Archive for January, 2020

Testy Time

Do you have a pen?

Testing time at the university is a fascinating week. In the first place, as a teacher, you get to meet a whole new group of students you never knew. On each register there are names that are nothing more than curios, a couple of eastern or central European words whose attendance blocks are unsullied by a pen marking them present. During testing week these people climb out of the woodwork to introduce themselves and to offer explanations as to why they haven’t seen you in three months. Almost always there has been a visa problem, an illness, a dead relative. All of which, naturally, somehow denies them use of their fingers and the email on the phone they have attached to their hands 23 hours a day.

In the midst of this, you have to then administer the test. Now, one would think that when you are walking into a written examination you might have on your person a pen. However, you would be terribly incorrect in this assumption. I have searched my inner slouch to figure out why a student would walk into a (and this is a key word) written test without a pen. I have come up with the three possible answers. One, their dedication to English is such that they were going to tear open a finger and write in blood. Two, they were hoping that not having a pen would result in an automatic pass. Three, they are missing a chromosome.

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The Zany Hours

Crazy Christmas 3D Glasses Claim Two Victims

My phone conversations with my dad are a kaleidoscope of patchwork information. He has at least nine cylinders burning at once, including ones for food, sports, and a category of questions so random and rapid fired that it’s like being on the phone with Alex Trebek on meth. The first order of business is the obituary section, wherein my dad tells me about that week’s death roll. Next might be the successes and failures of our local sporting teams. I can always tell when my dad has a game on in the background. Not because he’s mildly distracted (which he is) but because he interjects his commentary aimed at the happenings on the screen into the phone, infixing points into other unrelated points.

“So anyway when we visit do you think we could check out what the fuck is your problem, moron! Throw the fucking ball! You know, to that monastery with the good beer. You think?”

“Um what?”

“The monastery can we go there?”

“Sure.”

“The Eagles suck.”

Today my family is happening in the background. This means that my dad is downstairs instead of in the fortress of solitude he calls his bedroom. Today his backup group is my mom, my sister, and her daughter. Her son is almost certainly there as well, but he’s transfixed at some cartoon animals doing something in his iPad.

My mom and sister are arguing and, from what I can gather, today’s bitter dispute concerns the location of “that fucking pan” or maybe “a God damned bag of other God damned bags.”

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Sick Movies

Yes I know. And no I’m not suggesting that.

Christmas is a time of tradition. For what would Christmas be without opening gifts under the tree, a holiday Christmas party, or watching Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

For me (and probably you) Christmas has become a series of other traditions that are outside the usual. But are rather more minuscule and almost seemingly insignificant. So opening gifts and a family party brings along a cheesesteak and a visit and a night of drinking to my brother and sister’s house. Having saved all of my shopping for the consumerist haven of Langhorne, my mother and I will go shopping on the 23rd. I will feign exhaustion in the mall at some point, but will be overall enamored with it, knowing that I have no engagements other than wearing pajamas, eating a homecooked meal, and watching football with my dad. Our $10-20 bets on the holiday time college football explosion is another major tradition and is, outside of familial gossip, probably the number one topic of our conversations over Christmas.  

We watch in the living room, the kitchen, or his bedroom. Sit there doing trivia games and making lists of movies and books and countries we’d like to visit. When the game was getting too good or too bad, Dad always loses interest and suggests a few minutes of a movie or a show. I normally say no because the movies he suggests he is enormously familiar with and I am not. Nevertheless, I would come back from getting a bottle of water or from using the bathroom and come in as Alan Alda is flirting with Ellen Burstyn with a piece of steak or as Judy Dench is mired in the middle of a mindbogglingly boring conversation in As Time Goes By. A number of choices were made that I couldn’t understand. Who on earth would choose the original The Thing from Another World over John Carpenter’s 1982 remake? Insanity. I chalked it up to nostalgia and the need for comfort movies when you’re sick.   

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