Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Special Gym

One of my facebook friends asked me about my childhood this week.  He was looking for some kind of affirmation about what a miserable time gifted children have in school.

I disappointed him.

I loved school.  I loved almost everything about it.  I loved the smell of chalk in the classrooms and having my very own desk and cubby and getting a new lunchbox every year and the smell of paste and...oh!...library time.  Library time was the best! Visiting where the books lived!

It's possible that I was not a very gifted child, now that I think about it.  Who gets excited by the smell of chalk?

Now I wouldn't want you to think, gentle readers, that I was popular in school.  Alas, no.  I did not have cool clothes or the right haircut or the big, 64-count box of crayons.  You know, the one with the sharpener? Oh, how I wanted the Big Box of crayons! But we couldn't afford it, so I was stuck with sixteen lousy colors.  That sucked.*

No, I was a big nerd in school; I just didn't much care.  As long as there was a book near by, any book, it was all good.

I even liked gym.  No one ever picked me for a team, and I was lousy at every sport (except dodge ball), but I was lousy with enthusiasm.  I learned to play with enthusiasm and not care what I looked like doing so, and I learned this blithe unconcern in the second grade in Special Gym class.

What is Special Gym?  Well, Special Gym was a class for the deeply uncoordinated, although that's not what my parents told me when they explained that I was going to be taken out of math for a while.  What they actually said was, "You can't jump rope, apparently, and there's something about walking backwards that confuses you, so they're putting you in Special Gym.  Math can come later, once we're sure you're not going to accidentally knock a toe off trying to skip."

I might be remembering that last part wrong.  I was only seven.

Each day, when the other students started math, I would walk to the classroom door and wait for the Special Gym teacher to pass in the hallway.  Then I would join the short line of children and walk outside, around a corner, and into a whole other building with a tiny little gym room with padding all along the walls.  Then I would practice walking backwards, and jumping rope without falling, and, on special days, I would get to sit on this square wooden thing with four rollar skate wheels on the bottom and try to zoom the length of the room without falling off.  And if I went too fast or tripped or something, I would just bounce off of the walls or the big rolled up mats or one of the teachers.  Sometimes, I let myself lose control on purpose, just for the bounce.

It was fun.

And there were lots of teachers, now that I think about it.  Four or five, at least, and only eight or ten of us in the class.  And they always talked warmly and praised me even when I did something stupid like walk out of my shoes or accidentally smack someone while trying not to fall over.  And we were absolutely not allowed to make fun of each other.  Ever

You know, now that I think about it...hmmm...that was a pretty unusual class.  I never saw any of those other students outside of that class.

Some of them didn't follow directions very well.  Or talk, really.



Well, the hell with it!  I loved Special Gym, and I can almost always walk backwards, and I will dance in circles if I want to or skip badly or take seven hits at a tee-ball before I connect and I don't care.  Point and laugh, precious readers.  Go ahead!  We veterans of Special Gym do not give a frak.

And I still love school.


*I have the Big Box of crayons, now, of course.  It was one of the first things I bought when I got a real, tenure-track job. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Five Attempts to Make Me Feel Better About My Cold

I have such wonderful friends and family; they all know how miserable it is to have a cold, mostly because I insist on telling them.  But when it comes to giving me sympathetic words, well, um, here's a sample of what people have told me today:

1. "At least a squirrel didn't attack you!"

2. "You know what would make your life a living hell, don't you?  If you give that cold to your mother.  Try not to do that."

3. "That's bad.  At least you didn't have vomit on you this time."

4. "No open wounds, though, right?  You haven't stabbed yourself in a long time!"

5. "Well, aren't you glad you don't have a cold in the middle ages?  You'd probably be dead by now."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Do Not Like this [Autumn] Cold

I do not, do not like this cold.
The blowing, sneezing’s getting old.
My head aches and my throat’s in pain;
I think this cold has squished my brain.
Sneeze in the dark, sneeze in my tea!
Sneeze in the car! Cold, let me be!
I cannot leave this kleenex box.
I cannot find my fluffy socks.
I’m tired of huddling in this house
Just jiggling this computer mouse.
I’m tired of sneezing here and there.
I’m tired of sneezing EVERYWHERE!

I do not like
this summer autumn cold!

I do not like it,
[expletive deleted]!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Disturbing Conversations from North Dakota

Me:  Wait.  What?

