Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh, the tongue

Does it GET any cuter than that girl with the tongue wrapped up to her nose? This, too, is from Christmas Day. She's licking her chops staring at that plate of ham. Yum!

Belly and Tucker

Look everyone! I've published my first photo. This is Belly about to kiss her boyfriend Tucker on Christmas Day, 2004. Please note the festive bow around Belly's collar.

and then Belly almost ate a cop

After I wrote that last post, I went to the doggie park with the girl. Run, run, run, Belly.

On the way home, I am apparently driving 47 in a 30 zone, BUT, to my credit, the 30 zone turns into a 40 zone right about where I'm pulled over. It's pretty warm out today, so I've got the back passenger side window down for the Belle, and when she sees this uniformed man coming toward the car, she lets loose. ATTACK MODE. I'm rifling through all the crap in my glove compartment looking for my registration and the cop is saying something about how he doesn't want to get bitten today. Well, mister, don't give me a ticket, and she won't bite you. No, I didn't say that, but I THOUGHT it. tee hee.

He takes my license, registration, and goes back to the car to--to do what? Basically decide if he wants to give me a ticket and risk the attack dog's wrath. She's a protective one, that girl. I check my hair in the rearview, pluck a couple white ones. I put some of the crap back in the glove compartment--tampons, batteries, napkins, handiwipes, receipts for oil changes fourteen years ago. I write a poem. Finally, he comes back, Belly yells some more, he hands me back my license and says, "Looks like there's no problem with your license." Huh? I didn't know we were checking for problems. "Do me a favor, slow down." Belly says, not quite under her breath, "Grrrrrrrr."

Annabelle's first encounter with a uniformed police officer. How sweet.

one of the side effects of blogging... realizing that when you have nothing to say, nothing going on, nothing new and exciting, nothing bad, no complaints, it's obvious not only to all three of your readers, but to you, the blogger.

Okay, here's something. I keep having violent dreams about Syracuse people. They're getting killed, and it's always my fault. Interpretation: In moving on with my life, I have fears of losing those who were close to me in grad school.

Here's something else: I love wine these days. Good for the heart in a family of heart disease.

And: February will see me attempting to moderate? mediate? lead? a discussion on the Teaching Composition listserv. Could I look any fatter in that picture? Is that what I look like in real life? Shoot me now. (guess that counts as a complaint)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

I have only this to say: Never in a million years would I have guessed that a boxing movie would haunt me. Not since Lost in Translation have I been so touched--and I don't mean that in the schmaltzy, sentimental sense--by a movie.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bean update

If you read the last post and did the math, $129--price of the green coat--minus $59--price of the new "brickstone" coat--you might be wondering why I received a check for $77 rather than $70. Those Beaners, they've outdone themselves AGAIN. The extra $7 is the postage I paid to send my green coat to them.

Lordy lordy. Bean doesn't just rock. Bean kicks ass.

L.L. Bean ROCKS!

I've had my green Bean barn coat for at least five years, and the cuffs were all frayed and one of the buttons fell off a while back; it had become my ratty coat, perfect for walking the dog. It occurred to me a couple weeks ago that L.L. Bean has a 100% lifetime guarantee on all of their products, so I called them. Sheepishly, because I felt like I was trying to get away with something, I asked if I could exchange my beloved barn coat for a new one. Turns out they don't make 'em quite the same as they did back then, but there's a mighty comparable Adirondack barn coat that would be just fine. So I shipped it off and waited.

Today I got my new barn coat in the mail and it's BRAND NEW. Well, of course, it is, you're saying. But it's just incredible that I was able to get 5 years of wear out of my green one and now, for nothing, I have a new one that will surely last at least 5 years.

It doesn't end there. I was happy happy happy about this deal, but it gets better. Apparently, I paid $129 for my green barn coat way back when. Today's Adirondack coat sells for $59. The invoice said something about a $77 credit, so I figured I'd be able to get something new and fancy from Bean's. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I called them again. Asked them if perhaps I really do have a $77 credit. Nope. They've already issued me a check. A check!

