Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Minutes from May 29 Trivia/Drunkfest

7:15 - W and P arrive late, mostly due to P's decision to curl hair at 6:45. G and A already present, although for unknown reason W has difficulty identifying them whilst in plain view.

7:16 - P notes that G has brought a large binder with him, as if he is intending to accomplish work during Trivia/Drunkfest. P laughs.

7:20 - Guinness is served!

7:25 - P deliberates between FBA Chicken Sandwich, which is sometimes dry, and Buffalo Chicken Wrap, which is always messy. Buffalo Chicken Wrap wins out.

7:26 - G orders the bangers and mash. There is some discussion of haggis, and also a warm reminiscence of a Scotch egg. P mistakenly calls this a Scottish egg three times, and is corrected three times by W.

7:28 - W orders the Love Burger. Asks waitress if it is pronounced "love" or "loooove" in the vernacular. Waitress blushes.

7:29 - P reports on Ripon gossip, pleased that for once she has Ripon gossip A does not know. G and W are relatively unimpressed.

7:30 - First round of trivia begins. It is a literary-themed round, but much to the chagrin of three English majors and one faux-English major, we fail miserably. P believes that the longest sentence in a novel can be found in Madame Bovary; it turns out that it can be found in Les Miserables (which P can be forgiven for, never having read the book). W misses a question on The Godfather, and must turn in his Mario Puzo fan club license. P's fave question: "Ernest Hemingway once wrote that a man must do four things to prove his manhood. What were they?" P and G's answer: Shoot an elephant, run with the bulls, catch a big fish, drive an ambulance. Suprisingly, these are incorrect.

7:45 - P takes three happy bites of Buffalo Chicken Wrap, and on the fourth bite the tortilla completely disintegrates. Murky smear of buffalo sauce now adorns white shirt. P makes mental note not to be fooled by deliciousness of BCW in the future.

8:00 - A couple enters and sits at a nearby booth. A and G have direct views of couple and begin to speculate on couple's relationship. Blind date? First date? Date not going well? The girl has trouble deciphering the menu (although it is written in English and conveniently divided into categories such as "Appetizers," "Burgers" and "Pasta") and earns the adjective "vapid" from W. P wonders if "vapidity" is a word, and if it can be applied to the entire situation. W discusses "levels" as applied to this relationship. Girl, who is not unpleasant looking, is a "level up."

8:05 - G asks for Spurs/Thunder basketball game to be put on the big screen and is rebuffed.

8:15 - Second round of trivia begins. Effects of Guinness beginning to be felt, W, P, G and A are hyperconfident, despite scientific theme of questions, including one about "the part of the brain which determines physiological stability" and another that could be either kidney or liver, but which of course will be the answer we do not choose. We estimate we have 8/10 correct.

8:25 - In reality we have 4/10 correct. The winner -- a nurse -- has earned a 10/10. It is decided that being a nurse is as good as cheating with an iPhone, and P wonders about the possibility of medical professionals being assigned a trivia handicap.

8:30 - W reveals that he has already had two beers prior to two pints of Guinness, the direct result of friend C being in town. P agrees to drive home and orders a Diet Coke.

8:39 - P realizes that she has been kicking G under the table for some time, mistakenly believing his calf is a table leg. P is too embarrassed to apologize.

8:45 - Asian member of rival trivia team, long dubbed The Dream Team, comes over introduces himself in the spirit of friendly competition. After he leaves, W, P, A and G speculate on the name that The Dream Team may have for us. Each suggestion is more unflattering than the last.

9:00 - A reveals burning desire for ice cream cone en route home, and it appears that G is involved in said pursuit of ice cream. P realizes she will not be able to attend next meeting due to being in Washington D.C. with 18 adolescents. Moment of silence is observed.

9:15 - Exiting the building, A and P encounter two girls coming in. A says "vapid" under her breath, and A and P collapse into decidedly non-vapid giggles in parking lot, mostly prompted by A's comment: "That's the great thing about vapid people. You can call them vapid and they don't know what it means."

9:16 - Hugs all around.

9:17 - Adjournment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Something smells in the back of our refrigerator -- something way back, behind the Oikos and the little tubs of cream cheese and the mayonnaise approaching its expiration date. It hits me every time I open the refrigerator, and I recoil, and fumble around for what I need, and close the door, and do nothing about it.

Will hasn't mentioned it to me, but he must have smelled it, too. And done nothing about it, too.


Baxter smells, too. He's gone from sweet puppy smell to "I'm a dirty boy" smell in a very short period of time. I try to reason with him: But you just had a bath! And then I realize that this isn't true. Time has been passing at a rate I can't understand or appreciate. At home, my Eiffel Tower desk calendar is set on January 15. Baxter's last bath was somewhere around Easter, when my niece was visiting and requested some one-on-one beagle time.

Hang in there, sweetie, I tell him, carefully not inhaling his scent. Only four more days.


Teaching, I sometimes think, is like running a marathon. I have no experience with marathons, of course, but I imagine they each require a sustained effort, focus and determination to reach the end. I also imagine that marathoners cross the finish line and feel at least a moment of "What now?" If you want, you can collapse at that point and never run again. This is how I'm feeling right now with teaching. I just have to make it to the end, and then I can crash.

I can clean out the refrigerator. I can bathe the dog.


It's been a year of forgetfulness, really, a year where I've been so busy I felt like my head was doing the Exorcist spin every few minutes or so. Last weekend, I sat down for an hour-long dinner with Will's family and I was a nervous wreck -- it was the longest I had gone in months without grading a paper or sending an email.Twice in a row I forgot that it was Thursday and Thursday was trash day. Once I took Baxter for a walk and left my house keys behind, locked in the house. Six years of walking the dog at least once a day, and yet I somehow missed this crucial step in the process.


It's not lethargy that keeps me from cleaning the fridge; these days I'm too high strung to appreciate down time for what it is. It's more like ADHD, adult-onset, severe. I've been trying to do everything at once, like a jack of all trades (and master, needless to say, of none). My friend A said once that I was trying to juggle too many things at once -- one mixup, and everything would come crashing down on my head.

The culmination of my crazy life happens tomorrow night, which is both nightmarish and symbolic. I need to be at a community college in Stockton at six for my students' final exam; I need to be in Lathrop (fifteen minutes down I-5) at seven to read names of my eighth graders for their graduation. All week, I've woken up in a cold sweat just after four in the morning, which is apparently the time my brain issues the command: GO! So I do. I shower and blow dry my hair and check my messages and feed the dog and get dressed and pack my lunch and make a list of about fifty things I need to do before sleep that night. So far, nothing has come crashing down on my head.But the possibility is there.

Four days from now, I'll wake up at a normal, non-teaching time -- 5:30, say -- and read the paper and delay my shower for another fifteen minutes and window shop at RueLaLa and be so thankful that I've made it.

I've crossed the finish line.