Not at ALL What You Thought

Monday, April 23, 2007

LisaCurl's Curse

A friend reminded me today of this here thang, which is brilliantly gorgeous:

Forasmuch as thou hast offended me …

Mayest thou stub thy toe; yea, most grievously mayest thou stub it.

May the stars of heaven observe thee, and snicker. May thy knees swell mightily, even unto the size of watermelons. Mayest thou lisp.

May the telephone marketers of all the world be as a buzzing perpetually in thine ears. Mayest thou be the butt of the humour of small children.

Mayest thou develop a slight, nagging itch in thy crotch. As thou scratchest it, mayest thou realise that thou art being televised live to an audience of millions.

May typhoons strike thy home; may meteorites strike thy pets; and may hiccoughs strike thine aunt.

To the utmost ends of the world, yea, even unto Pittsburgh, may thy creditors pursue thee. If thou hast no creditors, mayest thou acquire creditors. May thy creditors be seven feet tall, and weigh two hundred and fifty pounds, and be named “Bo.”

Let the flowers that delight thy nose wither. May thy toaster always overcook thy bread. May thy cheese develop mould, and thy beans small, suspicious-looking hairs. May thy gherkins leak.

An hundred years after thy death, yea, even a thousand, may people hear thy name and think, “Verily, he was a right rutabaga.” May Congress pass laws against thee.

Drat thee.

Dear Jesus, my brother, remind us daily of the power of our words.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ranuel Works My Last Nerve

The rules are as follows: You start off with writing down ten weird things/habits/little known things about yourself. People who get tagged have to then write ten weird things/habits/little known facts about themselves in their own blog or LJ. At the end, you pick ten people off your flist and tag them so as to continue the game. No tagbacks, and the rules must be stated clearly in your post.

1. My left leg, ankle and foot have swollen larger than my right, daily, for more than fifteen years (yes, since my pregnancy with Juice).

2. I actually enjoy grading papers, much more so than I do lecturing.

3. I once learned how to play the recorder (as part of getting a degree in education, which I didn't finish because there weren't enough lit classes in the curriculum).

4. I'm irrationally frightened by some large constructions, like figureheads. The very thought of President's Head Park makes me very uncomfortable.

5. My younger sister, in her forties and an attorney, actually believes that I "know a little about everything." (But maybe that's something weird about her.)

6. I hate these "meme" thingies.

7. People are always telling me I sing well enough to be recorded, but no one has ever offered to record me (well, in the last twenty years, anyway).

8. Somehow (despite any formal obedience training), I managed to train Nimue, my dog, to respond to (right many) hand and head signals.

9. I *heart* Kevin James.

10. For a good part of one year of my life, I was addicted to an electronic version of Yahtzee.

Like Ranuel, I'm not taggin ten friends. Here's three:




Dear Jesus, my brother, remind us daily that whatever our weirdnesses, You love us muchly.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Middle-aged Woman’s Fancy Turns Lightly to Thoughts of Office Supplies

Because I love those, too.

I have a Thing for pencils, pens, notebooks, typ—I mean, printer paper, paper clips, staples, staplers, Post-its, hole punchers. . . .I could go on for days. It’s a writer’s thang, I reckon. I've got pens and pencils choking that middle zipper pocket of my purse, pencils and pens choking various and sundry pockets of my bookbag, pencils and pens choking various and sundry cups and mugs around my house. It was my pleasure and honor to meet a cyber-friend face to face --right at the time that her father was teaching himself to make mechanical, wood pens! I hadn't planned this, of course: it just happened, to my joy and delight.

One morning, walking to class, I found a couple of pencils on the dew-covered ground. Nearly brand-new, they looked, a red one and a yellow one, each with nice big erasers still. And I’m not talking about mechanical pencils; these were your plain wood and graphite classics (though probably not Ticonderogas. I don’t remember). I just thought, Somebody’s done dropped some perfectly good pencils and has no idea they’re gone. Probably won’t miss ‘em, either. And aloud, I said, “These are mine, now.” And, because I didn’t have time to find the pencil section in my bookbag, I just put the wet, precious things in my coat pocket. When I got to my classroom, I surreptitiously slipped them into that pencil section of my bookbag. That was a long time ago. Those lovely pencils’ve shrunk with use and their erasers're nea’bout gone.

