Saturday, December 31, 2005

buh-bye 2005

Instead of resolutions, this year I list goals for 2006.

1. Finish a full draft of book manuscript.

2. Revise forgerism/plagiary article for publication.

3. Write and send prospectus for The Violence of Class collection.

4. Stay away from hospitals and radiology departments.

5. Keep Belly and me happy and healthy.

Friday, December 30, 2005

how very little it takes to convince myself I have cancer

CAT scan today for continued pain in kidney area.

Wait to have CAT scan done. Wait.

Have CAT scan done and have the lab tech tell me to pull my pants back up. Don't worry, he says, I won't look at your goodies. FUCKING NICE.

Wait to have CAT scan read by radiologist. Wait. Wait. (Can you tell I've been reading James Frey's two books? I'm beginning to write like him. Write like him.)

Figure that nobody's telling me anything because they've all seen the huge tumor on my kidney and nobody wants to be the one to tell me. Think about whether I'll do chemo. Decide I probably won't but understand that I really can't know that until I've been told I'm going to die.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

Have lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Burger, fries, rice krispie treat. Health food.


Finally, they tell me I can go over to my doctor's office where I wait just a few minutes for the nurse to put me into a room where I'll now wait for the doctor to come talk to me. About how long I have to live.

There's nothing on my kidneys. No stones. No tumor. He still thinks it's an infection, that my back muscles are sore from the infection.

Still waiting for him to tell me how long I have to live.

Take some Aleve. I'll give you a prescription for Vicadin but you probably won't need to fill it.

I guess I have to write that damn book after all.

wrist-slitting weather

I can handle clouds in the winter. I survived four winters in Syracuse, NY, after all. But I don't know if I can handle the DOOM that seems to be accompanying these central IL clouds. Gray. Charcoal gray. That's what it's like outside. And colder than it looks. No end in sight. Deadly.

In other news, I'm up before 9 am. And shortly I'll be off to the house of coffee to do some reading to get back into this alleged book I'm writing. Got lots done last night on one of my syllabi, so I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Yesterday's funny at the dog park:

Me, thinking aloud about which syllabus to work on: I could do rhetoric because that's easy.

Sarah: What's the other one?

Me: Advanced Exposition.

Nan: What did you say?

Me: Advanced Exposition.

Nan: That's not what I thought you said.

Me: What'd you think I said?

Nan: When you say it fast, it sounds like Advance Sexposition.

Me: I can't imagine that those essays would be very good.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

today I crossed something off a list

I have an enormous list.

I crossed one thing off it today: faculty productivity report.

Hoo. Rah.

I feel so much better.

Bloomington's finest tourist attraction

Not that we have very many, but hey, you've got the David Davis mansion, Adlai Stevenson's grave (at the cemetery where I take Belly to run all the time), and, behold, the Beer Nuts factory!

Becky's coming here sometime in the spring as part of our English Studies Lecture Series. During yesterday morning's talkslam, I ask her what she wants to see and do while she's here.

B: I want to go to the dog park.

Me: Of course you do.

B: I want to have a glass of wine at the dog park.

Me: You can have wine, you can have a margarita, you can have a beer. Whatever you want. The dog park is here to serve you.

Just be careful not to spill. Those canine beasts really do like their booze.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

my issues are bigger than your issues

I went to the doctor this afternoon for what is probably a kidney infection.

On the phone with Hillary:

Me: I didn't get a damn thing done today.

H: You took care of your body.

Me: Yeah, I s'pose.

SAD, anyone?

Holy weather-related depression, batman. What a difference the sun makes. Yesterday was CLOUDY and gray and warmish and depressing. I didn't want to get out of bed and once I had, all I wanted was to get back into my bed. But I didn't because that would be even more depressing than simply wanting to be in bed.

But today, I gotta say, all is well because the sun is shining. I got to the video store early (10:30, not QUITE the minute it opened) to rent Grizzly Man, which I'll watch tonight, probably with the Julie Wonka. Bought the sister's birthday card (she's a New Year's baby), did a couple other small errands, and now I'm ready to write and play a few games of online Scrabble. I am completely and totally addicted. Yesterday the server was down for most of the day and I felt very much lost. Add that to the Seasonal Affective Disorder and you've got a recipe for disaster.

The other reason I feel better is that Becky reminded me that of course I feel like this book I'm writing is obvious and stupid (my words) because it is obvious and stupid to me right now. But so was my dissertation the whole time I was writing it.

Thank goodness for life directors and sunshine.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Thank you, Santa

Thank you, Santa Originally uploaded by aerobil.

