Monday, February 28, 2005


Becky sez our book's out, just in time for C's. Ass was kicked in the making of this one, people. Get it now while it's hot!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

go Baby

Yay for Million Dollar Baby. I loved that film and I'm thrilled to see that critics are understanding that the film is a story and not necessarily a social commentary on assisted suicide. As Ellen Goodman puts it:
‘‘Million Dollar Baby’’ is no more a movie about assisted suicide than ‘‘The Aviator’’ is about obsessive-compulsive disorder and ‘‘Sideways’’ is about alcoholism.
Or perhaps I love the movie so much because it is for me a commentary on what it means to live rather than just to breathe. Hear me now: if I'm ever dependent on machines, take me off. Not interested.*

*I wonder if a blog can function as a living will if it came right down to it. Sue, that's your job, so print this out.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

one for the books

Days like yesterday are why I love teaching.

Context: My English 283 course, Rhetorical Theory and Applications, is focused on the rhetoric of fear. We're reading Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear, a chapter per week. On Fridays, three students are in charge of leading discussion on a chapter from Glassner. This week's chapter was "Black Men: How to perpetuate prejudice without even trying." The central argument of the book is that the media focuses on minutia or on preposterous fears like killer bees in order to distract viewers' attention from larger cultural issues like racism or gun control.

On Wednesday of this week, I asked students to take a few minutes and write down their thoughts about the course so far: what's working, what's not, etc. Enough students wrote about Friday discussions to make me want to change a few things. They said that people often got too caught up in the content of the chapter--relating it to their own lives, giving examples that relate tangentially at best--with the result that we often get too far away from Glassner's rhetoric and his claims about the media's rhetoric.

This week's discussion: I gave them a 2-minute spiel about how I wanted them to consciously work on discussing both content and rhetorical strategies rather than slipping into discussion for discussion's sake. Then we discussed "Black Men: How to perpetuate prejudice without even trying."

With fifteen minutes left, I asked students to sit back from the discussion and write about what we as a class just did rhetorically. Not what did we say, but what did we do. When they were finished writing, I asked for volunteers to make observations.

"We were searching for stasis among the arguments."
"We were analyzing the logic of Glassner's arguments."
"We kept referring to black people as 'they' and 'them.'"
"We did exactly what the media does: we focused on minor things and never got around to talking about fear of the black man. We distracted ourselves. I even wrote it on the board: 'fear of black men,' but no one took it up."

Christ, yes, that's what we did.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

what I learned at the dentist today

If you put a bit of salt on the back of your throat, it stifles the gag reflex. Well, huh. Who knew?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

going home, going home, going home home home

I'm planning a trip to Massachusetts in May without the girl. This will be a big deal, as it will be the first time I'll be away from her for more than a week. I'm thinking I'll plan the trip for about 10 or 11 days. I want to see the Mary Queen walk on the 15th, so I'll be in Syracuse for that and will probably stay for a few days so Becky and I can go to Gilligan's Isle for old times' sake and Jen and I can go for Mexican food and Schmoozin and I can play real-live Scrabble. And we can even go to Tully pizza! Yay Tully pizza! Yum.

Notice so much of it is about the food. When I'm in Massachusetts, I'm gonna have what Hillary and I call "heavy pizza," Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and sunflower bagels. Health nut, I am.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

so so grateful Annabelle is not a child

Today Hillary told me that, on more than one occasion when she was watching Annabelle for me, my dog growled at her children. She didn't want to tell me, in fact she shielded me from this information because she knew I'd be moving away and wouldn't need her to watch Belly anymore and she knew that it would kill me to know that my dog caused her kids even the slightest fear. Tears came to my eyes and, like the good friend she is, Hillary immediately changed the subject and told me a story about her mother so that I could have time to compose myself on the phone.

