When I was little, growing up for a time in the West Indies, the start of a new term at school was a major event. Actually, the start of the school year was the biggest event of its sort, but any of the three term starts was pretty big. In the household, this meant a number of things:
(2) New stuff (such as we could afford). So new shoes – if possible – and maybe new school uniforms. (Mostly year-start stuff those.) This involved much last minute effort for my mother and (later) my sister, since it meant that they’d be up late with a mouth full of pins, sitting at the and old black Singer sewing machine (I loved that machine), sewing together the school uniforms. There could be last minute try-ons and adjustments…. I remember one time actually having to go to school with a temporary hem on one set of trousers because they were not quite finished in time. Actually, those home-made clothes were some of the things I was most proud of in school. They were the best suits of clothes around (my mum and sister could cut some fine lines in our clothes… you should have seen my sister’s red finely pleated skirts….) and I was so happy we did not spend the large (to us) amounts of money to buy off-the shelf stuff. As I write this, it has just occured to me that this is why I like to be reasonably well turned out, and certainly like to make sure I get good quality for whatever money I pay now for clothes. When I had more time, I also got into the clothes-making game, but that’s another story…..
[Update: There was an equipment requirement too, see comment here.]
Where was I?
(3) Er…. let’s just say “cleansing”. Various foul-tasting substances and extracts of certain plants were spooned into our little mouths, or drunk down in one go, and there were mutterings of “clearing the blood” and “cleaning your system out”….. and let’s leave it at that.
Yep. Those were the days. I bet you have your own stories…do share!
Why am I telling you this? It’s just because I thought of it this afternoon while I got ready for the new semester starting tomorrow. I was in the middle of a haircut, which involves two mirrors, lots of newspaper on the floor, and a cetain amount of spatial perception and dexterity to get everything right. (Yes, I cut my own hair, what’s the big deal?….. Oh, maybe that’s why he’s single….). I’d left my hair to grow long (for me) over the last walkabout month, and a serious beard has also appeared. Had to get cleaned up as I could not really turn up on campus looking all shaggy like I’m on a camping trip.
After first trimming the beard up a bit, it looked rather fine, and I toyed with the idea of keeping it….. but in the end I removed it and returned to my minimal look. I was shocked to see my naked, (comparatively) vunerable-looking face under there, reminding me of the little boy of old being groomed for the new semester….took a while to get used to it.
This took longer than I expected (involving some accidental “symmetry-breaking” due to my being tired….. symmetry which then has to be restored, which is of course much harder than breaking it….there’s a lot of physics in there…..) I made myself really late for Categorically Not! as a result. I did make it there eventually, after some rather fun (but careful!) high speed drag-racing along the unusually coorperative highways (the 101, 110, and 10 – when they’re running well it is just great driving them…..). Made it from my place to Santa Monica in some sort of record time, in fact. I will report on tonight’s “Cat Not!” events later. It was excellent.
Anyway, the new semester at USC starts tomorrow. For various reasons (helping out the department and such), I volunteered to take on an extra class and so I have two classes to teach. You should see my weekly calendar! So today also saw me (after a bit of pottering in the Hollywood farmer’s market for vegetables) digging into old lecture notes, designing new web pages, rewriting old lecture notes, and planning fun things and other goodies for the young ‘uns….. routine tasks of the job, but done doubly.