Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fortunate Misfortune

I seem to be suffering from some sort of tire curse these days. If there is someone out there with a voodoo doll type model of my car, they must be poking that needle into my tires on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to Young Life when I heard a weird clank noise. I pulled into the Young Life parking lot and stopped to talk to my friend,Ann. We could both hear a loud hissing noise like someone deflating a pool float. It turns out that it was not a pool float rapidly deflating but my tire.
Upon further inspection, we found a large bolt protruding from my tire. Ann thought we could try fix a flat. Apparently fix a flat is not for gaping holes and the liquid quickly flowed out of the tire.

At this point I remembered that I had a full-size spare. David, a fellow Young Life leader, came to my rescue and changed my tire for me. I love nice boys.

I intended to get another tire to replace my spare. I figured that flat tires were not common so it wouldn't be a big deal to wait a month or so. I didn't want to add more to my already busy schedule and figured Christmas break would afford me plenty of chances to get a new tire.I was wrong.

Last night Sarah came over to watch OU versus Texas Tech. With two highly ranked teams, we were sure it would be a good game. We were wrong about that too.

We decided to go to Fry's Electronics before the game started. There was traffic on the freeway so I decided to go another way. We were driving down Airline near 610. The road was not in the best shape and I didn't see the pothole before it was too late. There was a weird noise and the car seemed unbalanced. I feared that the tire was flat and the gesturing of a man next to our car only confirmed my suspicions. We pulled into a nearby gas station to survey the damage.

The man who had been gesturing to us, came over as we got out of our car. It was pretty clear that the tire was a goner. I didn't know what to do. My parentsn my usual saviors, were out of town and I couldn't get a hold of my roommates or nearby friends.

Sarah and I are not car experts so we really had no choice but to let this guy help us. I took off my tire and said that there was a tire place only a couple of blocks away. He had his girlfriend watch our car while he walked with us to the tire place, wheeling my tire along as we went. During this time, he told us a bit about his situation. It was the kind you hear people tell before they approach you for money, though his seemed very sincere. He was from Louisiana and trying to get enough money to go back home. He works at a Buick dealership detailing cars but was between paychecks. He and his pregnant girlfriend were trying to get a room at a nearby hotel but we refused for lack of I.D. Apparently cheap hotels in this part of town require I.D. in case something shady happens involving prostitution, drugs, violence or all three. They want to know who to blame it on. So, this guy, Gary and his girlfriend were hanging out near the Shell deciding what to do with little money and no place to stay when we drove up.

We get to the tire place and some guys who don't speak English patch my tire for $10. Not bad! Gary chivalrously rolled the tire back to the Shell station for us. I never felt unsafe with Gary, though I can't vouch for Sarah. He never did anything that seemed shady. I had already decided I would give him some money. He really deserved it for helping us so much. My only fear was that he would demand more money than I felt his help had warranted.

We got the tire back to the car and Gary put in on for me and everything. I gave him $40 thinking that was fair for the amount he had helped us. Again, I was afraid he would try to get more. Instead, he seemed genuinely surprised by the money and defintely grateful. His girlfriend said she was going to cry and Gary said "God Bless You." It was the perfect reaction.

Getting a flat tire in a shady part of town was definitely not my plan that night and I hope it does not happen again. But, I can't help but think that maybe God put me and Gary together that night for a reason. I definitely wouldn't have given him that much money if he asked. Clearly, he and his girlfriend were in a jam. I was able to pay him for a very needed service that he provided for me and he showed me that there are genuinely nice and helpful people out there. Hopefully Gary and his lady friend found a better place to stay that night. It was worth the extra trouble to have this experience.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Really, Oprah? I mean, really?

I recently read a quote from Oprah Winfrey in US Weekly magazine. About Obama's election victory, she said, "There's never been a night like this one on planet Earth." Talk about being self-centered! And people wonder why the rest of the world sees the citizens of our country as prideful, arrogant, and self-absorbed. On planet Earth? Uh, what about when Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa after years of Apartheid? What about the fact that there is a female president in Bangladesh, a Muslim country that oppresses its female citizens. I am sure there are plenty of other examples that I don't know about.

The election of Barack Obama, the nation's first biracial president is an important event in America. It definitely signifies that our country has come closer to equality among all people than ever before. But Oprah, to say that there has never been another night like on planet Earth is a display of egocentric ignorance bordering on hyperbole.

No matter what your views are on Obama as America's next President, Oprah's comments are just another example of America's dominate ego and lack of concern or attention to the rest of the world. As someone who has been to several other countries and has plenty of friends from other countries, I find her comments borderline offensive. I know there is plenty about the world that I do not know. That's why I would never make that sort of bold claim. America is a great country with a lot to offer but every country has value and America is certainly not unanimously and unequivocally the bestor most important. Sorry Oprah.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This is a bit late but I have been meaning to write about my voting experience. This was my first time to vote for president. The only other time I voted was in college for the mayor of Austin. That was only because I wanted to vote for Leslie, the transvesite homeless mayoral candidate. He was running on a platform of creating teepee communities for the homeless. Pretty original, huh?

My lack of voting stems from a general feeling of apathy and laziness when it comes to voting. I never feel very passionate about candidates or issues so I don't think my uninformed vote should count as much as the people's votes who are actually passionate. I know this logic is flawed but it is how I feel.

