Drinks in Remembrance: Alan Rickman

You’ve heard, I’m sure, of the sad fact that Alan Rickman died of cancer last week. 69 years on earth, and suddenly he is gone.

Colonel BrandonWhether you loved him best as Hans Gruber, Severus Snape, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Professor Lazarus, Metatron, Marvin the paranoid android, Judge Turpin, Colonel Brandon, or someone else entirely – solely himself, perhaps – I’m sure you, like me, will miss him.

So here’s a tribute.  Raise a glass (or several!) with me.

Severus Snape (modified from Backyard Bartender)Snape cocktail
1.5 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum (having only Myer’s, I used that)
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz falernum
dash Peychaud’s bitters (alas, I have no lavender bitters)
dash creme de violette
dash rose syrup

Nancy has a delightful explanation for her Snape concoction (which was the original reason I sought out Fernet Branca and falernum, to be honest).  Having no lavender bitters, I attempted to make up the difference with some other floral additions.  As she says: strong, dark, complex.

Half-Blood Prince cocktailHalf-Blood Prince
2 oz dill-infused gin
1.5 oz green ChartreusePotions Master cocktail
spritz of absinthe
.5 oz lime juice
dash chamomile bitters
Stir with ice and strain into an appropriate goblet.  This is my nod to the Potions Master and the head of Slytherin House: herbal, complicated, very green, full of venerable spirits.  It’s a lot like a Last Word (equal parts gin, Chartreuse, lime, and Maraschino), but sourer.

Severus Snape (alternate)
1.5 oz CynarCynar (Chee-NAR)
I wondered if perhaps there were a simpler approach to Snape.  This is one such attempt, applicable to Sorcerer’s Stone Snape: a straight shot of Cynar, which is a drinkable bitter made from artichokes (ie, instead of an intensity which requires but a few drops in a cocktail, it’s dilute enough to consume on its own).  It’s complex, vegetal, dark, and (of course) bitter.  An acquired taste, but when you love it, you really love it.  Harry Potter, of course, finds Cynar innately suspicious.  He would; he’s only 11, after all.

Random potion bonus:

7 bottles

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

Alexander Dane cocktail
Alexander Dane (as Dr. Lazarus)

1.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
.5 oz blue curacao
.25 oz lemon juice

The thinking here was that Dane is Very Serious Business – “I played Richard III!” – not-quite-obscured by something brightly colored and mildly ridiculous.  Overall: shiny and enjoyable.

 


Colonel Brandon
Colonel Brandon cocktail
2 oz gin (I used Hendrick’s, but a London Dry would probably be better)
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz creme de cassis (blackberry liqueur)
.5 oz St-Germain
dash of plum bitters
I had the idea to make something rather British and proper, but also sweet enough to appeal to those moved chiefly by their sensibility.  It turned out to be a bit cloying, so throw in some sturdy Calvados or genever to bolster it: something befitting a man of action, one who needs an occupation lest he run mad.

Alan Rickman himself:
When my roommate and I made Tom Hiddleston cocktails, we found the most difficult one was Tom himself; not having met him, we could only work from a particular face he sometimes presented to the public.  The same difficulty attends Alan: by several Alan Rickmanaccounts I’ve read, he was everything kind, generous, funny, and generally delightful (but de mortuis, nil nisi bonum and all that).  So Thalia’s suggestion was to capture the unique quality of his striking voice by the use of something dark and deep.  The thing that came to mind was scotch.  If you’re a purist, sip it straight; if not, try a sort of modified toddy:

1 oz Laphroaig scotch
1/2 oz Drambuie
Fill teacup with hot water

It’s sweet enough not to be totally off-putting, but it is very very strong.  The smoky smell spread throughout my dining area and kitchen.

That seemed a bit overwhelming, so taking a cue from my friend Amanda, I tried to go the coffee route:

Alan Rickman (alternate)Alan Rickman tipple

1/2 oz Kahlua
1/2 oz Frangelico
1/2 barspoon (ie, 1/4 tsp or so) pimento dram (allspice liqueur)

Ideally this would have been mixed with coffee or espresso, to represent Alan’s liveliness and how engaging he was.  But it was quite late by that point, and prudence won out.  I hope to have a bit of a film festival before long, and see how a caffeinated version of this fits into it.

