Tuesday, May 31, 2005


As my dedicated readers know, I love the house I'm renting. It's got everything a girl could need: a fenced-in yard, a garage, a washer-dryer, a fenced-in back porch, and it's in walking distance to school. The only problem, folks, is that I'm killing myself trying to pay for it. So, I've been looking--not for very long, but I've been looking. And my luck has worked for me again.

At the end of July, I'll be moving into a BIGGER house (not that I need it, but hey) with a BIGGER fenced-in yard and a CLOSER walk to school. It's also got a garage, but no washer dryer, but it's got hookups, and, well, the difference between one month's rent there and one month's rent here will get me my own used washer and dryer. I'm saving $175 a month! Christ, that'll be nice.

Other benefits:
1. I will no longer live next to seven children. I'm on a quiet street and the house is literally three houses away from Constitution Trail, the walking/biking trail that runs through Normal.
2. Annabelle will no longer be taunted by stray cats. Well, these stray cats, anyway.
3. A human-sized guest room for all those guests, ahem, that come to visit.
4. A dining room that will remain unfurnished for a while.
5. Basement for use during tornado warnings.
6. I'm still close to everything I'm close to now, including Julie's house and the dog park. I'm only moving a couple blocks away, which also means that moving will be a piece o' cake. No truck rental necessary. Lots of trips in the car, and a couple runs with a borrowed pickup.

I love it when it all works out like this. Woot! Woot!

Monday, May 30, 2005


Three years ago today, Paul and I went to the S.P.C.A. of Central New York to look for doggie-wogs. I wanted a medium-sized female, about two years old or so. Instead I got a 65-pound beast who was just 10 months old. She had massive green boogers running down her nose from her kennel cough, and the first thing she did when Paul and I took her into the visiting room was hack and hack and hack and finally puke. "This is my girl." Overly excited, puking from excitement. That was me twenty years earlier.

The very nice people at the S.P.C.A. had told me to come pick out a doggie about two weeks before I actually wanted to take her home so that she could be spayed and checked out by the vet and given all her shots. Ever obedient, I did as I was told. I went to the S.P.C.A. that day with the idea that I had a couple weeks before I'd be taking anybody home. I had plans to visit Keita in Seattle the following week, so there was no way I could take her home anyway.

But I had to go and pick the one dog who'd already been spayed, who'd already had all her shots, who'd been checked out by the vet (who apparently found no problem with her majorly green boogers--but that's another story). If I wanted to adopt this dog, whose name was Besa, I'd have to take her home that night, the next day at the latest. So Paul and I went shopping for food, crate, toys, and treats, and then I rallied the troops to stay at my place on Green Street during my trip to Seattle, which I couldn't very well cancel at such short notice. Paul, Mary, Michael, and Monique came to the rescue and cared for my baby girl in shifts for six days. And I think they all fell in love with her.

Since she was 10 months old when I got her, we had to come up with a birthday for her. Uncle Paul chose July 14, Bastille Day.

In these three years, I've walked this girl hundreds of miles and I've kissed her smart bump thousands of times. She's been my rock, my stinkbomb, my favorite girl. She's killed three groundhogs, each of which I had to shovel into plastic garbage bags. She's had one encounter with a porcupine, and my heart nearly broke because of the pain she was surely in. She's gained a good 10 pounds, made lots of doggie friends, flunked out of obedience college, and has so far managed to avoid skunks.

The best thing about Annabelle Blue Butler: she makes me laugh every day. Happy anniversary, stinker.

you put the lime in the coke, you nut

7pm: diet coke with lime + tequila = very happy buzz

4am: large glass of water + 2 advil = successful headache prevention

10pm: Belly escape + her mommy's nonchalance at it all = no need for a morning walk. She's zonked.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

that queen'll get you every time

Yesterday after a very long walk with Julia, Tucker, and Callie, I noticed how very dry the skin on Belly's back was.

Me: Belly, you could be a star in a Head 'n Shoulders commercial.
Julia: Have you noticed that Belly stinks? I kissed her head and she stinks like a skunk.

