June 22, 2008

people, people who need people...

the folklore classes, which I've been taking since August 2007, are making me aware of people, their behavior and patterns (observable from the outside)... their mannerisms, the words they choose, etc. lead to speculation... this is a weird feeling especially when I recognize some sort of pattern or predict what the person will say (they have repeated a phrase over and over again) in certain situation, like a surreal feeling like realizing that one is dreaming and exploiting this knowledge to fly or do other things in the dreamworld (impossible in the waking world)...

two months ago, I was in Chili's. While waiting for my dad to arrive, the waitress approached me and asked if I'd like to order any appetizer or drinks. I just asked for a vanilla milkshake and explained to her that I was waiting for my dad to arrive before ordering. It looked like she wasn't having a good day, I sensed that she was annoyed. I didn't let her "standoffish" attitude ruin my dining experience (I did make a mental note about how much tip we'd give her later). I brought a book to read... the girl was taking the orders of a party to the left of me. Just as I was about get to the rhythm of what I was reading, the same waitress-girl fainted. I was surprised at how calmly the customers acted. One of them caught her and tried to lay her down, and with an authoritative voice (very subtle shaking of voice, little evidence of panic). "Somebody call for help!...somebody get orange juice... when's the last time you ate?, is this the first time that this happened? Somebody call for help?"... I just sat there and stared, my cellphone in my jean's pocket... finally two young women from a booth to my right came over and offered their assistance. I sat there... they finally moved her to the lounge/waiting area where she could fully lay down, a couple minutes later the paramedics arrived, and continued to question her... another waitress came to me and asked what I ordered, I told her that I was waiting for my dad, and that I'd like a vanilla milkshake while I waited. In my mind, I asked how the waitress-girl could have placed herself in that situation... college student working and going to school full time, neglecting health to finish work, to make ends meet... i've had similar situations when i'd feel my blood sugar really low, really tired- fortunately i haven't reach an extreme similar to the girl's- sometimes I have to force myself to stop everything (even inspiration)... my milkshake arrived, everyone resumed what they were doing, 10 minutes later my dad arrived (I told him what happened), we ate... after paying the bills, my dad decided to give a larger tip (we didn't know if the tip would go to the girl who fainted or the girl who took over)...

I had my teeth cleaned before returning to Logan, Utah. I arrived at the dentist's office on the dot. I signed my name and in a couple of minutes, the dental technician, who would clean my teeth, came out. Her appearance was very neat, her auburn hair was tied in a pony tail, and her voice was very matter-of-fact, mechanical (I thought, "oh my gosh my teeth is going to be cleaned by someone who doesn't want to be here")... I sat on the chair, my head resting,... she placed a bib-like course cloth around my neck, she put on her gloves and a mask covering her nose/mouth... she started doing small talk (which surprised me)... she was surprised at the alignment of my teeth: "Did you have braces?... They're nice and straight (in my mind, I begged the differ, they could be straighter...)... don't tell me you don't floss, you must floss...do you floss? You know how I know you floss, your lips are reacting to the floss (pulling away/pushing it)... the front and sides of your teeth are IMMACULATE, but you need to work on the back of your teeth, protect your investment... I have the same problem as you and my hygienist showed me how to brush back there... just relax your jaw and close it more while you brush... yeah, like smiling while you brush (my analogy)... you seemed to be pretty intelligent and can follow what I'm saying... see if we brush and floss, the friction caused by the up and down movement repels and kills the bacteria that lives in our mouths... the bacteria constantly reproduces and POOPS and if we don't brush and floss, the poop will build up and gather together and starts destroying the teeth."

I don't know if "pooping" is the right word, but her choice of word is so vivid that it makes an impression on me. I don't grudge as much everytime I floss my teeth.

during the last week of my vacation in Philly, I was walking in Olde City looking for a souvenir for my friend in Logan... I found a gift shop called Xenophobia?... The magnets weren't overpriced compared to the magnets from the stores near the tourist spots, such as the Liberty Bell, etc. The price was great but the selection/choices were few. I started thinking about buying magnets for my California cousins (so when I visit them, I'd have 'pasalubong' for them)... while selecting the magnets for my aunts, I overheard a female customer give the Asian cashier "attitude"-- I thought the customer was just having a bad day... I continued to look, and then I started looking at other stuff besides the magnets, like the different rubber duckies (duckie fireman, duckie bride, duckie frankenstien)-- I started getting ideas... then the Asian cashier lady said that she'll be closing soon at 5 pm (I looked at my watch and it was 4:40)...I told myself that I'll return to this store in the future, I ignored the tone of the lady (rationalized that she's having a bad day so it was okay that she was rude)... I returned to the magnets and tried to pick the best three designs... in less than a minute: "I'm closing soon," she repeated in a more hostile, unwelcoming way... this time I was annoyed, I didn't care if she was having a bad day or not (she shouldn't be like that to a customer)... I wanted to say how rude she was, but I didn't, I was so angry that all i wanted to do was leave... I returned the magnets haphazardly on the metal display and left (I vow never to return to that place even if the store has cute baubles)... i might have slammed the door, maybe?

