I last wrote a little after New Years. My mother left the night before to stay with my Grandfather while he recovered from pancreatic surgery. A few days later he died in Florida. Sad stuff. The last time I heard from him was, funny enough, in response to my email demand from all of you. Typically, he writes to correct me. Here’s a snippet:
“I guess some people are natural writers, and revel in expressing themselves, and others would prefer two hours in the dentists chair, with or without novocaine. You know where I fit. Before I start, there are two things (errors in your recent writings) that call for attention. First, there’s the thing about Blarney. Irish lore has it that any lad foolish enough to hang upside down from the turret of Blarney Castle, fifty feet or so above the lovely countryside, and stretch down to a certain stone to plant a kiss, would receive the gift of eloquence, The gift of blarney. So many eloquent Irish landed on our shores that people began to say of any such speaker “He’s full of Blarney” There are those who equate that saying with “He’s full of —-“. A terrible corruption of a lovely legend. As a tourist, I kissed the Blarney Stone, with a local lad holding my ankles. I think I’d rather be mute than kiss it again. Next, there’s your comment on the “farsy” language. When you denigrated the language, you were perehaps thinking of the version that adds a T to the spelling, as in artsy fartsy. Your lady’s language is Farsi, the tongue of ancient Persia.”
I wrote him back, gently reminding him that “perehaps” was misspelled and that “farsy/farci” was a word play with “farce” (which I now realize I STILL misspelled). I didn’t mention his excessive comma use and sentence fragments because, you know.
We bought tickets to fly down to Florida that weekend. Out of the airport, into a rental car, and out at the restaurant where the other half of the family, the Monaghans, was waiting. I’ve had time to reflect on this and I now know that yes: Irish families drink constantly pre and post funerals. I sat down, ordered a Yeungleung, and took a look at the table.
A brief intro to the players:
Terry: think “Cathy” the comic strip
Tim: youngest. Works for gov’t think tank. That’s all I can know.
Tom: bond-trader, rock of Gibraltar, 6’2″
Cathy: wife to Tom and mother to Matt and Ryan.
Matt: long-drive golfer working in the Wall Street of Connecticut. 6’3″
Ryan: man/child hockey player, 6’4″
The funeral was held Monday morning. Those who’ve visited know that Florida is the only place where your “Church best” includes golf shoes. The church was filled with all of Grandaddy’s friends, none of whom I recognized. Time to time I would ask Ryan who someone was, but his shoulders are so broad that I couldn’t hear him whisper back; had to read lips. The reception that followed was well attended. I met a number of men that played golf with my grandfather, many of whom told me that he was their best friend. However, once they found out I wasn’t the grandson that drove a ball 400 yards to the green on hole 8, they lost interest. “No, you’re looking for Matt Monaghan. He’s over there. I’m the stained-glass grandson.” “Really?” “Yeah.” “Oh. Well good luck.” I had that conversation three times.
That night the cousins went bowling. Now, I know I can’t bowl to save my life, so I decided to take charge of last place by spinning the ball with each throw, completing my parody of the professional. I kept the gutter balls down to thirteen. I was in control. In the other lane Ryan, Matt and Calvin were getting bored with their strike after strike. I was able to talk them into bowling a game with spin, thinking I would manage to climb the ranks. I forgot that Ryan is the most frustrating natural athlete ever born. I forgot that Ryan would throw strikes with marbles, the bastard. Ryan became bored with my challenge and started throwing strikes with his left. Spinning. Bastard.
I decided bowling wasn’t my thing and wondered if I might excel at wing-eating. The six of us polished off a few plates of hot wings between frames. I now think that the finger-holes in bowling balls might be the grossest places on earth judging from our behavior alone. In case you wondered.
That night Calvin and I went to bed without ordering room service once during our stay, which was Cal’s raison d’etre. Sorry Cal. I was on a plane for GND by 7:00am and touched down at 6:00 with a brief layover in Barbados. There is a place slower than GND, and it is Barbados.
Back in GND, things are as they were. I had already missed the first two days of class so decided to call the rest of the week a wash. I instead used those days to settle in and prepare for Orientation. It went off without a hitch which had everything to do with my not being in charge. I let the new Chair learn from all of my mistakes while I busied myself with a slide show of GND scenery, students, parties, Prague, and so on. It got a few laughs.
The Anatomical Research Society is the second thing pulling for my attention. Our VP recently resigned citing irreconcilable anxiety. That makes me the new VP. In case you forgot, this ARS was set up for those students that wanted to complete research while in medschool, get some more time in the anatomy lab with scalpels, and polish the old curriculum vitae. It’s a magnet for overachievers. It was our responsibility this term to announce the club and hold interviews for the 15 positions open to the second termers. Amazingly, 40 people showed up. We conducted the meeting like a fraternity rush with existing members milling about and answering questions while the prospectives networked and made their cases. After an hour we kicked them out and began arguing over who would get the limited spaces. We all agreed that it was a good thing we were founding members because none of us would have been competitive. We had lawyers, chemical engineers, students with four publications under the belt from undergrad, etc.
In addition to this, everyone in the club is trying to get their own publications finished before the blessed third term ends. That means that this week we spent 10 hours of prime study time in the lab trying to prepare perfect dissections. My second project involves minuscule arteries underneath the tongue which break apart like wet tissue paper. Not the Quilted Northern tissue paper but the 1-ply Goodwill toilet paper. Each half-tongue takes about three hours of prep to take a single picture. Then it’s off to the next one. You stink of formaldehyde, are elbow deep in someone’s face, and your back aches because the tables don’t come up to standing height. I can’t wait to be a surgeon.
When I’m not worrying about classes or Anatomy I get to spend time with Sherin. She has her own apartment this term and we try to have lunch together every day. She has her cupboards organized in a way that could only make sense to a girl. Baked goods, cookies, crackers and cake mixes in one cabinet; bread, rice cakes, hummus and goldfish in another. “It makes sense, topher. If I’m sad and want something sweet, I make these things. If I’m bored and want to snack in bed, I eat these.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Mood groups.
Sherin also has a “Like” jar. I told her that she could never meet my father if she keeps using “like” as a comma. One EC dollar for every infraction. She asked me what we get to do with the money. “Fly to the moon, Sherin. The moon.” She then told me that she hates me. She says this with such regularity that it no longer sounds like English, but instead a sneeze: hAT CHewww. I “God-blessed” her the other day.
Well guys, that all for now. Seeing as my life is about to hit the fan, I’m going to sign off for about a month.
Wish me luck, topher.
1) Terry, Mom told me to write that.
2) “Raison d’etre” is french for “reason to be, purpose in life”
3) Yes, I will let you know how much money is in the Like jar each time I write. We’re at 30EC after two days.