Here's the famous little hunter, sporting just one boot. It hasn't been cold enough or yucky enough to wear all four outside, so Belly agreed to model one for y'all.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

It is about a profound desire for connection

I like that for a title.


From A. M. Homes' short story, "Remedy," from Things You Should Know.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Euphony strikes again

Oh. My. God.

So Julia and I had plans yesterday for lunch. My idea was to go to the best pizza place in town, Micheleo's, and have yummy deep dish.

Julia: But I really want a sandwich.

So we go to this newish Irish pub in downtown Normal called Maggie Miley's. I order a Toastie, which is a grilled ham and cheese. She orders a reuben. When the sandwiches arrive, she picks at her corned beef and offers me a bite. No thanks, I say, I don't really like corned beef.

Julia, after taking one bite: I don't really like corned beef. It needs mustard.

She douses the very large sandwich with mustard. She eats the ENTIRE sandwich with no real complaints.

As we're leaving, she starts moaning.

Julia: That corned beef is sitting like a big lump in my stomach.

Me: You're the only person I know who orders a sandwich that you don't even like.

Julia: I don't feel so good. You might not want to walk with me.

Me: I love that you ordered corned beef and you don't even like it. You kill me.

Julia: If I tell you something, will you promise not to laugh?

Me: No.

Julia: I had a fantasy about the sandwich because I had just seen a commercial for Arby's reuben and I had it in my mind that the sandwich would look like that.

Me: So, let me get this straight. We didn't go to Micheleo's so that you could get a sandwich that looked like one you'd seen on a commercial but that you don't even like?

Julia, now dying of laughter and stomach pains: Yes. Stop laughing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

happy birthday to my blog

One year ago today, Amy hit the blogosphere.

It's also the first day of winter, so happy winter everyone.

By the way, last night I did try talking to my dog through a wrapping-paper roll. Her response was first to cock her head and look like the cutest thing on earth, but then when I persisted and said, through the roll, "Annabelle Blue, I'm gonna get you," she slinked away from me. I scared her. So much for this season's entertainment.

Last night I had dreams that Jen and Michael's Nola, at the age of one month, was walking and talking and throwing things.

I'm trying to get back into that damn book I'm allegedly writing and, my friends, it ain't easy. I want to move on to bigger and brighter things. But first the prospectus. Snarl. There is a carrot today, though. I shall work at the Coffeehouse (where I have no internet access) until 12:30 and then Julia and I shall lunch (I like it when it's a verb like that).

Happy birthday, Lyings and tirades and fears, oh my!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

twin babies!

I hate exclamation points!

Hillary's sister, Hope, gave birth to twins on Monday afternoon.

Matthew Thomas, 7 lb, 1 oz, 21 inches long
Lauren Cassandra, 3 lb, 15 oz, 17 inches long

Apparently, Matty's a hog.

But seriously, folks, Lauren's umbilical cord had 2 knots in it and it was wrapped around her little teeny neck, which is why she wasn't getting any nutrients. She's a perfectly healthy, fully formed almost-four-pound baby. She's not a preemie. Nothing wrong with her. Just tiny.

Hey look! It's Auntie Hillary! yay!

Monday, December 19, 2005

the joys of the season

Dog park, Saturday morning. Cold but not frigid. Four or five of us are walking very slowly around the park's perimeter for two reasons: 1) to avoid freezing to death, and 2) to make those dogs run alongside us. So we're just chit-chatting about this and that when Sharon says, "Do you ever talk to your dog through a wrapping-paper roll?"

Sarah: I love sentences that begin that way.

What I love about that question was its out-of-nowhere-ness. The question sounded as everyday as "Do you give your dog rawhide?" And yet.

Oh, and this is good, too. When I told Hillary this little funny, she laughed out loud. Took a breath. Said, "I think I'll try that with Monster Cat."

It's not even officially winter and we're talking about talking to our animals through wrapping paper rolls for entertainment. Oh, it's gonna be a long one.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

why I love my friends

Last night at Bill and Cherlyn's, we played Catchphrase, a game very similar to Taboo but without someone looking over your shoulder to buzz you when you say one of the taboo words. We play Catchphrase a lot when we get together, this group, and we always have tons of fun. Here's but one example of how well my friends know me.

The word I'm trying to get my team to say is "laugh."

Me (admittedly very loudly): This is something I do very loudly.

Someone: Talk!

Someone else: Shout!

Someone else: Yell!

Chris: Have sex!

Me: Tee hee. Chuckle chuckle.

Someone, finally: Laugh!

Oh good lord. Have sex? Very loudly?

