Tag Archives: seasons

An Oklahoman Laments the Loss of Fall

Redwoods don’t drop their leaves.

So it’s fall now, I think. I’m not really sure anymore if the seasons exist. Here in San Francisco nothing changes. Quinoa’s on its way out, boar’s on its way in. Gourmet sausage is somewhere in the middle, the roasted pork chop probably isn’t going anywhere, but fall isn’t coming. That’s for darn sure. Even though sometimes the wind blows and it’s got that crisp feeling and maybe there’s a leaf somewhere in there too, but it’s all an illusion. Fall isn’t going to come here at all.

Sure we get the Halloween Candy, and the pumpkins, and fall-themed lattes from Starbucks, but they won’t bring me a proper autumn. And the kids are back in school, and preschool-high school teachers are wearing themed sweaters over wildly patterned turtlenecks, but it makes no difference whatsoever.

The fog rolls out and in.

We’ve already been wearing sweaters for the past three months and one hundred years. We’ve already lit our fireplaces to stave off the cold of a chilly summer night, and warmed our hands at a bonfire on the beach to keep our fingers from turning blue in late May. We never put our scarves away in the first place, but we’ll never have to turn on our heaters because we don’t have them. Time doesn’t progress here so much as ebb in and out. Other places go in circles, but we move back and forth along the same straight line.

Still, the children get older. The facial hair on the hipsters gets slightly more ironic. Banana Republic models get more smug as they laugh in their business casual clothes.

Somewhere, college students are planning apple picking trips and updating their facebook statuses about how excited they are about wearing fall clothes. Somewhere, the leaves are beginning to turn slightly less green as they prepare to all fall down. But not here. Not ever.

I’ve only been on the West Coat for 2.5 months. Thank God it’s never too early for nostalgia. I’ll go out and drink $8 cups of coffee until the pain goes away.

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Autumn: It’s a Meteorological Miracle!

The sun used to be evil. Now it’s just unfriendly.

A “season,” according to Wikipedia, is “a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight” that results from “the yearly revolution of the Earth.” What Wikipedia doesn’t say is that seasons, despite occurring yearly with little variation, are miraculous. There’s a quote by someone I can’t remember that goes something like this, “The winter is cold, and the summer is hot. Every year this news hits the people of Britain like a thunderbolt.”

I’ve never heard anything more true. While growing up corn-fed in Oklahoma, I was accustomed to knowing what season we were in from the headlines on the front page of The Daily Oklahoman: “It’s Cold Outside”  for the winter or “It Sure is Hot Out There” for the summer,” and I used to mock this bizarre culture of weather fascination. Couldn’t they see it was always the same? But after traveling 1/3 of the way across the world, I have become one of the shell-shocked masses. Something has happened that I didn’t dare to believe would come to pass: the weather here is cooling down.

This change in weather is a subject of daily wonder for me. It’s as if I’ve never experienced the changing of the seasons before or undergone a full rotation on this earth. Maybe I’m undergoing a radical paradigm shift from viewing Cairo as a place that is always hot and unbearable to a place that is somewhat cool and semi-bearable.

Whatever the reason, I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this weather is awesome. Right now it’s 75 degrees, I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt, sweatpants, a scarf, and loving life. I even have goosebumps right now, and they’re not because of extreme dehydration, heat stroke, or a food-poisoning induced fever.

If I’ve seen you within the last three weeks, odds are I’ve exclaimed something mundane like, “This weather is soooo nice!” or “This weather is soooo beautiful!” or “I love this weather!”  I may have even said all of them. And I’ve seen you more than once, I’ve probably said the same thing to you again without shame, even remembering perfectly well that we had talked exclusively about the weather the last time we spoke.

The reality is that I will continue to talk about the weather as if it were an interesting subject, even though I know it is not. But the fact I no longer want to throw myself under the nearest moving vehicle when I’m in the sun is a miracle, pure and simple. Last week, I lounged in full reach of the sun’s rays and napped. Had I tried doing that a month ago, all that would have been left of me after fifteen minutes would be a puddle of pinkish goo and a Pilot Precise V5 pen. The times are a changing and it’s wonderful! Let the news ring from every building top, balcony, minaret and steeple: AUTUMN IS HERE!  AND I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT!

