Saturday, September 29, 2012


RUSD: "With your substitute teaching application, please include an official copy of your transcripts (no internet copies."

I send in my application with the transcripts, TB test, fingerprinting relase forms, etc. They check everything over.

RUSD: "Your application has been approved."

I say, "Are you absolutely positive that you have everything you need for my permit application? I'm leaving for Europe next week and will be gone for quite a while."

RUSD: "Yes, everything is complete."

I get back from Europe: "Dear RUSD, I haven't gotten my permit yet. What's going on?"

RUSD: "I don't know, ask the CTC."

The CTC doesn't take phone calls, only emails: "Dear CTC, it's been three months and I haven't gotten my permit. What's going on?"

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing: "We have not received your transcripts"

Friday, September 28, 2012

Still Interning

Set back today -- I responded to an ad for a newspaper job, but was told they didn't need writers after all and they'll keep my information on file.
I was really hoping for this position, and while I'm disappointed, I'm also so glad I didn't cancel my internship with I think I'm going to learn a lot.

Going to keep on keeping on. . .

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I was on the train to Berlin, admittedly a little bored with the Central Valley-type scenery we were speeding by not quite fast enough, when fifteen to twenty men boarded the train together. They all wore matching black t-shirts with green print that said:
Tomas' Junggesellenabschied

With them was one man dressed in a black-and-white striped inmate costume. I had paid for WiFi on the bullet train -- foolishly, I might add: never do that -- and quickly clicked to Google Translate to confirm junggesellanaschied. Sure enough -- it means bachelor party in German.

While it had been relatively quiet before, the twenty-or-so men changed that in a jiffy. Sitting together in four sets of booth seats, they brought the party to the car, breaking out little tin kegs of beer and clear plastic cups. Passengers walked by, talking and laughing with them, and the bachelors would offer a cup of beer.

"Nice guys," my Berliner seatmate said, chuckling and listening to their conversation.

How I wished I could understand the jokes. Along with the mini beer kegs, they brought an energy, a sense of fun and joy onto the train with them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eurail to Bern

Before the train started out from the station in Milano, I took out The Life of St. Catherine. But I didn't know that we'd be speeding by the base of the Swiss Alps on our way to Bern, Switzerland. I was alone in my booth, and switched between the aisle and window seat, trying to see out both sides of the train at once. I pressed my cheek against the cool window to try to see the top of the green mountains. They were haloed in mist.

A few stops in, two men came and sat across from me. They wore beige polo shirts and brown fleece jackets, though the one on the right wore a hat, and the one on the left had a cross necklace. They nodded and smiled at me. I think they were related.

"English or Deutsche?" I asked, my hands in the air, signaling what I don't know.
They shook their heads. "Italiano, Français."

"Oh," I said, pointing at them. "Italiano?"
"Madagascar," they lifted their hands, too. "Um. . . business."

Security and customs came through the car thrice, each time asking for our papers. I felt like I was in a World War II film. The last time Sécurité checked our passports, they took a second look at the man with the cross. "Priest?"

He nodded.

"Priest?" I asked again, when Sécurité had moved on. The one on the left smiled and nodded. I wish they would just wear collars so you could tell these things.

Holding my book up with one hand, I pointed to the picture and title on the front.

The priest smiled.

"Santa Caterina," I said, looking upwards and patting one hand over my heart. Sometimes it really is pretty easy to communicate with just gestures. And nodding. Lots of nodding.

The priest and his friend (or brother?) got up to go to the cafe car. The man in the hat pointed in that direction and asked, "Caffè?"
I said no, grazie, but they brought me back a bottle of water anyway.

Soon the train came to Bern. I nodded, arrivederci, and hauled my twenty-pound backpack and fifty-pound suitcase to the entryway. Though not the largest city, Bern is the capital of Switzerland, so many people had to get off there. Soon there was a line of four or five people, complete with baggage, between me and my old seat. It wasn't until then that I remembered I'd bought a St. Catherine medal in Siena, and what would be cooler than to have it blessed on a train in Switzerland by a priest from Madagascar? The train was slowing, though, and the tiny medal was somewhere in my large bag. I decided I might look like an idiot, but nevertheless, I'd try.

There was just enough room to lay my bag down on the metal floor near the exit. I unzipped the zippers and rummaged through the souvenirs for a thin gift shop bag. Correction: for the thin gift shop bag. Luckily, I could feel the small bulge of the medal at the bottom of a bag of postcards. Nobody could take my bags anywhere with the hallways full of people, so I zipped it up again and squeezed my way back through the hallway to my seat.

"Scuza?" I said, leaning over their seat, still half in the entryway. The medal was in the palm of my hand and I smiled and held it out toward the priest. "Per favore?"

He raised his hand over it and made the sign of the cross.

"Grazie," I said. "Arrivederci."

Stepping around feet and over huge pieces of luggage, I made it back to my own bags and slipped the medal in a small pocket on the inside of my purse. Just a minute later, we pulled into the Bern station, and I tripped happily down the ramp, full of Italian stories to share with F, a family friend.

 All photos are mine. I'm pretty sure the last photos are of Interlaken (two connected lakes near Bern).