Chris: Well, I'm just guessing.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

when I don't blog, I miss it

I miss it, and I'm constantly blogging in my head, but it only makes it here if it's good enough or interesting enough or funny enough. What I'll post today--in large part because I miss posting--will be none of these.

A quiet Friday night at home. The plan: make dough for sugar cookies so that it can refrigerate overnight. Drink a glass of wine and read on the couch. In the afternoon, Julia and I had gone to see Pride and Prejudice, the book version of which I'm embarrassed to say I've never read. I enjoyed it but don't feel the urge to run out and get the book as I did when I got out of Capote (which, my friends, never did make it to Bloomington-Normal, so I don't have high hopes for Brokeback Mountain ever making it here either). So, back to cookie dough. I get out the bowl, I get out the mixer, and the lights go out. Not all the lights. The back porch light is working, for instance. The refrigerator is still running. But the kitchen lights and the office and the basement and the bedroom--all out. So I call my landlord, who was just sitting down to a quiet Friday evening after working all day. He comes over, Annabelle smothers him with hugs and kisses, and he changes the fuse in the basement. By the time he leaves, it's 8:30 or so, so I make the cookie dough but I'm no longer in the mood, so now it's just a chore. I lift the mixer too high at one point and pieces of unformed dough go flying. Belly's happy with egg-sugar-flour goo on the floor. There really is no end to this story--nothing good, nothing funny. It just is. I finished making the dough, put it in the fridge, got my glass of wine (or 2) and read for a few hours.

Today I'll bake the damn cookies (can you say PMS?) and they'll be cute and pretty and I'll take them to Bill's house tonight.

Oh, here's a piece of good news: Ron Fortune and I sent off our plagiary/forgerism article this week. Hoo. Rah. That feels good.

I know you miss me when I don't post, but sometimes it just doesn't come out all pretty and nice. One thing we can say about this post is that it's not about farts or butt-plucks. Amen to that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

word of the day: butt-pluck

Last night the dog park crew had a small doggie gift exchange (no dogs invited to Kelly's house--gotta love it). Belly got a huge stocking full of rawhide and some Greenies (which dog lovers know are expensive, so I rarely buy them for her) and Cooper got a Christmas collar with bells so that he jingles with every breath he takes and every move he makes.

Don't really know how we got on the subject of pulling things from one's ass, but Dixie, mother of Max, told us that she and some colleagues coined the word for the product that has been pulled from one's ass: a butt-pluck. As in, That was one hell of a butt-pluck he presented to the committee. Or, when proposing conference papers months in advance, never forget the value of a good butt-pluck. Many times, people, many times, I've joined colleagues in pulling things from our collective asses and often the end result, the butt-pluck as we will now say, was quite good.

Here's my wish for you today: may you encounter very few butt-plucks as you read those final papers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

yerk, yerky, and yerkiest

I learned a new word today. To have a feeling of yerk is to experience a dread of all the work one has to do, as in "I'm feeling especially yerky today" or "I'm having a terrible feeling of yerk about going to this meeting." Both of these should be said in an especially whiney voice.

In other news, we all know that there are rules for how to behave in an elevator. Farting is generally not allowed. At least, not aloud. Such an occurrence could very easily contribute to one's yerk factor, as it did mine this morning. That, and the Coke machine refused my dollar so I had to get a Diet Pepsi instead. Yerk. Yuck. grrrr.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

ostrich gives birth

Hillary's sister, Hope, is very very pregnant with twins and should be giving birth to them even as I blog. Everyday I get a phone call from Hillary, during which I ask, "Babies?!" to her reply of "No, for chrissakes." These are the only twins I've ever heard of (and I've heard of LOTS of twins being born, let me tell you) that have literally gone full term. Due on the 15th! Poor Hope.

Anyway, when Hillary and I were talking this morning, I said that I was scared of all the blood and goop that comes with giving birth. Then we started reminiscing to the good ol' days when Hillary first learned she was pregnant with Regan. The first thought to enter my mind was how painful it was going to be to give birth. Ouch and double ouch. The conversation progressed as follows:

H: During the entire birthing experience with Nolan, I had my eyes closed.
Me: So that you wouldn't see the blood and goop?
H: Because if I closed my eyes, then it would be like other people weren't there. It's the equivalent of sticking my head in the sand.

This one's for Uncle Mikey

Mikey, this is for you, from your Belly girl. How can you possibly object to birthday hats? Readers, unite!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

and what would your zit like to drink?

Today was a pottery day at Christy's house, one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a big pasta bowl that I had done came out really really great. Not that I need another bowl, but hey, it's good for parties.

So I get to Christy's house and we're standing in the kitchen chit-chatting when she touches a mole on her chin and says, "Hey, I never noticed we have the same mole."

