Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hiccups, Miss Hyde, and Wardrobe Malfunctions

If the title didn't already give it away, let me tell you, today was one of THOSE days! It was a collage of "memorable" moments and "just plain ugh" moments from the moment my eyes first opened.

The day began with me severely oversleeping. My alarm woke me, but it was the wrong alarm. It was the "you have five minutes until it is time to leave" alarm on my phone. I got to bed extremely late last night (technically it was this morning), and somehow fell asleep while in the process of setting my alarm. I wasted an entire valuable minute staring at the clock in bleary-eyed disbelief, convinced that I had to either still be dreaming, or reading the numbers incorrectly (after all, math has never been my strong point). Once I realized that it was, indeed, 10:41 am, I bolted into a frenzy of activity, and was successfully out the door in four minutes. Broadway quick-change artists would have marveled at my speed in getting dressed!

Since skirts are quicker to put on than slacks, I opted for a very full, ankle-length black skirt with a cute top. This becomes important later on in our story. As I was wearing a skirt, I opted to walk/run to school. I made it with five minutes to spare, but with miserable consequences. The morning rush gave me hiccups.

A few words about hiccups: There are several kinds of hiccups. Some women get the dainty, cutesie kind that pop up here and there for a few minutes, and can be gracefully dealt with with a few girlish giggles. Some people get hiccups that can be easily cured with a glass of water. Other people get the kind that are painful and embarrassingly loud - the kind where everyone assumes alcohol is at the root of it, and which stick around for hours. Guess which kind I get.

Yes, I get the kind of hiccups that leave one begging the Almighty for mercy. Today's hiccups, fortunately, only lasted for about an hour, and thoroughly delighted my youngest students. It's such a pleasure to know that I can always bring smiles to the dear faces of children.

Today, of course, was one of those blessedly-rare days where my kindergartners decide to make me grateful for not having children yet. Both classes featured a phenomena that I refer to as "popcorn students." It's when the bottoms of the students are unable to stay on the seats of the chairs for more than three seconds at a time. The only solution for this problem that works well is for me to stop being Miss Jekyll and let out Miss Hyde. I switch from the smiling teacher that they are accustomed to into a glaring creature that barks commands: "Sit! Stop! Quiet! No! Bad!" Miss Hyde can usually restore order pretty quickly, and then Miss Jekyll is able to come back. Today, Miss Hyde needed to stay a bit longer.

When I came home for lunch, I went straight to the computer to work on a project. While I was thus occupied, Jasper decided to redecorate the apartment for me. He has recently learned that he can pull objects off my short table, so he set to work quietly clearing it. Then, after artfully arranging everything from the table onto the floor, Jasper raided the trash can and found some tissues and paper to shred into a new carpet. Miss Hyde decided to make a house call.

My first afternoon class (E2-C) had memory homework for today, which I had assigned on Monday. It is the same way every week, so there was absolutely no excuse for only one out of eight children to have memorized the short assignment (especially since I practice their memory homework with them in class each day to make it easier for them). Miss Hyde informed them that all but one student (the one who did his homework) had homework for tonight, and that they had forfeited their game day tomorrow. Two students sneaked Nintendos into class, so Miss Hyde confiscated those and gave them to Jackie (one of the Korean teachers) after class. Jackie's Miss Hyde is even more impressive than mine.

A half-hour later, I had a big final oral test to administer to my E3-C class (one of my two favorite classes because the kids are normally so awesome). These kids are very smart and quick to learn, so I was dismayed to find that none of them had studied. Normally kids get all As on my oral tests (I drill them with review games and practice tests beforehand, so the correct answers are second-nature). Today, only two out of eight kids got As. Believe it or not, it really isn't fun giving low grades to kids (unless of course they are little beasts that you can't stand...).

After school ended, I had some errands to run, so I decided to ride my bicycle. Does anyone remember what I was wearing today? Yes, a nearly-floor length and exceedingly full skirt! I figured if women could ride bikes in the frocks they wore in the gay nineties (1890s), that I should be able to do the same now on a much more stable modern bike. Hmmm....

I have concluded that the photographs of women in long dresses on bikes are all frauds! Either that, or they neglected to show all the bruises on the women, and had them change their dresses before the pictures were taken. Bikes and long, full skirts should not even be in the same sentence!

I got my skirt caught in my wheels about six times. It repeatedly got in the way of my pedals. Finally, I got sick of being a lady and tied the outer part of the skirt in a knot around my waist. Don't gasp so loudly; the skirt has an inner part to it that comes past my knees. Of course, it rode up quite a bit since I was on the bike, but I wasn't showing nearly enough leg to cause my dear mother any panic. I was still relatively modest; I just looked really stupid. Since it was dark out by this time, no one but a few curious pedestrians got much of a glimpse of me, for which I was grateful.

I concluded the evening's performance with a graceful dismount that almost landed me on my face (luckily I grabbed the side of the apartment building and managed to remain upright). Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"