1. I give a lecture every semester about “Memes.” It’s not my best lecture. I don’t do very well discussing theories. I’m not sure why. Maybe because my lecture is an hour long, but I can easily explain a Meme in fifteen minutes. So you add examples. And you drag it out. You get bored so, of course, the students get bored. As an example, I brought up the feeling that some people refuse to ride the bus. It’s called, officially, Bus Stigma. Some people feel that riding a bus is a negative experience and that they are “Better than that.” Of course, a few students rejected that notion.
“Riding the bus is inconvenient,” one of my students said. ”The bus schedules are all weird. And it’s dangerous!”
“Notice how you’re getting defensive,” I said. ”Remember what we talked about? How Memes will defend themselves if they are threatened? I’m threatening the meme and you’re getting defensive.”
“No, I’m not!” she yelled, then understood she was, then rolled her eyes and folded her arms.
“You don’t drive?” a student asked. I didn’t feel like explaining why, so I just shook my head.
“Dude, you can’t take the Metro,” he proclaimed. “The Red Line! The Dead Line!”
“They call it the Dead Line?”
“People get killed!”
At the Metro station I go to, The Rockville Station, there had been reports of summer shootings. It’s hot. People are more violent when it’s hot. Sunday, the train hit a guy and killed him. Today, an escalator malfunction caused five people to go to the hospital. Waiting on the Red line train to Glenmont, I wondered why I wasn’t at all worried about my safety. Anymore. Ever.
2. For the last two weeks, I’ve been running on five hours of sleep a night. I don’t sleep well. When I fall asleep, about a half hour into it, I jolt awake, inhaling and in shock. What time is it? What’s going on? My chest feels like there’s a rabbit thumping in there, trying to push it’s way out. When this happens, I roll back over, say a prayer again, put my pillows around my face, then try and remember every plot line for all my favorite comics. Last night, I remembered the entire first fifty issues of “The Silver Surfer” before I fell asleep. I wake up at 6:30am. I feel asleep close to 1.
And, yes, I actually did ask my doctor about this.
“Everyone has a hard time sleeping,” he said, a month ago. “Stress with work. Relationships. Daily hardships. Life is hard. I take a nice pill. Very good. It puts me out quickly with no fuzzy hang-over feeling. No left-over fuzzy.”
“I used to bounce my head on my pillow, as a kid,” I told him.
“I used to hit, bounce my head on my pillow. Over and over again. Is that weird?”
“What could be causing me to not sleep well,” I asked him. “I’ve never slept well. Sleeping is like the worst thing for me.”
He looked at me with this face, like the same face I give my students when they repeat themselves.
“I can write you a script,” he said. ”It’s great stuff. Not too addictive.”
I said no to the pills. Some nights, I wish I said yes.
3. During the last lecture of my classes, I let my students ask me any question they want. They write them on a piece of paper and then they fold them and give them to me. I take them up and read them out loud, answering all of them. I get two or three asking about my tattoos. Some times a student asks if I’m gay. Once a student asked me if I was an atheist.
“I believe in God,” I said very casually.
“YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?” they chirped. Yesterday, a student asked if, and I quote, “Is the Internet destroying us?”
“No. I mean, we have the greatest technological data receiving and distributing system every created. We have this thing that holds the collective knowledge of the entire human race. And what do we do with it? Girls take pictures of their feet. We post what we’re having for lunch. We complain about our jobs on it. We talk about television shows. Instead of adding to the knowledge, we use the abundance of knowledge to avoid learning. We just, you know, Google it. What is the capital of Spain? Google it. How do you convert Fahrenheit to Celsius? Google it. So, I mean, no. I don’t think the Internet is destroying us. I think the Internet is fine. We are just boring, lazy people who can’t really do anything special with, you know, anything.”
A student raised her hand.
“The capital of Spain is Madrid,” she said.
4. Co-worker: If you stop drinking coffee, you’ll sleep better.
Me: If I don’t drink coffee, how am I going to wake up in the morning?
Co-worker: If you don’t drink coffee, you’ll have a better night sleep and you’ll be more refreshed in the morning.
Clerk: What can I get you?
Me: Large. That Ethiopian brew with a double shot. Extra sugar, please.