Michelle:  She sat the doll on the table, and we would talk, and every once in a while, she would tell me what the doll was thinking.

Me:  We're talking about a professor here, right?  One of us?

Michelle:  She brings the doll everywhere with her.  I didn't talk to it, of course, because I don't speak doll language.  She had to tell me what it was saying.

Me:  Uh-huh.

Michelle:  Actually, I might have talked to it once or twice.  But I didn't have to share my food with it or anything.  It had its own plate.

Me:  <pause> Well, that's a damned relief.  It would be terrible if a doll was eating off of your plate.

Michelle:  I'm not kidding.  This actually happened.  More than once.

Me:  Did you call someone?  A doctor maybe?

Michelle:  I knew that no one would believe me.  She also took the doll to a fabric store so that it could pick out new outfits.

Me:  You're frakking with me, right?  There's a camera somewhere in this room.

Michelle:  I swear, I'm not.  When I went to her house...

Me:  Stop!  You knew that this person thought that a doll could talk, that she gave it its own plate at restaurants, and you went to her house?

Michelle:  Well, she was assigned as my mentor.  Anyway, I saw that she has hundreds of dolls.  And boxes of doll parts.  Eyes.  And underwear.

Me:  Eyes?

Michelle:  Sometimes they need to change eyes.  But this isn't the best part.

Me:  I don't think I want to hear any more.

Michelle:  Yes, you do.  Her main doll, the one she took out, wanted a boyfriend.

Me:  A boyfriend? 

Michelle:  Yes.  She consulted with the doll, and it turned out that it wanted a boyfriend with elf ears and long silver hair.

Me:  Like Legolas.

Michelle:  Exactly!  So after she got her tax refund, she had enough money to order the boyfriend.  And then the doll--who likes me, by the way.

Me:  Of course, it does.

Michelle:  The doll told me a bit about its sex life.

Me:  I really don't want to hear any more.

Michelle:  Really?

Me:  No, I've come too far now.  Proceed.

Michelle:  Okay, well, apparently the doll fell madly in love at first, and they went at it all the time, but eventually the elf ears weren't a turn-on anymore.

Me:  I suppose that can happen with elf ears.

Michelle:  So she had to order new replacement ears for the boyfriend doll.

Me:  This person teaches college students?  She has a Ph.D.?

Michelle:  She does.  There was even an article about the abduction of her teaching assistant.

Me:  Which was, no doubt, a doll.

Michelle:  It was.

Me:  [long pause]  Did it get a stipend?

Michelle:  I have no idea.

Me:  North Dakota is a very strange place.

Michelle:  Well, she's not from North Dakota.  It's not North Dakota's fault!

Me:  I apologize.

Michelle:  Good!  Now, let me tell you about the time a child on a plane reached into my sack and stole my balls...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Repacking for North Dakota

Hello, gentle readers!  Would you like to guess what I'm doing tonight?  I'm repacking for a trip to North Dakota.

Yes, I said repacking.  I've already packed.  Several times.

I'm traveling to the flickertail state* to give a talk on landscapes in Arthurian romance.  No, no!  The tickets are entirely sold out,** so stop right right now; I can't get you in.  Sorry.  You will have to suffer the pain and misery of never hearing my stimulating analysis of twelfth century romance ecology.  What can I say?  Sometimes, life's tough.

In any case, this particular bout of repacking is slightly the fault of my friend Michelle who, when I asked about the weather, told me that it would be "high 60s, even very low 70s, during the day; 40s at night," so that's what I packed for the second and third times that I packed the suitcase.

(The first time doesn't count because I packed the wrong suitcase altogether.  Obviously, I can't take my blue suitcase to give a talk in North Dakota! It has to be the black suitcase.  I have no idea what I was thinking.  Sorry about that, denizens of the Peace Garden State.***)

Anyway, I love and trust this Michelle, but apparently I trust weather.com more because I kept checking it, and it says to expect highs in the low 50s and possible rain.  Naturally, I can adapt to cooler temperatures, but even the suggestion of precipitation means that I had to change my shoe plans quite thoroughly.  And once you've changed your shoe plans, well, the rest of the ensembles must be reconsidered as well.  Moreover, I've had to consider (and reconsider and rereconsider) whether or not to include a small travel umbrella, which is not a decision one makes haphazardly.  I mean, there are weight limits these days, and my past experience has shown that Delta will not let me get on the plane wearing a jacket with two pairs of shoes in the pockets even if they fit perfectly well, dammit.