Let's tally this up, shall we. I got 5 years of wear from my green barn coat. I now have a brand new barn coat. And I'm $77 richer. Where on earth do you find value like that these days? I feel like I've hit the lottery.

Buy Bean.

Belly's play group

What, I ask, is cuter than a doggie play group? I dropped Annabelle off at "school" today and the young guy who works there (young= somewhere in his early 20s) said to her, "Let's go see your friends." So I asked who her friends are, since a good doggie owner should know. Well, she plays with Maggie, Buddy, Lily, and Jangles pretty regularly. And sometimes Freddie.

Perhaps I should get to work on Annabelle's valentines for school. Cupcakes? Biscuits? Heart-shaped liver treats? Hmmmm...

Okay, readers, your job is to come up with funny sayings for the valentine cards that Belly will sign with her paw.

You're the cat's meow.
I ruff you.
Smell me.
Have your owner call my owner. We'll do snacks.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

doggie boredom

This one's not about Annabelle....

I have an obsession with boredom. I hate it. When I'm bored, everything in my life slides down a very slippery slope. I start to feel sorry for myself. I bake cookies for no reason. I imagine myself 80 years old, alone, dying with a house full of cats that the SPCA has to come and rescue. When it's really really really g.d. cold out, I worry about Annabelle being bored, so I take her for lots of walks with her coat and booties on.

In the hills of western Massachusetts, today, it will be negative 10 degrees. Hillary lives there with her husband, two WONDERFUL children, Sid the monster cat, and Bonnie and Clyde, three-year-old Springer Spaniel/lab/and-something-else mutts. Hillary's house is really out in the middle of nowhere, so the plows are slow to clean up the three or four feet of snow they've got on the ground. Walks aren't really all that attractive. And it's just too damn cold for Bonnie and Clyde to stay outside and play for more than three minutes.

Yesterday morning, I'm on the phone with Hillary.
Hillary: I think Bonnie's losing it.
Me: What's she doing?
Hillary: Staring at the wall. She's been staring at the wall for a good fifteen minutes now.

O.M.G. Cats stare at walls, yes?

Poor poor Bonnie girl.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Belly (heart) Brach's

My dear friend Jen was wonderful enough to send me lots and lots of Brach's candy hearts a few days ago. She sent me three HUGE bags of the goods. I opened one, ate a whole bunch of green and purple ones, put the rest in a big ziploc bag, and left for dinner with a job candidate tonight. When I came home, I found a doggie water bowl nearly empty and an empty ziploc bag with a big hole in it. Annabelle apparently doesn't have patience for the ziploc zipper itself.

She asked me to write a thank you note to her Auntie Jennifer on her behalf. So here goes (I'm taking dictation):


I am one lucky person. No, I didn't win the lottery. Sorry, folks, but if I do, I promise to share. It occurred to me last night as I was in my grad course in authorship just how damn lucky I am. I'm at a great school in an excellent department with people who get along and do fun things together and I'm teaching what I want to teach in my very first year. I had so much fun last night talking about authorship with students who are not 100% disciplined--it's such a generative process. I realized this morning that I can't really plan anything for Tuesday mornings. After class last night, I took a long walk with the Belly girl and then watched L&O SVU and then read and didn't get to sleep until after midnight (late for me).

In class last night, we were talking about what Susan Miller calls the "established cultural privileging mechanisms" that function to designate some writers authors and others, well, not so much. So much of becoming an author is arbitrary, about luck and, as the saying goes, about who you know. Now, I'm not saying that I got this job out of luck. I worked damn hard. But as students and I discussed last night, hard work--be it publication or the degree--is necessary but certainly not sufficient for success as an author or as a job candidate. But we're so often led to believe--and we lead students to believe--that hard work will get you what you need.

Hillary would add to this entry my luck in finding great apartments and now this house. I'm a 20-minute walk from school. I've got a fenced-in yard for the girl, a garage, a screened-in back porch, and I never have to go to the laundromat (quarters can now be used for bubblegum). And I did it all online--no visit necessary.

