Monday, September 25, 2006

Woke up this morning with a sore throat, throbbing head and eyes glued shut. Thanks a pantsful, Tso--you gave me your cold. Staggered into school to make sure plans are in place--normally this wouldn't be an issue, but, well, anyway, who cares about the details. When coming out of school on a day you're supposed to be out sick, if anyone sees you and you're not hobbled over in pain, with glands swollen like footballs, you're automatically playing hookey. So I gave myself a limp and made like I couldn't talk--instead, I relied on pantomime and exaggerated facial gestures to convey a simple message: Sick. Can't come in today.

"Oh, okay," one colleague said on her way in. "Next time, though, leave your damn plans in the mailbox."

More sub-par sign language ensued: Office closed. No get in.

"Then get a janitor to let you in," the colleage said, storming off in a frenzy of righteous indignation over a morning interrupted by nonsense. Down the hall, I heard her muttering to someone, "Probably hung over from sniffing glue, the idiot."

And another heaping pantsful to my colleague.

On the bright side, macaroni and cheese is good breakfast food for my condition. Hopefully it'll knock me out long enough to recuperate, after which period of time I can maybe finish a set of papers so tomorrow isn't too painful.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Karma is laughing its ass off at me.

I was picked to read the Inspiration of the Week during announcements next week. Here's a snippet of what I came up with:
"Don't think of challenges as something to be ignored. Think of them as challenges. Just that. To be challenged is to know you are alive."
I made the mistake of confiding to Tso about this upcoming speech. "I'm totally pumped," I chirped as we made our way into the city (The Best Man at Victory Gardens, totally worth $25, in case you're wondering). "It's a chance to do some of that high-quality speechwriting they're always yakking about on West Wing."

Tso grunted.

"Plus, I get to stop them from whining for a while. Losers."

Then, on my way home, my Check Engine light goes on. No problem: I can hit the mechanic Saturday morning.

Due to an evening of casual boozing, I wake prematurely, and spend forty minutes standing stupidly in my kitchen, watching a coffee pot with no water in it percolate. I've had four hours sleep, and I've got a splitting headache. No problem: I down a quart of coffee once I remember the water, and head over to the mechanic. Where they scratch their heads, stick their hands into their pockets and shrug. "Can't tell you the problem, buddy, except it'll cost about $1500 to figure it out."


No problem: I guess it's time to start car-shopping. I begin this task like I do all other major ones in my life: by calling everyone I know and whining about it.
Dad: "Stop crying. Tell VWW I'm an employee and you'll get a free coffee mug."

Brother: Nobody home. Whined into machine.

Girlfriend: Nobody home. Outgoing message sounds vaguely amused(?)

Tso: "Stop crying, you pussy. Let's go drink breakfast."

Principal: "What do I care? Get your ass in on Monday regardless. And don't call this number any more."

Dial-a-Prayer: "What did you expect after 143,000 miles? Idiot."
So after a short breakfast I'm on my way to various dealerships in Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Palatine, anywhere I can find something driveable, reasonably priced, and something I won't get my pants pulled down over when negotiating. We managed to hit two, maybe three dealerships, only to see smoke pouring out of my hood on the way.

No problem. Just park in the Gulf Road median, pop the hood and stare in disbelief at the gaping hole in the overflow tank where a cap used to be. The mechanic forgot to put it back on.

No problem. Just hit every car parts store, Ford dealership and bum with a suspicious bulge in his pocket that might be a radiator overflow cap. All to no avail.

No problem. Just hit the mechanic on the way back (only by now it's pouring rain, and the smoke is mixing with it to form a finely-tuned paste over my windshield), watch him fumble and fume over the car for twenty minutes, then finally find the cap and screw it back on.

By now, it's six hours since I left my house. In that time frame, I've managed to eat lunch, work myself into a nervous breakdown, look at three cars, hit five car parts store, spend $8 on coolant I now don't need, and wind up right back where I started: with a wounded car and empty wallet.

And a splitting headache.

"I am this close to losing it," I grumbled on the way home, making a space between my fingers no bigger than his dick.

Tso grunted. "It's a challenge. It's how you know you're alive."

"Screw you."

To celebrate the end of this hellacious and utterly pointless day, I've drank three beers, eaten a TV dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes and peas, watched Welcome to the Dollhouse and daydreamed of firebombing every mechanic on I. Park Road from here to the Windy City. With napalm. And a Zippo lighter.

To consummate my pending bankruptcy, I will finish my six pack, flop on the couch and watch Lou Dobbs reruns, allowing the miasmic fugue of CNN to explain to me what the problem is with the world today. By the time I wake up tomorrow, I could very well be a full-fledged member of the Republican party, or xenophobic, or obsessed with rooting out terrorism in every Mexican immigrant crossing over. That way, at least I'll forget any crippling car payments that might be looming presently.

Hey, don't raise any eyebrows in my direction. It's a miracle I can even spell right now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Grammar Wars

The counselors were pleading (perhaps in vain) with my seniors to apply often, apply early for college in the fall. Then one of them collected her evaluations. "Oh, what a relief," she breathed breathlessly, pawing through them like they were coupons, "so many positive comments! Nobody said I suck!"

Then, her eyes narrowed on one in her hand and she sucked in a lungful of air. "Wait a minute...this one says I suck!"

All the while I was sitting at my desk, my fingers laced underneath my chin, a look on my face I'm told is labelled the "near-suicide" look. Or the "I wish I was on my bicycle" look. Or maybe the "What kind of soup are they serving today?" look. I don't know. I have so many looks.

In any event, all I wanted to do was get back to the toils of secondary education (teaching ballads about how to drink ale). Enough of this crap (planning for a future more successful than mine).

So when the counselor turned on me, I was startled. "Why can't you teach them better adjectives than suck?" she demanded, not realizing that she'd teed it up for me and I wouldn't be able to resist giving it a whack.

"Actually, you just used it as a verb," I replied. And cooly blew smoke off my metaphorical pistol.

The class erupted. The counselor surrendered her ground good-humoredly and exit, stage left. I turned to face my class.

"When you're all gossiping about this," I said, "and I'm pretty sure you will, put me in a cape. I think this whole thing would be much more dashing if I were caped."

Sometimes...God, sometimes I love that place.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tale of Two Cities--the Musical at the library yesterday. Listening to it in the car. Not half bad. Envisioning a chipper, upbeat singing Madame DeFarge is a bit of a stretch, but I can only assume that will last only so long in the show. Lyrics for the songs available here.