College Awkwardness Continues

You’d think that once I graduated from college I wouldn’t have to deal with any awkwardness on a college campus, right? Well, wrong.  I am a professor at a community college, so even 7 years after I graduated from my undergraduate school I am still making an awkward mess of myself.

“Pancakes”

Whenever I get to my class I usually stand at the teacher’s station getting everything ready for class. I am also avoiding eye contact with all of my students because I get stage fright if I watch them come in. Luckily many of the students aren’t that interested in chatting with me before class (after all, they have a whole hour and 20 mins to do that) so I am able to mentally prepare myself.

However, sometimes I’ll hear a bit of what they are talking about and I’ll randomly jump into the conversation. Usually the students are good sports about it, especially if I can give them information about what they were talking about.

Once, while I was getting ready I overheard one of the student’s conversation:”….pancakes-“

“Pancakes?” I immediately said, my head popping up from behind the computer I was working on.

The student stared at me. “Um, yeah…I had pancakes for breakfast…Do you like pancakes?”

“Love them,” I cheerfully answered and then went back to what I was doing. I heard snickers from the classroom.

Now if I am working on something and don’t see that a student has their hand raised, a student will say “Pancakes” to get my attention.

They are smart students.

“Talkin’ Shit”

Recently while walking on campus a student came up to me, looked at me, and asked “Do you know who’s been talkin’ shit about me?”

I stopped and looked at him, “What? Who are you?”

He gave me a weird look and then I heard someone behind me say, “I don’t know man.”

The guy was talking to his friend who was walking right behind me. You know when you think someone is looking at you and waving or talking to you, so you respond, and it turns out they were actually looking at the person directly behind you?

I live in fear of those situations, for obvious reasons.

“Wrong Classroom”

Every student’s first-day fear is going into the wrong classroom and having to decide either leave the classroom (amidst giggles) or just stick it out and miss the class they are actually enrolled in. Luckily I have never walked into the wrong classroom and started teaching Freshman English to a Statistics class (yet).

However, a while back (in the middle of the semester) I was walking back with a student to our classroom. We had been to a computer lab to print off something and we talking about her assignment. I turned into our classroom, looked up at the board and saw equations written on it. One of the math teachers was lecturing the class and glanced at me before continuing on.

I could have just backed up slowly, but instead I decided to announce “This is not my classroom” as I left (scaring a few of the math students in the back row).

The student, who had apparently not followed me into the wrong classroom, was silent for a second. “That was embarrassing,” she finally remarked.

I’m pretty sure she was talking about embarrassing for me. Thank you, child.

“We’re Talking About Poop”

Thankfully the community college I work at does not have a cafeteria – I say thankfully because I’d probably gain back the Freshman 20 lbs again. I do hope that my students get to experience a college dinning hall one day after they’ve left, because it is there that your education on food really begins.

One of the students was thinking about transferring to my Alma Mater and I was telling the class about how much I enjoyed it there. The student cafeteria came up mainly because that is where my friends and I did most of our socializing (which is also why I gained so much weight in college).

“The food was not good,” I said, “but many cafeterias aren’t. It was there I learned how to figure out what to eat if I had a class right after lunch or dinner. For example, the grilled cheese sandwich. It was so good, but was a God damned colon cleanser. After you ate that you’d better be near a bathroom for the next 15mins, because when it hit – it hit. And not genitally either. It was a damn tsunami. I made that mistake in class once. It hit in the middle of a quiz and I failed that quiz. I turned it in half down, sweat running down my face, and dashed out of the room. Luckily the teacher realized my rookie mistake in regards to the grilled cheese sandwich and let me retake it after class.”

“If it made you have to go to the bathroom,” one hesitant/curious student asked, “then why’d you eat it?”

“Cause it was freaking amazing. What, you’ve never eaten something so delicious that the aftermath was totally worth it?”

He nodded wisely. “Taco Bell,” he added.

I didn’t agree, but okay. As we discussed Taco Bell a student came in late. She mouthed a “sorry”, but I (without thinking) reassured her, “Oh we haven’t started class yet. We’re talking about poop.”

She stared at me in amazement and glanced at her friend.

“It’s true,” he said.

“Awkward or Funny”

On one of my elevations a student wrote just that: “I don’t know if she’s very awkward or very funny.”

I don’t know either.

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I Am A Veterinarian’s Worst Nightmare

This starts off sad, but does have a hopeful/happy ending (depending on who went to the vet I suppose).

