Tag Archives: education

My Ear Infection: Party on the Inside

bring on the ear infection rock surfing

I have an ear infection. Yeah, I said it. My ear is crawling with infection. Perhaps that’s too much disclosure for the blogosphere. Just because I read the forums on Web MD religiously doesn’t mean I want to discuss everyone’s medical charts, especially my favorite authors on the web.

But now it’s out there. I’ve got an ear infection and it sucks. This is also not a ploy to get people’s pity. I don’t want or need your pity. I’ve already had cookies baked for me against my will and yes, they were inappropriately tasty. You see, I was raised on the plains of Oklahoma, where personal illness is usually treated as a case of sissy-hood. We believe most things can be cured by ignoring the pain and/or rubbing bacon grease onto the affected area. In the case of internal pain, the grease is rubbed onto the lymph nodes so the lymphatic system can carry its healing qualities throughout the rest of the body. It’s a highly developed system.

Unfortunately, bacon grease is hard to come by here in Egypt, so I was unable to pour any into my ear at the beginning of the infection and simply tried to ignore it. The infection proceeded to get increasingly hard to ignore, and I was forced to go to the university clinic, where I was given medicines of dubious names and qualities. I’m now taking a few  pills in a variety of shapes and colors and waiting for everything to go back to normal when I can pretend like this whole “being sick” thing never happened.

I feel like there’s nothing dumber than saying you can’t do something because of an ear infection. To me, it feels equivalent to saying, “Oh, my thumb hurts so I can’t come to your bridal shower,” or “My forehead is bothering me so I won’t be able to make it to the awards banquet,” etc. It’s such a small area of your body, but when it hurts, it hurts in spades. If you have healthy ears, kiss them both right now and be thankful. You could also have someone kiss them for you.

I was laying in bed last night, unable to sleep because of the bright, throbbing pain in my ear. I thought to myself “I am in hell,” as it crackled and sparked, reminding me once again of how awesome my other ear feels. (Again, I don’t want your pity. I’m just trying to use my pathetic example of hardship as blog fodder). Then I realized that I was seeing the pain in my mind’s eye as bright colors and shapes. I think at one point there was a recurring abstractly shaped fish figure that had pink and white stripes and I would see it as I closed my eyes even though I was still awake and wondered  if I would be able to skip school for this.

Now here I am in the morning and I’m not skipping school but I am going to the white desert again. At least I can continue my tradition of being sick before camping trips.

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7 Indicators of a Great Start to the Semester

No pen=no doodle. 😦

1. You forget the pen you were sure you recalled and proceed to not record anything for the entire day except for when you borrow that one guy’s pencil. You even regret doing that because the lead is really light and a pain to write with but you remember that beggars can’t be choosers.

2. You spend a large amount of class time debating whether the classrooms feel most like a coffin, grave, cistern, or well. You decide that the grave motif resonates the most because of how you feel about the course itself and the room’s stark lack of natural light, but ultimately you throw out all your choices and settle on describing it as a morgue: stale and lifeless.

3. After staring at the wall for most of your first class, you rush downstairs when it ends to go to the bathroom/escape. Later on you see the teacher from that class who asks you whether anything is wrong. The prospect of taking classes for the next 4 months in the morgue makes you want to curl up and die but there’s nothing she can do so you keep your mouth shut.

4. On your way into the university, you look at the bottle of water you just purchased and wish it were whiskey. You close your eyes and wish for it to turn into whiskey. When you open them, it is still water, which you drink because you hope will cure your massive headache.

5. Having shivered most of the day, you exit your unheated classroom building and find that the air of the city in which you reside has been rendered brown and unbreathable from dust kicked up by the massive gusts of wind. This would make great stuff for a song about witches coming down chimneys, you think to  yourself.

6. The best part of the day was when you learned that your first class might be 15 minutes shorter than originally scheduled. The worst part of the day was when you had to sit through the entire hour and thirty minutes because they hadn’t decided on a time length yet.

7. You’re looking forward to the fact that the only girl’s bathroom is about a 1.5 minute walk away, which will be good for breaks from class over the next four months. If you time it right, you might be able to miss hours of class.

It’s going to be a wonderful semester!

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Another Okie Heading West

As I stood on top of one of the Twin Peaks and looked out over the bright city of San Francisco and into the bay beyond with its rust colored Golden Gate Bridge and the lumpy green mountains beyond that, and looked behind me and saw the setting sun and its reflection in the water so it looked like two suns, and glanced down and saw my lengthening shadow on the earth, and felt the coolness coming from the trees, and considered all the combinations of colors of green and blue and brown and bright that lay before me, I thought to myself that there is no other city I have found in this earth that has such a high concentration of everything I love. Creativity, nature, color, coffee, books, floral dresses, and sidewalks all combined and laid out on a grid set between hills on a peninsula in the bay.

And then I thought that I would like to live in California, if it would have me, and especially if it would find me a place to live and pay my bills. But those might have to be personal journeys. I would make the effort, though. It would be worth it to live here.

Here I come, just another liberal arts graduate with a job in retail.

