American firsts (Kids stuff)

Autumn Red peach.

Image via Wikipedia

There’s been a lot of children in my life since I arrived in America.

I expect the behind-my-back consensus is that I don’t really like children. And that would be true. I don’t really like them. But I don’t really dislike them either. What I actually dislike is the accumulation of dirt and noise that accompanies the children, the instant stickiness, the forgetfulness, incompetence and insatiable hunger for attention that is their right.

But these kids, and the Stuff That American Kids Do, ferried from one after-school activity to another, has given me a view of life here I never would have had otherwise:

Continue reading

Conversations with Americans Pt.4 (The Sweetest Taboo)

Chick-Fil-A's signature chicken sandwich

Image via Wikipedia

Occasionally I spend my time teaching people marginally less “American” than myself about what qualifies as taboo conversation topics here in the United States.

Money, sex, politics and religion. Unmentionable, unbearable, to openly discuss the things that drive this country.

No, that’s not true. We can still talk about food, television and cars. We can watch celebrities prepare food on the Food Network and then drive somewhere to eat food. And while you’re there, you can have the “You know there’s an Applebee’s where the IHOP used to be? Across from Steak ‘n’ Shake?” conversation.

Continue reading

Goodbye, Karen (10 hours teaching refugees)

Monks Protesting in Burma

Image via Wikipedia

I spent the last 5 Thursday evenings teaching English to refugees in a church south of Nashville. I had some grand plans for what I was going to teach them. Relevant. Authentic. Survival language. The stuff you need to get by and get ahead in America.

All that and more in the space of 10 hours.

As it turns out, the students conspired against me and the class became something quite different.

Continue reading