Alan, here’s to you.  We mourn your passing, but are glad you were there to depict Very Interesting People for a time.  You delighted us, and we will miss you.  Always.

Fog

By the time she took her leave, darkness had fallen, and the fog with it.  Together these obscured the path so thoroughly as to make her memory doubtful – even memory built up over years of taking this road, thousands of times.

This route should never feel anything but friendly – and yet, cloaked in obscurity as it was, every mile turned foe.  Nothing promised that the curves would remain as she had always encountered them; nothing could assure her that the trees and ponds and buildings by the way did not lay under some enchantment of their own, shifting thither and yon.  Whole minutes had gone by since she passed the last traffic signal, had they not?  Surely she should have reached the next red-light-turned-green by now.  But in between the road stretched on and on, with only fresh darkness on the horizon.

Ghostly eyes of lamps passed intermittently in the dimness, floating in the mist, whatever car or carriage they might be attached to invisible.  She shuddered at the thought of a deer, or a man, wandering out into the road, standing frozen while her car barreled into it.  Him.  Worse was the thought of a driver approaching without any lights, colliding twice as fast, with pulverizing force.

Pondering this, she eased off the gas and played idly with the headlights.  The regular lamps were dimmer, and thus of limited use – but the high beams fell on the cloud of water droplets, illuminating no further.  However slow she went, it couldn’t be helped – she couldn’t see.

No wonder fog stood in for fear.  Not only would it veil the unknown twice over, but it sent even the familiar into oblivion: dementia come sixty years early.

*That* Project and The Foolish Vow(s)

You know the one. It’s 8 years old, kept in an ancient Walgreens bag. You know where the pattern is, you know where the tool is. You know how many years it’s been since you worked on it last (3) and how many times you’ve moved it (7). By the intervention of the yarn gods, you actually still want the finished product. So you make unto the mighty ones a foolish vow.

I won’t move this again.

But it’s not a terribly motivating vow, as it is safe in your parent’s house, not to be moved any time soon, until you get nostalgic and have your mother mail it to you (does that count as a move?). Of course, by the time the mail gets around to delivering a package (whaaat?! deliver mail??!! the postman??!!!), the nostalgia has worn off and it sits around for another 10 months or so. But then you realize you’ll be moving soon. Maybe really soon. I mean, maybe not, but maybe March levels of soon.

So, one Monday, you get it out, nearly tearing the fragile plastic bag, and count the finished motifs. You find out how close you came 3 years ago when you got it out last. You think, I’m only 2 vines and some mesh short of finished! I could do this yet this week!

So you make another extremely foolish vow.

2015, I will end you with the finishing of a chapter of my life. The incomplete, ancient garment chapter.

And then you start making one of the vines and remember. It’s accursed. Pronounce that past tense ending. Accursed.

Wish me luck?

Leave me a comment either year of your oldest worthwhile but incomplete project, and I will cheer you on, too!

Uncut 2015 Christmas Letter

Hello, people-I-swear-to-write-but-never-do, relatives, and/or those who have filled me with a sense of obligation by mailing me something first!  Greetings of a seasonal variety to you!  May your Christmas season be full of love, hope, peace, and other fruits of the Spirit.

What follows is my attempt to sum up my year, despite the fact that you probably have learned most of this information via Facebook and, moreover, don’t expect changes of any great magnitude, because there weren’t any.  Unless you count starting on an antidepressant, in which case: there was one change of some magnitude in the past few months, and it is somewhat obvious if I forget it.   …pardon me a moment, I just realized I forgot something…

Right, so.  Life!  And the aspects thereof.  Well.  First off, there’s my…

Job: Yeaaah, I’m still at the law office.  I’ve now spent half a year as secretary for two attorneys, without more salary to show for it. Awesome.  Also awesome: doing anything with the court of appeals for the first time; we are all of us flailing about and consulting the court rules every 5 minutes.

Housing:  You may recall me living in a rental house with 3 other ladies.  As one of my erstwhile roommates got married and remained with her spouse in the house, Cecilia and I moved a whopping .8 miles north and east across Washtenaw.  This is close enough to walk between them, but far enough that anything you sent to my old address will miss me.  Except that I eventually put my mail on forward.  I meant to send you a tidy little handwritten note with my new address, but that just didn’t happen.  Sorry.

