I responded 'yes' to the email immediately. I love Fulbright. I always say yes to them.
I sat outside with Lola, in my pajamas. I was finally done with my June classes and was again, sleeping late. I only had a couple of off days before the two day conference. A truck pulled up and parked, blocking my car in. Two men walked confidently through my yard.
"Can I help you?" I asked, feeling awkward in my pajamas and the fact that I wasn't wearing a bra.
Lola started barking.
"Looking at the land" one of the men responded.
"Really? Do you know who owns it? We have been trying to figure it out for a while".
"I do. We just bought it".
"What....what are you going to do with it?"
"Put a house on it" he answered, dismissively.
Our property line extends only two feet from our house.
We wanted that land. To expand our yard. It was supposed to be 'undevelopable'. The previous owners of our house had tried to buy it too, but could never figure out which bank owned it. I knew this asshole had snapped it up at some courthouse auction and would make some money off of it. But it means so much more to us.
"Can I get your card?" I asked, chasing this redneck fuck through MY front yard, bra-less and all.
Pervy-ass grey haired man-teachers tried to talk me up whenever I was alone at the Fulbright booth. It wasn't flattering. If anything, it was demoralizing.
I had met up with Tanya, the director of operations for the Exchange, the day before the conference began. We had met and hit it off when she came to Atlanta last October. We threw some shit up at the booth and had an amazing lunch and drinks.
I was embarrassed when I met her the next day. As I tried to park at the conference site, pro-life demonstrators stood outside with gory fake-ass pictures of red jello covered 'baby' hands. I had no idea why they were there.
Inside, we saw booths selling science textbooks that promoted creationism. A huge banner hung above their stand: "Evolution is a Myth".
There was a bazaar type area where you could get a bedazzled t-shirt with your name written in gold.
A separate booth promoted 'life education'. People, or I guess TEACHERS, were buying dolls that were supposed to represent fetuses at various weeks of development. But they didn't look like little pieces of shrimp, they gave them limbs, eyes, finger nails, the whole fucking nine yards at a matter of weeks. I felt a combination of laughter and disgust. I wanted to mock them, take pictures and spread their ridiculousness all over Facebook. But, I was horrified by the reality of their presence and the crowd of teachers surrounding their booth.
"Hilary, I have to tell you something," Tanya said earnestly.
"I couldn't tell you over the phone".
"Because of the sequester, State has cut funding to the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange. After SIXTY-FIVE years, the program is no longer funded".
Another loss. It breaks my heart.