Years ago, I had a beautiful dreadlocked student who used paper clips on his essays. Though I tell my students in writing (on the syllabus) that they can use either paper clips or staples, I prefer that my students use staples to keep their pages together. In fact, when students do use paper clips, I usually keep the paper clips and staple the papers myself. But this guy had round, metal, colorful paper clips. I coveted them. It bothered me not to say so.

“I’m keeping these paper clips,” I told the pretty child, looking right at him. He wouldn’t look back at me, but he smiled as he looked down at his paper and handed it to me.

“You’re the one who has to face yourself in the mirror, Ms. B,” he said. I kept the paper clips. Still looked at my reflection, too. No, I have no scruples about Office Stuff. I’ve been known to openly covet the Office Stuff belonging to other people, right in front of their faces –primarily because, about 50% of the time, people will give me their pens and pencils if I just say I want them.

Now, I like fancy paper clips, but I prefer those plain wood and graphite classics to mechanical pencils. With the classics, I always know where I am, how much pencil I have left, how much writing I can still do. Mechanical pencils are sometimes pretty, but they’re always untrustworthy.

I get tempted, though. Former Student has a mechanical pencil that looks like an oft-sharpened Ticonderoga. It’s about as long as my thumb, yellow-gold, with a red eraser on top and a metal nub at the end. Former Student made the mistake of letting me hold it in my hand.

“That’s just as cute as it can be!” I said. “Don’t you leave it here; you might not see it again.” I was working my magic. Former Student looked sharply at me and then put his hand out for his pencil.

“I won’t leave it,” he said. But he did. He left it. I wanted to play with it and keep it among my other Office Stuff, but the very idea smote me in my heart. I emailed Former Student, “Guess what I found? You’re not getting it back, either.”

“Oh, it shall be mine again,” he emailed me back. It was, too. I saved it for him, and I didn’t use it once, even.

Ah, it was too short anyway.

Today was a red-letter day for office supplies. One of my current students, a wonderful lady of 57, who rightly calls herself “Tap Dance,” came up to the desk tonight and apologized for accidentally going off with one of my pencils. (See? You reap what you sow.) In February, on Valentine’s day, Mrs. Tap Dance organized my 6 p. m. class: my students bought me a card and every one of them signed it; it came in a little bag with candy and gaily-colored pencils and a fat pen. I was genuinely overcome with joy.

Anyways, she apologized for walking off with one of those pencils. But because she had, she noticed that (it being April now) my gift pencils were getting shorter and shorter. So today, she brought me three brand new black pencils. Classics, but new: Mirado Black Warriors.

Great day in the morning.

See? Mrs. Tap Dance had peeped my hole card, seen me from afar off.

Dear Jesus, my brother, have mercy on those of us who make little, tiny, silly idols.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Middle-Aged Woman’s Fancy Turns Lightly to Thoughts of Young Men

I am loving me some spring this year. (Virginia has only three seasons, you know: winter, spring, and The Other One.) The sun returned, for one thing. And, even with terrible hay fever, I love the smell of spring and the way trees and flowers talk that brazen talk to the birds and bees (but especially the bees): "DO ME, BABY!" You know I’m telling the truth. Trees and flowers (but especially flowers) are shameless promiscuous. But come spring time, I can’t blame ‘em.

I had a student, a young woman, who claimed that she preferred black men to white men “because they smell like cookies.” No joke: that’s what she said, and she said it to women (mostly) who knew she wasn’t talking about some new kind of cologne. It’s that pheromone thang, and in my mind, it should “smell” like the thang you like. Girlfriend like cookies? Black men smell like cookies. Me, I just like the smell of Male, period. All men, regardless of age, race, occupation (or the lack thereof), orientation, or previous condition of servitude. I can’t designate any particular fragrance to those pheromones. Just plain, homemade goodness.

(Where really little boys are concerned, however, I content myself with rubbing their heads. I’ll chase a little boy around for that. Ask any of those who attend my church. Poor little fellas.

But the big fellas? Jesus, help me.)

The other day, it was about 80 degrees out, and I was walking to class when one of the students who usually walk me to class came up to me, wearing a white towel on his head.

“Is that supposed to be cooling?” I asked.
“Yeah, Ms. B. Plus, I don’t want a lot of sun.”