What kills me is this feeling of being resposible for another being's actions. I mean, I know I'm not responsible for Annabelle's actions--what she chooses to growl at, what and who she chooses to protect--and I know that she can be very much the equivalent of a BRAT. But all the same, I feel responsible, and I wanted to get off the phone with Hillary and go scold Annabelle for growling at Regan and Nolan. And then I imagine what it must be like for a mother to learn that her child has done something really wrong. I know I can't really imagine it because as soon as I try to, I collapse emotionally. I could never do it. And I know that most children don't do things that are really really wrong, but even if my kid got into a fight at school or something, I'd feel so responsible.

Never never never having kids.

Monday, February 21, 2005

sunday depression addendum

I think I know why I get depressed on days like yesterday: it's largely becuase I'm not working on a project and so my mind has all too much time to think about all of the things I don't have. Hence my new year's resolution. But then I worry about devoting my entire life to work and becoming a workaholic with no life. But when I don't work I think about how I have no life except work. A vicious cyle, it is.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

rainy sunday depression

I've been thinking about the persona I've created on this blog, and I wonder if this post should have a little warning sign: Alert! Depression ahead! If you don't want to read about me wallowing pathetically in nothing, stop reading.

How could you stop reading with that teaser?

I'm feeling alone. Not lonely so much as just alone. I started to write out checks to pay the bills tonight and I had to stop because it just feels so goddamn overwhelming and then I begin to wonder if I'll EVER get ahead, and then I tell myself that I'm paying too much rent, I shouldn't be paying so much to live in a house when an aparment would be just fine. I wonder if I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life, struggling to pay the goddamn rent and telling myself I don't really need to live comfortably, a roof over my head would be just fine. Any roof. Life seems like it's so much easier for non-single people. They don't have to pay everything on their own. And they have someone to come home to, to share their day with, to share the funny things with, and christ, I have this blog and my dog to share things with. And who do I share my worries with? Who tells me it's all going to work out?

Feeling sorry for myself. If it were a sport, I'd be MVP. All-star.

He beat me to it!

I was going to write a book about bullshit, but this guy beat me to it. This is one book I gotta order. All teachers of writing gotta order it. Go go go. Then we can all swear with our students. Together now.

From a review on Amazon:

Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ich gehen zu Deutschland nicht

Probably not grammatically correct, but hey, the last time I studied German I was seventeen years old.

Looks like the summer trip to Germany won't be happening, and this time it's not because I'm poor (which I am, but that's beside the point). I talked with Keita for a few hours today and it looks like they may be coming back to the states before the summer's out.

And I'd been practicing my Deutsch:

Mein kopf schmerz (for when the kids gave me a headache)
Ja! Ja! (for when the locals offered me another beer)
Nein! Nein! (for when the locals offered me another bratwurst)
Scheizkopf (for fun)

Friday, February 18, 2005

What I want my words to do to you

This documentary with Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, boasts performances by celebrities Glenn Close, Rosie Perez, and Marisa Tomei. And I'm angry with myself for caring that these big names were part of the production, but I'm even angrier with Eve Ensler for her performance in the documentary. She functions more as psychoanalyst than as writing teacher and she does even that poorly.

The documentary follows 15 incarcerated women at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility as they participate in a writing workshop conducted by Ensler. The film brings up so many issues that deal directly with so much of my scholarship that I'm still reeling a little bit. Authorship: why do these women need celebrities to perform their work for them? What happens to the text when such a performance changes so much of its meaning? Who's legitimizing who here and why? Autobiography: whose story is this, anyway? What role materiality? Embodiment? Social class: The term "class" is mentioned once, as far as I could tell on a first viewing, and it's in the familiar triad "race, class, and gender," as though saying those three words is sufficient to address the very real differences between performers and authors.

I need to see it again, and I'm probably going to show it in my authorship course very soon. Lots to think about, and I know that if I didn't keep this blog, I wouldn't have written even this much down, so thanks blogosphere.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Heat's back on. Dryer's running. Dishes are clean. Hair is clean.

Blew a fuse today running the microwave with I-don't-know-what-else-that-made-the-fuse-blow. For a minute there I was wondering if I was never meant to expend energy. Oh, the drama.