Me: Um, mine's a zit.


He's so big and he's been here so long, I decided to name him. Henry.

Christy: I tried to have mine removed, but the doctor said it'd leave a scar.

Me: I tried to have mine removed, but Henry's afraid of needles.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

the Belle in camo

As many of my devoted readers know, Annabelle wears boots in the winter to protect her precious paws from the ice and snow and especially salt when we take our long walks each day. Her purple boots, which she's had for three winters, are on the verge of holey. I decided to check if L.L. Bean sells dog boots, and they do, but they sell them as hunting boots, so they come in two colors only: safety orange and camo. I've decided to order them from Bean's because they include a lifetime guarantee. So. Being the stealthy hunter that she is, Belly decided she wants camoflauge boots so that the squirrels won't see her coming.

I promise to post a photo of the girl in her camo boots as soon as they get here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

nostalgia for the present moment

Last night's grad class was so damn good that I actually said out loud, "I'm already feeling nostalgic for this class." And while it was technically the last class, we're meeting at least five times next semester to workshop narratives for the book. So it wasn't really over. But still. The workshopping last night was so good and it so resembled what I think of as good group therapy that I didn't want it to end. I wanted to freeze some of those moments when people were being so damn insightful and so damn helpful and so damn generous with one another. We all pick up on such different things in each other's writing that I found myself saying over and over, "shit, this is gonna be good." At the beginning of class, I remembered thinking, "it's gonna be a lot of fun to write the intro to this book." By the end of class, I was scared to think about writing it because it's going to be so complicated. Good complicated.

God, I love this stuff.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

slow down in bad weather

Mother. Of. God.

This is news. The first major snowstorm of the season--that which threatens to drop all of 2-4 inches--makes news and calls for driving tips such as the one I plagiarized for this post's title.

Meanwhile, there's at least 2-4 inches already on the ground. How is this the first major snowstorm of the season?

This is why I love the rhetoric of fear.

on the last day of classes my true love gave to me

stacks and stacks of papers to grade, but also a light at the end of the tunnel. A few weeks where all I get to work on is my book. And the promise of a fresh start.

Today in my 101, we're having pizza and cupcakes (diet be damned) and watching Catch Me If You Can, which does indeed connect to course content as we've been studying the production of--what else--belief, especially in cases of plagiarism and forgery.

In my rhetoric course, we're having cake (diet: dead) and playing Balderdash, which does indeed connect to course content as part of the course dealt explicitly with bullshit and the production of--what else--belief. What makes bullshit believable?

And finally, in my grad social class course, we're workshopping class narratives for this other alleged book we're all writing together. And eating pizza. And any leftover cupcakes.

Color me fat and round and pink. And happy. Content.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

happy birthday to the Hillary

Hillary hates birthdays. Hates them. One year she visited me in Syracuse on her birthday and she met Tobi and Tracy when we all went to this little crafty Christmas fair. Tobi found out it was Hillary's birthday, so wished her a happy one, and Hillary scowled at this woman she'd known for all of a half hour. Um, Hillary, you can only do that with friends you've had for years, not with new acquaintances. What? Oh. Thank you, she says to Tobi.

So now that I'm wishing her a happy birthday publicly, she just might throw things.

Psst. We're the same age now.

What I love about my friend Hillary, who has known me since I was ten years old and wouldn't've smiled if you paid me: a list

1. Excess. When Hillary does something, she does it times five thousand. Baking an apple pie? Hillary bakes three. Wondering how much spaghetti to make for two people? Just make the whole box.
2. She takes no shit from sales people. When I buy a car next, she's coming here to help.
4. She sometimes likes to pretend she's an ostrich. Shhhhhh! Quiet! I'm sticking my head in the sand.
5. She is raising two of the best kids I know. They're smart, sweet, thoughtful, funny as hell, conscientious, diligent, and loving. Plus they're gorgeous.
6. I'm not sure if this is something I love so much as I laugh at: when Belly comes to visit, Hillary treats her like she's--gasp--a dog.
7. She asks for my book recommendations, which means I get to shape part of her world.
8. She's an incredible artist. My entire house is decorated with Hillary-made items. I still love the moment when I was living in Syracuse, where I also had all kinds of Hillary-made items in the house. She looks around, eyes wide open in horror, and says, "My own private hell."
9. We've been friends for 23 years, which means we've witnessed oh, JUST A FEW changes in each other. JUST A FEW. Christ.
10. I saved the best for last: Hillary's my best Scrabble friend in the whole world.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

hope there's no Anthrax in that catalog

Devoted readers will remember that Annabelle has taken to eating the mail in large part because she cannot bite the mail carrier's hand, so she bites what falls from it. Well, let's revise that statement. Yesterday I witnessed the fury that is Annabelle Blue when the mailman comes. She's barking. She's mad. I step out of my office to tell her to shush and I get to see that she doesn't so much eat the mail as she kills it. She literally caught the Eddie Bauer catalog in her mouth as it fell from the slot and shook it back and forth furiously like she does her baby toys. Annabelle is a catalog killer.