Romantic Relationships: Hahahaha, psych!  There’s been nothing of the sort for the last eight years at least.  This year, I went on 3 mediocre dates and 1 decent one, followed by some uninspired texts and no calls.  Friends have suggested I broaden my field of search to include more states, or at least the Fort Wayne seminary.  I may yet do so.

But! I am not without commitments: I have bought two new bookshelves this year and, by virtue of having a roommate who did the actual acquisition, acquired two kittens.  I’ve also become an official member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, having decided after 1.5 years in their choir that I wouldn’t just run off somewhere else.  Except for the weekends when I’m off attending weddings, when I will run most anywhere given sufficient notice.  There were three such weddings this year – those of my erstwhile housemate Hannah G. W., my other erstwhile housemate Liz C. N., and my concert-going, somewhat-indie music-supplying, lemon-jousting drinking buddy Hannah M. K., whose Astoria wedding was a delight to witness and stand up in.  I also attended my friend Zach’s ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood, which is basically like a wedding, except without a 300% markup on the celebratory cake.

There is now another wedding on the horizon, as my brother Paul is engaged to one of my dearest friends, Michelle; I am quite pleased for them (mostly because I am not the one currently dealing with obscene markups for nuptial celebration paraphernalia)(but also because I love them both dearly and, you know, hope they will carry on in delight together &c)(that said, Paul could be a bit less nauseating in his effusions of loving feeling)(someone get me a bucket).

I'm not even an engineer. Just label me "Exhausted" or "Envious" or something.

I’m not even an engineer. Just label me “Exhausted.”

Other celebrations: 12th Night (complete with Shakespeare, almond cake, and crowns); my first Feuerzangenbowle (complete with fiery sugar and carol-singing); Michaelmas (complete with more Milton than I’ve ever read in one sitting before); St. Crispin‘s Day (complete with yelling the Henry V speech to passersby on Mackinac Island); and birthday celebrations of several people, including me (complete with playing two games of Boggle at once!  Or eating Moroccan food/bowling/drinking Greek wine/reading Evelyn Waugh/however we celebrated birthdays).

I also basked in the reflected glory of my brother John competing on Jeopardy! in January, and his return for the Tournament of Champions in November.  My own knowledge of trivia has not been sufficient to get me past the online Jeopardy! test, but it HAS won me a few rounds on LearnedLeague.com.  Aw yiss.  So much less of a timesink than either TriviaCrack or JetPunk, addictions which I have overcome!   …Sadly I have not overcome my addiction to Sherlock fanfiction; please pray for my soul and/or recommend a support group.

No one can tell this deer is wearing jeans anyway.

No one can tell this deer is wearing jeans anyway.

On the bright side, I have profited greatly from reading both The Joy of Less and unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com, not that you can necessarily tell by looking at my work desk or my bedroom.  But I’ve managed to dispose of some papers that had lingered for the last year or six, and got rid of some brown pants just in time to miss them at Halloween.

Other consumables:  Continuing my tradition of checking things out of the library for as long as possible, I’ve had a couple books by Milosz out for 2 years now. It’s like grad school library privileges without needing to be in grad school.  Books I actually read include some volumes on orthography, a couple intriguing books by Neil Postman, and I, Robot; generally my reading material has been more poetic, word-loving, critical, depressed, and mildly feminist.

Viewing-wise, this has been the year of my finally watching Die Hard, The Room (via RiffTrax Live), Zoolander, and White Christmas for the very first time.  National Theatre Live brought Coriolanus and Hamlet within my purview, for which I both bless and curse them.  2015 also involved an Iron Man marathon (which, lest you be deceived, involves no physical activity) and more watching of The Decoy Bride / Not Another Happy Ending than is strictly advisable.  Not to mention The Mindy Project, Inspector Lewis, and odds and ends from Parks and Rec.

I remain a member of the UMS Choral Union, which performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah; as mentioned above, I’m part of my church choir as well.  Occasionally I pinch-hit as an alto because we are as poor in altos as we are rich in sopranos.  Shocking, I know.