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34 ways to express cowardice when confronted with a difficult test

The end of the summer portion of the CASA program is near and we are currently in what might be called finals week. Normally, final tests have some relation to the material presented throughout the course of study, measuring the cumulative progress of the pupil. In the case of the tests of Professor Harb, however, the test has no purpose aside from inspiring fear and hopelessness among her students. Let the incontinent student beware:  you might need a fresh pair of pants after glancing through the exercises on the test and realizing no amount of studying would have saved you from the ensuing humiliation.

In other words, Professor Harb’s test was difficult. After finishing the 2 hr and 15 minute long affair, I rose from my seat and limped to her desk to turn in the test, my left foot having fallen asleep while my brain was being crushed by the Arabic language. Cackling at my pain, she says, “What, you can’t even walk?” I whimper, “The test was hard….” She gets up from her chair, walks around the side of the desk, slaps me across the face, and says, “Shame on you. The test was not hard.” I made up that last portion, but she might as well have slapped me. With the one exception of the entrance exam for CASA itself, this was the hardest Arabic test that I have faced in my life, but it is over now and there is nothing left to do in Prof. Harb’s class except for doodle and drool during the 2 hours I have with her tomorrow.

But in all honesty, Prof. Harb is great and she’s probably one of the best professors in the program and I’m happy to be in her class because I learn things and she loves teaching. She considers us her children and I consider her a non-hostile life form, so it’s not like I’m unhappy in the class. But the test was hard, so here are possible routes of action I thought for the future (read: fall) when faced with a similarly difficult test.

1. Stealthily climb out the window and down the side of the building.

2. Jump out the window and end it all.

3. Jump out the window and onto the pergola 20 meters from the side of the building. Climb down the pergola to safety.

4. Hide behind a curtain.

5. Hide under your desk.

6. Hide under someone else’s desk.

7. Hide under professor’s desk.

8. Go to the bathroom for the entire class period.

9. Hide behind the projection screen and hope she doesn’t see your feet.

10. Camouflage yourself by putting the wastebasket on your head.

11. Plead insanity.

12. Plead stupidity.

13. Sit for a while and try to take the test, then pretend to realize you’re from a different class and don’t belong amongst the test takers.

14. Pretend you’re someone else and only look like the student who was supposed to take the test.

15. Kill the professor.

16. Kill the other students, then the professor.

17. Kill yourself, then the other students, then the professor.

18. Close your eyes and hope it all goes away.

19. Close your eyes, lift your hands towards heaven, and offer the test as a sacrifice to God, pleading for Him to consume it with an all consuming fire.

20. Set the test on fire yourself, claim your classmate did it, then run out of the room screaming.

21. Make a paper airplane out of the test and then set it on fire.

22. Eat the test instead of taking it, claiming to have misunderstood the exercise.

23. Return the test to the teacher with a spit mark on it saying you found it insultingly simple.

24. Report the test as an incident of abuse.

25. Report the test as an act of terrorism that inspired fear in the heart of an American.

26. Use the test as a diary to talk about your feelings and hope that’s good enough.

27. Explain that you never actually learned how to read.

28. Hide the test and say you lost it. Repeat as needed.

29. Sprinkle soil and grass seeds on the test, moisten with water, plant in the earth and watch it grow the answers. Harvest answers and turn in the test.

30. Vomit on the test. Repeat as needed.

31. Say you appreciate the offer but you really couldn’t take a test today. Make sure you’re sincere.

32. Claim a religious reason: Arabic tests are considered an abomination on the 20th of every month according to Leviticus.

33. Try bargaining with the test; talk it down from its level of difficulty.

34. Stir up philosophical questioning amongst the students, aiming for a mass walkout: “What’s the point of all this anyways? In a few billion years when the sun blows up and the earth becomes a potato chip, who will care how we did on a stupid Arabic test?

35. Take an aspirin and then take the test. Obtain a tissue for the ensuing nosebleed. Schedule an MRI to make sure everything is still okay up there afterwards.

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