Pistachio Pudding

Sunday, September 30, 2012

This past Friday, I was one of a very small amount of faculty in my department who were on campus. The combination of a conference somewhere else and Oktoberfest meant that few people were in the building.

I don't mind this, of course, as I tend to get an inordinate amount of work done. Grading, planning, responding to emails that I failed to return. You know, stuff.

I should have know the day would not go as planned when, at 9 a.m., as I was walking towards the child care at which I was going to be doing a student teaching observation I passed a young man dressed in lederhosen.

Not joke lederhosen, but real, authentic lederhosen. He was not being ironic. Oktoberfest is a really big cultural deal here.

"Oh!", thought I, "There is a young man of about age 19 in lederhosen. Huh."

Then I walked into the child care and began my observation, placing the young gentleman in elk pants out of my mind.

Later that afternoon I sat in my office, grading quizzes. I have one class of mostly sophomores and I am training them to do the reading I assign by giving quizzes based partly on lecture and partly on reading. As I sat in my (truly lovely with large windows) office, one of the maintenance gentlemen stopped by.

I should mention that I have made a concerted effort to say hello to everyone in the building. I am an introvert who disguises this well, knowing the value of appearing as a friendly and reasonable person.  Any of you reading know that this exhausts me - By Wednesday night, I fall asleep between 5:30  and 7 p.m., my internal energy resources entirely burned up.

I am also not a fool. I know how important support staff are in the scheme of "things running smoothly." I've been that support staff. I push myself through the motions of "normal human relations" hoping that I can use my astute observation skills to "learn" how to behave.

I've only just met the maintenance gentleman who has now appeared before me a few days prior. Of course it occurs to me much later that he knows exactly who I am in the way that maintenance people become intimate with the inhabitants of their buildings. He has watched the transformation of my office over weeks as the former inhabitant disappears and I exert my personality through things brought in and arranged. He sees photos and art appear on the walls. He sees what sits in my bookshelf, and what appears, then disappears on my desk. He knows I don't take my work Macbook home and have a "French Baguette" scented candle sitting over on the sideboard.

I lift my eyes and smile when he enters my office. I am recording grades into the computer, saving after each one so the system will remember them. I am careful to check and double check when I do this, fearing the fallability of my short term memory. The late afternoon sun is beginning to stream through the glass.

He sets a metal baking dish on my desk. He explains that there was a pot luck and they have leftovers. He wants to give the few faculty the leftovers.

"It's pistachio pudding.", he explains. "Pistachio is a kind of nut."

Perhaps I looked as if I was unfamiliar with what a pistachio might be and he felt the need to reassure me. In truth, I am well versed in varieties of pistachio. Iranian? Californian? Soaked with Lemon and Salt? I did not share my expertise in things pistachio, however.

"Oh.", I say. "It looks delicious, but I don't have a plate or bowl for you to dish me out some."

The pudding is green and has a cool whip topping. I suspect the bottom is nilla wafer crumbs. It is the type of pudding I have seen several times here at picnics and potlucks. I think of it as a very Midwestern dessert.

His solution is direct. He takes a box which recently housed a desk copy of a book I am considering for use in class next term and rips off the shortest flap. He then slides the cardboard under a section of the pudding and presents it to me.

I sit at my desk, holding a rectangle of cardboard topped with pudding and coolwhip.

I smile. I then do the only acceptable thing I can think to do at that moment. I eat the pudding off of the cardboard. I have no fork or spoon. I simply lift the cardboard to mouth and begin to gracelessly slurp pudding while making sounds of delight.

Later, as I recounted this story to my child and she was doubled over with laughter I remarked:
"If I hadn't just lived that, I may not believe that not only was I offered green pudding on a piece of cardboard - but that I licked it off in front of another human being."

And this, my friends, is how I live now.

Conversation Interruptus

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No. wait. Let me stop you there.

Did you just say to me that you think that Kristen Stewart is a great actress?

You aren't saying this in an ironic manner, correct?

You've seen the same movies as I have, right? The ones in which she exhibits the exact same expression (that of bored indifference or annoyed indifference) in every scene?

Because up to this point, I've really really been liking our conversation and am experiencing a sort of glittery   feeling that I rarely feel with any adult human. One in which I am attempting to seem not goofy and maybe even impressive and mysterious.

If you truly feel this way about the quality of this non-actress then I suspect a deeper character flaw than I may be willing to ultimately forgive.  Bored indifference/disgust in an expression does not equal deep thinker...and it definitely doesn't equate to passion.

What it equates to, overall,  is my desire to punch her in the face and tell her to shut the fvck up.

I also think that it is a testimony of my glittery feeling that I was able to keep my facial expression from going complete "YOU HAVE GOT TO SHITTING ME?!"

The fact that I didn't make the face of utter contempt OR the face in which I am very obviously not saying the words playing through my mind only speaks to how much I was trying to seem normal. Also see glittery feeling.

However, you are WRONG. Badly, terribly wrong about Kristen Stewart. She is a terrible actress.

You are also wrong about the douchiness of St John in the context of Jane Eyre.  He is a douche. You will never convince me otherwise.

*A conversation I should have had six months ago, but instead said nothing. It has bothered me ever since.

Terribly unwitty

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I wish I had some energy to report the news of my life.

Not that there is news at the moment. I seem to be wholly within a sphere of prepping for the next class, grading and meetings. Oh, the meetings. Lots and Lots of meetings.

I quizzed myself this week, matching students names to faces - a task at which I am lousy. I seem to be up to about 80% success, so I feel a bit better about addressing people in class.

Emily is slowly settling in to her routine. She takes the school bus to and from school. I am honestly surprised that Terrance doesn't follow the bus to and from school, as he frets everyday about whether he should drive her to school.

Not I. The bus is fine and she is absolutely all right with taking it.

I fuss at my syllabi, not liking what I wrote a month before I met the students. I fuss at my lectures, not liking what I wrote the night before.

Some nights I get 4 hours of sleep before lectures and others find me passing about at 9:30 p.m.

The rhyme and reason of my life right now is "get through the next class."

First week as a University Professor

Monday, September 10, 2012

Holy Hell, I'm tired.

One week down. I don't think I have failed too spectacularly as of yet. A couple of lectures were a little too long, a couple too short. One thing even went really, really well - better than I expected.

Everyone seems to believe that I know what I am doing, even when I am hearing the small voice in the back of my head yelling at me to throw the glitter bomb and make a run for it.

But Tired? Good gravy. I'm tired.


Monday, September 03, 2012

I had a funny story about thinking I was going blind, only to find that my liquid eyeliner had run into my eye - causing a thin film of black to disperse over the lens.

This caused me to mention that I could no longer see out of one eye. In turn, Terrance went into the store and rather than getting me the 2 buck saline drops I requested came out of the store with some crazy homeopathic eye drops. As he muttered bitterly about 10 dollar eye drops, I attempted to clean out my clouded vision.

There was no immediate success, but I was able to wash enough eyeliner out to get a smallish portion of my eyesight back. By that point, however, I had ruined my eye makeup in totality.

Emily starts school tomorrow. I start school tomorrow. As one might expect, having two anxious ladies in hizzie is a real barrel of laughs.

She worries, I soothe. It is a circle unto itself. This is something I do well, soothing her, reminding her that there is nothing to fear, nothing to worry about.  She still allows me to soothe her, my voice is still able to find the space in her head that calms her.

If all else fails, I make her laugh.
She is soooooo my kid. If you can make us laugh, we can't stay worried or angry.

Sadly, Terrance has never acquired this skill set.

Tomorrow, we both set out on new adventures.

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