Okay, so apparently Belly rolled in the remnants of something skunk-infested earlier that day at the doggie park. The stink, combined with her flaky skin, prompted me to do two things. First, following Julia's suggestion, I went to the store to get some whole milk for Belly to drink. This seems to work for doggies' dry skin. Then, I gave her a bath. And, for the first time ever, I conditioned her hair. I mixed some of my conditioner--Suave cucumber and melon--with some warm water in a jug, shook it up, and then combed it through Belly's hair after her bath. She smelled beauteous. And still does.

While I was bathing the girl, I could hear the phone ringing, but obviously had my hands full. It was Mary, so I called her back, and explained the whole conditioning of Belly's hair and how she now smells like cucumber melon.

Mary: Why didn't you use lemon juice?
Me: Why would I use lemon juice?
Mary: I don't know. Seems like women are always using lemon juice in their hair.
Me: Yeah, Queen, if they want their hair to be peroxide blonde.
Mary: Oh.
Me: This, this, is blogworthy. Belly as a peroxide blonde at Auntie Mary's suggestion.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Isn't that such a beautiful word? So pleasurable to say. Coffee.

A great way to spend a Saturday morning: meet Julia for coffee and a walk to the farmer's market.

Last night I dreamt of impending doom. A tsunami was coming to the U.S., and we all knew about it and we kept saying silly things like, Well, I could be caught dead with a donut in my mouth. That could be my last expression. Knowing this tsunami was coming, everyone was all weepy and hugging one another, while I went upstairs to the "Sale" library to try to get a couple more articles for my research. The last expression on Amy's face: confusion.

Friday, May 27, 2005


I went over to Julia's yesterday for a visit and to introduce Callie (Julia's decided a C makes more sense than a K) and Annabelle, which went just fine. Belly's just a teensy bit jealous that Tucker and Callie play so well, but she established that she's the boss of this posse, and all will be well.

Julia's been having a lot of trouble lately with her piece-of-crap lawn mower that she bought at, of all places, Mice-Mart. Once it starts, it's fine, but it never starts. Julia's neighbor, Fred, has been giving her a hand with starting it. Yesterday Julia and Fred were standing by the fence talking and Fred made a comment about Julia's style of mowing.

Fred: You sure do make a lot of turns when you mow your lawn.
Julia: Whaddya mean, a lot of turns?
Fred: Well, you're supposed to do long stretches rather than a bunch of small squares.
Amy laughs out loud.
Julia, to me: What--did you grow up mowing the lawn or something?
Me: In fact, yes I did.
Julia: My ex-husband would never let me mow because I always wanted to do crop circles.

Crop circles! I love it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Triscuit lovers unite

There's a new Triscuit in town and it sure is yummy. Never would've tried them if a good friend didn't have them in the house. Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuit. Yum Yum Yum. Go get them. Or come over here and have some with me.

feral kittens

Ugh. The feral cat colony has grown. Kittens.

the joys of little league

A major highlight of my trip to Massachusetts was watching Hillary's 9-year-old son play little league. Okay, so, while I was watching them play, I really really wanted to get out there and join them, but I didn't have a green shirt. Yeah, that's why I didn't play.

This is Nolan's first year playing baseball, and he's the tallest and probably the fastest one on the team. Last year he played soccer on a team that literally NEVER won a game. Their record this year was 3 and 0, and those three wins were slaughters really. Last Thursday night they played a team that had been undefeated for two years in a row. The pressure was high.

Me: If they're 8 and 9 years old, how can they be undefeated for two years?
Hillary: I think it's got more to do with the coach.

The game was pretty even until the top of the sixth and final inning, when the red team pulled ahead by 10 runs. Oh, the defeat on the little green-shirted faces. But they still had their last ups and holy shit, with two outs, they managed to TIE THE GAME. I'd give a play-by-play, but I can't remember the details, only that I was jumping up and down and shouting and god, it was fun. The coaches decided to leave it as a tie game. The two teams would meet again on Saturday.

Saturday after the green-shirted kids marched in the Chester parade. ha!

