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A hoot and a haw 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Down day, man, down, down, down and, well, you can’t win them all, can you? You can’t be up and at ’em every day of every week of every year. At least I can’t. Maybe you can, or maybe you know someone who can, but I can’t, and today is proof because I’m definitely, undeniably down.

Starting with sleep, not a night passes that someone’s car alarm doesn’t go off (and by ‘go off’ I mean ‘go on’ of course) and some alarms are so loud they blast between my ears. Often the trash collectors come, usually at 5am, and although the dumpsters are eight floors down it seems they’re emptying the trash in our bathroom. Otherwise, it’s a group of teenage numbskulls who scream and yell while honking their horns at 3 or 4am and then hightail it out of there as if that to them is a hoot and a haw. I also wake to Jimi settling into my pillow or stretching herself across my neck. I’m telling you, Shaw, I can’t remember the last time I laid my head down, fell asleep, and then woke in the morning to the alarm.

Another problem is my job. Lately, I’ve been frustrated with my students who don’t (and should) study. They come to the lessons like patients to an operation, expecting me to perform surgery while they go to sleep and then — thanks to my slicing and stitching — wake up speaking English. How can someone expect to learn a language by studying one hour a week? Does a person learn to play Bach on the piano by practicing one hour a week? Does a bottle of wine become a bottle of wine by fermenting one hour a week?

Sometimes I think of myself as a fork. As an English teacher I can help you eat, but you’ve got to pick me up, fork your own food, and then stick the morsel in your mouth. Or better, I’m like a book, i.e. full of information, but useless if the reader doesn’t buy me, open me, and read me.

Well, whatever, right? I’m fork or a book or a this or a that but no matter what I’m not a surgeon. That much is clear, isn’t it? Whatever the case, none of that matters because it’s wine time now. As they say in Italy, cin cin!

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