Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pooh's not normal after all

Recall my post from a couple weeks ago in which I marvelled at the psychology of all the Pooh characters. This was my primary care doctor who clued me into my true identity as an Eeyore (hmmm....I wonder if C's would accept a panel on identity and Winnie the Pooh). When I saw my therapist on Friday, I of course told her about the whole Pooh thing, and she made me feel better because, though of course she could figure it out, she hadn't heard about their diagnoses either. So I went through the list with her, including this time Kanga and Roo--Roo being the underdeveloped ego and Kanga having some issues with identifying herself entirely as a mother--and I told her the part about Pooh being normal, surrounded by a bunch of freaks (this last point made her laugh).

She: Pooh's not normal.

Me: He does get stuck a lot and he's all about that h-u-n-n-y.

She: Tell Dr. P. next time you see him that I think Pooh's got an eating disorder.

How you know you've made some progress and won't be needing to see your therapist quite so regularly: she asks you to tell your other doctor that he's wrong about Pooh's diagnosis and, in fact, she'd like to see Pooh to talk about his eating disorder.

And we've come full circle, it seems.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

my name is Amy and I've never seen The Godfather

Yes, that's right, folks. It's one of my biggest cultural deficiencies. Other cultural deficiencies include

The Sound of Music
Star Wars
any kind of Star Trek, in fact anything involving outerspace or robots or, it seems, Stars

I know there are lots lots more, but these are the immediate ones that come to mind. Tomorrow night at the Normal Theater, where admission is $5 and all snacks and drinks are $1, I'll see The Godfather with the dog park gang (minus the dogs).

Book party tonight for 3 faculty members who've recently published books. AND, though I am sorry to see my classes end because I've enjoyed them so much, I am STOKED to get to work on my article on bullshit and plagiarism because, LORDY PIE, I've got some great arguments to make and this thing is gonna be GOOD.

And the more-than-$10 face cream that Becky persuaded me to buy is doing wonders for my skin. I love it! I can't afford to feed the dog, but my face is nice and soft. Perhaps Belly'll be fine with a handful of goldfish.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

gakking a meme

From tuba player from senioritis from Tamika.

20 years ago I

1. was 13 years old and had not yet kissed a boy.
2. thought I'd be a famous writer when I grew up.
3. hated hated hated my home life and just wanted to have a "normal" family.

10 years ago I

1. was working for Better Communications, Inc., in Lexington, Massachusetts as an executive assistant for $27,000 a year.
2. bought my first new car, a 1995 Geo Prizm, which, I'm happy to report, I'm still driving.
3. spent many evenings babysitting for my boss's grandchildren, a precocious 3-year-old named Lily who often drove me nuts and a sweet sweet baby named Carter who almost made up for Lily.

5 years ago I

1. finished my first year of the PhD program at Syracuse.
2. was dating Al.
3. didn't know it, but Annabelle was born in July.

3 years ago I

1. had completed exams and found myself in a severe depression.
2. turned the big 3-0, the age that I had all my life convinced myself I'd never make it to.
3. had my first College English article accepted and published: "It's Time For Class: Toward a More Complex Pedagogy of Narrative."

1 year ago I

1. finished my first year as Assistant Professor at Illinois State.
2. began the long and arduous process of growing up, which means dealing with things I'd rather not deal with.
3. was wondering if I'd ever again kiss a boy.

So far this year I

1. have taught two wonderfully rewarding undergraduate courses that I'll miss dearly after next week.
2. am playing softball!
3. have developed important and enduring friendships with the regulars at the dog park.

Yesterday I

1. slept in.
2. baked banana apple bread from scratch.
3. had a date and learned what a schooner of beer is.

Today I

1. had a bit of a headache from those schooners of beer.
2. had lunch with the dean and several other faculty from the college.
3. bought three more bags of parmesan goldfish despite swearing that I wouldn't buy them anymore.

Tomorrow I

1. will see my therapist.
2. will meet with grad students who are working on The Violence of Class collection.
3. will come home and watch Conviction with a bag of goldfish and a big black beast.

In the next year I

1. will send off the article I'm currently working on (deadline: end of July)
2. will celebrate Annabelle's 5th birthday at the park with hats and treats and lots of laughs.
3. will visit Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

it's hump day and I've got a date

How's that for a post title?

I is scared.

Insecurities, unleash yourselves! I command you. As though they need to be commanded, right?

In other news, I baked banana apple bread from scratch again today and the whole house smells heavenly. If I owned it and I wanted to sell it, today would've been the day to show it.

For dinner tonight before my date, I'm having a chocolate oatmeal cookie and a beer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

3 cheers for the Bloomington RMV!

It's the 25th day of the month, which means I get paid in 3 days, which means it's time to stop putting off renewing my car's registration, which costs $78! And it's every year. In Massachusetts it was every other year and even then it was only around $20. But then again, in MA, you have to have your car inspected every year, like, to make sure it's functioning and shit. None of that nonsense here. The other thing about Massachusetts DMVs (Department as opposed to Registry) is that, because 14 trillion people live in the damn state, on any given day the line will be out the door and winding around to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts. Going to the DMV in Massachusetts means setting aside half a day--at least 2 hours, anyway.