Again, it was a pretty even game. What I liked about the green coach was that he wasn't as hypervigilant with his kids as the red coach was. Red coach could even seem psycho at times. Green coach gave the kids pointers but didn't shove them down their throats and didn't once tell his entire team to SHUT UP! Yeah, nice.

Most exciting moment: Left-handed Nolan playing first base catches the second out in the last inning and then throws it to second for a double play! His double play clinched it. Of all the games I could've watched, this was clearly the one to see. So proud of him.

Hillary and I are walking back to the car while green coach is congratulating the team and we see a little tiny red-shirt boy slumping along, head down, completely demoralized. His mom was driving a monster-sized SUV, and little boy could barely get himself in it. He just kind of fell in. Poor kid.

But, well, we won. 14-7 or something like that. Damn, I miss softball.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


One of the big moves I made during my trip to Massachusetts was coloring my hair. Purple.

Okay, so it's "medium brown," and you're all going, what the hell's the difference? Well, people, as much as I don't like to admit it [ha], the white hairs on the top of my head were getting to me, not to mention the ones in the back of my head that I couldn't even see without multiple mirrors. I decided, after much deliberation, that highlights just aren't the way to go. Last year when I had them done, everyone told me how great my hair looked, etc., but when I look at pictures now (the two that I allowed to be taken of me), it seems the highlights just made me look older. So brown it is. I like it. It's a bit darker, but if you weren't looking for it, you'd probably not notice. Of course, if you were looking for my whites, as I do every morning out of sheer habit, you'd certainly notice.

In other hair news, on Saturday night Hillary and I went out to a bar to see an 80s hair band called Aquanett. Yes, that's two t's folks. It was high-larious. A bunch of thirty-somethings banging their heads to Bon Jovi and Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin (one p or two?). The people-watching itself made it worth it. True to high school form, Hillary ran into old boyfriends while I stood there like a stinkin' wallflower.

But at least I wasn't plucking any whites that night.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

generally don't believe in these things, BUT...

Your Birthdate: October 20

Your birth on the 20th day of the month adds a degree of emotion, sensitivity, and intuition to your reading.

The 2 energy provided here is very social, allowing you to make friends easily and quickly.
Yet you are apt to have a rather nervous air in the company of a large group.
You have a warmhearted nature and emotional understanding that constantly seeks affection.
You are very prone to become depressed and moody, as emotions can turn inward and cause anxiety and mental turmoil.
It can be hard for you to bounce back to reality when depression sets in.
When things are going well, you can go just as far the other way and become extremely affectionate.

good to be home

I'm back in Illinois, and it's so good to be home. Home, I guess, is where my dog is and, though I will admit it was nice to have a break from her, to not have to worry about getting home by a certain time to let her out, etc., it wasn't really the same without her. On the days I was staying in Chicopee, I took walks just because there wasn't much else to do, and it felt just wrong to be walking without my girl attached to me. She did just fine with Marcea, the grad student who stayed in my house with her. Belly's certainly not as mad at me this time as she was when I left her in a kennel for four days for C's. Basically, her routine hasn't been all that interrupted. It's just a different person giving her cookies every time she walks in the door.

We're off to the doggie park.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I'm ready to go back, shall I say, home

It's my last day in Massachusetts, and I've done all I came to do, I've eaten like you wouldn't believe, gained one hundred pounds from not walking my girl, and I'm ready to go back to the place I'm ready to call home.

I'll post the highlights in a couple days. I've been imagining the version of my trip I'd tell Annabelle, and in that version, one of the highlights of my trip is surely the filet wrapped in bacon I had last night at Longhorn. Beef. Bacon. Together. Drooling, she'll be.

I'm ready to get back to Normal, to get into a writing routine, and to get back into our hour-long walks. Need to feel productive.

Wondering what the Mary Queen has decided about Kuwait.

Flapping my wings, I am I am.

Monday, May 16, 2005

the curious Queens

Had an absolute blast yesterday at Mary's graduation party. Love her brother Dan for giving me a great new saying to take back to Normal and pretend that it's really mine.

