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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

The news came in right before I left to go home for the day: my school is closed until further notice. The third case of H1N1 among our students was confirmed.

Seriously, THREE cases? It seems unlikely that there will be any schools at all in the country with less than three cases of swine flu this season. Do you know how many students there are in the school? I don’t either, but it’s a lot. The odds of at least three of them catching the bubonic plague–I mean, the flu–seem very, very high to me.

Ah, well. Ever since the first case was confirmed last week, the vast majority of students haven’t been coming anyway. Now at least I don’t have to bother putting together fat packets of work for each student that only about 20% of them are going to complete. Silly Ministry of Education.

I’m trying not to think about the situation at large in all of its absurdity. Instead I’m focusing on the personal advantage: I’m getting paid to sit around drinking tea. Some teachers are not happy about getting paid to sit around drinking tea; they’re bored and would rather be heading out to Siwa or Hurgada. I am also bored and would also rather be in Siwa or Hurgada than in my empty, drafty classroom, but I have some short stories and an essay that aren’t going to write themselves, so I’m trying to think of this time as a writing sabbatical. Hey, first-year kindergarten teachers! Come teach in Egypt and you’ll be eligible for a sabbatical!

In other news, my beloved but very faulty apartment finally became totally unlivable, what with plumbers coming in and out at all hours, one bathroom reduced to rubble, and all the remaining pipes still deluging my downstairs neighbor whenever my roommate or I flushed the remaining toilet. We are now ecstatically ensconced in new diggs one building down. I wish everyone could come visit me because it’s genuinely more amazing that the first one originally appeared to be.

Happy times. Drinks all around!

I was trying to explain to one of my Sudanese students about “that feeling you get when something has been bothering you for a long time, but you didn’t realize how much it was bothering you, and then finally it’s over, and you feel really great.” He blinked at me and said, “Oh yes, didn’t you tell us that word last week?”

To my knowledge, there isn’t a word to describe that exact feeling. I think he was thinking of “relieved,” which I did tell them last week, but that doesn’t quite cover the sheer happiness of the all-enduring good mood that I’ve been experiencing since I realized that the ordeal with my old apartment is finally over. (Another part of it that I’m glad to be through with was my downstairs neighbor coming up every day to let me know my pipes were still leaking on her, as well as the fact that I am a selfish and silly person who doesn’t care about other people’s time or property, as well as the fact that she was going to call the police and sue me for damages–all of this in a very loud tone that ranged from slightly hysterical to apoplectic.)

Now I appreciate my calm, extremely functional apartment in a way that closely approximates true love.

I leave you with a proverb taken from the actual book of Proverbs and modified to fit the occasion.

“It is better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a building with a fractious neighbor and a disinterested landlord.”

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