It's January 25, and I'm keeping my New Year's resolution. They say most keep them for an average of six weeks. Talk to me in March.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

my favorite response to Summers

is this piece from the Globe. Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer-Prize winning SCIENCE WRITER, suggests that perhaps Summers' remark is a result of the fact that the male brain suffers from "an innate failure of ability," which would explain Summers' inability to "grasp the complex interaction between nature and nurture."

Saturday, January 22, 2005

the pleasures of bullshit

I've been wanting to give students this assignment since probably my second year at Syracuse, and I finally found both time and reason to do so in my junior/senior level rhetorical theory course. It's the bullshit assignment. How it works: on day one, I asked students to go home and write 2-3 pages of bullshit on "fear" (the course is focused on the rhetoric of fear). Some initial responses:

"You actually want us to write bullshit?"
"What if we aren't capable of bullshit?"
"What's bullshit got to do with rhetoric?"
"Are we allowed to swear in this class?"

On Friday, they read one another's bullshit (and I got to refer to my class as "bullshitters" without being sarcastic and without offending anyone) and we came up with a list of rhetorical moves that writers make when they're bullshitting. I won't reproduce the list here because if you're a writing teacher, you can imagine what those moves are.

The beauty of this is 1) they knew what bullshit was, and so did I, before we did this activity, but now everybody knows that everybody knows what bullshit is; 2) we can now refer to others' bullshit moves as we're analyzing their rhetoric; 3) I laughed out loud reading some of their responses. I would reproduce some of them here, but I haven't gotten their permission.

Bullshit, I might venture to argue, is class-based. I am the world's worst bullshitter because I don't know how to say the same things over and over again without appearing to be doing so. Small talk. Schmoozing. Bullshit.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

not really sure what happened there...

There WAS content on that last message, but it didn't make it. Oh well, you get the message from the subject line.

Hilary-with-one-l, if you're reading, HELLLLLP with four L's.

Last night's dream took place in San Francisco. I was in a carful (that word looks weird) of people driving over the Golden Gate bridge, and we decided to take one of the side streets off of the bridge into this cute little neighborhood. Yeah, the bridge had side streets. Then Keita, friend since the age of 15, tells me that we're going to our high school reunion* and I need to put my PROM DRESS on. Of course it no longer fits, but in the dream she insisted. Meanwhile, she puts on this cute little red dress and I tell her she looks like she's on her way to church, not to a PROM.

Interpretation: C's this year is going to feel a bit like a high school reunion? Because I can't wait to see everyone? And Julie wants me to go to the Rock n Roll party, so perhaps that's where the PROM thing comes in (does everybody like the way I keep capitalizing that word?). She'll look cute in her little red outfit and I'll look ridiculous in a PROM dress.

Maybe one of those reunionees will give me a massage?

*This year, 15th high school reunion. Christ.

If I don't get a massage soon, I might die

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

is this really my first post about Scrabble?

My good friend Susan and I are currently playing eScrabble, and I love it. It makes me happy to read my email and see that It's MY turn! And I gotta say here publicly that Susan (aka Schmoozin) has improved her game tremendously online. She stinks in person.


Scrabble is the closest thing I have to a hobby (if you don't count reading)--it's a hobby that requires others, and that's part of what I love about it. Some of my happiest moments in life have been experienced over a Scrabble board with Hillary, with Jennifer and Michael in Syracuse, with Tobi and Tracy, and with my new friend Julia. One of the great things about Scrabble is that it's ALWAYS a new game. Another plus: nobody gets killed.

Sometimes I get sad when I can't play. I wish Hillary could come over and we could sit and play and talk and drink too much coffee before switching to diet Coke and starting a new game.

Gotta go check my email. It might be my turn! (there's always an ! on the subject line, like it's the most exciting thing ever. I love it!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

and then she blew away...and her little dog too

Holy wind. I'm in my little house (on the prairie, yes I am) and I feel like we might blow away any minute. Soon I'm gonna look out my window and see cows and pigs flying by.

Joke of the day: What does Belly turn into when she goes outside?

A pupsicle!

I crack myself up.

In other news, I am such a sucker for the goshdarn Lifetime movie channel. Yes, indeedy, folks, television for women. I just watched We Were the Mulvaneys, based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates. I'm still weepy-eyed. If my house blows away, so too will my tissues. sniffle sniffle

On my bed are seven layers of blankets, yet at night my nose is still cold. Suggestions?