Conversation at lunch on Saturday. Subject is Kuwait, where the Mary Queen is being wooed.

Mary: Kuwait is on the lunar calendar.

Me: What does that mean?

Mary: That it's according to the moon rather than the sun.

Me: Thanks, cuz I didn't know what lunar means. Lord.

Dan: Curious. Not interesting. But curious.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

a grapefruit tale

Back in Syracuse for a few days. The Jennifer, The Michael, and I went to good ol' Wegmans, which I have to say that I do indeed envy at this point because of its gargantuan selection. It was a dark and stormy night. Late, around 11:00. We were cruising the produce aisle, Michael in charge of the broccoli, Jen and I in charge of the citrus fruit. Much of the produce had been picked over. On the grapefruit display, all of the big ol' yellow spheres were high up, and on the bottom rows, there was one cellophane package of a sliced open grapefruit. Said cellophane package looked quite yummy, so Jen picked it up and put in the cart.

We strolled along through Weggie's, picking up everything but the one thing we actually went to the store for (cereal), and happily made our way to the checkout. Jen and I were busily blabbing as we put the bags in the cart. The checker stopped, confused. She asked Jen if she was sure she really wanted the cellophane-wrapped grapefruit. Jen said, "What, is it open?" Checker says no and looks around for the manager. She shows Jen the sticker on the bottom of the grapefruit package that clearly says, in capital letters, DISPLAY ONLY. Jen tried to buy the display grapefruit which had been sitting on the shelf for how long, even the manager didn't know.

My question is, for whom was the display intended? Who really needs a visual of the inside of a grapefruit as an incentive to purchase said grapefruit?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

don't show anyone your peanut butter 'n jelly

Gettin' on a plane tomorrow and heading back east. Tonight, Julia and I had dinner at the ever-so-yummy Micheleo's Pizza, and I told her that my plan tomorrow is to bring a peanut butter 'n jelly sandwich with me so that I don't have to pay the high Chicago airport prices for lunch.

When we were leaving, Julia said to me, "don't show your peanut butter 'n jelly tomorrow."

At least, that's what I heard. What she really said was, "don't share your peanut butter 'n jelly tomorrow." Her two other pieces of advice: 1. don't say to any airport personnel, "you can't make me," as I am wont to do whenever Julia tells me to do something; and 2. don't growl at anyone.

In other news, Julia adopted a new doggie named Kallie. She's a two-ish-year-old Collie/Golden Retriever mix and she's sweet sweet sweet. Tucker's a bit upset by the whole deal and has confiscated the Baby Hedgie toy I brougth over for Kallie. He sits on it so Kallie can't find it. In his mind, I brought Baby Hedgie for him. Poor Kallie Wags.

Julia named her Kallie because her name had been Carly but she likes Callie better, and the K is because she reminds Julia so much of Kramer, Julie's very funny dog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Monday night's dream: For a course I'm taking at Syracuse with a professor who shall remain nameless, I have to interview business people about the latest trends in marketing. I put it off and put it off because I couldn't care less about said trends. On the night before the project was due, I still hadn't received responses to my email surveys* so I had to go to the mall to interview business people in order to get the data.

The following were approached by my dream-state self, in this order:
1. Hamburgler, who refused to talk to me
2. Ronald McDonald, who was happy to talk to me
3. Grimace

*This must be because I didn't get enough responses to my adulthood survey. Ahem.

Hotel Neuleib

While I'm in Massachusetts, Belly'll be staying with my colleague and friend, Jan Neuleib, who loves loves loves doggies and will surely spoil Belly beyond belief. I told Jan that I've been prepping Belly for Hotel Neuleib with its huge back yard filled with bunnies and squirrels and sneaky hiding places. Last night, at the end-of-the-semester party at Hotel Neuleib, Jan and I are talking about, of all things, Annabelle, me talking about how I'm not sure how I'll survive for so long without her, Jan talking about feeding my girl venison.

Yes, venison.

Jan: Is it alright if I cook up some venison for Annabelle while she's here?
Me: If you don't want her to ever leave, sure.

My girl's not gonna wanna come home to a boring ol' bowl full of Iams. Venison!