I looked at this milk-chocolate-brown young’un in wonder. A lot of black people are still tryin not to get “too black.” That just amazes me. So does this young’un: at least a head taller than I, wiry, full-lipped (the kind of lips that cause you*, against your will, to wonder what a kiss would feel like) and bright-eyed. He works hard –outside of school, at least, to pay for school himself (unlike many of his peers). He’s funny and possessed of a fierce, no-matter-what intelligence, a drive to Do Better. One way he thinks he can do that is by walkin Ms. B. to class or knocking on the window of the classroom and pointing at his watch as Ms. B passes, crackin her up. Every little helps, you know. And, of course, Ms. B. appreciates all the attention.

An ex-student** also hangs out with me on the regular. He comes by the office, any time, and devours the time. During the times I worried about him, used to be he’d claim he needed to see me to “feel better” during the day. Now he’s just there to entertain Ms. B. He walks me to class because, he says, he doesn’t want me walking there alone. This is Your Average Man’s Man, a twenty-something Army vet, well-versed in jiu-jitsu and charm, with a teeny-tiny, unutterably cute law school girlfriend. (He showed me the pictures he keeps in his phone.) He’s got brown hair, brown eyes, and a sexy little John Travolta cleft in his fuzzy chin. (I know y’all thought he was a knock-kneed, thick-glasses-wearing, friendless, book-sucking dweeb --like me, in fact-- and I ain’ mad atcha, but y’all are wrong, as LuAnne Platter would say.) Though he’s a white guy, the black guys give him a pound as he passes. (And all the women look at his butt. Or so he tells me. I haven’t given myself permission to look, if only to determine whether it’s look-worthy, even.) Yesterday, I remembered that it was Tuesday, and so there was no reason to expect Ex-Student to come by. (In college, most folk have MWF and TR class schedules; they vary. Not everybody has the exact same, soul-squeezing schedule every johnbrown day the Lord sends.) I sighed and told myself that I’d probably get my walk the next day, shouldered my book bag and stepped out the door. There was Ex-Student, about to come in.

“I just came over to walk you to class,” he said. I grinned all over myself (and, I think, frightened him a little). I didn’t get the walk all the way to class because I was driving. But I got a walk to my car, and I treated myself to a look at the back of his legs, hanging out under his shorts, as he walked away. Nice.

After lusting over every young man I saw yesterday, I thought it’d be a good idea to go to bible study that night. (The topic was having faith enough to let your God-given self-control kick in, among other things. Appropriate.) After bible study, I went downstairs to pick up the girls from their bible study. My girlfriend and her husband run our church’s Youth Department, and they each teach one Youth Department bible study class. (Truth to tell, they have loads more fun teaching those classes than they do running the department. Ain that the way?) While I stood in the hallway, I could see that their class wasn’t quite over. The teachers and students seemed to be cleaning up plaster, plastic bags and other students, the aftermath of Girlfriend’s Husband’s life-mask project. Husband looked up at me standing in the hallway, pointed to his own face and grinned big. He had shaved every hair from his face, and he was remembering my (to him, hilariously) negative reaction to that metamorphosis last year: “I don’t like it. Grow that hair back.” Now, this is what I said at the time, but it wasn’t what I felt. He has always been a beautiful man, but then, and now, he looks like a 2009 copper dollar, all shiny and wonderful and improbable. Last night, I just shook my head at him.

When the teachers finally dismissed the youth, I came down (ostensibly) to look at the youth’s masks. (Juice had been brave enough to do one.) Girlfriend gave me a big hug. After those classes, she always looks lit up inside. (And she is always a beautiful woman, as I am sure I have said before, so it’s just not fair that she have inside lighting, too.) I felt happy that she’s found something else happy-making. Husband greeted me, and I replied, “Who are you?” as he pounced upon me for a hug. He asked me (for the thousandth time, I think) to do a life mask, too, and I replied that I didn’t even know who he was. He laughed and then preached at me: whether I knew him or not, I should love him, like a good Christian. I countered that it was entirely possible that I would come to love him, but right now, I did not know who he was. I turned on my heel and had begun to walk away, when he pounced and hugged me again.

I suddenly remembered the beginning of the conversation I’d had with Ex-Student, earlier that day: “Have you ever seen somebody that you just can’t take your eyes off of?” I squinted over at his pretty face in the spring sunshine and answered, “Yeah.”

Dear Jesus, my brother --mmph! You sho' look good today!

*Yes, you!
**No, my maiden name is not "LeTourneau."