This year’s culinary adventuring included the eating of Moroccan bistilla (would recommend) and the cooking of meringues, gluten-free pizza, and gluten-free fried chicken.  There were also a fair allotment of cocktails: lots of G&Ts and a fair sampling of Drinking with the Saints.

Also wik:  I read with some alacrity the epic saga of Brother Orange; I learned more of the geography of John and Elizabeth’s neighborhood whilst dogsitting, when I accidentally walked their dog Hektor 5 miles longer than necessary;  and I did the most Pinterest-y project of my life, namely, using twine and clothespins to hang a bunch of stuff, mostly calligraphy, on my bedroom wall.

963

There you have it: a far longer summary of a year than you might want or need.  Merry freaking Christmas, y’all.  See you all in 2016, unless I don’t actually.

Much love,
(really, I promise)
Joy

Onward, majestic Frog Steed!

Onward, majestic Frog Steed!  Onward to 2016!

Recipe Card: Tomato Sauce

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I hope you’ve already got dinner planned for tonight, or that you have a reliable Thai restaurant with good take out nearby, but in case this post is timely, I’m making Lasagna tonight.

I’d have made it yesterday, but lately, I have to make my own tomato sauce, and yesterday and I disagreed about cooking. Today I am making tomato sauce and it smells so good I can barely restrain myself from eating it RIGHT THIS MINUTE. So I sooth my cravings with sugar cookies. Wait, no I don’t. I am a grown up. :) Lol.

If you have a can of tomatoes, you too can make your own sauce. If you have a few other things, it can be the most delicious thing ever.

Simmer this for as long as you have. I go for hours, but then I got an early start.

A can of tomatoes, diced, crushed, whole, whatever. Any size you like, you can freeze the extra sauce.

Carrots, chopped
Onion, chopped. More or less, depending on how much you like onion.
Celery, chopped, if you have it. It can be at death’s door. You won’t know.
Garlic, if you think onion isn’t enough
A tablespoon of butter. You won’t be sorry.
Glug of red wine if it’s around and old. Or newly opened.

If you have a stick blender, pull it out and puree this when you are done simmering it. I didn’t a few times, and it still makes a great spaghetti. It’s easier to make a really good lasagna with a smoother sauce, though, so I will be blending this tonight.

Spice variations that I have liked include

~Cumin and Red Pepper flakes
~Oregano, Basil, and Parsley (today’s version, now with fresh, garden parsley because December is broken)
~Nothing, because I forgot
~Salt, Pepper, and Parmesan
~Random off brand “Italian seasoning”

This is fool proof, crock pot-able, and outstanding with any kind of noodle on any kind of night. With or without beef, and this coming from a beast of a carnivore.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good…hold that thought. We’ll get back to you.

Holst House

My dears, I have had a dream.

It started with Inspector Lewis.  My roommate and I were binge-watching the first series or three, and came to the episode “Dark Matter.”  Among other things, it features forensic pathologist Laura Hobson playing clarinet in a university orchestra performance of Holst’s “The Planets.”

This percolated in the back of my mind, emerging as a pun: “If I ever got into hotel management, you can bet your bottom dollar there’d be a really dramatic room option called the Planets Suite.”

When Em responded “I want the Jupiter room!” it spawned all manner of thoughts.  Mainly: what if, instead of a hotel suite, this were a house Imagine a house featuring:

Mars, Bringer of War – Entryway / bathroom / bedroom closet – It’s where you suit up for the day and prepare to go out and take on the world.  Hidden speakers blare forth the exhortation of drums and trumpets.  Featuring red colors, iron hooks or handles or accents, and a coat of arms on the foyer wall.  Be sure to get some coffee before you start a war.
Mars bathtub Mars Foyer Stairwell

Venus, Bringer of Peace – Kitchen / bedroom – Bringing peace can be done by foodstuffs…or by sleep et cetera.  Copper accents, a Botticelli print or two, windowboxes of plants, maybe green paint or flowered wallpaper.
Venus kitchen fresh pale Venus kitchen green cabinets Venus kitchen pale greenVenus kitchen wheat

Venus green country Venus Mint Bedroom

Mercury, the Winged Messenger – Living Room – Here, like quicksilver, we meet and we part.  Here, we practice the counterpoint of the mind, and words fly about like birds.  This is the place to sit and talk, read, or perhaps go online to read or write.  There should be a lot of words or stories within arm’s reach.  Mirrors, corresponding colors, and symmetry in the decoration would be appropriate; these echo the same-but-sundered nature of mercury.