Monday, May 09, 2005

a survey on adulthood

Heather's comment on yesterday's post had made me wonder how others define "adulthood." Lots of people define the moment of adulthood as buying a house. For others, it's having children. Since I'm not about to do either of those things for a number of years, and I'd like to think of myself as an adult, I guess I have to define it myself before I ask others to, eh?


An adult is responsible, has definite opinions on everything, can defend those opinions against attack, is confident in her purpose in the world, and has enough left over to give to others. An adult knows how to manage money, choose good wine, and order steak in a restaurant. An adult doesn't have Cap'n Crunch for dinner. An adult eats her veggies. An adult contributes to charities and itemizes deductions on tax returns. An adult doesn't need other people to make her feel complete.

I make no claims about my definition's accuracy or even health.

Okay, your turn.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

cap'n crunch and other meaningless ephemera

I love that Cap'n Crunch has no t. I had said corn and oat cereal for dinner tonight because the damn meat hadn't thawed and I was too lazy to think about making anything else.

I broke the second coffee pot in two months today. Got a whole new system this time rather than just replacing the pot. Three dollars more.

Dreamt last night that I broke my right foot and was hobbling around trying to find my wallet. The bone was sticking out and my foot was all blue. Blue. Not red.

I'm having a crisis of adulthood. My first real job. I'm 32. I'm not a student anymore. Guess I could have predicted this, the crisis. What does an adult do, anyway?

I can't bear the thought of being away from Annabelle for 12 days. Who's it gonna hurt more, her or me?

Yesterday and today were 80-degree days.

While I'm home I'll be driving my brother's old minivan. There are no seats in the back and the passenger side door is strapped on. Sometimes the sensor dings because of it. Nice.

Yesterday Gary Olson pointed out that I still call Massachusetts "home." Indeed. How long does it take? Must be an adult thing.

There's so much I want to read and write and read and write that I feel immobilized. Paralyzed. So I watch more Law & Order.

Julia's working on getting a new puppy. Or a young doggie wog. Can't wait. Tucker's so depressed, and Julia can't stand to see him that way anymore.

Last night I served as judge for those who competed for Fernando the pelican pinata at the annual Fiesta party. I placed Fernando in a loving home.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

dissertation leftovers

Perhaps the most important long-term lesson I learned from writing the dissertation is that, to get any writing of any significance done, I have to write every day. This semester, I've been reading every day, and while that's good, I've constantly felt a vague free-floating anxiety about not writing.

During the last few months of the dissertation marathon, Paul-o and I went to Borders every single day from 9-12 and wrote. We gave each other shit if the other was late. We were accountable for being there, if only because Paul didn't want to hear me reprimand him and vice versa. It worked. We both finished. Okay, so we finished with not a minute to spare, but we both finished.

So. The minute I get back from Massachusetts, I'm starting up my new routine. Every day, 9-12, Latte Time. No excuses. Julie will probably join me some days, but I probably won't have the buddy system working for me as well this time. No matter. Write or die.

The problem with summer: it always seems longer than it is. A vast wasteland of free time. Goal: first day of fall semester, I want to be able to say that I got a lot of writing done. And mean it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

painted toenails no more

I used to paint my toenails every summer for sandal weather. Bright red. I always though it looked cute.

I painted them last night, bright red, and could hardly bear to look at my own feet. Covered in slippers, even. This morning, first thing I did, before peeing, before brushing my teeth, was remove that bright red from my toenails.

Of course, part of the problem could be the fact that I have almost no pinkie toenail because I'm always peeling it off (Julie tells her students that the apostrophe is going the way of the pinkie toe: we're evolving without it). I've never had a pedicure, never had a manicure. Probably never will. I've always known that I look ridiculous with finger nail polish. Now I know it's also true of the toes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

when I was twelve...

...my big sister got married on this day. Happy twentieth, Sue and Dave. I wore a god-awful white cotton dress with this big fuschia flower across the chest and a tie around the waist. My hair looked like it'd been shaped with a mixing bowl, my big cowlick a bump on my otherwise smooth brown head. I had not yet learned to smile for the camera. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe my way. Sue and Dave moved to Alaska almost immediately after their honeymoon (Hawaii? I think). Dave was stationed there for the Air Force.

