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Jul. 27th, 2014

dino head

For LJ Idol: Nomenclature

Setting: early 90's. I was back in college, after dropping out for three years, and living at home with the family, when mom summoned me to the living room for a "serious conversation."

At the time, mom taught CCD classes (Catholic religion classes for those who do not attend Catholic school), and I could tell she was doing some sort of lesson planning for them, since her newest* Saint of the Day book was on the coffee table. My nephew was laying on the floor, watching some video and his mom, my sister was also there.

*"Newest", because my mom owns something like eight of them.

As I sat down, she started to speak:

Sean, you know your brother has decided to join the priesthood. This presents us with a problem. I always figured that he would get married and have kids while you did... um... (hand gestures, followed by an awkward pause) That can't happen now. So, you have to have children to carry on the family name.


Well, I was stunned. First of all, I'm gay. No matter how many guys I have sex with, I'm not going to get any of them pregnant. (Nor will the impregnate me, you know, when they're on top.) Secondly, I'm the back-up breeder? What the Hell, mom? Third... one of my sisters had already had a child out of wedlock and he has the family last name.

So, I responded, "Mom, Bridget has already passed on the family name. Plus, she's good for another child or two without getting married."

Without missing a beat, my sister said, "Yeah, if I want to, sure."

Mom was horrified, but she kept pressing the issue.

I was stunned, but I could tell that she digging her heels in about this, so I knew I had to do SOMETHING to change her mind. Fortunately, I'd read all of mom's Saint of the Day books, and, as I remembered that, a plan started to form.

A few nights later, I was leafing through mom's newest Saint of the Day book when mom came in.

Me: Mom, I listened to what you had to say, and I agree. I should carry on the family name.
Mom: Good.
Me: Now this might be me thinking too far ahead, but I've been going through this Saint of the Day book for name ideas. I mean our family uses the same eight names over and over again, and I think it's time for a change.
Mom: That's not a bad idea.
Me: So for a boy... how about Irenaeus?
Mom: I... no.
Me: Polycarp? I think that's perfect. My boy Polycarp would NEVER get beaten up on the playground for that name.
Mom: If you think....
Me: And, for girls, I think I'd revive old Saxon names, like Sexburga and Wulfhilda.
Mom: These are names... saint names?
Me: Ooo... and if you read Wulfhilda's biography, all the women in her family had the prefix Wulf attached to their names. THAT'S PERFECT!
Mom: I fail to see how.
Me: Well, we could use it to revive all the old family names. I could hve a bunch of girls and name them Wulfevelyn, Wulfcecilia, Wulfvirginia, and, of course, the one named after you, Wulfpat.
Mom: I'm sorry, you think you're going to name MY grandchildren WHAT?
Me: I'm an adult, you really have no say in the matter.
Mom: Really? What do you think would happen to you if you did this?
Me: Oh, I would probably "vanish".
Mom: That's right. Remember, there's a crawl space under your grandmother's house.
Me: Mmm-hmmm (At this point, I was trying hard not to laugh. I was failing.) But don't you think it would be fun. You'd take my kids to church with you, and you'd introduce them. You'd say, "Here is my grandson, Polycarp, and my granddaughters Wulfcecilia and Sexburga. They're Sean's kids."
Mom: ...
Me: And the family friend would just shake her head sadly and say, "You didn't have to tell us they were Sean's kids. We figured it out."

Mom left the room in disgust, while I cackled like a hyena. The subject was never brought up again.

For what it is worth, my brother quit studying for the priesthood, got married, and had two boys, neither of whom are named Polycarp. Some things, I guess, you have to do yourself.

Jun. 30th, 2014

dino head

For LJ Idol: Freshman Composition

Ah... sweet memoriesCollapse )

Jun. 18th, 2014

For LJ Idol: End of semester conversations

At the end of every semester, I am besieged by students who are trying to get a grade the didn't deserve. As you can imagine, this is barrels of laughs.
Frustration and sarcasm ahoy!Collapse )

Jun. 9th, 2014

Traveling sucks sometimes -- for LJ Idol

The joys of travelCollapse )

May. 26th, 2014

stalking, snoopy

Fun with a neighbor: for LJ Idol

I was at one of the local bodegas yesterday, picking up milk, pop and one or two other things, when one of my neighbors stopped me for a chat.

Neighbor lady: You're eating too much pizza. I see the boxes in the trash.
Me (a little exasperated)*: It's not me. I haven't ordered pizza in a long while.**
NL: It's... not you?
Me: Nope.
NL: Huh. Not you.
Me: Lately, if I've felt like pizza, I just walk over to the pizza place and have a slice or two and then come home.
NL: ... You know you don't have to do that... you should get it delivered.

At this point, I paid for my groceries, laughed and walked away.

I mean... she was criticizing me for ordering delivery, then when I told her I wasn't, she pointed out that I probably should get delivery. *sigh* I guess she was bound and determined to stick her nose into my life one way or another and offer unasked-for advice.

*I was fully braced for one of those "I'm an almost complete stranger, but I see that you're fat and I'm going to tell you about it" conversations.