Monday, January 17, 2005

buh-bye winter break

Classes begin tomorrow. Only 2 this semester: an upper-level rhetorical theory course and a grad special topics course in authorship.

And mornings at Latte Time working on Draft 4000 of the s.f. article, which is now about citation more than anything else.

Life is good.* What did I do to deserve this gig?

*Hey everybody, look. I'm keeping my 2005 resolution! yay!

Fuzzy observations

Today's Get Fuzzy has me a) concerned that Satchel's spelling is getting worse (this could mean he's making leaps ahead in his thinking, of course), and b) pleased to know that Rob Wilco is also a client of good ol' Supercuts (I bet he didn't have to wait an hour for that 'do).

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Belly in boots

Bitter cold these days in Normal, IL, so we've gotten Belly's boots out. Little purple things with velcro and buckles.* She stops traffic, she's so cute in them. And when she walks on pavement in them, the sound is something like clop clop clop clop. She's a little horse, my girl.

So easy to love.

*The buckles are essential for keeping the boots on her feet. The boots with just velcro fall off after three steps, in case you're looking for some for your own horse.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

let's hear it for Amy's talent as a hair stylist!

I went to Supercuts this afternoon to get the ol' hair chopped off, and there was an hour wait. So I went to a local place in Normal that says "walk-ins welcome" and there was a three-day wait. Went home, got out the hair-cutting scissors and did it myself. Saved a few bucks and, I gotta say, it looks pretty good. Different. Short. Sassy. A little bit crazy, what with the unevenness and all.

But no regrets. And with the $$$ I saved (each of those dollar signs standing for a fiver), I bought wine. Nice.

phase complete

Belly's not getting a cat. I don't want a cat.

Being cooped up inside when it's 12 degrees outside'll do it to ya. We'll be fine once it warms up.

pretty sure it's just a phase

So, I slept on it, "it" being this idea of getting a cat for Belly. This after she escaped from the car last night--I was carrying grocery bags, didn't have a good grip on her leash--in order to chase the stray cats in the neighborhood. I'm now thinking this ain't such a bright idea. It'd be great if I could administer some sort of personality test before taking the cat home. If I could get a cat like Hillary's Sid Monster, I'd go for it. But what if I get a cat who just runs and hides and does not perform his function--that being, to play with Belly? I don't want a wussy cat.

What I'm figuring out: I really want another dog, but can't deal with the expense/labor/consequences for traveling, etc.

Conclusion: I'd like a cat who thinks he's a dog.

If any such cats are reading, please call Annabelle for an interview.

Friday, January 14, 2005

this might be just a phase

I've been thinking about getting Annabelle a cat. I worry that she gets lonely/bored being the only four-legged creature in the house. I could be projecting my own feelings of loneliness onto the dog, and a cat could be the unwitting victim in all of this, but still. I'm thinking about it. It would have to be a cat with a strong personality, one who could stand up to Belly's antics and shenanigans*--kinda like Get Fuzzy reversed.

When I got Belly from the SPCA, her previous owner had written on her sheet that she "likes to play with the cat." So there's some history.

Comments? Thoughts?

*that's such a good word.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

you know it's time to go back to school when...

--you're taking the dog for 4 walks a day
--you're baking cookies for no good reason
--you're talking to yourself a bit too much
--you've called the Mary Queen four times in one day
--you go to 3 different stores looking for Brach's candy hearts
--there are no more movies to rent (The Village stunk. I shut it off after 1/2 hour)
--you work for 3 hours at the coffee shop in the morning and then say to yourself, "now what?"
--you walk the dog one more time

Of course, these could also be signs that, well, I gotta get a hobby.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

candy heart woes

I'm a New Englander, and because of that I will probably never develop any real sense of North, South, East, West when it comes to giving local directions. This is not to say that I have no sense of direction, just that I don't have a sense of NSEW directions. I can find my way to and from just about anywhere after having been in a new place for five minutes. But that ain't the point here.

