Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I am going to be intelligent

I was going to tell you about tits and petty one-upmanship, wasn't I? Well, here goes.

Remember the cysts I grow, on my boobs and wrist? Well, I grew another one. When I found it, in my left boob, I was a little puzzled.

"What side was my biggest cyst?" I asked The Man.

"The right side," he told me.

I checked the other side, and discovered that the biggest one was still there, except it wasn't the biggest one any more. My new one on the left side is the biggest one. How did it grow so quickly without my noticing? Of course it is possible that I did notice it before, but just thought it was the old one because I forgot which side it was on.

It would be inaccurate to say that this new cyst hurts. 'Hurt' is the wrong word. It is, however, uncomfortable.

Now I am going to tell you another story, and not a particularly flattering one to myself.

At one of the places I work there is a woman who also works there part-time, but has a full-time position somewhere else. I do not know her very well, even though she has been working there for years. I see her now and again, but she always looks terribly serious and busy and academic, and is often in the boss's office, having terribly serious and academic discussions with him. I don't think I have ever seen her smile, at least not in a spontaneous way. She sometime gives a strained sort of forced smile when somebody greets her, but she doesn't come across as very friendly. She is always far too busy and serious for small talk.

I find this woman slightly intimidating. I don't know whether she intends to make me feel frivolous and silly, but that is the effect she has on me. She makes me feel as though I am not a serious and academic person, and I should not be teaching in a university. Whereas she, on the other hand, is academic and serious and deserves to have tenure.

I know this is ridiculous. I know I am a reasonably good teacher, and that quite frequently my teaching is most successful is when I am being frivolous and silly. I am probably as knowledgeable as she is about the academic side of teaching, and a part of what I have learned from my study and experience is that frivolous and silly is useful in the classroom. I will use whatever works. Sometimes my frivolity and silliness leaks into the breaks between classes, but who cares? Just because I do not have serious discussions about curriculum design with my boss (who cannot design his way out of a paper bag) does not mean that I know nothing about it.

See how I'm defending myself? Why does that woman have this effect on me? Why do I need to defend myself? Am I really so insecure? Besides, she has never said anything to confirm the impression I've managed to get from her. It is entirely possible that she is a perfectly nice person who just happens to not smile very much or be very sociable. Maybe she is not critical of my frivolity and silliness at all. Maybe she thinks I am terrifically intelligent. Her criticism of me is, I will freely admit, all in my head. But I do always feel that she looks down on me.


The only conversation I have ever had with this woman was shortly after my boob cysts were diagnosed. It was a very short conversation. I was telling someone else about my cysts, and she happened to be passing and overheard us, and said something about how she had some too, and how annoying they were.

"I bet mine are bigger!" I said. (Frivolously, I have to admit.)

"Mine are ten centimeters," she said. "They're really painful."

"TEN?" I said. "You win!"

"It's not something I want to win," she said.

"Are they painful all the time, or just at certain times of the month?" I asked.

"All the time," she said, gloomily. (She is always a bit gloomy, come to think of it.)

"So why don't you get them aspirated, if they're so painful?" I asked.

She shuddered. "Let them stick needles in THERE?" she said. "I'd rather have the pain!"

"Oh, yeah, the needle thing," I said, thoughtfully. "I know what you mean."

We both dashed off to class.

But later, when I thought about it, I thought I did NOT know what she meant. If my cysts were painful all the time, I'd get them aspirated. I also have a horror of needles, but would rather pass out and make a fool of myself once than suffer pain all the time. (Is that why she is always gloomy?) Living with the pain because of a fear of needles is not intelligent at all.

I decided that if my cysts ever got that painful, I would get them aspirated. And that would make me a more intelligent person than Ms More-Academic-Than-Anybody-Else.


I cannot think of a sillier reason to get my cysts aspirated. It is highly likely that all of this is in my head and the woman does not look down on me as a frivolous and silly person. It's probably just her manner, with everybody. But since this new cyst has turned out to be often (but not always) uncomfortable, I have decided I will get it done anyway, to prove how intelligent I am.

I have informed The Man of my decision, and that makes it final. He will not let me change my mind. Well, he will, but if I change my mind he will not let me complain about how uncomfortable my boobs are, and basically that means I HAVE to get it done because I am not capable of suffering in silence. I am not in the least bit stoical about pain or discomfort. I like to whine and complain, so everybody knows how brave I am being.

Now I am worrying about the squeaking thing. One of my friends had a needle stuck in her boob once, and told me that it didn't hurt, really. But, she said, it sort of squeaked. Well, not squeaked, exactly, but felt as though it would squeak if you could hear it. It made the sort of squeak a needle would make if you stuck it into polystyrene. Her description was very graphic, and when I think about it my boobs want to crawl off my chest and go hide somewhere safe.

But I'm going to do it. Maybe next week, even. I'll let you know.

*I taught four brilliant classes yesterday, in which all my students learned how to use the word anyway. They loved it. I don't know why everything went so well. Perhaps it was because yesterday was only the second class meeting of the semester for my Tuesday classes, and they're still keen. I just hope it lasts. At the end of one of the classes, one of the students came up to me and thanked me.

"I could understand everything!" he said (in English!), sounding somewhat surprised. "It was interesting."

"That's good," I said, and smiled at him.

He smiled back. Then he sighed, and said,

"Anyway, I have to go. I have another class."

He started to leave, then turned back. "Was that right?" he asked.

"It was perfect," I assured him.

And it was.


Keera Ann Fox said...

Y'know, if your boobs did jump off and run away, it would solve the cyst problem. Of course, then none of your blouses would fit right.

Carrie said...

Maybe she is so serious and academic because she is afraid she is a fraud and that she better act solemn? I don't know.

I think a needle to the boob wouldn't hurt to bad if it came from the side. I have scalp cysts. I need to get another one removed because it is showing through my hairline. The recovery hurts like crazy so I am not looking forward to it. Plus, they have to shave a big bald spot, so that sucks.

Anyway. . .

Way to make this comment all about me!

shammi said...

Nothing to do with boobs or cysts or teachers... but I thought this link would interest you since you had a fishy pedicure :)

Also, dont go to Texas if you want one.

Anonymous said...

Carrie's right - it's frightened people who hide behind serious professionalism!

Joining this to doctors, just think of Patch Adams!