Friday, November 2, 2012

Skirting the Issue

Shalom, chaverim! It's been a funny old week here in Nahariya, with the weather swinging madly from cold and stormy, to hot and sunny, and back again. Not that I'm complaining; Hurricane-turned-Superstorm Sandy in America trumps pretty much everyone else in the world when it comes to having a legitimate gripe about the weather. Elul's been involved a major product launch at his company and has been putting in long hours. They launched yesterday, and everyone has high hopes that it will be a success after working so hard on it, for so long. I've had a quieter week, but it's given me time to work on other longer-term projects, like distributing a few demo CD's to bands and event coordinators, and continuing to work on my fledgling business, Aliyah Petsitting.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've also been doing some volunteer English tutoring at a local high school. Being back in the classroom, if only for a couple of hours a week, is lovely. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when two days ago, I received a telephone call from another local high school, asking me to come for an interview. The position is at a "dati" school, which in this case is modern orthodox. If I get the position, I will be teaching remedial English, on a very part-time basis, to a small group of ninth grade girls. This is an ideal situation for me. Some teachers find ninth graders a bit challenging, but I find middle school kids to be so hilarious that it makes up for whatever other issues they might bring into the classroom.

My interview seemed to go well, but of course you never really know how you did until they actually offer you the job and you start working. Everyone was very cordial and welcoming, and it appears like it's very warm and friendly school. I will be teaching an observed lesson this Sunday, and then, the Principal told me, "we'll talk afterwards." Gulp! I really want this job. It will allow me to teach reflectively, which is teacher-speak for having time to reflect on my lessons and think about how I can make them better. Since it's only teaching five hours a week, I'll still have time for my other jobs and projects, which I really enjoy.

After the initial call inviting me to the interview, I called a friend in a panic, trying to find out where exactly the school was located. She did me the enormous favor of reminding me that since I was going to interview at an orthodox school, I needed to wear a skirt that went below the knee, and observe the other style constraints that come with dressing modestly. Henry David Thoreau once wisely warned, "distrust any enterprise which requires new clothes," but in this case I went against his otherwise very good advice. Instead, I took the advice of Dr. Emily Lowe, my former voice professor, who observed that "people think with their eyes." I needed to purchase one item of clothing: a long skirt. I have skirts and dresses of my own, but as the reigning 2nd Place Champion of the 2004 Sexy Legs Contest of Pahrump, Nevada (I still have the ribbon and the bottle of Nair that was my consolation prize), all mine are at or slightly above the knee.  I didn't know exactly how "frum" (modest) this school would be, so I ran into a shop and bought the longest, blackest skirt I could find.

On the morning of the interview, however, I rummaged through my closet for something that would cover both my collarbones and my elbows, and also would look sharp enough for an interview. It was slim pickings indeed. Elul helpfully pointed out that my first attempt looked "absolutely awful," and the second was "horrible."

I ultimately found something, however, and when I put it on, I looked like one of those severe, school marm types. I looked so unlike "me" that I had Elul take a picture of me, clutching a grammar book, pointing my finger in admonition, and practicing my prissy, glacial, "Nurse Ratched Makes Lateral Career Move to Professional Educator" look.

"Now, girls, we shall recite in unison all the perfect tense conjugations of the verb "to be," complete with the modal verbs 'should,' 'could,' and 'would.' Won't that be fun?"
Of course, when I got to the school I found that every woman there looked perfectly normal--they were just all wearing skirts and nice, long-sleeved tops that weren't very low cut. Some were wearing their hair wrapped in scarves, some were wearing various types of caps and hats. Others had their hair pinned up, cut short, or hanging long and loose. Almost no one had long skirts, and I didn't see anyone dressed in all black. Women had makeup on and their nails done, and were wearing stylish jewelry. If I had only just gone out and bought a normal skirt and put a semi-normal top with it, I would have been dressed far more appropriately. Sigh.

Thoreau also said, "it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Hopefully, the school administration will look beyond my peculiar dress style and glaring fashion faux pas, and see some good.

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. You had me laughing. good luck on the job hunt.


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