This year I knew I needed to vote. This was not because I had lost my apathetic attitude towards voting. I hadn't. It's not because I had strong feelings for either presidential candidate. I didn't. In fact, if a suitable third option was unveiled minutes before I voted, I probably would have chosen him. The sole reason I voted was to be an example to my students.I was in charge of our school-wide election and thought it would be quite hypocritical to not vote after strongly advocating that the kids do it.

I voted early at a polling place near my school. It was an interesting mix of people. I was really struck by the fact that everyone's vote counts the same. There were clearly people there who had a lot of money as well as people who clearly didn't. There were white people, black people and Hispanic people. No Asians, as they are not very prevalant in that area. That all being said, it was a very diverse crowd. I was relieved to see that the line wasn't too long. It was just long enough for me to make these insightful observations but not long enough to make me want to scream. The most amusing part of the whole thing was the way we stood in line.

When, I walked in the room I noticed a sort of waiting lane marked off in tape. It made a giant L. The natural human response upon seeing taped lanes on the floor is to stand in them. For some reason, one of the election workers kept making the people make their waiting line outside of the tape. It was really funny to watch people try to stand between the tape lines and then watch the older gentleman make them stand outside of them. No one could understand right away. They would look down at the lines and then at the man and then back at the lines and back at the man. It was super amusing, though I am not sure my account really gave it justice.

When it came to the actually voting. I am not going to say who I voted for to be our President. As I told my students, it's private. One asked me to just give him the first letter of his first name. Nice try! I decided to vote in every possible race despite my lack of information. My thought process during the voting process was decidedly random. My dad detests Sheila Jackson Lee so I made sure to vote against her. I voted for one guy because his name was similar to that of one of my students. I voted for another person because they sounded Indian and you don't see a lot of Indians in politics. I voted for someone named Sam Houston. I really didn't have a choice on that one. He just had the perfect name for Texas politics.

It felt more meaningful than I thought but I will probably have to fight that same apathy four years from now. Who knows? I may not even be in the country.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Auntie Liz

So, I am an aunt! It's actually a cooler feeling than I expected. My brother and I are pretty close so I already feel a great fondness for this unseen nephew. I have only seen a mini-sized pic of him on my phone but he seems pretty cute so far. I have to give some serious props to my sister-in-law for a whopping 36 hours of labor! That's really intense!

Samuel Christopher Hightower was born November 9th and weighed 6lbs, 13 oz and was 20 inches long. According to my mom, this is how much I weighed and how long Andrew was. I am not sure the significance of these facts but my mom seemed amused by them. I haven't gotten any word on who he looks like. (It was hard to tell on the pic on my phone.) Most newborns look more like aliens than either one of their parents anyway. Shella and Andrew look nothing alike so I really want to see who he looks like. Andrew was really hoping that he would have Shella's blue eyes. He always wanted blue eyes and even wore some ridiculously fake looking blue contacts for a period of time in high school. What a dork!

The baby's name came about because Andrew and Shella wanted a Bible name for his first name and both liked Samuel. The Christopher part is to honor my cousin, Chris who died about 12 years ago in a car crash at age 19.

I should get to see him in early December when they come to visit. I didn't think it would be a big deal to wait only a couple of weeks to see him but now that he's born, I wish I could see him sooner. Hopefully I will at least seem some larger pictures of him soon. It seems unreal that he really exists. I am super excited to be Auntie Liz. I figure I should go with the Hawaiian tradition and be called Auntie. My dad is still trying to figure out his grandpa name. I am pushing for Pop Pop. If I keep telling the kid when he starts talking maybe it will stick.

Hooray for little Samuel! I am so thankful that he and Shella are healthy.

Scantron 3

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Scantron 2

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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Last year I was the winner of our school's costume contest. I was hoping for a repeat win this year. I knew I couldn't top last year's Hot Cheetos costume. I mean, that stuff is used as currency at school. I thought about being a giant pickle. The kids love those too. They like to put a Hot Cheeto in the top of the pickle and suck on it. Then they drink the orangish greenish juice. It's pretty disgusting.

The only way I could envision a giant pickle costume was stuffing some green garbage bags and trying to wear them. It didn't sound very feasible. I also thought about being Lucas-this tamarind candy that they love. There are too many different varieties to be able to pick one recognizable one.

I decided to be a scantron. In case you are not as school-saavy as I am, a scantron is basically one of those answer sheets you bubble in with a number 2 pencil. I was a little nervous about getting the vote of the below 3rd grade crowd. They are not very familiar with scantrons. To try to win them over, I created a giant number 2 pencil. The costume turned out pretty well. I got tons of great reactions from teachers and students alike.

I thought I had a real chance to win despite my costume's lack of lower grade appeal. The winners were announced at the dance and there was only one winner for individual costume and two winners for group costume. Much to my dismay, I lost to the Joker. His costume was decent but not as out-of-the-box as mine. I mean, Joker was the number one costume in America. Where's the creativity? Those kids don't know creativity when they see it! Several of my kids from last year were around me when the votes were announced. They were all wishing and crossing their fingers that I would win. It was pretty cute. They were definitely disappointed when I lost. One of them tried to console me by saying, "It's okay. You did your best." Hey, at least I was a winner in their eyes, right?
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