19 Nov

Groggy dog

This morning, Tember was limping around the house as soon as she got out of bed. She’s been exhibiting some signs of needing a chiropractor — morning stiffness, a reluctance to jump up onto the bed or into the car — but I was hoping her symptoms were simply mirroring my own lower back problems, that they were sympathetic symptoms. Today, however, we decided to call the vet and ask about it. They told us we could bring her by this morning and perhaps take some x-rays. My immediate thought was about how it was gonna be expensive, but I also figured that since her aches have been apparent for the past two weeks or so, we should maybe go ahead and take her in.

We dropped her off at about 9:00 and returned three hours later. I suppose the news and the bill could have been worse. It turns out she’s got a minor tear in her knee (something that could develop into and ACL tear if we’re not careful), and Lyme’s disease. So I guess that huge tick we took off of her four weeks ago was a deer tick.

The vet sedated her for the x-rays and warned us that she might be a little out of it for a while. She did seem a little zoned when we got her to the car, but the full extent of her out-of-it-ness wasn’t apparent until we got home. I stayed outside with her for a bit and she seemed kinda stunned. She wasn’t very active. She just stood around, staring straight ahead. When I got out a camp chair to sit in, she came over and stood next to me. A few times, she began to fall over and caught herself just before she tipped. I told her to lay down, and she started a similar series of nodding off and catching herself. It was like she couldn’t think clearly enough to just lay her head down.

Later, once we were inside, I put her up on the couch. She leaned against the back of the couch and very slowly (over the course of about 8 seconds) fell to a lying position. She was so pathetic-slash-cute, and Eileen and I had such pity for her, that we began making up songs and singing them to her. Songs like “Groggy Puppy,” set to the tune of “Rubber Ducky.”

The whole scene was pretty sorry.

18 Nov

Good Tim Hunting

Today was the second day of parent-teacher conferences, a public school tradition which looks good on paper. Each conference is 5 minutes long, and we do a total of 10 hours of them. It’s mind-numbing to the extent that when a parent actually asks a probing questions, such as, “so how exactly should he be reading the text if he wants to improve his test scores?” you discover after two full minutes of b.s. that you haven’t actually answered the question, since it breaks the comfortable repetition you’ve been parroting all day, and you realize how like George W. Bush you actually are. It’s a scary, existential dilemma.

You attempt to start addressing the question, but you first have to segue from the b.s. to the answer that addresses the question with some sort of semi-b.s. transition. But you find that, since you haven’t fully extracted yourself from the b.s., the parent is beginning to think you’re a lot like George W. Bush. If you ever succeed in pulling yourself out of the mire by the time the five minutes is up, you still look like an idiot, since you danced around a question that, on a normal day, wouldn’t have been that difficult to answer. And then you discover that the next parents who enter the room have been listening in on the just-finished b.s. session, and are a little leary of the fact that you are teaching their child. Good stuff.

The most comfortable conferences are with parents whose children you’ve taught before and who are doing well in the class. It was in one such session that a mother told me about her older son, who, three or four years ago, wandered in to the writing lab and had me work with him on an essay. Evidently, I was very helpful, but this poor kid thought that I was a custodian. Upon returning home, he told his mom about the Good Will Hunting guy who helped him with his essay. He didn’t find out until a year or two later that I was actually an English teacher.

11 Nov

The Stendhal Syndrome

I just learned about this thing. The Stendahl Syndrome is a rare occurence in which the sufferer is so moved by art that he experiences a kind of vertigo, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations. It’s the secular version of stigmata. 🙂

Read more about it in the Wiki entry.

04 Nov


I just recieved a call from a woman asking me if I was Tim Storm. I said yeah, and she explained that George was having some ear pain and so they went into the hospital and he’s there now and he might have an infection and they’re going to stay there for a few more hours, so there’s just no way he can give Sarah her piano lesson tonight. I was thinking about interrupting her, but it was an interesting story.

When she was done, I said, “Ok, um, I’m sorry. What piano lessons?” Honest to God, that’s what I said. Not simply “Uh, I think you have the wrong number,” but “What piano lessons?” See, that’s how my brain works sometimes — the logic being, I’m a teacher, so lessons makes sense; and we actually do have a piano, so that’s possible; and my wife’s an audiologist (in training), so the ear thing fits. . .

I think it’s a literary thing. When you’re hearing the story for the first time, you’ve got to suspend disbelief, collect your questions as the plot’s being developed, and see if they get answered later. As a teacher, I’m so immersed in the task of making sense , of interpreting meaning, that I’m slow to change modes from “explicator of poetry” to “receiver of phone call.”