Archive for December, 2014

My Mom, the Seer

wine glass holdersI always swore that my mom had a crystal ball.

To the chagrin of my comrades growing up, I would choose to voice this belief as they were leading me on some poorly-advised expedition into some ominous locale.

This could have been one of many of our adventurous utopias: the pond, the farm, the woods, the deep woods or, if we were feeling particularly adventurous, the deep deep woods.

The conversation usually went like this:

“Let’s go to the deep woods and poke that wasp hive with a stick.”

“I can’t.”

“Why?”

“I’ll get in trouble.”

“Nobody’s going to know you big (enter juvenile barb here).”

“My mom will.”

“How?”

“She has a crystal ball.”

You can fill in the blanks on what happened after that. Needless to say, there was no end to the mockery that ensued. Of course in this case my mom wouldn’t need a crystal ball if she was driving me to the ER to get 100 wasp stings treated.

I wasn’t just a kid terrified of his mom’s wrath, though that could be epic. She had a way of knowing when we did bad things. Every curse was overheard, every fight at school known about before I stepped into the house, every 6-pack of beer found. She is and has always been a seer.

It was insanely frustrating.

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Christmas Bez Familia

dysfunctional familyHaving Christmas without your family is sort of like hearing your neighbors have sex. You can kind of get into it, but it’s not nearly the same thing as being there.

Every few years two transatlantic flights in two weeks and a mind-boggling case of jetlag is enough to keep me from going to the U.S. for Christmas. The theory behind this is logical: no nightmarish travel, more relaxation, few obligations. The reality, however, is less pleasant: decreased holiday spirit, no taste of home, no family.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas I rationalize to prepare for not going home. I focus on the advantages of staying in Prague and only let the disadvantages poke their noses in occasionally.

Not going home means not traveling. The flights are long and leave terribly early. There is always the lingering threat of a missed connection or bad weather that keep me on edge. Moreover, there is some mysterious combination of airports and holidays which cause people to instantly lose 120 IQ points and all social skills. Also, no jetlag.

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To Have a Virus

bad adsWell, it has happened to the best of us. You have an Irish whiskey at 1 a.m. and decide to download Inglourious Basterds. And the next thing you know, you have a computer full of ads you don’t want featuring girls with rock hard abs and very little shame. Who doesn’t tell that story?

There’s something amazing about having a computer virus. I couldn’t really put my finger on what that was until I understood it. But that understanding didn’t come for a while as I went through the stages of dealing with a computer virus. These are panic, panic, who do I know that understands technology, anger, hatred for Eastern Europe, and panic. I think at the end in there somewhere comes acceptance.

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Why Extroverts Rock

extrovert someecardEvery 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.

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Guy Love

its guy loveIt’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?”

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On Paybacks Being a Bitch

paybacksThe 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.

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The Hogwarts Debate

Crest_HogwartsA couple of days ago, I saw the headline: Hogwarts opens in Poland.

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.

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How to Curse

cursingEvery 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.

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