Not long ago my mom’s cat, Silver, died. It’s been really hard on her since she loved that cat. He was her cat. The cat she got to replace me, her only child, when I went off to college. And while that cat and I didn’t see eye-to-eye (possibly because I would sneak up behind him, poke his side, and say “Kitty!” really loudly), I was sad he was gone. I was even more heartbroken for my mom. Luckily he went quickly with little pain, but he went so quickly that no one really had the chance to brace themselves (as what sometimes happens in these cases).

Because of the suddenness of Silver’s death I quickly made an appointment for my 10+ year old cat, Arwen. Arwen is my cat. My shadow. My constant companion. When I saw that little black kitten in the shelter’s kitten playpen I had to have her. And thinking about Silver made me worry about losing my cat as well.

There seemed to be nothing wrong with Arwen (besides a stuffed up nose that made her spew snot everywhere when she sneezed), but I wanted a doctor to tell me she was okay. This was the same veterinarian office my mom went to so they understood my worry.

But this also marked a new point in my life because this was the first time I took Arwen to the vet on my own. You may wonder how a person almost 30 years old managed to do that, but it’s mainly because when I did take Arwen I was worried about her and needed the emotional support. My mom had actually been a great buffer while at the vet because I am basically a helicopter parent at the pediatrician. I’m the type of “parent” who asks and prods when it comes to their kids, and the doctor just sits there thinking, “Damn. Stop asking questions.” When my mom went with me before she was able to interrupt me so I wouldn’t spend so much time asking so many freaking questions. Logically I knew she was right about calming down, but this is my baby. (And my emotions always win over my head anyways.)

So, when the vet walked in with his assistant, I picked Arwen up, put her on the table, and launched into this (unprompted) speech:

“So my mom’s cat, Silver, you may know about him, he died last week from cancer. I’m his owner’s daughter. Silver and Arwen weren’t litter mates but they lived together for years, and I just want to make sure Arwen is okay. Not that she could catch cancer from Silver, but I do want her looked over. She seems healthy. She’s pooping and peeing regularly. Poops every other day and pees a lot every day. She doesn’t eat much, never really has been interested in food, but I leave out dry food all the time and give her wet food every night. Most of that is gone by the morning – the wet food, I mean. She’s also had the same personality recently: playing and cuddling all the same. She does seem to get stuffy noses and colds a lot. Her snot ranges from light green to clear, and I know this because when she sneezes snot goes everywhere. These colds and stuffy noses happen once every 1-2 months. But other than the stuffy noses and colds, she seems healthy.”

By the end of my speech I realized that the vet, his assistant, and my cat were all looking at me in shock. Their faces all collectively saying, “Holy shit, what was that?”

“So yeah,” I said, glancing away from them and eyeing the floor, “That’s it. I just need to know she’s not…um, dying. Dying soon.”

It was silent for a moment. It was probably only a second but it felt like 5 minutes. After that second of silence I couldn’t take it anymore and observed, “That was a lot.”

“Well,” the vet said and seemed to be finding the right words to express his thoughts, but all that came out was “…yeah. Let’s…let’s just check Arwen out, okay?”

I watched anxiously as he felt of her body, listened to her heart, and looked in her eyes and ears. All the while I’m wondering What does he see? What does he think? What’s he doing?

But embarrassment kept me silent and when they took her out into the clinic to draw some blood for tests, I thumped my head onto the examination table. I reached for my phone and texted one of my friends who also has cats:

Totally just went helicopter parent at the veterinarian’s office. I think I embarrassed my cat too.

By that time the vet had come back with Arwen I had gotten a text back saying, “Dear god, your mom let you go alone?” My habit of asking too many questions at the doctor is legendary.

But my anxiety bounced back because the vet hadn’t spoken in 5 seconds, so I gasped and asked“Oh my gosh, is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” the vet said slowly, “we just drew some blood, so it’ll be a wek before the results come in.”

The vet began to talk about what he thought was wrong with her in regards to her constant stuffy noses and what he prescribed. He suggested a shot that would help her clear up an infection in the nasal cavity.

“Will it reduce her life and kill her?” I immediately ask.

That was not the question the vet was expecting and did a double take. “What? No. It should help clear up her nose.”

“Okay,” I said brightly, “let’s do it!”

Once he had given her the shot I began my next question:“Any side effects or – ”

“Nope,” he says quickly, obviously done with this appointment, “She’ll just sleep all day.”

When I got back into the car I look over at Arwen, who was in her pink cat carrier on the passenger seat.

“So, that went well,” I say.

She puffed up and glared at me.

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I tried to get a picture of her bald spot on her throat (where they shaved her to get a blood sample). She was not amused.

UPDATE: The veterinarian’s office called not that long ago to tell me that all of Arwen’s tests came back fine and she is a healthy kitty. The shot of medicine that she got has done wonders and she no longer sneezes snot balls everywhere.