I love heat. I love warmth. I love clean hair. I wish someone would go make use of that gas stove and cook me dinner. Belly.

Then she could be the dinner Belle.

girl with blue lips, age 3

I thought about calling the gas company and telling them I have an infant, because then they wouldn't leave the gas off. The temperature in my living room right now reads 47. The sun brought it up from 46. Annabelle's outside sunning herself in the 32-degree weather. Direct sunlight feels good on her little body.

The hot water heater, insulated as it is (just learned that yesterday), gave me enough lukewarm water to wash my hair really really fast. And the gas man is supposed to be here within the next hour or so. So I'll make it. The girl with blue lips will make it.

Warm things I've taken for granted (and, apparently, for free) these last six months:
hot water.

As Ward Churchill* might say, these things are coming back to bite me in the ass. FORM OF: whopping gas bill. Can't wait.

*He might also say that I'm so goddamn self-absorbed that the only time I choose to mention his work is in the context of my own pathetic little problem while millions of people are starving to death and quite literally freezing to death. Point taken.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Oh my god, I AM psychic

I might just begin to be afraid of my dreams from this point on. Last week it was the dog peeing on me, and I couldn't find a shower anywhere, so I had to go to the party smelling like pee. Then a few nights later I had another dream in which I couldn't get to the shower. Make that three, because last night, in addition to the teeth falling out, I had another dream in which I couldn't get to the shower.


Today the gas man shows up at my door to tell me he's shutting off my gas. Where I come from, I told him, gas and electric are taken care of by the same company, and nobody ever told me when I moved in here that gas was separate. Holy jesus. Apparently the gas company has been providing gas for me since August without billing me. And now they're apparently fed up and have shut me off. Usually takes a couple days to get it all worked out, they tell me. Which means, among other things, that I can't take a shower tomorrow! Well, technically, I could, but a freezing cold shower. Never mind the whopping six-month bill I'm going to be getting. Shoot me now.

Just when I think I can finally pay all my bills next month, this happens. I quit. This is one of those days when it really is all uphill. And that hill is freakin' covered in cold snow. I'm gonna freeze to death, people.

what's with the teeth falling out?

Last year when I was frantically writing and revising and revising and revising that g.d. dissertation, I had many a stress dream, the most obvious one being when all my teeth fell out. One by one. Spitting them out like watermelon seeds. The stress then was obvious.

Last night, I had a dream that all of my bottom teeth fell out and there was a hole in my gum from which all kinds of blood was spewing forth. Couldn't stop the blood, but had to go on teaching with chalk and body language. I honestly am not sure what this stress is about. It can't be about teaching because I love my two classes. It could be about publication, I suppose, since I haven't figured out what I'm working on next. But that's not stress so much as it is this thing called taking a break. Not too familiar with that concept, this girl.

Wherefore art thou, oh falling teeth?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Today's cleaning fit. Willing the weather to stay this way, I cleaned the screened-in porch, though it still looks white-trash-like with all the boards I put up after last week's Belly fiasco. I brought out the patio chairs and will shortly be sitting in one of them while Annabelle chews on one of the few sticks left in the backyard. 50 degrees on February 15th. I'll take it.

bay window: television for dogs

Oh my god, my dog is cute. The bay window in the front of the house looks like the car windows: covered in nose slobber. This morning Annabelle had her very own show: a squirrel in the front yard digging through all of the debris left by winter storms (and cats). Belly's little head moved this way and that as the squirrel went from one pile of sticks and leaves to another. She was shaking with excitement. And the squirrel had no idea he was on tv. He just went about his business as though there weren't a 75-pound dog drooling over him.

