austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

No matter what your occupation is, everybody's in showbiz

Tuesdays and Fridays, since last October, I've been teaching, with that pleasant break for winter. I already cancelled one class due to the boss needing me at a presentation and actually showing up for it; I didn't feel I could cancel another. Plus my students need the class-hours. Besides, this would be a chance for bunny_hugger to see me in class. I've seen her a few times, and I was curious how she'd feel about my class performance.

She took up fairly quiet positions in the far corners of the rooms, where she wouldn't attract attention, and came to the conclusion that my classes are not better-behaved than hers. I'm just less worn-down by it. Mind, the classes were worse than average, I'd say, probably because it was the Friday just before Spring Break. The 11 am class wasn't particularly bad, just a little less focused than usual, and with a surprisingly high number of people wandering out and in again. One student (who'd spent most of the class sleeping) even walked out, without his books, five minutes before the end of the 75-minute class, provoking me to remark, ``Really?'' and, ``This class is leaking.''

The afternoon class was just awful, though, with around half the attendance of usual, and none of the students who normally answer questions being present. A good class is always something of a performance, and a dead audience is just a killer. I spent most of that class going over homework problems which had baffled the class earlier, and just could not get anyone to answer even the simple questions I toss out so someone will say something. At least the rowdy kids in the 11 am class --- who give high-fives and respond in ironic layers of enthusiasm --- give me something to respond against, even if they make bunny_hugger want to throttle them.

There were bits of the campus bunny_hugger liked, though, particularly that slices of pizza and coffee at the student union are really cheap and pretty good for that. And she met with some of the mathematics staff, and got along nicely with them. Plus, student evaluations from last term were finally turned over to me, so I was able to look over them and wince at all the negative comments whether they make sense or not.

Also in the afternoon class --- introduction to algebra, so I was talking about how to translate Word Problem English into equations --- I mentioned how ``thrice'' was a word which might theoretically appear in a word problem, except that only poets and people speaking British English say ``thrice'' anymore. bunny_hugger was almost dying from anticipation of the reference to Conan O'Brien she was sure I had in mind, but the truth is, I had wholly forgotten that Conan lead a campaign to get ``thrice'' a place back in American English.

After class we went to a different mall, thinking that we might do some more dress-shopping. My father had no good words to say about this particular mall when he learned we planned to go to it, although all I hold against it is that it used to have two bookstores --- a Walden Books and a B Dalton's --- and now it doesn't. Plus, my father treats going to the mall as the greatest agony not involving being whacked on the knees with a ball-peen hammer.

But while there were some appealing-looking dresses in Boscov's, the trip to the mall was pretty much a bust. Nothing there was quite right, and the JC Penny's didn't pan out either. Macy's turned out to arrange its outfits by designer rather than by function, which may work for people who are not us. Sears, as best we can determine, doesn't sell any clothes other than unpleasant-looking men's shirts. If not for some free flavored ice samples from an Auntie Anne's the mall would have been a complete bust.

We diverted from returning home to go to the supermarket, since my father had asked for some bread, a ``crusty'' Italian bread to go with the chickpea soup he'd made, and maybe some rye bread from this Jewish deli nearby if we could make it there. We couldn't make it there before they closed for the night, so went to the supermarket instead and covered our bread needs there.

We got home to learn that my mother was not, despite her ambitions, released from the hospital. We did have the dinner, though, and my father was delighted to have someone new to cook for, since he puts out crock-pots full of soups faster than can possibly be consumed. The Saltines went a little awry when they turned out to be Weird-Flavored Ritz Crackers instead. But dinner went well.

My father explained the new plan: my mother hoped to be released from the hospital Saturday, and if all went as planned, we would drive up to the hospital, bringing a change of clothes, and would go directly from there to a dinner we had planned to attend Saturday night. bunny_hugger expressed a completely correct skepticism about someone going from a hospital bed to a dinner on the town. My father told a story about my mother's grandmother, whose stubborn persistence in the face of a major blizzard loses power as a tale of determination overcoming adversity only because it resulted in her death.

So this would be our night, spent at home, catching up on the late night shows one or both of us had missed in the action of the week, and segueing into a little marathon of Portlandia. Besides some lovely bits of dialogue (``Most people in Portland are from Brooklyn'') the ``Women and Women First'' bookstore was a real delight, since we both knew one of the proprietors back in college.

Finally I put the class materials, including the reviews from the previous term, somewhere I couldn't be bothered by them. I would manage not to think about them until the last Sunday of Spring Break when I realized I needed to have homework assignments prepared for the copy center, like, eight hours ago.

Trivia: New Jersey's first village, Bergen (established 1660) appointed its first schout (sheriff) in 1661. Source: New Jersey: America's Main Road, John T Cunningham.

Currently Reading: Airlift 1870: The Balloons And Pigeons In The Siege Of Paris, John Fisher.

PS: How To Multiply By 365 In Your Head --- Sunday's Drabble gives me a little problem to talk about, and some mental arithmetic tricks to use.

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