Sunday, October 29, 2006


It has to be one of the most difficult things to deal with in the world. We are always told to expect the unexpected, but how exactly do we do that? Are we supposed to be constantly monitoring everyone and everything around us? What sort of unexpected things are we supposed to expect: death, destruction or joy, fortune and success? If we are always trying to figure out the unexpected, then we don’t really have a hold over the present, as we should—“Live in the present,” as they say. Lately, a number of unexpected things have been happening—some good, some bad. I’ll discuss a few of them.

I just got back from an unexpected trip to Chicago. We have some family friends, who we haven’t seen in more than a year. The last time we did see them, at a mutual family friend’s wedding, they both seemed fine and in good spirits and health. Last month, we got a phone call that the husband of this couple had been diagnosed with renal carcinoma, a fairly rare form of cancer. My parents spoke with his wife a few times after we heard about the situation. On October 9th, he was rushed to the hospital and on October 22nd, he died. My parents and I went to Chicago to visit his wife and his children. My dad actually grew up close to her family and they lived down the street from my dad’s boyhood home. When we went to her house, there was a lot of reminiscing and discussion about old friends and family members. Apparently, the last thing my parents remember this woman’s husband saying was “I’m not going to even talk to you anymore, if you don’t come to visit us.” His words were unfortunately quite prophetic because they didn’t talk to him again.

A positive unexpected thing that happened to me since I moved to Columbus was making new friends—two of them, in fact. I was not expecting that in the slightest; I even hoped that since I had enough old friends in the Columbus area that I wouldn’t even necessarily “need” to make new friends because I could rely on the old ones for the majority of my social needs. I have gotten the chance to reconnect with some old friends and it’s really been fantastic. Some friendships have basically picked up where they left off, from more than ten years ago, while some of the others go back to childhood. My new friends have been quite a delight though. It’s always fun having new friends just because one gets the opportunity to craft one’s own narrative of oneself. They haven’t heard all of my stories and are eager to learn more about me and vice-versa. Plus, since we share an occupation, it’s easy for us to relate to one another and the daily trials and tribulations of teaching undergraduates. I feel lucky that I can still make new friends. Sometimes, it’s easy to underestimate one’s ability to do that, especially since, in my case, it had been about six years since I really HAD to make new friends. Not that I hadn’t picked up a few along the way, but most of them were friends of friends with whom I really enjoyed spending time. My new friends like me for me—a positive, unexpected thing.

I have also been learning a lot of new things about myself as of late—fairly profound things that sound silly when written out, but some neat stuff, nevertheless. Part of me just assumed that since I am very self-reflective and notably in tune with myself that I had really discovered all there was to know about me. Completely utterly unexpected circumstances and conversations brought a number of things to the fore and I am glad to have had such edifying experiences.

With regard to school-related incidents, I had another interesting, unexpected conversation with a student of mine. For those of you following along at home, this is the same student from my last blog. Here’s a rough recapitulation of our conversation:

STUDENT: What do you think about beanbag chairs?

ME: I like beanbag chairs.

STUDENT: Can I bring in a beanbag chair?

ME: No, you can’t.

STUDENT: What if I brought in one for everyone in class? How many people are there?

ME: There are 20 students in class, and you would have to bring in one for me, so a total of 21 beanbag chairs.

STUDENT: Okay, I get paid soon, so I’ll do it. The only problem is how I’m going to get all those beanbag chairs in my Camaro.

ME: That sounds like a bad joke: How many bean bag chairs can you fit into a Camaro?

My other students were a bit incredulous during this conversation which took place at the beginning of class, and did not interfere with the actual teaching of class. One student asked if I was really going to allow the student to bring in bean bag chairs for the whole class. I answered that I really didn’t see what the problem was: “It’s difficult enough to get kids to do anything, so if someone is going to take the initiative to come up with an idea, think about how to accomplish it and then actually execute it, my job is done.” We had another conversation regarding the bean bag chairs last week and a truck has been volunteered to haul the bean bag chairs to class, so we’ll see what happens. I will keep you updated on the possible change in furniture in my classroom.

