Friday, February 27, 2009

Learned Adults

I'm taking a night class in business. In that night class there are several adult learners. I guess, technically, I'm an adult learner though I don't liken myself to one.

When I was in college there was always an adult learner in one of my lectures who would "ask" a question that inevitably launched into a personal story: "Can Ophelia's complex be from her relationship with her father or is it possible she had a mental illness? Like in war--I was in the war, Vietnam, and once I was running from enemy fire with shrapnel in a my leg...".

An adult learner character profile might look something like this:

Age: 45-90 yrs
Dress: Blousey tops, sweats and sandals.
Accessories: Newspaper, reading glasses and bottled water.
Mood: Grumpy, always wanting to challenge the professor.
Skills: Telling long stories and getting off subject.
Attributes: Zero knowledge of computers.

Not all the adult learners in my current class are as bumbling and disruptive as I remember. Then again, in this regard, as I get older maybe I can't see the forest for the trees. But there is one adult learner that stands out in my class: LaShawna*. I only know LaShawna's name because she has told the class on multiple occasions as well as informing us that she owns her own "weave" business and wants to open a pet store. She's also been overheard saying, "I had to fight to educate myself and ain't nobody gonna take it from me or I'll put these nails (holding up blue fingernails) in their head."

I identify LaShawna as an adult learner because she is in fact an adult and matches almost perfectly with the aforementioned character profile. That said, I'd like to add an addendum to that profile--she's slow and breathes primarily out of her mouth. Case in point, day 2 of our class our teacher asked, "Does anyone have any questions about the syllabus. After today, I'm not going to mention it again and you're on your own."

(LaShawna raises her hand and speaks loudly.)

LaS: Yes, teacher! I have a question. What's a syllabus?

Teacher: A syllabus? (He laughs.) I think you're in the wrong class if you have to ask that.

LaS: Oh, this isn't Business En-tra-pra-new-rall-ship? (She thumbs quickly through a class schedule.)

T: No, I mean, yes, this is the right class. It's just, well, a syllabus is a guide to a class.

LaS: Huh?

T: Like a table of contents.

LaS: Like in a book? Is it for the book we have to buy?

T: No, it's a road map for what we're going to focus and study for the semester.

LaS: Road map?

T: Yes. A road map.

LaS: Like for drivin'?

T: Uhmm, yeah, sort of.

LaS: What's that have to do with Business?

(The class laughs uncomfortably.)

T: It just tells you what we're doing. Don't worry, you'll be fine.

LaS: Okay. That's good. I just want to understand. And it's called a sill-a-bus?

T: Yes. A syllabus.


*For the record, LaShawna is Black and arguably owning a "weave" shop and acting loud and sassy may be a stereotype of her culture. She's an easy target, for sure. I often look to the other Black students in the class for their reactions on LaShawna's antics. Turns out, they're rolling their eyes along with me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I'm not a big "Invitation" person on Facebook. I don't reply to people wanting to invite me for a Friend Hug or to Start Biting Chumps as a pretend zombie. Even invitations to pay Duck, Duck, Goose are of little interest. And I like that game.

But of all the Facebook invitations, Poking has got to be the strangest for me. My own sister has even poked me. In fact, she has SuperPoked me. Maybe I've wasted too many hours listening to Howard Stern (pre-Sirus) but I can't hear the word poke without associating it to sex. I also can't hear the word poke without thinking of someone ramming their finger into my ribs. And I don't like that game.

Chrissy has just SuperPoked Ryan.

And this from The Brown Daily Herald

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Parents Are Strange and Don't Eat Right

Friday night I picked my parents up from the airport. As a 'Thank You' my mother offered to take me out to dinner. I should preface the rest of this story with: My dad is cheap and will eat anything and my mom is cheap and says she'll eat anything, but only after she compares it to poop.

(I've just picked my parents up from the airport and am driving them back to my house in Oakland. We're trying to make dinner plans.)

Me: There's a great pizza restaurant. It's a staple in the East Bay.

Mom: Pizza! We don't want pizza.

Me: It's deep dish. Chicago-style. You'll love it.

Dad: That's sounds good.

Mom: Deep dish. That's too much dough, isn't it?

Me: Not really. It's good.

Mom: What else is there?

Me: Um, I don't know. There's a good Thai place I like.

Mom: I've never had that.

Me: It's good. You'll like it.

Mom: Is it like Chinese?

Me: No, not really. They have noodles.

Mom: What else?

Me: Indian is good. You like Indian, don't you?

Mom: No, no. We had that in Singapore. It looked like cat shit. What else?

Me: Jon turned me on to Ethiopian, but I don't think you'd like that.

Mom: Why not? What is it?

Me: It's like lentils and meat.

Mom: Why wouldn't I like that? I've never had it.

Me: Well, it looks like Indian food.

Mom: Nah! I don't want cat shit. What else?

Me: I don't know. Why don't you tell me what you want to eat.

Mom: Mexican would be fine.

Dad: No, no. We've had Mexican all week.

Mom: Alright then. How about Chinese?

Me: Ooo, there's a good place you'd like. Crepevine!

Mom: Is it crepes? For dinner? Isn't that a dessert?

Me: Well, you can have it as a dessert or dinner. It just depends on what's in it.

Mom: What can you put in a crepe?

Me: Chicken or vegetables, I don't know. Whatever you want. They have sandwiches and salads, too.

Mom: No, no.

Dad: (a little impatient) That sounds fine, Mel. Let's just make a decision!

Me: Fine, crepes it is!

(Some time later, in the car, we're still on the subject of food.)

Me: (to my Dad) I always was sacred to eat at the dinner table. I never knew what you were serving.

Dad: What do you mean?

Me: It's never just chicken or beef. We eat some weird fish you call 'chicken' or caribou sausage and deer shanks. We ate like we were on a wagon train, killing whatever crossed our path.

Dad: No, no that's not true!

Mom: Jess, you served lamb too!

Dad: Oh, don't tell that story.

Me: What? What?

Mom: I was driving down Midway road and saw a sheep that got hit.

Dad: It had just got hit.

Mom: Yes, it was hit in the head. Dead. Well, I called your father when I got to work and told him. And sure if he didn't drive down, get that sheep, took it home, skinned it, gutted it and served it for dinner.

Me: Ew! Did I eat this?

Mom: Maybe. It was, I don't know, 15 years ago.

Me: You fed us roadkill?

Dad: Oh! It wasn't roadkill.

Me: Dad, it was hit by a car and lying dead on the side of the road. That's roadkill!

Dad: Well, it was sure good!

Me: Bleeech!