Delta may be a fine company, but it does not understand the importance of appropriate footwear.

Meanwhile, I have to find just the right piece of pottery to bring this Michelle and her beloved husband Adam, taking into account their decorating preferences, our long friendship, and her failure to warn me of a slight chance of precipitation and the possible Footwear Crisis that might have ensued.

It's taken me a glass of wine and two glasses of raspberry iced tea to figure it out.

Anyway, I still have to figure out pajamas and slippers and fold each of my robes and stick it on the bathroom scale to see if I can get any of them in the suitcase without exceeding the weight limit or sacrificing a pair of shoes.  So I'm likely to be at this all night, and I just wanted to ask you folks:  would any of you will be willing to do my repacking for me the next time I go on a trip?  I can pay you in pottery.

*According to the Official Portal for North Dakota State Government, "Flickertail refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow. In 1953 the Legislative Assembly defeated Senate Bill (S.B.) No. 134 that would have adopted the Flickertail facsimile as the official emblem of the state."  Which was a lucky thing, based on the behavior of the squirrels I know.  They are just waiting for a chance to take over.

**I lie, of course.  It's by invitation only. 

***"The International Peace Garden straddles the international Boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. In 1956 the North Dakota Motor Vehicle Department, on its own initiative, placed the words Peace Garden State on license plates; the name proved so popular that it was formally adopted by the 1957 legislature (North Dakota Century Code (NDCC), Section 39-04-12)."  You're welcome.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Real Conversations with Mom: Science Fiction is a Bad Influence

Mom:  Wait.  Why do they want to kill him?

Me:  Because, um, she has a new personality, and he goes around and kills people each time she shows up, but if they kill him now that can't happen.

Mom:  She has a new personality?

Me:  She's Lexi now, but last season she was Audrey.

Mom:  Did she get hit on the head?

Me:  No, she went into a barn.

Mom:  A barn?

Me:  A disappearing, reappearing barn that is apparently dying.  When she goes inside, she gets a new personality.

Mom:  From a barn

Me:  Yes.  Sort of.  Stop looking at me like that.  Seriously, don't look at me that way!

Mom:  I will look at you any way I want.  I have a little broken hand, I am the queen of this house, and if you don't unload that dishwasher tonight, I will put you in that barn!

Me:  Mother

Mom:  Into the barn you will go!  And I will get a daughter with a new personality.  And lots of money. 

Me:  I don't think you should watch science fiction anymore.  It's giving you bad ideas.

Mom:  Into the barn! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yet More Funniest Facebook Statuses!

Back by popular demand:
"I'd like to thank the cat for barfing next to my purse, and not in it. Good girl."
"Sometimes you just have to add more awesome shit to your calendar."
"I want this caterpillar to live forever."
"Nobody likes a pedantic horse."
"Damn you, duplex living! The bitch is back..."
"So irritating. Your free advice is worth less than what I paid for it."
"So much dim sum. Blergh."
"I do not understand feet.  Or ostriches."
"Always a little surprising to come home and discover someone has left moose liver in your fridge."
"You know who you are--the few, the proud, the grammatically correct."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Real Conversations with Mom: A Discourse Dispute on I-85

Me:  Mom, would you do me a favor once we get back?

Mom:  Maybe.

Me:  Please stop telling people that you broke your hand because I beat you.  Someone is going to call the police.

Mom:  I'm not lying.  You do beat me.

Me:  At backgammon.

Mom:  You still beat me.

Me:  Please?

Mom:  Okay.  But I'm telling everybody that you wet the bed.

Me:  I did not wet the bed!

Mom:  Yes, you did!  You wet the bed and turned the sheets blue!

Me:  Mom!  I got on the bed in a wet swimsuit cover-up, and it bled all over the sheets.

Mom:  Yes!  And I had to sleep on the sofa because you wouldn't sleep in the blue wet spot.  So I'm telling everyone you wet the bed.

Me:  You know, I could start beating you.

Mom:  You know you won't.  I'm too cute.  And I have a poor little broken hand.

Me:  How does your poor hand feel today?

Mom:  It feels bad sitting next to a bed-wetter, that's how it feels.

Me: <sigh>