son [name omitted] he is 5 year and my daughter [name omited] he is 2 year. I don't have money right now I owe always give thanks to good for having people like you that is willing to help mother like me. I wing you coul make this Christmas enjoyable for my children you to help me with clothe, toys, shoes please.

I want this Christmas to be special for my children they have had a Christmas with toys and gifts thanks and Merry Christmas for you and you family.
[Address omitted]

Sincerely,
[Name omitted]

[Back of letter lists clothing sizes for both kids in pants, shirts, coats, and shoes]

November 20, 2007

Dear Santa,

Please make my daughter [name omitted] her dream come true. She knows that you are somewhere there and keep talking about you all day, she is 4 years old, Hispanic and very enthusiastic about Christmas day, she is a good girl and thank God very healthy.

Please send her anything you want to the following address:
[address omitted]

Thank you very much and have a good Christmas

Dear Santa,

I am a mother of two little girls name [name omitted] age 8 and [name omitted] age 6; I am having financial difficulties at the moment and do not have enough money to give my daughters the Christmas they deserved. Their father has just been diagnosed with cancer for a second time in a year. I am hoping you can help with any little thing for them so they can see something on Christmas morning. [Name omitted] is a size 10 slim in pants and shirts and [name omitted] a size 7 in pants and shirts, they both like Barbie dolls and love to do arts and crafts they love playing house, at this time anything will suffice for them. Thank you and have a healthy and happy Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Thank you again,
[name and address omitted]

Tomorrow I'll post photos of their gifts.

Operation Santa Claus 2007
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | A little more here | The Last Delivery
The Letters | The Gifts


 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yesterday's Letter

There were enough questions about yesterday's letter that I thought I'd answer them in a post.

When it came time to fulfill my math/sciences credits in college, I didn't want to take yet another chemistry/physics/bio/math class. I wanted to try something new, something I knew nothing about. So I decided to take computer programming to fulfill those requirements.

Since "Computer Sciences" wasn't my major, and I didn't know anybody in any of my computer classes, when the note was passed to me during class, I asked who I was supposed to pass it to. The person who'd handed it to me pointed at me. I shook my head and tried to mime "No. Who do you want me to pass it to? Where is it supposed to end up?" and again, she pointed to me. I knew that couldn't be right so I looked back through the rows of students to see who had originally sent the note. I was certain I'd find someone frantically waving and pointing to their best friend sitting NEXT to me, or maybe a row or two over, but every person in the "note passing chain" pointed to me. So I read the note. Then I slowly turned around again and caught the eye of the person who had sent it -the one smiling happily and waving at me from the back of the room.

I agreed to tutor her but we only met once or twice. What she really wanted was for me to write the programs for her without any explanation. She asked me to write out the answers to the homework assignments in full, and said that she'd look it all over once she was home and compare it to her notes from class. I told her we could discuss the homework assignments and her notes during our tutoring sessions. She said it would take too long. I told her it wouldn't. She told me she forgot her notes. I told her we could make new ones, and that mine would be easier for her to understand. She said she didn't have a pen or paper. I told her I did. She said she was late for an appointment.

Needless to say, things didn't work out.

I don't know if she killed herself or not, but I never heard from her parents so... ;)


 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No Pressure...

Passed to me during class, from someone I didn't even know!


Hi, I figure that you're the best student in the class. I'm barely scraping thru. I was wondering if I paid you $5 hr. to help me do these programs if you'd be into it. I've been to the tutors & they want to wring my neck cause I just don't get it. If you say no I'll kill myself but don't feel bad my parents won't blame you.


 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

From My Brother

Dear Melissa, Im sorry that I took this money from you. I'll never do it again. -Written in a kid's handwriting complete with reversed letters.

I have no memory of this.


 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kanduki: Second Letter




What a pleasant surprise! when I saw your letter! All right! I must answer you now.

You know that I am seveenteen years. In Zaire each family has eight or ten children. My family has teen children too. I am the 5th child and the only one boy. I am among student's children of my family. The for first girls are already teachers. My father and mother are cultivators!

Zaire is a "first rate" and big country. There are many animal, beautifull bird, many big mountain as is "Rwenzori", and a good river.

Oh, by the way, you asked me to send you some pictures. I am sorry becuase I haven't been fast to find it as much as I have sent this letter. Don't worry my friend so patience!

Now, you and me, we are looking forward to corresponded with each other. We are getting older and older. Perhaps someone among us will go to visit another in America or in Afrique. Can you think what will happenning?...

In Zaire, after Christmas, change of money have happened. Because of every thing became dear. But food is cheap. I play only football. Do you like music, cinema, theatre, reading (of books), as much as me? Are you a boy or girl? Will I see you in the future? Perhaps on a picture. Is the meat of cat best to eat? Here each person has goats or chickens at home because meat of it are good to eat.

At this end, you will may you tell your family that my family greet him a lot?

Dear Melissa, I'll be waiting too.

Voice of your affectionate
friend Kanduki

As a teenager I particularly liked "Is the meat of cat best to eat?" I wasn't sure how I was going to tactfully write him back and explain that the cats and dogs I'd described in my first letter were pets that we, as Americans, spent hundreds of dollars on every year and treated like members of the family, even though they served no useful purpose whatsoever. We just "liked them." I also liked that despite knowing my name was "Melissa," he had no idea if I was a boy or a girl.

I was really looking forward to corresponding with Kanduki. Our lives were so different. I felt like I was writing someone from the past. After I replied to this letter, I started thinking about what photos I wanted to send him; Pictures of things he might not have seen before. But I also didn't want seem like I was bragging, and I certainly didn't want to inadvertently make him feel bad. I kept trying to see my world through his eyes. What was ordinary to me that would seem extraordinary to someone "from the past."

Growing up, I was always aware of how much I had in my life that other people didn't. I often felt like Cinderella at a ball and would look around and think "whose life is this?" I think this was the first time, though, that I took a good look at grocery stores, and really noticed their obscene amount of abundance and luxury. I was suddenly in awe of them. If Kanduki could have seen those rows and rows of never ending fresh produce and food, I was certain he'd keel right over. I decided that was something that would amaze him. I wanted to take a picture of the produce section of a grocery store. But I wanted to take a picture from a smaller store so it wouldn't look like I was bragging. The other "amazing" thing I wanted to photograph and tell him about? -Traffic lights :)

Unfortunately, I never got to send him those photos. This was the last letter I received from Kanduki. I never heard back from him after my reply. As I said in yesterday's post, due to the distance of his village from the nearest mailbox, there was more than a 2 month lag time between our letters, so it took me a while to realize his next letter wasn't coming. I don't know if he chose to stop writing, or if his letter got lost, or if my letter to him got lost -or if, possibly, he just graduated! I didn't think to write him another letter to check. Partially because I wasn't sure if maybe I'd said something wrong. I was trying to be so careful, but I couldn't be certain. So, I just kept waiting for his letter and then figured, eventually, that maybe he'd lost interest.

I've thought about him a lot over the years and wondered about him. Whether he lost interest in writing or whether one of our letters just got lost and he was still waiting for a letter from me. Whether I'd said something that made him uncomfortable. What kinds of changes his village went through over the years. Was he still living there, or did he move elsewhere. What kind of adult he grew up to be. Was he a farmer like his parents, or did he have another kind of job? Was he a good person, or did he grow up to be a scary person? For all I know, he could be a drunken serial killer now. I hope he grew up to be a good person, but I don't know. I love these two letters but I have no idea what the real person behind them was like, or how he turned out. And I realize, as I've been typing this, that I always assumed he did grow up. It never occurred to me, until just now, that it's possible he never did.