Saturday, July 13, 2002

Nothing like being trapped in a room with two thousand other people, four thousand #2 pencils, four thousand bubble test sheets, and eight hours of mindless questions. Plus the extraordinarily bilious feeling of leaving my house at 7am in order to arrive at the requested time of 7:45, then an interminable wait for nearly two hours for them to straighten out the scheduling snafus. Teaching Fellows programs can really try my patience, especially when I'm relatively decaf early on a Saturday morning. I should have been watching cartoons like Powerpuff Girls. Not to mock the intelligence of the average teacher, but the announcer had to tell everyone that the page that says "End of Test" means the test is done and you should turn in the test. Some people were still confused.

I am not a smoker, but I think I'm suffering the most from the new tax here. Mayor Bloomberg should have warned the rest of us that all of our chain-smoking friends were going to be forced to quit, ALL AT ONCE. The last cigarette has been smoked, the butt rubbed out, and the nightmare begins. Shaky hands, muttering, and random acts of violence seem to be the signs that I should run away, but their desperate nicotine need brings out the mother in me. "Try some coffee!" I suggest perkily, hoping it will stop their crankiness. They smack the cup away, ignoring me while they try futilely to light the end of a straw. Bloomberg should have set up nicoderm patch stations on the streets, or maybe some Hostess dingdongs supply system.

After a long week of classes, programmatic suicide, and watching one of my students breaking into a vehicle on my way to school, I just want a beer. Make that quite a few, actually. Sex would be really nice too.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

My fab friend Jen has certain skills. She can give blood without getting woozy, her hair is worthy of poetry, and she always makes me cheer up when I talk to her. As far as I can tell, she is also my muse of vaguely disgusting ideas. I'm not sure where, when, or why, but she brought the vocabulary word 'sebum' to my attention. Considering my head is shaved, I should certainly have already learned this word. Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands that lubricates the hair and skin and gives some protection against bacteria. In other words, it's what makes my shiny head shiny. This would have been a momentary distraction of adding new vocabulary to my lexicon of strange words, except this word has other great features, at least in my opinion. Onomatopoeia. Just say it, it sounds almost primal, like om. Sebum. When I say it, I can almost imagine that my scalp produces extra sebum in some kind of autonomic response. Maybe there is some Tibetan shaman who can not only control his body temperature, but also produce lots of extra sebum. I bet the locals call him the shiny shaman and provide him with gifts of moist towelettes. I also love to look at words backwards, and sebum is up at the top of the pile along with words like murmur, oops, Evian, and Naomi.

I also like etymology. Until this weekend, I had no idea that the root for vaccination is vacca, which means cow. This is because smallpox, the first disease effectively treated with immunization, was treated with cowpox, a similar virus transmitted by cows to dairy maids. It's a bit sad that I can remember bits of information like this, but keep forgetting where I left my coffee.