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Must I Do Homework: An Exercise in the Scientific Method

We eagerly await the results of the experiment. Note: real homework is in the corner.

Step one: ask a question

Why isn’t my homework getting done?

Step two: do background research

Current research: This Arabic student has done progressively less homework over the past 4 months despite similar levels of worrying about assignments.

Less current research: During the Arabic student’s second to last semester in college, homework assignments seemed to take up an  inordinate amount of time and be completed at the last minute regardless of when they were started.

Outside sources: According to the internet, homework usually must be completed by an agent other than the homework itself. My mother also recommends that I do it as opposed to not doing it.

Local experts: My own experience indicates that homework usually gets done more quickly if I do it. Also, fellow students who do their homework personally also seem to be continually prepared for class.

Conclusion: There seems to be a lack of research on whether or not mountains of projects complete themselves. Though current knowledge and common sense might indicate that this is probably impossible, if science has taught us anything it’s that nothing is impossible.

Step three: construct hypothesis

My homework, if left undisturbed for long enough in the right conditions, will complete itself with no added energy.

Step four: test with an experiment

After receiving my assignments, I will gently place them in the corner of my room behind the flowery arm chair where they are safely out of the light of the sun and out of my personal eyesight. I will take care of the test specimen by ignoring it completely and doing my best to forget about it. If I have to read anything from a book, I will also place the book behind the armchair and ignore it.

On the assignment’s due date, I will carefully extract the specimen from the corner, being careful not to disturb it too much, and tenderly set it into my bag before taking it to school and presenting it to the teacher without looking at it. At 1 am the following morning, I will board an international flight to a country across a large body of water or land mass.

If no news of my homework reaches me, I will assume it has done itself. Should I find the homework itself, undone, at my residence in the country I have traveled to, I will assume my hypothesis needs more work.

Predicted results:

My homework will complete itself and I will get to spend more time having fun with friends.

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We Are Middle Earth

A mythical building for an imaginary world

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a nerd. This means that I enjoy learning and fantasy fiction. After I finally read Lord of the Rings in eighth grade, I was hooked: Tolkien’s world seemed more real than my own. My fascination with Middle Earth formed a dangerously large portion of my personality, and I even ended up writing my college admissions essay on why I loved Lord of the Rings. A BU admissions counselor probably read it and thought I would add a unique, socially awkward aspect to the campus environment before being sent to a maximum security federal prison. At any rate, I’m thankful to have been admitted.

As I was considering the relationship of Middle Earth and the War of the Ring to my current experience in Cairo, I found that the characters I’ve met during my Arabic study adventures resemble the different races of creatures in Middle Earth. In order to make my life more comprehensible to the small portion of people out there who read Lord of the Rings annually or biannually and/or watch the films obsessively, I would like to present my findings. To these same people, I politely request that you don’t get your panties in a bunch if the comparisons aren’t perfect. To everyone else, I apologize for alienating you.

The subgroup of Arabic-interested persons that I would classify as hobbits are the average Arabic students. Though slightly dim-witted and occasionally reluctant to expend great effort on reading or writing, they are a tough breed and can surprise you with magnificent feats. These, however, are few and far between. For the most part, these students enjoy simple work, afternoon naps, and hearty meals instead of great Arabic adventures that might cause mental and physical discomfort.

There is a breed of student, however, that does take great pleasure in perusing ancient Arabic texts and spending hours composing non-obligatory essays, short stories, and poems. This species can also converse with you at length about the fascinating differences between dialects and other languages, of which they know many and can learn at great ease. These are the elves, who capture the fascination of most others and would earn their enmity were the elves not above the judgements of lesser beings.

Though hard workers that accomplish when focused, the group I consider the dwarves can be antagonistic towards others who are pursuing the same purpose and show little interest in learning about the culture behind the language they’re studying. These are the people studying Arabic for the money and are just waiting for a knock on their door from a defense contractor, intelligence organization, security consulting firm, or government agency.

The great Arabic scholars of old (and new) who have created linguistic masterpieces for the purpose of aiding those also studying Arabic I would classify as wizards, sent to help lesser beings in the field. Because of the effort of personalities such as Hans Wehr, Frederick Lane, Sayyed Badawi, and Kristen Brustad, who have spent countless hours deciphering this language, the great fight has been made more bearable.

Speaking slowly and clearly while avoiding hastiness or imprecision in language, Arabic teachers are best described as ents. Anyone who has studied a language knows the familiar frustration of leaving the classroom and realizing instantly you have no idea what anyone on the street is saying. Are you even studying the same language? The answer is no, since Arabic teachers actually speak Entish.

As skilled as earmuffs in social interaction and exhibiting no signs of living in a civilized society, the shabbab, or roving masses of teen-aged to mid-thirty year old Egyptian males, would have to be the orcs. Not only can they make foreigners’ stays in Egypt less pleasant, but they don’t even really like each other and internecine fighting is often the cause of much bloodshed and mutual annoyance.

I could go on, but I think this is enough nerding out for now. I’m not promising another LOTR themed post in the future, but it could happen.

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