Saturday, July 17, 2010

By Small and Small: Midnight to Four A.M.
By Jack Gilbert

For eleven years I have regretted it,
regretted that I did not do what
I wanted to do as I sat there those
four hours watching her die. I wanted
to crawl in among the machinery
and hold her in my arms, knowing
the elementary, leftover bit of her
mind would dimly recognize it was me
carrying her to where she was going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Now Hiring: Chaperone/Interpreter of Awkward

The time has now come. What I need is someone to assist me, and help manage my interactions out in the real world. For a long time now, a version of this position has been filled by my good friend Sara "H" S. She has spent a decade and a half letting me know when I've done something bizarre. Eventually, it got to the point where she could accomplish this with just a look. To be fair, Jessica S. has also carried her fair share of this burden. But this job is no longer necessary, because now I'm completely aware that I'm completely weird. What I need now is someone to follow me around and stop my weirdness. Intercept on my behalf, if you will. Because I am powerless to stop myself. Take today, for example. I sell my Baby Bjorn to a woman on Craigslist, and we agree to meet at Water Street to make the trade. I walk in and sit down and she says, "Aww! Look at your son! How old is he?" and I say "1 year". Then I say, "How old is your son?" And she says "3 months".

See all that empty space up there? That's where I was supposed to say something like "Oh, he's so cute!" or "Wow, he's big, eh?". But I don't say either of those things. I say NOTHING. Basically I just stare at the baby. Let's just get this out of teh way: I stare at people A LOT. If I've stared at you in the past, I hope it comforts you to know that, inside my brain, I am screaming "AHHHHH! STOP STARING!!! SAY SOMETHING!!!"
Though I cannot interact with people, I am fairly good at deciphering what it is they're thinking, and this woman is thinking "This girl thinks my baby is ugly". And I DONT think the baby is ugly. I mean, he has one of those faces that will be really handsome in high school, but currently looks too old for his baby body, and that's tripping me out a bit, but ugly? Not at all. THIS is where the Chaperone of Awkward would step in and say one of the above stated appropriate things, thereby creating the allusion of natural conversation flow, and getting me out of trouble. Again.

To be clear, this is a live-in job.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hello, little girl! I'm here to take your teeth! All of them! Plus? YOUR SOUL!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Professor W. Runs a Tight Ship

*Maybe don't read this if you're easily offended.

Here's what happened in my class today:

Student 1: Dude, what are you writing your research paper about?
Student 2: Down Syndrome kids who are bilingual. My friend's son has Down Syndrome, and if you talk to him in English he doesn't respond, but if you talk to him in Portugese, it's like he doesn't even have a disability.
Student 1:.... man, he doesn't have Downs Syndrome. He's just foreign.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Here are two stories about what an idiot I am.

Do you ever look at a word and not recognize it? This happens to me often. Take, for instance, this morning, when I am reading the Arts and Entertainment section of the Kazoo Gazette, and I see that the KIA is putting on a presentation called "Deaf Folklore: Deaf people, culture and identity".

I know the word deaf.

But when I look at it today, all I can see is the word "leaf" with a a d. So I pronounce it, to myself, "deef". So I read this out loud to myself "Deef culture: Deef people, culture and identity". And then I say to myself, "Huh. I wonder what Deef is." And I am sitting there thinking that it's some type of ancient culture or something, like Hmong. And then I realize it's deaf. Let me tell you, though- the amount of time I contemplated whether or not I have ever heard of the Deef culture was absolutely unacceptable.

This happens to me a lot with that show The Closer. Have I talked about this before? EVERY TIME a commercial for The Closer comes on, I read it as "The Close-er"(as in, "You are closer to the remote than I am"), and EVERY SINGLE FRICKIN TIME, I think to myself, "Huh. Is that a show about aliens?". Because "The Close-er" is an alien show type of name, like "The Undead" or "Close Encounters", or whatever. And then I remember that me and myself have had this conversation many, many times before. Even as I just reread this paragraph to myself, I pronounced it "The Close-er" in my head.

Probably the kicker is that people pay me to teach their children the English language.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Art of Awkwardness

