Friday, May 24, 2013

Shss! It's a Secret

Since this is my birthday weekend and I'm suddenly older in body than is reasonably right for the mental age I've achieved, I thought I'd share just a few of the many "dirty" secrets I hold near and close.  Get ready to be shocked.

I overload my dishwasher.  I have a teeny, tiny kitchen and the only dishwasher that wouldn't take up too much valuable kitchen cabinet space is apartment size.  This means it's half the size of a regulation dishwasher.  You should see my eyes glaze over when I see what my sister-in-law in Houston can get in HER dishwasher!  Because mine is so narrow, only a few things go into at time but if you have a sink full of dishes, (another little secret -- I don't wash up after every eating) you keep cramming in glasses and silverware, and bowls, and storage containers, and pots, and lids, and trays -- until you have to use your hip to lock the thing closed.  I must have about the best dishwasher in the city because almost always I find the dishes and everything else coming out sparkling clean.

Another secret about my dishwasher is that I didn't know it had a "food catcher" in it that one should clean out regularly.  It was only this year when I lost a knife in the bottom of my dishwasher and didn't discover it until most of the handle had melted away that I found the filter and realized I should have been cleaning it out at least monthly.

Only very close family know I have a police record, have been followed by police for over a month, and have been arrested.  In 1974 and in 1976 when I was working for the Kansas City School District I went on strike with the AFT (American Federation of Teachers' Union).  The first time the union won handily and I was not a target.  The second time, as a strong union supporter  in a city that was determined to break the union, I found myself under surveillance anytime I was on the picket line -- and sometimes just had police following me around the city when I wasn't picketing.  Police cars were on our street, on watch, 24/7.  I was even arrested for blocking traffic during a protest (I WAS blocking traffic and I did totally refuse to move), put in a paddy wagon, and transported to a cell -- where I happily played Spades for a couple of hours until the union paid the bail.  When the union lost the second strike, one of the settlements they did manage to retain was that those of us arrested our records expunged.

I also have an FBI file.  In 1966 I married a man from Afghanistan; stupidest thing I've ever done.  He was a zealot, a liar, we had nothing in common, and he was the most beautiful man I've ever seen except in the movies.  It was libido, pure and simple.  We divorced two years later -- but he never actually "let go" even though I really never saw him much after the divorce.  Periodically I would get phone calls in the middle of the night or at someplace he should never have know I was -- and there would be Zia, issuing threats or offering cajoling promises.  He really didn't want me back; he just hated to lose and he had the Afghan community in KC keep tabs on me all his life.  Anyway, he had all kinds of connections to the Middle East and was in Iran when they took the hostages during the Carter Administration.  He had his American citizenship (thanks to me) and when he was grabbed and thrown into prison for buying guns for Afghanistan, the US had to negotiate his release.  He was the last of the "Americans" released from his Irani captors.  When Russia invaded Afghanistan in the 1980's, he started several organizations to supply money and weapons to his home country.  He had a pretty high profile in D.C. and New York for awhile, as he tried to negotiate Afghan freedom but he took one trip too many to the Middle East and finally he was captured and presumably killed by the rebels or the Russians or somebody or other.  He has never been seen since the 1990's.  The FBI would show up at my door and question me about him, if I had heard from him, etc., whenever he would get himself into some pot of very hot water.  They were always very businesslike and pleasant.  I never felt threatened by them -- but I wonder if I had ever tried to get a passport to Asia of the Middle East if I'd show up on a "No Fly" list.

Twice I filed suit against the Kansas City School District.  After the second strike ended in 1976 I received one of two "disciplinary" transfers out of my school.  The principal claimed I was and would continue to be a disruption to the morale of the teaching body.   The two of us (both from the same school) filed suit against the district.  Time went on while the union lawyers and the district argued about the suit.  Eventually I discovered I really liked the new school much, much better --it honestly felt more like a promotion than a discipline.  Finally after two years the district offered to settle the suit by agreeing to give back the jobs of all the "un-tenured" teachers they had laid off after the strike ended (one of the causes of the strike).  In return the two of us would just quietly drop the suit.  The union got everyone to agree that "disciplinary" would be removed from our records and just like that it was done.
 The second suit was filed in federal court to keep the district from tearing down Paseo High School AND, more importantly, transfer the entire senior class from the school to the Science and Math Magnet instead of the Performing Arts Magnet.  In 1991 Paseo was detonated and though the district never agreed to it, they eventually just quietly moved all the kids to Southwest, the science magnet.  We had a hell of fight on this one, with 18 of my students, juniors and seniors, leading the movement.  Each student was represented by their own personal lawyer, pro bono, and the lawyers billed over $600,000 in pro bono fees for the 11 months we fought the district. 

I have fallen in love with Facebook.  It's so much fun to check out what folks are doing in real time or see what people are reading today or what they have cooked.  Most of my favorite authors have their own pages and they send out notices when they have special offers on Amazon or have delayed writing a new novel.   Things I used to share here, now I'm writing on Facebook instead.  I think if I weren't retired I wouldn't be so having so much fun on the site but then a friend (I've never met) set up a Facebook group for some of us who stay in touch by email through Yahoo groups (I've actually only met in person one of these people). It seemed so easy that I quickly formed a group of friends here in the city -- people I actually can meet and talk with face to face -- so we can arrange our lunches and meetings.  I've taken to checking out Facebook two or three times a day.  I think I'm becoming addicted.  Here's my latest Facebook jotting, which probably would have made a great entry:
A fourth of a loaf of crispy fresh Cibatta bread, two large pats of soft butter, a ripe, huge, juicy slice of gleaming red watermelon, and a chilled bottle of fresh water -- gracious dining on a Friday night. So yummy!

Some secrets should be kept -- there is such a thing as revealing too much to people who will use these things against you.  But many secrets, when out in the open, help to unburden your soul.  So here's one more little secret -- right now I'm big time into romance novels.  I almost want to hang my head in shame but then Lauren Willig and Marion Chesney wouldn't be on my Kindle and I wouldn't be quite so delighted with the swashbuckling tales of early Scotland or Regency England.  I loved Fifty Shades of Gray and almost everything by Sylvia Day (yes, both are red hot sexy romances).  There was a small period of time in the 1970's when I dipped into the romance genre and then suddenly it bored me out of my mind.  Suddenly, though, I'm back into the mood for torrid, passionate kisses and loins that swell with . . . oh, you get the idea. 

Enough secrets for this year.  I feel lighter already.  Time to celebrate!


Margaret said...

My gosh, you are WAY more exciting than I am! I knew about the romance novels(or about 50 Shades of Gray) and about your activism, but the rest of it was absolutely fascinating. Never knew you were married before! What a great post.

snugpug said...

Now that's a full life there. Can't wait for what else you'll tell us next year. :)