The point is that, as a New Englander, I should be faithful at this time of year (candy heart time) to the New England Confectionary Co., also known as Necco. But when it comes to candy hearts, it's Brach's all the way. The only way. And here in good ol' Normal, USA, I'm having a hard time finding anything but the Necco hearts in the stores. Where are the Brach's?

There is, of course, a color hierarchy, and it goes something like this:

I've looked all over for them. I've looked N, S, E, and W. I haven't checked Wal-Mart, but I'm not gonna. So, Jen, my friend who understands my problems, please go to Weggies and stock up for me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I must be psychic

Couple weeks ago, I had a feeling Hillary was going to cut off all her hair. Sunday morning at 7:30 she leaves me a telephone message saying she decided to cut off all her hair.

Two nights ago, I had a dream that my mother was getting married, and I wasn't at all pleased with the guy. I kept telling my mother that I didn't even know him. What's his last name, I asked her. She wouldn't tell me, so I had to keep hounding her. "Patricia! His last name is Patricia!" What the hell kind of name is that?

Last night, I'm watching my sappy Lifetime movie, "Dawn Anna," and as the credits are rolling and I'm wiping my tears away, I happen to notice one of the names on the list of credits: Tom Patricia. Not that my mother's marrying him or anything, but still.

Last night I had a dream that a bunch of grad school peeps and I were at a conference and I was told I was too fat to get into one of the sessions. So I had to wait outside while everyone else went in.

I'm hoping I'm not three for three.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Euphony, you funnneeeeee

On a walk yesterday with my dear friend Julia and our 3 dogs, Annabelle, Hudson, and Tucker (he being the boyfriend of Belly), I was blabbing on about my blog and just how funny I think I am sometimes (all the time). She said something funny in response, and I said, "you funneeeee."
Me again, "Hey, listen.
You funnneeeeee."

So we've decided that Julia's new name is Euphony.

Here's an example of a funny thing Euphony said yesterday: "I decided today that I hate it when I smell like a vegetable."

Me: Such as?

Euphony: A potato or an onion or Doritos.

Me: Doritos, my dear, are not vegetables.

Euphony: They're made from corn.

My favorite part about the whole conversation is Euphony's use of decide. She funneeeee.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

rootin' for the pink and orange

Dunkin' Donuts wants to expand westward. A diehard Dunkin' Donuts fan, I got excited a couple years ago when Krispy Kreme came to Syracuse because I'd heard so much hype about their donuts. And hype it was. They're waaaaaaaaaaay too sweet, even for a girl with a major sweet tooth. And their coffee just stinks.

There's one Dunkin' in Bloomington, but that's all of 15 minutes away. And when one's world becomes increasingly smaller as a result of walking to school, driving 3 minutes to the dog park, and walking two blocks to Julie's house, well a 15-minute drive is a long way.

I like the chocolate frosted with sprinkles. Yum. Come here, Dunkin'. Come here.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

my nose is like a red, red rose

Okay, not really. But it's bright red with scratches from a certain little girl's paw. It was an accident, we were playing, I know she didn't mean to make me look like a freakish version of Rudolph. But still. That's what I look like.

Friday, January 07, 2005

figured out the icy grass phenomenon

Duh. The reason I've never seen individual blades of grass frozen until now is that every other time I've experienced an ice storm, the grass was already covered by SNOW.

Really, Hillary figured that one out for me. Except for her, there was no "figuring" involved. It was common sense.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

icy blades of grass

The title really says it all. On my walk with Belle this afternoon, we were both marvelling at how cool the grass looks after an ice storm. Each individual blade of grass is covered in ice so that the overall effect is like...oh, if only I were better with metaphors. Let's just say it's pretty darn cool. How'd they do that? I've lived in wintry climes before, of course, but I gotta say, I've never seen anything quite like this. Belly doesn't like it, though, cuz those spiky blades of grass hurt her paws.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

have I relocated to Seattle?

I know I said the climate here didn't exactly compare to Southern California. And I know that just last week I was rah-rahing about the 60-degree weather. But that's because it was something different. I now feel as though I've relocated to Seattle. So my question of the day is, does it ever stop raining in Normal, Illinois?