The truth is- and I'm cool with this- I am incredibly socially awkward. I don't know why. I'm okay once I know people, but if I don't know people, I am like... TERRIBLE. I like to tell myself that it has something to do with being a writer, and that I spend so much time watching people that I don't bother to actually participate like a normal human being.
Mostly that's bullshit, though.
I'm just weird around people. Some of the crap that comes out of my mouth simply because I can't come up with anything else to say? Unbelievable.
So I get this idea that I'm going to make more of an effort to be "social".
Here's the embarrassing part.
I'd like you to note that I HAPPENED upon the audio book, rather than seeking it out. Anyways, I'm at the library, where I live, and I see this new audio book called "The Art of Mingling". It is basically a book about mingling in situations where you don't know anyone. Cool, I think. I could use that.
I'm not really a self-help book type of person. Actually, the idea of self-help books makes me really depressed. I can't tell you how many students (okay, I can: 3) I have had write about a self-help book called The Secret, and how it changed their lives. I don't want a self-help book to change my life. Maybe that's snotty. Oh well. Anyways, this one didn't seem so helpy. It seemed practical. Plus, I have a two hour round trip drive to work twice a week, so I listen to a lot of audio books.
So I get it.
Today, I'm listening to it.
What I think mostly is that it's a cruel, cruel joke.
I think that this woman who wrote the book was thinking to herself (probably at a party, where she's like, *sooooo* comfortable) was "You know what would be funny? If I wrote a book where I told socially awkward people how to act in social situations, only I gave them really BAD advice, but they took it because they're socially awkward and don't know any better."
Hilarity. Ensues.
Because I'm listening to this audio book, and it is just bad, *bad* advice.
Take for instance (and I'm only about 45 minutes into it, so I'm sure it will get much worse..) the chapter on "Great opening lines".
She made an alphabet of things to talk about. Each letter stands for a topic. "A" for instance, stands for art.
"C" stands for... cat?
Here's her opening line suggestion:
"Hey, can you help me? I'm trying to come up with a name for my cat."

I gave you a few lines of white space there so you could digest that.
.... what, seriously?
That's your brilliant ice breaker? Can you help me name my cat? Because that doesn't sound COMPLETELY RANDOM or anything. It's clear that this woman is not aware of the link between social awkwardness and old ladies and cats. Lots and lots of cats.

Another great ice breaker, falling under her "daring" category (there are two categories- "safe" and "daring", and as far as I can tell, neither one is a good idea).
"Are you people going to talk to me or what?"

No. No one is going to talk to you. Because you sound obnoxious.

Others in the "alphabet" section:
"K" is for kids. Suggestions include:
"Man, there sure are a lot of kids at parties these days"
"I wonder what all of this looks like to a kid"

Wow. Suddenly I have to go to the bathroom. Would you excuse me?

And then I thought, maybe, just maybe, this self-help book is an evil self-help plot to sell more self-help books. Because after you read this, then ask someone to help you name your cat, then get shot down in a major way, you're really going to end up in a dark place and NEED to read The Four Agreements, right?

And I ALSO can't help but think, what if your cat line actually worked, and you become dear friends with whoever you struck up a conversation with, and then that person comes to your house for the first time and says, "Where's your cat?"
But you don't HAVE a cat.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Bizarre Phenomenon: The Car Advertiser

Car advertising. As in, pasting the name of your business all over the side/back of your car via a cling-on. Could be a good idea, right? It's free, after the purchase of the cling thing. It appears in multiple places (wherever you appear), instead of staying in one place like a billboard. Sure, it can be a great idea. Unless you're the most aggressive driver on earth.
Seriously, people. You need to THINK. THINGS. THROUGH. Here are a few questions for you:
* Do you tailgate (not with beer)?
* Do you pass people on the inside lane, even though they're already going 5 miles over the speed limit?
* Do you honk aggressively and make wild hand motions?

If you answered yes to any of the above, car advertising is NOT. FOR. YOU. You see, it turns out that if you are a complete jerk while sporting the name of your business in huge letters across the side of your car, it has the exact OPPOSITE intended effect. It turns out that, after you cut someone off and flip them off, they no longer have a fuzzy feeling about Fuzzy Friends Pet Store. I know. Advertising is tricky that way.
Honestly, what are you thinking? Do you forget?
Today I was on the expressway and this huge white Suburban-looking thing gets within an inch of my bumper as I'm going 75ish. So I get over. As they're passing, I look over to give them the deathrayeye, and there's "Such and Such Pet Cemetery" painted on the side. My first thought is that they're probably keeping themselves in business, driving like that. My second thought is, if my dog dies, that's the LAST place I'm burying her. I mean, I don't like my dog, so I'd probably just bury her in the backyard anyway, but I'm definitely not burying her there now.
All of this brings me to the story of DJ Craze, my arch enemy of Kzoo. That's not his real name, and he doesn't know he's my arch enemy. He runs a DJ business, a fact that wouldn't escape you if you ever ran into him, because the name and info is literally pasted all over his van. The first time I ran into DJ Craze was when I was out running along Drake. It's a bit difficult to turn onto Drake from side streets, because it's decently busy. DJ Craze was having none of that, though. The poor guy in front of him was inching forward, looking for an in, and DJ Craze laid on his horn, starts yelling and wild-hand-motioning out of his open window.
And then I thought to myself, "Hey, If I ever need a DJ, I'm calling DJ Craze!"
I thought, Hey, DJ Craze! I hope all your records skip!
And now, I see him EVERYWHERE. At the post office, at the Y, at the post office again. He looks a lot like mean old man Clint Eastwood from El Torino. Except, if he happened to witness me being beat up by a gang, I don't think he'd save me. Unless the beating was blocking traffic. In which case, I think he'd just bulldoze us all. Every time I see him, I narrow my eyes a little. Should I ever need a DJ, I will know exactly who not to call.
Am I saying that I am some awesome, heal the world driver? No, but I also don't have "Lolalou: College Professor!" written across my car. Though I do have an Obama bumper sticker, and he probably wishes that I didn't.