There’s one venue where the common sense sayings clash when it comes to unexpectedness. With regard to love and relationships and the like, people always say that it springs up “When you are least expecting it,” but then if I am trying to “expect the unexpected,” what happens? Do they cancel each other out? Is that why my love life is the way it is?

Any thoughts?

Monday, October 16, 2006

weddings, students, moratoriums and more...

I just went to my college roommate's wedding on Saturday and had a fantastic time. It was nice because the week before, when I was getting ready, I kept telling people "I'm going to my college roommate's wedding," and they would reply "So, have you graduated from college yet?" It thrilled me that multiple people thought I was still an undergraduate. Oh, do I yearn for those days sometimes. But then I was wondering, is there another way to refer to her? She was my college roommate for four years, but that was many moons ago. She is also my best friend from college, but that still doesn't necessarily indicate our age or current relationship. Should I refer to her as my former college roommate? That suggests that she was once my roommate in college, but no longer is, but is that accurate? It's all semantics, I know, but quite interesting.

The wedding itself went off without a hitch. There was a lot of craziness before the wedding, as usual, but things turned out very well. I caught the bouquet as well! What's interesting is that my friend's now-husband, caught the garter at another college friend's wedding a year and a half ago. Perhaps a streak is in the works. Who knows. All this, just when I jokingly advertise myself as a "looking for a good time" girl. My friend & her new husband are doing well and I wish them all the best.

Today I taught class and a male student who had mononucleosis returned to class for the first time in two weeks. Here is a rough transcript of our conversation:

ME: So, are you feeling any better?
STUDENT: No, not really.

ME: As long as you're not contagious anymore...

STUDENT: As long as you don't stick your tongue down my throat you should be fine.

ME: Uh, Thanks, I wasn't planning on it.

My students who were witness to this conversation got such a kick out of it. The student who made the comment even asked if he could receive extra credit for making such a funny comment. Other students even advocated for him. I told him that I don't give extra credit for inappropriate comments. I also related to my class that I have never had a student say something like that to me before today, and one student responded with "That's a good thing." I agree wholeheartedly. I do have walls. *Those who scoff at my walls (you know who you are), keep it to yourself*

I suggest there be a moratorium on sandal wearing as of September 30th of each year. Despite the warmth of certain days in October, there is no need for sandals, and especially flip-flops, after Autumn has offically begun. I see so many students wearing flip-flops when it is ridiculously cold outside. It astonishes and horrifies me. I suggest we start a petition of some sort to informally institute this. Anyone with me on this?

Last week a friend of mine and I went to see Itzhak Perlman at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus. It was fantastic. Who knew that Perlman was a comedian too? There were several people coughing in the Orchestra Level (We had amazing Loge seats), and so based on that Perlman decided to play Tchaikovsky. Very amusing.

I have decided to make myself over into a hockey fan--specifically, a Columbus Blue Jackets fan. I came to this conclusion for several reasons. Firstly, I have always wanted to get into hockey. Back when I lived in NY, I was itching to see an Islanders or Rangers game, but couldn't find anyone who would join me. Even though I would have had to travel either 45 minutes to one hour and half I was willing to make the trek to see a sport with which I am still somewhat unfamiliar. Now that I live about 10 minutes from Nationwide Arena, I am determined to take that to my advantage. Another reason is that the Columbus Blue Jackets have the first (and only, if my sources are correct) hockey player of Indian descent on their team--Manny Malhotra. I would like to support him, as well.

I am really truly enjoying my time in Columbus thus far. I have a number of old friends with whom I have reconnected and I have also made a few new friends, as well. It's nice being so close to major events --plays, concerts, sporting events, etc. People mistakingly think that because I lived in NY I had easy access to all of these things. They fail to recognize that I lived on Long Island, in Suffolk County, an hour and a half away by express train from Ronkonkoma.