Every time I dip into Internet Land I find another list suggesting I am among the worst people in existence. According to these lists, I am a racist, sexist, homophobe who was a Nazi SS guard in a previous life and who is pulling for a Bill Cosby & Ann Coulter Presidential ticket in 2016.
Considering that most of these articles and lists are little more than perpetuated stereotypes and sweeping generalizations, you have no doubt felt the same, no matter your sex, ethnicity, or personality.
Among all the bad things to be labeled right now, the worst is an extrovert.
There has been an awful lot of extrovert bashing in Internet Land recently, and I just want to set the record straight – being an extrovert rocks. Here are five points which prove it, using the same scholarly approach and dedication to accuracy as I see in this issue online.
It’s not what you think. If you came here for lewd pictures of guys engaged in horizontal hanky panky, you’re in the wrong spot. I recommend one of the 130,000,000 porn sites on the net or just go watch the trailer for the last James Franco and Seth Rogan film.
Moreover, if you were hoping for the uncloseting of a forty year-old teacher, sorry to disappoint.
As a single forty year-old who lives with a cat, my lifestyle has generated discussion amongst my family and friends. I get the usual questions about when I’ll get married, have kids, settle down, buy a Saturn.
The people who really comment on my single status are my parents and my grandmother.
Whenever I visit home, my mom gives me a speech that goes: “As long as you’re happy, we don’t care who you are with,” which I immediately translate to: “At this point, we’d settle for a daughter-in-law named Gary.” Moreover, when we eat in restaurants I catch my mother scanning the left ring fingers of our female servers, hoping to drop into conversation that I am a professor (I’m not) and I have a book published (six people bought it). Nevertheless, the desperation to pair me up is palpable.
My father used to take a different approach in which he would cleverly slip covert statements into conversations during football games or dinner.
Dad: “That’s not a touchdown?!”
Me: “That’s ridiculous!”
Dad: “You know…there are a lot of advantages to getting married later in life.”
Me: “Where’s the fucking bourbon?”
The holidays are fast approaching and I will be staying in Prague. This is a little depressing, as there is no place like home. I’ll miss Christmas Eve extravaganza and hanging with my crazy family. I’ll miss the six-day eating contest that is the holidays and I’ll miss Christmas morning.
I won’t miss traveling. It’s not the flying death tube or the airplane food. It’s the people. The wailing child and the drunken idiot shouting for peanuts. The three dudes at the airport bar in backwards Boston Red Sox hats saying dude a lot about dudes who aren’t presently duding.
I gripe about it all. This kid should shut up; Sir, you’re making a scene, stop drinking; and Oh, stop saying dude you twenty-something twit. We get it, you’re in college.
And then I get home where there are nieces and nephews who screech at impossible volumes. The toddler cousins who run in circles and whap their faces off of bureaus and shriek and wail as I pour another drink and curse.
The only thing I’ll miss less than this is the moment that my mom brings me down a few pegs. Invariably, in the middle of my most face-reddening rant on those presently annoying me, she leans across a table and tells me that I used to be this person.
The problem is, this is hard to deny. In fact, it’s impossible.
Upon reading the article I find that this is the truth. Well, sort of. A wizardry college called Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry has opened in southwest Poland. No doubt this news has met with a broad range of reactions.
How you react to the news of a real-life Hogwarts opening really depends on who you are.
If you are a straight-laced career man who wears a flat top and a tie with short-sleeved shirts, you no doubt roll your eyes. Then you scoff the attendees, calling them ridiculous, childish, and fools to waste money on this sort of thing. You might channel your father and say something about growing up and being responsible. And you’d be well within your rights to make those points.
If you are a devoted Harry Potter fan you squeal with joy, weep into your Slytherin scarf, and immediately look up the entrance requirements. ($345, no previous wizardry experience necessary, but you have to bring your own wand). You probably also drag your dusty Nimbus 2000 out of the closet and do your Quidditch stretches. No matter how overjoyed and excited as you are about this, you are not alone.
As a Harry Potter fan who is a responsible adult (shut up), I do a little of both. And the debate begins.
Every teacher has a day. There is that one day during the week in which a teacher has a schedule loaded with torturous classes. If you are a friend, spouse, or flatmate of a teacher, you may have heard them refer to this day as their day. Perhaps, they call it their big day, their killer, or their Hell Day. They may just mumble a series of incoherent statements partitioned by sobs.
Wednesday’s my day.
No matter how conscientious the teacher, there comes a point when you want to curse at the top of your lungs. Often, in our fantasies – usually concocted while wiping the board – this curse is screamed while busting a chair across someone’s forehead.