my flatmate (for 3 weeks approximately) left three days ago. For three weeks, I experienced living with a person from Italy, from Belluno (between Venice and Padua)... every morning, he'd set up his red clothe mat on the kitchen table, heat up water for his coffee, have his laptop on, internet connected- either reading Italian news or chatting with friends/family, he'd have toast with jam (apricot/marmalade) [I know I have my own routine, but it's easier to observe from the outside]... sometimes he'll question my choice of food for breakfast (especially when I eat cantaloupe or salad with my cereal or oatmeal- I should have something "sweeter" he'd commented) usually he'd be out the of house by 8:30 or 9 am... then he'll be back either at 7/8 or 11 pm -- he usually eats pasta for dinner, or porkchop and crackers... I'll ask him questions about Italy (driving, weather, music, geography, job, etc,) then one day we actually conversed in back and forth fashion about gas prices and global warming... he avoids working on sunday, and he was surprised to find out that I worked on Sundays (I told him that my concept of a weekend [which i adopted from my thai friend] was not limited to saturday and sunday... the weekend is any free day so that means, it could happen on Tuesday or Thursday when I don't have work... I'm also trying to adapt an outlook that views 'work' in a positive manner [i figure, if i'm enjoying my work, I'm not really "working"]... i confused him sometimes...we'll keep in touch through facebook... before he left, he gave me tips on cooking pasta (salt placed on boiling water with pasta for flavor), flavoring food with lemon juice, proper use of olive oil, cooking meat? [tangent but still related to cooking- I found a rice cooker (the magic pot- easier than boiling rice grain over the stove)in my apartment... ginger have expiration dates, and you can peel them using a teaspoon or potatoe peeler and then you can store them in the freezer so they'd last longer]

I bought a used bike in the thrift store for only $15...I was fortunate, the only things the bike needed were air, some grease so everything runs smoothly (the gears, the wheels and other metalic parts). I spent 2 and 1/2 hours at the Aggie Blue Bike shop (free service and education on anything bike related, provided by USU supported by grants et al.). I told the bicycle mechanic that when it came to fixing bikes I was clueless (I can fix English papers to an extent). He asked me about my bike plans... I told him that I wanted to save as much money as possible and that I just planned to bike on flat grounds from my apartment to campus (library/my office and anywhere in between)... the bike is rideable for my intended goals...I assisted him in fixing my bike, I did the little things like putting grease on parts, unscrewing bolts, tightening parts, etc. in addition, I bought a bike lock and new handle bar grips... on Friday, my yellow and gray used bike from D.I. had been baptized as the "Yellow Submarine"...with this bike, I can now wear flip-flops and my diesel shoes, which would normally make my feet ache due to long-distance walking...

approximately 1/3 of the summer session (of teaching eng 1010) is over. For the most part, my students are doing what is expected of them... I'm glad the classroom is running smoothly... I have to grade 20 papers tomorrow... I like the 1 hour and 40 minute time frame... there is time for lecture, discussion, exercises, reading, etc. Last Friday, four students read their work in front of the class and afterwards, there was a brief discussion, it took 45 minutes, but it was worth it... the third semester teaching english 1010 so far has been a charm... everything is just connected better- content and concept are integrated well with chosen assignments and homework--> I structured the 7-8 week course using the rhetorical triangle, writing as a process, and connected everything to these models plus Ballenger's four ways of 'seeing'--- I'm trying to stress being active in one's "education" instead of being passive and "schooled" (Gatto) and just because eng 1010 is a general education class, it doesn't mean that it can't be applied outside academia and in one's field of studies...

one weird thing, some of my students are reminding me of celebrities or people I know (friends/classmates etc.)... one student has the bearing of Patrick Swazi (Dirty Dancing- maybe it's the hair?)...one has a similar face to Jay Pugh (my student is chubbier in the face, but the way they showed impatience is pretty similar)... another student's face reminds me of my friend in Philly... it's always something, like a pattern... whether it's their posture or the way they hold up their carriage/bearings, their walk, their chin/height/hair... something will remind me of people... after all "people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world..."

Posted by Michael Diezmos at June 22, 2008 1:40 AM

Mike, I'm just curious... do you plan to mine some of these experiences for your own creative work, or do you feel that these reflections themselves are the expression for which you are shooting?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at June 22, 2008 5:31 PM

Hey Dr. Jerz

I think eventually I'll use these experiences for my own creative work... right now I don't see a direct connection between the materials I write about and the market I want to break into --children's literature-- maybe for young adults... I'm intimidated in attempting to write for older readers... the plot ideas/concept I'm thinking of may not be "complex" enough or age appropriate...

i'm finding out from these reflections and from reading my students' papers, that there might be a career in "ghostwriting" for me ... whenever I read my students' papers, I get lots of ideas on how to make their paper more dramatic, how to structure their prose for drama, what details to add, etc.... I'm discovering that it's easier for me to develop other people's ideas than to develop mine (for example, developing other's idea might take half the time it takes me to develop my ideas)

they're both reflections and possible materials...

(tangent: questions to Dr. Jerz, - I tried going to Setonian Online to click on some of my old articles (to use as teaching tool), but the link leads to blank pages- is this going to get fixed? Or is the situation hopeless?)


Posted by: Registered User at June 23, 2008 3:00 PM

Mike, all the articles are still in the database... I'm planning a site overhaul and that's one of many things I hope to fix.

You should still be able to get to the articles through the search engine on the blogs.setonhill.edu main page, or just through Google.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at June 23, 2008 4:32 PM

this method somewhat worked... the only thing is that I barely remember the titles of the articles I wrote... I have copies but they're all in Philly...

thanks anyway!

Posted by: Registered User at June 29, 2008 2:14 AM
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