Beach Style with accents birds and fluff pillows mercuryyyyy

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity – Dining room – For those of us without a throne room, the dining room is probably the next best place to sit in tranquility and resplendence (though a den or family room may also suit).  Here may we sit and let our hearts be eased after the weary winter of our work.  Let the room be well-lit, the chairs comfortable, and fear not if anyone happens to spill a bit of wine, for it is but the wound of King Pelles.  Oak furniture, emblems of eagles or lions, ruddy walls or fabric are all appropriate here.

dining room with wine cabinet Dining room golden lit dining area green but good

Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age – Office / study / library – Traditionally, Saturn is associated with philosophy and other such weighty matters.  Here you can also keep your tax returns filed, plan for retirement, and prepare your last will and testament.  It’s the place for any globes, maps, and hourglasses.  Lead-colored walls with a stripey accent.
Saturn Home Library Saturn home office

Uranus, the Magician – Basement or garage workroom / Craft room – Astrologically, Uranus is associated with ingenuity, invention, and radical new ideas.  So this is where some kind of magic is worked, be it ever so tangible in nature.  Blue-gray walls.

Uranus Workshop Uranus Craft Room Uranus sewing room Uranus workroom

Neptune, the Mystic – Garden / in-house chapel / attic – I don’t know where you keep your mystics and mysticism, but if you don’t have a handy tower, hermitage, or folly…I…guess the attic is the place?  I don’t know, I’m picturing Trelawney and her room full of poufs and tea cups.  Or, at the least, blue walls and wind-chimes hung out the window.

Hermit caveIn home chapelIcons in home attic

An Invitation to Introspection

When I was a senior in high school – 11 years ago (?!!?!??!  What weeping angels just stole a decade of my life?) – I took Psychology, since it was available and intriguing and, though I didn’t know it at the time, would fulfill one of Hillsdale’s core requirements when I aced the AP test.

In lieu of a final exam for the fall semester, our teacher gave us a list of prompts.  We were to choose a selection of them (though some were mandatory), practice the art of introspection for some weeks, and assemble a binder or album for her perusal with our answers – effectively, a scrapbook.

It’s not unfair to say that I learned much more about the practice of scrapbook assembly than I did about myself.  That said, it provides a better snapshot of my identity at that point than other keepsakes.

996.JPG

We were required to have a title page, and this was mine.  11 years to the *day.*

So.  Flash forward to this year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I was visiting Ryan, my friend for some 13 years now and a fellow member of this psych class.  He pulled out his scrapbook, which is about 6 inches thick on account of the fact that he fashioned pop-ups on every single page.  It’s a behemoth of a book, and testament to his creativity and diligence where projects are concerned.

While a few of us gathered around to peruse it (look at how he fashioned his own paper clarinet and bassoon!  Look at these 5 doors that all open at once when you pull this string!), we wondered “What if we answered those questions again, today?”  What would change?  What wouldn’t?

So I tracked down the sheet of prompts to share.  No one needs to share their answers – I have found that I’ve grown a bit more circumspect with age, and perhaps a bit more honest with the unpleasant facets of my own character – but y’all are free to, if’n you like.  How much has changed in the past 11 years?  How much would your answers shift from year to year?

