Happy Monday

Cough marginally better, but had to teach over six hours today: two-and-a-half hours at xxxx community college, plus an extra hour and a half meeting with students after class; then further two-and-a-half hours at self’s other college in Belmont. Self almost lost it in morning class: that is, self felt imminent eruption of uncontrollable coughing fit, dropped to her knees and pawed around in purse for lozenges while students stared open-mouthed. Sorry, sorry, self muttered, and popped in cherry-flavored lozenge just before cough managed to escape . . .

Scare seemed to have galvanized self, because self then delivered absolutely incandescent lecture on Richard Rodriguez and the “outsider politics” he seems to espouse, and everyone was sitting up STRAIGHT (no mean feat at 8:30 in the morning) and staring at self bug-eyed (Was it because of self’s verbal verve, or merely the sight of teacher’s cheeks bulging out like a chipmunk’s?).

Then, collapsed at home for a few hours. Coughed up a storm in front of Bella and Gracie (beagles, for those of you new to this blog), who snoozed uninterrupted at self’s feet. Dragged self off to teach Women’s Lit class. Oh, hurray, student has decided to bring in tape of musical of “The Color Purple”, and for 15 minutes we listen to a deep-voiced woman singing how “Hell, no, she won’t go”, not for a husband “who rides her rough” and other such choice sentiments, at which point self stands up and says, “Thank you, that was excellent! Just excellent! Now on to the topic at hand . . . ” And everyone hems and haws and looks uncomfortable and self has no idea why, when we are discussing one of self’s absolutely fave stories, Bharati Mukherjee’s Management of Grief and, well, what can I say, it was a pretty lame class, and self stumbled out of there at 8 PM, lamely suggesting students bring snacks next week, in response to which everyone smiled wanly but kept their peace.

OK, self is home. Have decided to skip last three stories in O. Henry collection, Xu Xi’s “Famine” quite enough to last me a while, it was so fascinatingly perverse, and self discovers she lives in Hong Kong but is more like a citizen of the world, which self aspires to be someday (hopefully before self is 50).

Am now beginning non-fiction book about 18th century England, a place that feels familiar since self so loves writers of that place and era. This one’s called The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World, and is by Jenny Uglow. Following is a quote, then self will be off to bed, dear reader:

This was the age of great scientific expeditions. When the naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander travelled with Captain Cook on his voyage to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771, they brought back 1,000 new species of plants, 500 fish, 500 bird skins, numberless insects and hundreds of drawings. It was against this background that Erasmus Darwin translated Linnaeus, wrote his epic poem The Botanic Garden and developed his own controversial theories of evolution.

In exploring such matters Darwin and his friends were part of the great spread of interest in science that extended from the King and the Royal to country clergymen and cotton-spinners. When people talk of eighteenth-century culture this is the swathe that is often missed out: the smart crowds thronging to electrical demonstrations; the squires fussing over rainfall gauges; the duchesses collecting shells and the boys making fire-balloons; the mothers teaching their children from the new encyclopaedias with their marvellous engraved plates of strange animals and birds and plants.

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