**This is actually true. I really haven't ordered much delivery lately. Normally, I just stop somewhere on my way home for a bite or cook something. Also, I live in a building that has 24 apartments. I'm not sure how she determined that I was the mad pizza-eater.

May. 17th, 2014

dino head

For LJ Idol-- when I became a meme.

A tale from grad schoolCollapse )

May. 7th, 2014

dino head

Another tale from the States Project -- for LJ Idol

I've told a tale of the massive research failure that occurs with my States Project before.

I get this all the time. Once, one student was convinced that Nebraska had no roads, for example.

However, one term, the research errors just kept piling up on top of one another to form a really odd alternate reality United States.

It all started with Ohio. The only large city in Ohio was Columbus. However, lots of people would visit Ohio to go hiking in its beautiful Ozark Mountains.

I chuckled to myself. I mean, if the Ozarks were now in Ohio... what about Arkansas?

I got my answer a little later, when I discovered that the Grand Canyon was now in Arkansas.

You'd think that this would upset Arizona, but Arizona was now "covered with forests and inland lakes ideal for family camping and hiking adventures."

I have no idea where Arizona got these from.

And even when students got their facts right, pronunciation could screw them up.

While all the above was happening, the student who had New Mexico decided to talk about the Apaches. Unfortunately, she did not know how to pronounce "Apache", and, for whatever reason, did not ask me. So, she did that thing that students do sometimes when they pronounce the word every way they can think of and hope that it's right once.

So, she said "Apeach", "Apaich", "Apitch", and, of course, my favorite, the French branch of the tribe, the Apashay... who I am sure looked FABULOUS on horseback.

And the student who had South Dakota kept mentioning the Sioux in her write-ups. Now, I read that they prefer to be called "Lakota" or "Dakota", and I kept including that in my comments to the student. As a result, it never occurred to me to see if she she could pronounce "Sioux".

So when this student said "The Sucks Indians wandered all over the Great Plains." I was horrified.

Meantime, the student who had Kansas talked about "The wheat fields of Kansas". Unfortunately, she weakened the /t/ in "wheat", so it sounded more like "weed fields of Kansas".

If she had only said it once or twice, I wouldn't have noticed. Alas, she said it a lot.

Then she said, "And the Bee-zhoan are native to Kansas."

I had no idea what she was talking about. All I could think was, "I've studied American history. I know the major Native American tribes. Who the Hell are the Bee-zhoan?"

"The Bee-zhoan live in a park in the Northwest corner of Kansas", she continued.

"Oh my God!" I thought to myself, "She means BISON!"

After the semester was over, I realized that all of this could be condensed into a narrative:

In the alternate universe United States that my students have created, before the coming of the White Man, the Sucks Indians roamed the Great Plains, which stretched from the Ozark Mountains of Ohio down to the Grand Canyon of Arkansas all the way out west through the weed fields of Kansas to the vast forests and inland lakes of Arizona. On those Great Plains, the Sucks Indians hunted the bee-zhoan and fought with the Apashays, when they came north through what is now New Mexico.

Now, I can't do this every semester. Normally, the various errors don't coalesce this easily. But this particular term was special.

Apr. 28th, 2014

dino head

A conversation with a friend, for lj idol

Scene: Coffee shop. We were discussing a play we had seen the week before.

Me: ... plus that play was totally pretentious. No one talks like that. It sounded like a horrible French script that was run through some exceptionally bad translation software.
Friend: I don't agree. I thought it was really interesting.
Me: Nope. Totally pretentious. The whole "everyone just stares blankly at the audience" ending... the stilted dialogue... the WAY too artsy set design... I mean, what was with making all the set pieces out of luggage?
Fr: They were a metaphor for change.
Me: If the entire stage is covered in metaphor, odds are you're doing something wrong. The only way this play could have been more pretentious is if a mime were involved somehow.
Fr: Please... you're a linguist. You're not a REAL theater person. I don't even think you know what "pretentious" means.
Me: Really? Trust me, I know from pretentious. Let me tell you how.
Me: 1) I have a bachelor's degree in French.
Me: 2) I have done significant graduate work in French.
Me: 3) I have written papers that begin with phrases like "Now, we must deconstruct..."
Me: 4) Those papers? They were written in French or Spanish.
Me: 5) I work in Academia.
Me: 6) I hang out with theater people.
Me: 7) In my spare time, I hang out at museums.
Me: I do not just know about pretension... I wallow in it.
Fr: ...
Me: If I call something pretentious... I promise you, it's pretentious.
Fr: Well...
Me: Oh, and I am enough of a theater person to know when something sucks. This play sucks.

I have had several variations on this conversation over the years. Most did concede that I know from pretentiousness.

Apr. 20th, 2014

dino head

Not my brother's keeper -- a story for LJ Idol

Stupid family drama from the early ninetiesCollapse )

Mar. 30th, 2014

no bear

Adventures in Absurdity: A tale from my Grad School Days for Lj Idol

Lord, this day was frustrating.Collapse )

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dino head

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