Implications: when sending me lovely presents, put them in a package larger than a mail slot.

Monday, December 05, 2005

normally I'm not one to write about this...

The other day at the dog park it was so goddamn cold that three of us walked around the park together to keep our blood flowing (we usually all stand around and shoot the shit, or if Belly's being a royal pain in the ass, I sometimes walk around the park by myself so she'll follow me). I was all bundled up, but ah, the toes. They'll get you every time. And it seems that my right toes are more sensitive than my left; they're always the first to start crying.

So Nan, Kelly, and I are walking. When we get near the gate, I see that Kelly has taken Cooper's leash out.

Me: Um, excuse me, you think you're leaving?
Kelly: I just dropped a nipple back there. Yes I'm leaving!

I just dropped a nipple back there. That, my friends, that deserves some kind of award for originality.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

sleep. good.

Ah, sleep. It's such a pretty word, rolling so easily off the tongue. Put lots of e's in there and it's even better. sleeeeeeeeeep.

Ten and a half hours I got last night. A very much needed ten and a half hours. See, here's the thing: I am a person who NEEDS at least 8 hours EVERY night. When I go two or three nights in a row getting 6 or 7 hours, well, my body is keeping tabs on how many hours we're in the hole. I tried to nap yesterday afternoon, but I think that I've lost that ability. That's cuz I'm getting so old.

Lots of snow on the ground here. When we go to the dog park in an hour, Belly's gonna have to wear one purple boot on her front paw that lost the toenail. The other doggies will probably make fun of her, but she's tough. She can handle a little name-calling.

Some of us at the dog park are doing a dog gift exchange for Christmas. We each had a piece of paper on which we were to write out dog's name and her three favorite things. Annabelle, being Annabelle, crossed out the "3" and wrote in "7." Here's her list:

1. squirrels
2. Greenies
3. rawhide
4. bunnies
5. cats
6. sticks
7. cheese

Saturday, December 03, 2005

pretty pretty snow puppy

We've got a steady fluffy snow coming down in Bloomington, IL this evening. When I took Belly out for our walk tonight, she was trotting along covered in snow, happy as a clam. It was cold but not bitter, and the snow made everything look so pretty. Happy.

Now she's all snuggled up in momma's bed with fourteen thousand and one blankets. Love the booda.

more on drinking at the dog park

Some of my friends know that I tend to repeat myself.
Some of my friends know that I sometimes tend to repeat myself. SOMETIMES.
It's a Robillard thing or a youngest child thing or both. One might infer that I don't often feel heard. I especially tend to repeat myself when I don't get a response from the other person. This is part of the reason I love blog comments. I send my funnies out into the world and then people write in to let me know they've heard my funnies. And then I have psychic dreams.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon we drank wine at the dog park. 'Tis a very good way to keep warm when it's bitter cold out there, except sometimes holding the plastic cups with mittened hands can be a bit challenging. I started this beveraging at about 3:30. I got home at about 5, poured myself another glass of wine, and got the house ready for game night. Eight of my dearest friends came over. I kept drinking wine. We played games. I told my friends about splurging that day on Balderdash. I cried a wee bit when I saw that my NUT dish that I painted at Christy's a few weeks ago didn't come out as beautifully as it should have. We ordered pizza. I told people about drinking at the dog park and that I was feeling a wee bit tipsy. I told my friends that I went to KMart that day and splurged on Balderdash, not knowing that Bill and Cherlyn would be bringing it over. I whined about my NUT dish but fawned over my Christmas tree candy dish. I told everyone that the current design of the Christmas tree candy dish was the third revision. I noted more than once that Annabelle was being SUCH a good girl.

Julia: Amy, what time did you begin drinking again?
Me: 3:30, so please be nice to me.

Today, I have just this to say: Jesus, I'm tired. I am tired, Jesus. T-I-R-E-D

Thursday, December 01, 2005

first snow

It's only about an inch, but it was a nice surprise this morning when I opened the door to let Belly outside. She ran around like a fresh new puppy.

Still a little bit sadders, but now that I've gotten a full night of sleep, I feel a bit better. Thank god for the snuggly girl.