I was planning on going tomorrow morning right when they opened at 8:00, but I had some extra time this afternoon, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I figured I'd be standing in line for at least 20 minutes and then moved over to another line for another 20 minutes (this is what it was like to switch the plates last year and it wasn't even the end of the month). But no. I was in and out in 3 shakes. Seriously, I was in that building for a total of about 8 minutes. I am happeee.

There are advantages to living in the middle of corn.

Monday, April 24, 2006

yesterday I was accused of cheating

and I gotta tell ya, I think I'm flattered.

The online Scrabble has a function where you can send messages to the person you're playing with. Usually when a game is started, people will send "gl" or good luck messages to one another, but that's usually it until the end of a game when players will say "tygg"--or thank you, good game. I rarely say anything else to players, unless I'm playing online with Hillary--and then I whine a whole lot when I don't get my way.

Yesterday I was kicking ass and taking names, as it were. The person I was playing against, "lady" something or other (so I'm assuming it was a she) apparently got frustrated after I made a whopper of a move on the triple word score with "vapors" with the "s" connected to the already existing "zit." So she quit. And when she quit, she sent me a message with just three words: "nice software program."

At first I didn't get it. "Huh?" Then it hit me. She thought I was cheating with some kind of Scrabble program!

I knew I was good. But I never thought I was software-program good. Eat it up, Becky.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

it sure is lonely out in right field

I'm just sayin.

At practice yesterday, I spent half my time at second base and half my time out in right field. While in right field, I found myself drifting off while standing up (kinda like a horse, as it were, except I wasn't grazing). I couldn't hear any of what the rest of the team was saying, and when the ball finally did come to me, I was a bit slow to move because, well, I was daydreaming.

Okay, so daydreaming isn't exactly the right word. I was out there feeling sorry for myself (if it had been a sport in high school or college, I woulda made MVP every season). I'm not at all proud of this behavior, and I wish I could make it stop, but here's what I was thinking: I'm the only person on this team who is alone. Everyone is either married or in a serious relationship and I am pathetically alone. I will be alone for the rest of my life and I will die and it will be a week before anyone notices. Or I'll develop a huge lump on my back and I'll die of it because there was nobody in the house to alert me to how big it's getting (why married people live longer).

Should I also mention that I'm PMSing and I always get weepy when I'm PMSing?

As I've said many a time, it just ain't pretty in this head o' mine.

Friday, April 21, 2006

two weeks left

I'm counting not because I can't wait for it to be over but because I am ambivalent about it being over. On the one hand, I need a week's vacation. At least. And I want time to write the article that I've got all kinds of great ideas for. But I'm also gonna be so sad to see these two courses end. On Sunday afternoon, I'm meeting most of my rhetoric class at the movie theater to see Thank You for Smoking. We've been following B-N's debates about the smoking ban, and the means of persuasion in smoking debates have been an undercurrent in the class all semester, so I'm happy that the movie finally made it here in time for us to see it. It's unfortunate that we're not going on Tuesday, which is the bring-your-own-popcorn-bucket day, because I just finished cleaning my wheelbarrow.

As if I own a wheelbarrow. I can't even keep a tomato plant alive.

I love lilacs. They're just beginning to bloom and they make me smile.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I got 3 free meals in one day

Okay, so that's not the best part of Becky's visit, but it is true nonetheless.

Here are some of the highlight's of my life director's visit to the heartland.

Monday night
Becky proves herself to be a cheap date when, after consuming only half of her large frozen margarita (the waiter asks us, "small? or big?" Becky: "BIG"), we have to leave because, as she put it, if she drank anymore, the minute she got to my house, she'd tell me she loves me and fall promptly to sleep. Instead we had a tipsy shopping spree at the campus bookstore, where she bought a nifty sweatshirt and the brightest yellow ISU t-shirt I've ever seen. If you're in upstate New York and you see a moving beam of fluorescent yellow cotton, that's Becky.

Three seconds after we got into the house Becky was on the floor in my kitchen.

She claims it's because Annabelle knocked her over. I claim it's because she had half a BIG margarita. I took pictures.

BELLY LOVED HAVING BECKY HERE. ALL CAPS. Belly turned into a cat for a couple days as Becky treated her like one, stroking her gently rather than being rough-and-tumble as most people are with dogs. Belly slept with Becky most of the first night and looked for her at every turn. In short, it was true love. This morning when Becky left, Belly was obviously depressed. Poor baby girl.

Monday night Becky beat me at Scrabble. She's the kind of player I really like, who's all about points and not at all about the beauty of the words. She understands deep in her heart the importance of always playing at least two words and never using your S unless it gets you at least 8 extra points.