But you can’t, because you’ll get in trouble. Moreover, students have an incredibly selective memory system. They will forget homework, they’ll forget a grammar rule, and they will forget with ease the twenty-seven times you mentioned a due date. Yet, they will eternally remember when you got something wrong and when you cursed.
Oh, I’ve let slip before. I’ve dropped a shit or a fuck under my breath, but as selective and keen as the students’ memory system is, their hearing is double that. They can hear a teacher curse from two hundred meters away at an outdoor carnival. During a rain storm. With Anthrax blaring.
Throughout a Wednesday, my day, I need to curse, because if I don’t, my face will explode like that bad French Archaeologist’s at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, cursing could get me in trouble. This is usually a quandary, but not this week. For I have learned how to curse.
Student: “What does break up mean?”
Teacher (on board): I broke up with my girlfriend because she cheated on me with the gardener.
“Teacher: “Now you use it.”
Student (on paper): I broke up with my boyfriend because he can’t cook and he is bad in bed.
As today is Thanksgiving I have planned to settle in for a long day of bitter jealousy. In just a few hours my friends and family will be sitting down to a meal dangerously high in all sorts of tasty goodness.
For the most part, I love my life in Europe. but there are a few days each year when I am 100% bummed that I don’t live in the U.S. Usually these are days that are quintessentially American, and which remind me of home. These include Halloween, July 4th, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving.
The problem is that on these days I know exactly what I’m missing out on. On July 4th it’s barbeques, burgers, and potato salad, on Halloween it’s trick-or-treating and girls dressed up in naughty (place any occupation here) costumes. I need not go into the wild times and insanity that is Columbus Day.
But I miss Thanksgiving the most.
I try to avoid anxiety and existential angst, but it does creep up on me now and then. You know the feeling. Life is meaningless and I am hurtling in solitude through nothing towards my imminent demise which will only be noticed when the neighbors complain about the smell and only remembered for the News of the Weird headline that got 1,210 Facebook likes: Cat Eats Dead Owner’s Foot.
Who knows why they come. Now, it could be the short, gray days that end around 4 p.m. into long, dark nights. Or maybe it’s the knowledge that this is just the beginning of a long winter. Also it could be that it’s mid-semester when most of my free time is consumed with thoughts of feeding bad students to my sarlacc. Or it could just be too much time with the Becherovka Fairy. All I know is that when I feel on edge, I need to get myself as far away from my thoughts as possible.
The first two men shown on this episode of Inspector Morse are a paraplegic and a telephone repair man. Two things are immediately clear – one of these men will soon be dead and the other one will not be the murderer.
I dig in.
When I first started watching Morse, I spent a month or so in complete confusion. A few times a week, for about 103 minutes, I’d sweat, rewind, and shout things like “No! The archer was in Venice!” or “How did the cricket player do it, that’s totally against the Spirit of the Game?” or “I should have known that blind driving instructor was shady.” Though at first it was difficult to figure out how to watch an episode of Morse, I soon learned to read Morse Code.
After the paraplegic’s head is blown off in an ostensible suicide (puhlease!) I begin cataloging the characters. I use a notebook for this. So far, there’s the son-in-law who found the body, the telephone repairman, and the cleaning lady who (from our point of view) was the last person to see the paraplegic alive. Morse always quips that the last person to see the victim alive is the killer. And though I mark a tiny star next to her name on my list, I am 85-90% certain she’s not the killer.
The first time I met The Pick was in the classroom where he taught me U.S. foreign policy in a masters program. He shuffled in, as bent as a question mark, bald, and clearly in his 80s. He wore a crumpled brown suit, carried a classic leather satchel and looked as though he had just walked out of a picture taken in the 1970s.
The Pick was Czech but perfectly fluent in English, a skill that still boggles my mind when I come across it. He took a simple approach to our lessons, no PowerPoint, just talking and a few diagrams drawn in chalk. Yet he was very clear, concise and reasonable, and we appreciated him greatly. However, he was not a pushover. He once laid into a few students for their poor grammar.
“There are some great speakers of English in this country, unfortunately none of them are in this room.” And as I approached to get my graded essay, he said, “Your English is fine, but there’s too much of it. Try not to get carried away on the wings of your own glorious enthusiasm.”
When the school administration asked about him and his teaching style, they’d phrase their questions so that the underlying gist was surely this guy’s too old to be an effective teacher, right? At these times I’d tell them he was the best teacher we had. This usually ended the conversation.
The problem with The Pick is that he made me realize how dull my life was, because for a while there I was convinced it was an interesting one. I had done some cool stuff, lived abroad, gone to India, gone skydiving. I had even had bad things happen which were now good stories like getting punched in the nose, seeing a fin while swimming in the ocean, and meeting Sinbad. But The Pick dispelled this notion.