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Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Alicia Who Sees Mice

I was just in the bathroom thinking my gratitude thoughts like a good little bobblehead. I found boots that fit my skinny ankles AND are waterproof and not hideous at the thrift store and bought brand new leggings that are so soft I feel like I'm in jammies and then I looked down and wouldn't you know? A hole in my crotch. No smartass, not that one. My neck's not that long. A hole in the crotch of my leggings. Grrr.

Which got me thinking how I complain too much and why do I do that? Sometimes it's because I'm a grouchy pants. Sometimes I'm afraid I'm devolving into a family trait of being negative and complaining all the time and I definitely don't want that.

In writing it's more deliberate though. In writing I do it because I hate that fluffy crap that doesn't have the grit and substance of real life with holes in brand new clothes and all the pot holes that get us stuck.

The time I don't feel all that gritty? Teaching.

Especially teaching ESL.

Teaching ESL makes me laugh and laugh. And not fake, polite laughter, but deep belly-hurting laughter. I don't know how great I am at teaching it. Truth be told, I'm not sure I'm great at all. But dang if we don't have fun.

The funniest thing that ever happened was when a man accidentally used Urban Dictionary to look up "bottom," and gave a very strange definition regarding homosexuality that made me laugh so hard I cried and had to take five before I could even explain what had happened. Last week, I was teaching some mamas how to pronounce "brought" and kept using "bra" to get the verb sound right. One woman had forgotten one so every time I grabbed my straps and pulled my tits up, she started laughing. Then I laughed and we all just about died by the end of class.

And then one night, during a break in the high level class, I was trying to prop the door (it had gotten hot in the room from the computers.) A particularly nicely dressed, young Peruvian gal crept down to see if the stopper had gotten under a file cabinet. She pulled out a mouse trap complete with a dead mouse.

"AHhhhEEEEeeee!!!" Her scream pierced the entire lower level of the college.

More laughter, more tears as the class filed back in to see what was going on. Then we sat down to read House on Mango Street. She stepped out for a moment and when she returned and it was her turn to read the very next vignette was "Alicia Who Sees Mice."

I think that's the most fun night I've had all semester. Then I walked in,late, well after 10:00 PM (and keep in mind my bedtime is closer to 9,) and the toddler potty was in the exact center of the living room containing exactly one turd and one apple core. Life's gritty and full of turds and apple cores and soft new leggings and laughter and tears. I'm going to sew the damn hole up. Take that!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One's cheek, so plump, like globular warm Midwest rain drops falling, plop, delicious
The other's taut and unforgiving, it wedges itself against my lips, my teeth get conked, demanding. Mama, mama, love!
And there are all these kinds of love, folding over and on top of one another, like folded used book art. Magnus love, Gavin love, love of being the mama, husband love, loving husband as father-different-from-husband-love, passion love, all these kinds of love and they fall on me in the night, like stars from the sky, peeeshooo, a meteor shower and I can't sleep. I have to teach in the morning.

There's the new love of my students. Each semester I fall in love, like just meeting my grandmother but for the first time as an adult "abuelita" I call her even though I never did. Didn't even call her "mormor" pa svenska it's mother's mother. The love is like meeting my auntie, a new cousin. Brimming with ideas, they leave. But arriving, they're like mice, sneaking, sneaking bites of cookies, or peeks at text messages, nervous. Don't look at me, don't pick me.

But I do pick you. I pry you out of yourself, push you into the middle of the room and try to make you laugh at yourself. I laugh at myself. Let's play the game together. We're in it together, this difficult business of writing. It can be fun. I promise. or class can, anyway.

Writing is what I know. It is the solid ground. I want to snap it and show it to you: words, arrange them, frame them, make them simple but give them a taste and a texture, like ice cream edged with freezer burn. You get through the bite to the taste if you stick with it. I promise.