emphatically seven!

I’m in my virtual Kaplan classroom, deep into Chapter 4, Arithmetic and Number Properties; I’m flailing through multi-event probabilities, and I come across this gem:

You might see the following on your test: 7!

You should not read this to mean: emphatically seven!

Now, I wasn’t aware that anyone associated with the Graduate Record Examination had a sense of humor, but my oh my, that one sent me chuckling, alone in my virtual classroom, for several minutes. Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time in the land of Quantitative Comparisions, but the idea of a test writer so excited about the number seven that they felt the need to include a exclamation point after the number seven–and of a overpaid Kaplan employee who decided it was important to warn students against falling into the emphatic number trap (“Is a normal 8 larger than an emphatic 7?”)–well… it tickled me pink.

Speaking of things that tickle me pink, GRE vocabulary flashcards and Twitter top the list this week. I am a writer, darn-it, and I love words with all my being; and so, because I will not let a standardized test diminish this joy (and because Twitter seems to be all the rage) I’ve decided to write a Twitter short story using the top 200 GRE words recommended by Kaplan. I’m hoping it will help me conquer the nasty verbal section that seems to give me so much more trouble than the math, and also perhaps provide personality in this very sterile study process. All this learning of factorials and words like opprobrium is not just for my idle amusement, however much it may seem so. No no: the GRE and I will meet on November 5 at 11 a.m. When I shall need said test is uncertain (as is this whole ‘applying for and going to graduate school’ thing).

In the meantime, as I warble on my ‘being a writer’ trajectory, I’m doing some other stuff to, well, make money. In addition to tutoring anyone and everyone who wants to learn Spanish (or sort of thought that they might want to try it), I’m also substitute teaching at my former high school. After six years of shuffling into a desk, it’s downright outlandish to walk into a classroom, stand in the front, and command the class’s attention.

There’s a random women’s bathroom hiding next to some lockers at this former high school of mine. It’s an afterthought, it seems, a truncated twin, as there is no men’s bathroom that corresponds to it. It was always my favorite in middle school; no one ever uses it, so it’s always nice and empty and cool. It has a distinctive smell–it’s not a bathroom smell, but rather a smell of tile or grout or something. On Monday, 10 years post-middle school, I pulled the door open to find that it still has exactly the same smell. So that must be it, teaching at a high school: some thing don’t change, just like buildings don’t really change, or cement sidewalks. But, you get older, slowly, as your students are engulfed in the very intense experience of high school, and then suddenly they too get older, they mature, and they become adults; and the bathrooms still smell the same.

Speaking of blasts from the past, I was smacked in the head with one today when I walked into the Rio Hondo Prep Gymnasium and was promptly hit on the head by a whizzing volleyball. We were at Rio Hondo for our volleyball game (where I once also played volleyball as a wee-ish one). Yes, indeed: in addition to Ms. Kimble who substitute teaches, thirty-three 7th and 8th grade girls now call me Coach Kimble. Earlier this week, when I was subbing for seventh grade composition (and by substitute teaching I mean watching 17 well behaved 12-year-olds make pretty posters) one of the volleyball girls came up and said, rushed, “Coach Kimble can I–oops,” she said with a giggle. “I mean, Miss Kimble, can I go to the bathroom?” And I smiled, bemused, and said certainly.

I have noted the irony in that I’m banging my head against the wall trying to remember the math I learned in middle school whilst teaching/coaching middle schoolers. It’s alternatively funny or fun, and either way, I’m enjoying myself. I find myself constantly bemused. Emphatically bemused!, in fact.


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