Then when I was twenty-one and I had just graduated from college (and once I'd gotten that damn cyst removed---holy pain, batman), Keita and I drove across the country in her red Isuzu Amigo (pronounced Amy-go). We took three weeks to see the sights, the highlight of which was New Orleans. Holy hurricanes, batman. Our destination was San Diego, and after three days there, I flew to Anchorage on MarkAir, an airline which no longer exists (brother-in-law Dave, upon hearing I was flying MarkAir, asks if he can take an insurance policy out on my life). I arrived sometime in mid-July when the sun doesn't set until 11:30 PM or so. I left in mid-May the following year after having survived the worst, and I mean the worst depression I've ever experienced. But in between, Sue and Dave and the kids and I had some good laughs, mostly at my expense. For instance, the guy I dated almost the whole time I was there. Ya know, there's a saying about men in Alaska: The odds are good but the goods are odd. Love it. So so so true.

Twenty years of marriage to the man she began dating when she was fifteen years old. Holy sheet. I can't think of a single constant in the last twently years of my life except maybe my cowlick. Happy anniversary, you freaks.

Monday, May 02, 2005

bittersweet end

I'm so sad that my authorship course is over. We had our last class meeting tonight, and everyone read from drafts of their final papers. As they read, I felt as though I might cry. Really. I was so damn proud of the work they've done this semester. Smart, smart stuff that matters to them and to composition/authorship studies. I've written in other media about writing teachers' tendencies to take credit for the work their students have done, and I guess I'd never thought about it in terms of graduate teaching. Well, duh, that's because I hadn't taught grad courses before. But it's different. It's not as though I write about their work here because I want to somehow take some pedagogical credit for what they've done but to acknowledge how much I've learned from the work we've done together.

I just felt this enormous pride that I had a part in the work these smart people are doing. Pride's physical reaction: not sure how to describe it except to say I wanted to cry at the same time I wanted to jump up and down and hug them. Don't worry, I didn't.

Many of them proposed papers for the Michigan conference, so I'm hoping they'll get in. How could they not?

Then we all went to dinner at a Mexican place in town. Yum. Great margaritas.

Now what am I gonna do with my Monday nights?

Suzy Chapstick

Or, Who Says Dogs Don't Care About Moist Lips?

Yesterday at the doggie park, Belly was being sooo good. See, the doggie park isn't an official doggie park. The land is owned by ISU and they use it for athletic team practices on a few afternoons a week, but it gets the most use by dogs. Well, yesterday the larger gate was locked open because ISU vehicles had obviously come and gone the day before, but I took a chance anyway and let her run around, hoping that she'd become so used to being imprisoned that she wouldn't notice the huge truck gate wide open. I even took her in the people gate to reinforce that that's the way in and out. She did good.

Except. Apparently while running around and sniffing things, she decided her lips were chapped. She found an old chapstick and chomped on it and protected it like it was her newborn puppy. I couldn't get anywhere near her, the little shit. I finally got most of it when her attention was drawn to the new dog arriving at the park. And here's a funny thing: every single person who came tried to close the gate, even though there were five or six adults with their dogs who, one could assume, had already assessed the situation. One woman checked it even after she watched a perfectly capable woman try it herself. It was quite the mini study in psychology.

Nickname number 457: Suzy Chapstick.

happy May

Welcome, oh month of May. You are good. You're confused about what you want to be, weather-wise, but alas, you are not April.

Why I like May:

1. End of the semester.
2. Going home going home going home in a week and a half.
3. The niece turns 18 on the 19th, which means next year is her golden birthday. holy sheet.
4. Said niece also graduates from high school at the end of the month. holy sheet.
5. Cinco de Mayo.
6. May 9 is Lost Sock Memorial Day.
7. May is Better Sleep Month, so poihaps my dreams won't be so freakin' nuts.
8. May flowers.
9. End of the semester.