Cute, I tell you. Priceless.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Googlism: Annabelle

Favorites: #7, #10 (Tucker likes that one), #13, and #22 (in reference to her dear Auntie Mary)

  1. annabelle is our newest addition to the farm
  2. annabelle is not
  3. annabelle is a first
  4. annabelle is
  5. annabelle is on the left in the photo below
  6. annabelle is a sweety 09/04/2002
  7. annabelle is normal
  8. annabelle is a stunning white hydrangea
  9. annabelle is a delightful five
  10. annabelle is so incredibly hot
  11. annabelle is a quaint
  12. annabelle is proudly presenting her antique bicycle wearing a precious pink dress and is surrounded by pink flowers
  13. annabelle is ready to go to kindergarten
  14. annabelle is one wild elephant
  15. annabelle is in a posh hotel lobby
  16. annabelle is going to disney world with her parents in october thanks to make a wish
  17. annabelle is doing
  18. annabelle is an older cat who was abandoned outside our shelter some time ago
  19. annabelle is beautiful
  20. annabelle is just beautiful
  21. annabelle is locking up
  22. annabelle is becoming more and more curious about her aunt's fate

Sunday, February 13, 2005

if you act now, all mud is included

Dog 4 sale.
Fourteen thousand gallons of thick sludgy mud included with your purchase. If you act now, we'll even throw in a dog towel to get you through that first five minutes.

Note to land-people* everywhere: When you rent a house to a person with a dog, perhaps it's not the brightest idea to install beige carpeting.

I might die from sludge over here, people. [as she wipes the mud from her brow] Calgon--anyone--take me away.

*What on earth is the modern-day equivalent for a landlord? The word is so archaic.

Satchel shops Bean, too

How cute is that little doggie face looking at the Bean catalog, deciding which pillow he wants? Just remember, Satch, if you're not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you can return it at any time.

Vera Drake

We actually do get a few smaller films here in Normal, IL (when you read that, you're supposed to read it as Normal, I L, the two letters their own separate syllable, as in Philadelphia, P A). Saw Vera Drake last night at the Normal Theater in, you guessed it, downtown Normal.

The movie's a bit slow at times, but I guess that's how life is, yes? The title character is a wife, mother, and domestic in 1950s London who "helps young girls out" when they find themselves "in the family way." What I appreciate about this film is its relative lack of polarizing arguments about abortion. What we see instead is one woman's conviction playing itself out in ways she never intended. Instead of empathizing with the young women Vera Drake helps, the audience is forced to empathize with Drake herself. There's no question about her intentions. And there's no question, in the eyes of the law, about punishment. But there are questions that fuzz up that middle space, the human space.

As I look back over what I just wrote, I have to laugh at my attempts at taking on the discourse of movie reviews. I don't know the actress's name, and I was too lazy to go look it up, so I avoided it. Ah well, you probably didn't even notice that.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Who am I when I blog?


When I'm blogging does my name become "aerobil" or "lyings and tirades" as it does over at this person's blog, who I might refer to as "Becky" or as "StepAside." When I referred in yesterday's post to Madeline and Tyra, should I have referred to them instead as academom and tyratae? Is there an blog etiquette issue I don't know about?

I'm prophetic, but about the strangest things

Last night I dreamt that a very ugly, even disfigured, yellow dog was running by me and peed on me as I stood there. I was in a bathing suit (good lord help us all) and I was desperately trying to find a shower, but the party was about to begin (don't ask me what party--not really sure), so I had to go, pee and all.

Just got back from the dog park, in real life. Cooper, one of Annabelle's playmates, is a very good boy. A yellow lab mutt, he looks good with the girl. Cooper peed on my shoe! For no good reason!

Okay, this has nothing to do with being prophetic, but it has to do with dogs. There's this guy who's ALWAYS there with his boxer, Penny. He's always yelling at her. "Penny, no! Pennnny! No! No!" These are the only words I've heard out of his mouth. Until today. I was up close when he was having a little chat with Penny. "When I tell you no, I mean no. What is wrong with you? Don't you know that when you eat things like that [grass, people, grass] it hurts you? Why do you think you get sick every morning? You've got to listen to me." Whew! Logic, well, it doesn't really work with our beloved four-legged creatures.

