The Joys of Adjuncting

A journalism student from one of the colleges I teach at interviewed me and some other adjunct professors about a month ago about adjuncting. End result? I only got one line in the story, and of COURSE it’s the one where I equated my gig at a second college to “running a meth lab.” But the one and only photo for the article has a nice clear shot of my bald-ass head.

*slow clap


It was a long and lingering Saturday night. I was lonely. This struck me as absurd. It’s 2015. The world is at my fingertips. Surely there are websites where lonely people can connect from out of the blue.

I went on one and met Raj, a 25-year-old software student from Afghanistan. After initial introductions, he asked me what the difference was between when to use “what” versus “which” in English. Then he wanted to know if I could explain the past subjunctive “in detail.” I’m between spring and summer semesters, so I actually felt fresh enough to indulge his questions. He thanked me, then left.

The next person I chatted with introduced themselves as “m here.”
I, being naive, thought this was someone whose name started with the letter “m.” So I wrote back “mm here!” (see what I did there?)
“Are you male?” they wrote.
“Yes. Where are you from?” I asked.
They disconnected.

The next caller responded to my “hey” with “u male?” When I confirmed, instant disconnect.

Groucho Mark

The Joys of Text(ing)

Last night I decided to text this girl I’ve been talking to and turn on some charm. She’s a brilliant woman; in addition to smarts, she possesses many of the other traits prized by the superficial male. She’s gorgeous.
Our chats have been totally wholesome and innocent, and I decided it was time to take things up a notch. However, before deciding that, I’d decided to consume a heroic amount of wine in a relatively short period of time. The girl’s name starts with an A. As luck would have it, I also have a friend named Adam, which, coincidentally, begins with an A.

Long story short: today around noon Adam texted me, wondering why I kept texting last night insisting he’s “a total cutie.”



Rest in peace, Pat

Nine days ago, my friend Pat died.


A few months ago, I considered using The Talented Mr. Ripley for a lesson plan. I emailed my department’s listserv asking if anyone had a copy.

A number of co-workers emailed back pointing out the college’s library I passed twice a day twice a week contains literally millions of media, undoubtedly including Ripley. Pat emailed to say he’d left a copy in my mailbox. We had a short, insightful (for me, anyway) discussion of the film, and the original version of the film, and the story they’re based on.

The further this century advances, the more grateful I become for the artifacts of the prior. I still answer the phone with a questioning “Hello?” because I remember when a phone call was a surprise. Sometimes I’m afraid to voice a question in public because someone is guaranteed to whip out their cell and look up the answer. Sometimes a question isn’t a quest for information, but for mere humanity.
Going to the library for Ripley would likely yield the DVD and nothing more. Getting it from a friend, especially one who loved stories like Pat did, yielded a story to remember, and to share. Thus the story-tree grows; thus the world is born again. Pat didn’t only write stories with words. He wrote stories into the lives of those who were lucky to know the man and love the man. Continue reading

Adios, Abuela/The End of a Super power

When my great-grandfather died about 20 years ago, he wasn’t the first person I’d ever known to die, but he was the first to share my blood and to have shared a conversation with me to die. I remember feeling sad for his passing, and wondering how it made my mother feel, since he was her grandfather, but my emotions were vicarious. I did some math.

Many of my friends in school had grandparents way older than mine. Many had experienced the death of a loved one, usually grandparents. In elementary school, that always seemed the most reasonable tragedy. There were other bombshells — I knew a girl who died from an accidental stabbing, on Thanksgiving, as well as other infrequent cases of sibling or parental death — but dead grandparents were de rigeur, a dime a dozen, the coin of the realm.



I fell in love with superheroes and comic books around this time. My first love was Spiderman; my life love, Adam Warlock. So many heroes powers symmetry or asymmetry (or both) their personalities and histories.
Superman is a near-ominpotent alien whose powers stem from his unique reaction to the rays of our sun; his Achilles heel is kryptonite, a near-nonexistent alien element his powers have a unique reaction to. Reed Richards’ incredible brain stretches light years beyond even the exceptional human limits; as Mr. Fantastic, he can extend his body to unprecedented forms and extremes. Bruce Banner’s wrath and raging lead him to become The Hulk, a juggernaut whose strength lets him overcome if not transcend any and all obstacles, but also one whose unpredictable wrathful rages render his powers a mixed blessing at best.
What if I had a superpower? What if no one I loved would ever die? What if it was as simple as deciding it should be so? Borges wrote Todos los hombres, en el futuro, serán capaces de todas las ideas — “Every man should be capable of all ideas and I understand that in the future this will be the case.” Ideas once considered impossible are always being exposed as achievable, ergo “anything is possible,” ergo someone somewhere would have the power to keep everyone they love alive, forever, if only they had the imagination to consider it, and the commitment to never let the idea slide away.

My paternal grandmother died today. Continue reading

Bigger is Better

When I moved to Long Island in 2009, I left my (now) former bed behind upstate. For a few years, I lived in furnished apartments. Then for a few years, I lived with a girlfriend who had a bed. One day, nearly two years ago, my mother upstate called asking about some of my old things she wanted to get rid of to clear up room in her basement. She asked if I still needed my bed. My girlfriend and I agreed I should let my mom toss it, since we were cool sharing her bed. So I told my mother to go on and throw it out. A week later, my girlfriend broke up with me. I was a man without a woman. Even worse, I was a man without a bed.



Over the next 600+ nights, I’ve lived in five places. The only two nights since I slept in a bed was one night in a hotel because my dick landlord hired dick workers who left ceiling dust and plaster all over my apartment and didn’t feel like cleaning it, and the January day I had to cut my upstate-to-downstate trip short and stay at a hotel because of a snowstorm. But I come not to bury all the non-beds I slept in, but to praise them. In those 600+ nights, I slept Continue reading

Days I Love My Job

languagesOn Fridays at work from 12-1 and 1-2 the student-run organization I helped found last year meets. I’ve written about Foreign And Native Speakers (FANS) before; in sum, students come together to talk, sometimes in groups as large as 25 and sometimes split into smaller groups of 4-5. There are students from all over the world, representing multiple fluency levels and cultures/languages — the United States, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, South Korea, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, and more.

Today’s the last day before spring break, so a lot of students are already out of town. But still, even on a Friday, even for an extracurricular activity most of them attend strictly because of personal desire, we had both meetings today. And even after the last meeting ended, three students stayed after for over an hour while we talked about the similarities and differences in the cultural vagaries and linguistic wowsers between Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Russian, English, and Spanish, as well as what distinguishes modern Chinese written characters from traditional ones, how the Chinese characters influence other Asian languages, and what separates American dialects from one another. For example Continue reading

State Farm Insurance Fraud/Popping My Identity Fraud Cherry

Like a good neighbor my ass

Like a good neighbor my ass

Hundreds of dollars are missing from my bank account. Apparently it all went to State Farm. I have as much to do with State Farm as I did with the Armenian genocide, i.e. nothing.

I called the number listed for State Farm on my bank statement. No answer, so I looked them up online and called the listed number. The woman from the credit card department transferred me to their “insurance” department. I told the woman there what happened, expecting the usual resistance and hoops to jump through. Instead, she put me on hold while she said she was getting the form to process mailing my refund. When she returned, I figured we’d establish some formal relationship and that she’d need to give me contact information to send them proof of my claim. Instead, she asked me for my name.

Then my phone number.

Then my email (I gave her my work email).

Then “just” the last four digits of my bank card. Continue reading