  1. Five words that describe me
  2. Three things I really like about myself
  3. Skills and behaviors I need to learn
  4. Two things I would like to change in myself
  5. My top values in life are:
  6. Two of my special abilities or talents are
  7. The happiest moment of my life
  8. The most unhappy moment in my life
  9. Tomorrow I would like to be
  10. The two deepest concerns I have right now
  11. The best advice I ever received
  12. If I were anyone else I would be
  13. The most important person in my life
  14. Ranked in order, this is who I am
  15. My close friends see me as (have them write a narrative and place that in your packet)  [This prompt was the BEST.  Especially delightful years later to have a bit of your friends’ handwriting.]
  16. My really close friends are
  17. Five things I like about my family
  18. Two major events in my family’s history that made an impression on me
  19. Two people that affected my lifeLHWL
  20. I will remember Lutheran High Westland as
  21. Two experiences that affected me in a personal way
  22. I will never forget the following people
  23. My biggest fear
  24. I would like to be remembered as
  25. 10 experiences I would like to experience

Optional: We had to choose at least 15 of the following:

  1.  My most embarrassing moment
  2.  The funniest moment I experienced
  3.  One moment that I will never forget
  4.  If you own or drive a car, describe it
  5.  I see my girlfriend/boyfriend as (also, an experience that you have shared and you will never forget)
  6.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite song is

    1012

    Ohhh dear, high school boyfriend. Ironic that he featured so prominently when we broke up a year and a day later.

  7.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite movie is
  8.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite book is
  9.  Favorite article of clothing
  10.  Favorite sport/hobby
  11.  Favorite place to hang out
  12.  One year from now I see myself
  13.  Ten years from now I see myself
  14.  The greatest compliment I ever received
  15.  Two things I would change about my family
  16.  My favorite time of year
  17.  My family sees me as
  18.  If I had a million dollars, I would
  19.  One thing that makes me unique
  20.  My room is
  21.  I see my brothers/sisters as
  22.  I see my parent(s) as
  23.  One place I want to go
  24.  My favorite thing to do when I am alone
  25.  If I could change one thing in the world, I would
  26.  My pet
  27.  My favorite class in school (any year)
  28.  My best childhood memory
  29.  “When I grow up” I want to
  30.  I get most frustrated when
  31.  My favorite thing to do on the weekend
  32.  My most nerve-racking moment

    1027

    I like The Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Harry Potter.  Color everyone SHOCKED.

  33.  My favorite teacher
  34.  If I could re-live one high school moment (repeat or change)
  35.  The place where I live
  36.  The best choice I have made
  37.  The worst choice I have made
  38.  My greatest accomplishment
  39.  My greatest failure
  40.  The way I have changed the most in the last four years
  41.  My nickname is (and how I got it)

Tough questions in Greek Class

You need a little background for some of the stories I’d like to tell. Last year, I audited a conversational modern Greek class at the hoity toity university where my husband works. It was a tiny class, so I wasn’t off the hook for anything; I did the homework, took the tests and participated freely. Which was great, of course. It was marvelous. But…

I am 8-10 years older than the other 5 students.
I have 2 completed degrees.
I was recently married.
I was pregnant and, while not puking (good), wasn’t sleeping much (bad)

So there may have been a gap between the other students and me. Maybe just a chasm with fire and snakes. We didn’t always understand each other in English, things got dicey in Greek.

One day, I dragged my insomniac bum to class, and found that several of the other students had decided to skip. This left me alone with the teacher, the teacher’s decaying patience, and the quietest of the male students. The student who claimed to enjoy reading, tennis and Kafka. Right. The order goes forth: Talk to each other. ‘Οχι. Στα ελλενικα.

The other student exhaled, flipping through his notes. He inhaled. He exhaled. He looked at me pointedly and asked, “Eiste pantremenos?”

I panicked. He wanted to know something about me. Something I know I knew. Something we talked about…recently…something I …was? wasn’t? was? AM I PANTREMENOS? I beat my brain with a stick and peered at the dust that shook out. My brain didn’t oblige. I flipped violently but fruitlessly through the week’s notes. Nothing.

The teacher sighed deeply. She repeated the student’s question. She looked at me pointedly. She sighed. I forgave her the double sigh. I deserved it.

I gave up entirely. I wasn’t going to get it. If it meant “tired”, I was that. I didn’t think I was anything else. Just tired. I didn’t know what it meant, so I said so. I don’t know. “Den Κsero” (Prettier in Greek: Δεν ξερω)

The teacher exploded, slapping the table and laughing hysterically. The other student laughed audibly and looked like I had just told the funniest joke he’d heard in a year. I goggled.

When she recovered herself, the teacher told me what had been asked. “Are you married?”

Oh.