One more thing: On the way back from the dog park, Belly had her head out the window, as always (did I mention it's in the 50s today? yay!). When we were at a stop sign a block from our house, she saw the mail carrier and began yelling at her. The mail carrier shook her head and said she's glad Annabelle's back. She had seen me walking up and down the street on Tuesday blubbering, calling for my girl. We love the Belly, loud mouth and all.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

you are here

From Madeline via Tyra via someone else surely:

Oh, the places you'll go, er, you've been.

Er, you've lived.

Chicopee, MA
Worcester, MA
Anchorage, AK
Brighton, MA
Appleton, WI
Dearborn, MI
Covington, KY
Lincoln, NE
Hershey, PA
Beaver Dam, WI
Barcelona SPAIN
Newton, MA
Tully, NY
Syracuse, NY
Normal, IL

Imagine how much your shit--er, stuff--has accumulated with each successive move. The books alone....

Here're Belly's answers (she can't type):

Rochester, NY
Syracuse, NY
Normal, IL

I feel so grown up

I heard from Al, my ex, last night, and it was really really nice just to catch up with him. There was no hidden agenda, there was no one-upmanship, it was just two old friends catching up on things in their lives. This is the first ex-boyfriend that I've experienced this with. We genuinely care about each other. I'm happy that he's got a new girlfriend who we can talk about without feeling the least bit awkward. I told him about my date with the cop, and we got a couple good laughs out of that one.

Plus, he said the next time he's in Lexington, he'll stop by the bagel place and pick me up a few sunflower bagels and ship them to me express. YUM. Isn't that what friends are for?

A grown-up friend of mine once corrected me when I said that I had officially become a grown up on such-and-such a day because I had handled a difficult student situation quite well. She said that you never become a grown-up once and for all, that there are moments like that one and like last night when you realize that you're growing up, that you can handle yourself with dignity and respect from time to time. But that doesn't mean there won't be slippage.

Like, for instance, when I was meeting with my independent study student today. We were looking at for bumperstickers on women's rights and abortion. I saw one on the "funny" page that says, "What would Scooby do?" I totally want that on my car. Scooby!

a note for the cat crusaders

I need to provide an addendum to my last post about cats and animal control for all those concerned about the cats' demise. The town of Normal recently instituted a cat leash law because there have been a number of complaints about feral cat colonies. Nobody's going to kill the cats. They will catch them, sterilize them, and return them to different parts of town. No, this is not going to stop people from feeding them, but it will prevent more feral cats from being born.

My case is a sad commentary on what it takes to get people to take action. Only once I felt threatened by the loss of my dog--and only once I established what in my mind is a causal relationship between the feral cats and the potential loss of my dog--do I take on the problem that's really been a problem since I got here in August. Until Tuesday, they were annoying, but I wasn't too concerned about them.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Annabelle is so unbelievably grounded

She will never leave the house again unsupervised. She has a back yard, but I'm not so sure I'm gonna let her out there without a leash. She ran THROUGH the screen of the screened-in porch today in pursuit of the goddamn stray cats that, come to find out, the neighbor is feeding. I like cats. I like animals. You know that. But when the neighbor is feeding FIVE stray cats that taunt my dog and make her run THROUGH the screened-in porch, well, that's just no longer okay. I'm taking the selfish road on this one. I'm calling animal control. There's a leash law in Normal, even on cats FOR THIS VERY REASON. There are no less than seventeen stray cats in this neighborhood, five of whom are getting their regular meals next door. ARRRRGHHHHHH

So Annabelle was gone for MORE THAN TWO HOURS, the longest she's ever been gone. It was getting dark. She's black. She's fast. At the two-hour point, I was planning to cancel tomorrow's class and hole up in bed because my dog had died. I was crying, trying to continue calling her name, which isn't easy when you're blubbering. Julia came over to help look for her and, what do you know, Julia finds her on the way to my house and coaxes her into the car. She said Belly looked scared. She smelled awful. She got a bath and she's in bed. Never to leave the house again. We begin potty training tomorrow.