Today's forecast calls for freezing rain turning to snow later this evening. At least with snow, Belly can stick her whole head in it and come up with a cute white face. With rain, not so much.

But my New Year's resolution was to be happy with what I do have: shelter from this freezing rain, work that I enjoy doing, and a doggie wog who makes me laugh every day. Oh, and hot coffee to keep me warm. I feel better.

But please, someone, make it stop raining.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

of beef stew in January

Okay, so I'm poor this month, really poor. One way I decided to be frugal was to prepare big meals at the beginning of each week and live on the leftovers for the rest of the week. Nice thing about this is that is also cuts out lots o' cooking time. So, this week's plan was beef stew. For someone who's not really a cook, this is quite an undertaking. There's beef to brown, there're carrots and potatoes to peel, there's a dog to watch while beef is browning and grease is splattering. But I did it relatively successfully, ate it on Sunday night (Belly did get a tiny bowl full 'cuz she's so cute), packed the leftovers in a tupperware container and put it in the fridge.

Now, I know what you people are thinking. You're probably thinking that Belly somehow got her filthy little paws on the tupperware and ate it all up when I wasn't looking. Good guess, but no cigar.

This has to do with cats. Growing up, I always lived with at least one, usually two, cats. I loved the cats as much as a kid loves her pets, but one thing I could not stand about cats was, well, cat food. The wet kind that comes in cans. Every morning, that terrible smell would waft its way up to my delicate nose as I slept and I would roll over in disgust. I seem to remember that, when I was a teenager and what some might call "difficult," my mother just so happened to open that g.d. can of cat food right as I was taking the first bite of my Lucky Charms. Every morning. That smell was enough to make me gag. I begged my mother to wait to feed the cat until I was done. Sometimes she agreed, sometimes not.

So here I am on Monday night, all proud of myself for being so economical with my food rationing. Got the bowl out, got the spoon out, got the bread buttered. I'm ready. I open the lid of the tupperware and what wafts out at me but the smell of that g.d. cat food from my childhood. I tried not to gag. I pushed through it, though. I ate it (Belly had a small bowl again 'cuz she's still cute).

Tonight, on the phone with my mother, I tell her this story, making sure to highlight her role in all this. She says, "pooooor Amy." Exactly.

Tonight's dinner was chicken pot pie. And Belly had a small bowl of beef stew.

deep and meaningful observations about IL

  1. vanity plates are quite popular
  2. bumper stickers are not
  3. (this isn't really an observation, but a "yay"): no required yearly vehicle inspection
  4. the longer one lives here, the more likely one is to perceive the slight inclines in the roads as "hills"
  5. there are no easy ways in to most businesses on the major parkway in Bloomington. one has to go to the next light and enter from the side and it's not as though frontage roads help. they're just as hard to access.
  6. there's no grocery store that compares to Wegman's
  7. sirens are so rare that when one does hear them, one automatically thinks the terrorists have struck again (okay, that's an exaggeration. but really, I never hear sirens)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

death of a public intellectual

Susan Sontag has died at age 71.

This, the place where I was born

When I was a kid, we called it "Holysmoke" because of all the fires.

teaching anxiety

Toward the beginning of every semester since I began teaching in 1998, I've had teaching anxiety dreams. There are a few well-established themes:
  • I can't find the classroom and I'm a half-hour late and all the students will have left by the time I get there.
  • I forget the all-important stacks of handouts I'm supposed to give out on the first day: syllabi, listserv instructions, index cards, etc.
  • The students are out of control, and I have to shout to be heard (this has its origins in a 2-month study skills course I taught to fifth graders many moons ago).

Strangely enough, I had none of these teaching anxiety dreams before teaching my first semester at ISU. One would think, wouldn't one, that coming to a completely new place where I don't, in fact, know where the classrooms are, might engender even more, not less, anxiety. I guess I had a newcomers' exemption last semester.

Classes don't begin for two more weeks at ISU, and the dreams have begun. Last night's dream had me completely unprepared to teach my grad course in authorship theory. No syllabus, no plans, no assignments, no nothing for the first day of a 3-hour class.

Guess this means I should get going on that syllabus....