Monday, February 07, 2005

pet peeves

All of this writing I do about Belly--and that certain others do about stray cats--reminds me of a funny thing I did when I was in sixth grade. I had one of those fancy little autograph books where classmates could write fun things that would normally appear in one's yearbook. Things like, "Never change, Amy. You're the best." "I'll never forget all the fun times we had in biology class." Except this little autograph book had categories, lest one run out of things to say. There were things to fill in, like "favorite food," "favorite color," and, of all things, "pet peeves." Being the bright little girl with no complaints that I was, I wrote (to start things off, you see) that my pet peeve was "Mindy, cat, age 5." Erica subsequently wrote that her pet peeve was "Misty, cat, age 7." We had all kinds of pet peeves--dogs, cats, gerbils, birds, hamsters, rabbits. And not a single complaint.


If only our pets knew how peeved we were with them. If only we knew how peeved we were with them.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


"butter" should be added to the list of words that are fun to say. A few days ago, I went to Culver's, a fast-food joint that is apparently famous for its butterburgers. Say it with me now. Butterburger. Doesn't that sound delicious? Put the word "butter" in front of anything and it will sound delicious. Except it was just like any other fast food burger, maybe a little bit greasier.


Today I made no-bake cookies with margarine instead of butter and they are terrible. I had no butter in the house. They were stiff and not didn't hold together as well as they do with butter. To the trash they go. Put butter on the grocery list, too.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

holy gorgeous day

It's a little bit of spring today, with temperatures in the mid-fifties. Do I sound like a weatherman or what?

Annabelle has been sitting out in the yard all morning just sniffing the air. I've got lots of reading to do today, so I just might drag out the plastic furniture and sit on the back porch.

I'm really trying not to think about the inevitable winter weather relapse. Instead, long walks, reading outside, and only one layer of shirt. It's the little things.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I will soon have no skin on my fingers

When I'm bored or nervous or when I write or read, but especially when I read, I tend to pick at the skin on my fingers, usually until they bleed. Then, when it gets crusty, I pick the scabs. Gross, I know. I've had this habit for as long as I can remember, and friendly coworkers have tried to get me to stop by telling me that I'll develop cancer because my cells have to keep reproducing themselves. Blarney.

The index fingers suffer exponentially more than the others, so much so that the skin on both of them right now is peeled all the way down to the first phlange (love that word). This is because I've been workin' workin' workin' this week, and (I just stopped to pick as I searched for a word) am feeling pretty good about what was once but is no longer the article that has been haunting me for three and a half years. Not much of that dang thing remains. Not much of my index fingers remains.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

This is not a Belly blog

Ever since I told people in my department here at ISU about this blog (it's been all of two days now), I've been the recipient of a little bit of shit about this being a Belly blog. Indeed, Belly is one of the main characters, but let me be clear about the function of this blog:

Lyings: Amy tells stories that sometimes--okay, often--have Annabelle as a featured player
Tirades: Amy complains about being fat, having no life, having one date in two years, and the sometimes frigid weather here in Normal, IL
Fears: Amy relates her fears of being fat, having no life, never going on a date again, and not finding Brach's candy hearts in the stores
Oh my: Amy receives comments on such Lyings and Tirades and Fears that make her realize just how good she's got it here in the prairie state and how many funneeee friends she's got elsewhere

Today's feature story indeed involves the beast. I've figured out why I can no longer take naps. Prime napping time is around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, just about the time when the mail carrier delivers postal presents to the house. Belly, sleeping on the couch, hears the mail carrier approach the house and lets loose with what Auntie Julia calls Belly's orange alert yell. This orange alert would scare the bejesus out of people three blocks away--never mind me in my cozy bed down the hall. Napping is out as long as I live in the house with the mailbox so close to the front window. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

words that are fun to say

  1. surly
  2. delight
  3. gadzooks
  4. discombobulated
  5. glee, gleeful, gleetamous
  6. stupendous
  7. coffee
  8. booda
  9. baby
  10. pup-pup