I won't go through the whole day, cuz it was long and I'm still kinda exhausted from it. Breakfast with grad students. Visit to the infamous dog park, though there was no alcohol involved. Break at the house. I beat Becky at Scrabble before we went to lunch with two of my favorite colleagues. Back to the house to change into "speaking clothes," which I took to mean she'd be wearing the ridiculous yellow t-shirt, since that says a few things for itself, but nooooooooooo. Becky had to wear a stinkin' SUIT.

HER TALK WAS SO GOOD. People have been thanking me for inviting her, and it makes me feel like somehow the quality of her presentation will be associated with ME for a while--and that's okay. I'm fine with that. She had people laughing, she had people thinking, and I had to cut off the questions after a half hour (I felt so important and shit) to give the poor woman a break. Reception. Good mingling. Back to my house with Julie Wonka. We all sat on the front porch enjoying the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS weather and drinkin' a beer. Then finally, dinner with the Wonka and Lynn Worsham. Fun stuff. I've never seen Lynn laugh so hard. At my expense, of course, but still.

Three things I learned during Becky's visit:
1. It is a good thing to spend more than $10 on facial moisturizer. I used hers and my face felt like a new woman. Well, you know what I mean.
2. Becky's fancy spritzer hair product makes my curls last longer.
3. All things in life can be divided into the following categories: products, items, issues, deeds, events. As in, I covet Becky's products. She covets the items in my ears. One accomplishes certain kitchen deeds, and traffic is never an issue in Bloomington Normal unless there has been an event such as the fire-gutted house we passed on our way to breakfast this morning.

Oh, and Becky gave the girl a new nickname, one that's so obvious I can't imagine why it never came out of my mouth. Belly Button.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Next week at this time my first book will be out

Holy macaroni.

Please note the time, folks. I am NEVER up on a Sunday before 8:30 and yet, here I am drinking my coffee and blogging after only 7 hours of sleep. I was awake at 7, but it seemed a bit pathological to get up THAT early, so I lay in bed for 1/2 hour thinking of all the things I'd do today.

Oh, and I need to add to yesterday's list of accomplishments. I also baked banana bread FROM SCRATCH and boy, it sure made a yummy breakfast today.

In other news, for your Easter entertainment, I give you a dog park funny made not by me, but by regular dog-park-attendee, Dixie, mother of Max.

In the house kittycorner from the park lives a family with a dog who never gets to come to the park and two young girls, maybe 4 and 6, one of whom is an incorrigible screecher. I don't mean yeller or screamer or even hollerer. I mean screeeeeeeecher. On Saturday mornings, there are usually many non-regulars (how dare they) and yesterday was a typical gorgeous Saturday morning. Somehow the two girls got their mom to bring them and their dog into the park. The mom was treating the place like it was a petting zoo. "Are there any other dogs you want to pet?" Um, HELL-o.

But anyway, here's the funny. The girls are both wearing dresses, they're both BAREFOOT IN A DOG PARK, and they're both clutching what looked like caramel or chocoloate lollipops in their hands.

Dixie: Barefoot with candy in a dog park. Perhaps next time we can give them scissors to run with.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

she's a maniac

Superwoman I was today.


Graded four papers, went to the dog park for an hour. Cleaned the house--which included cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, changing the bed sheets, doing 2 loads of laundry, sweeping, cleaning kitchen appliances, and the daily stuff like doing the dishes. Took the rest of the porch furniture out of the basement and put it on the porch. Mowed the lawn after 10 tries at starting the mower. Graded three papers. Ate lunch. Wrote my intro for Becky's talk. Went to get a movie, but got the first five episodes of Grey's Anatomy instead. Went to Border's to blow my $20 gift card on a Fiona Apple CD. Came home and graded three more papers, for a total of 10. Drafted a bare bones skeletal outline for our 2007 4C's panel. Took Annabelle for a 30-minute walk. AND IT'S ONLY 6:00!

Um, this new pharmaceutical I'm on--my doc said it would make me focus, turn me into a busy little worker bee. I think today it started working.

Friday, April 14, 2006

April 14, 8:45 pm

The temperature IN THE HOUSE is 80.

If I had balls, they'd be sweaty.

today the record shall be broken

It's a record that'll be only three years old, but still, our temp today will hit 87, breaking the record from 2003.

I is a little scared that this is a sign that this summer is gonna be hotter than the hinges o' Hades.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

signs of spring

1. nekked toes
2. only one quilt on the bed, not four
3. screens in, and windows open
4. pink pants
5. lawn's looking overgrown
6. only a few weeks of classes left, and I'm starting to feel the pressure
7. today's temperature will be approaching the record of 87 set in 1941. Mudder o' god.
8. Becky's coming next week! Whoo hoo! Can't wait. (not that this is really a sign of spring, but whatever)

Methinks these new meds is a good thing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

when teaching is good

The course I'm teaching this semester on the personal essay has in some ways mirrored what's wonderful about a really good personal essay. Like a great essay, the course has wandered off into really productive territory that I could have neither prescribed or predicted. My obsession with Cheryl Strayed's work has fueled much of that wandering; the collection of essays by a single author that I ordered for the course turned out to be something of a bomb, but the two Strayed essays and her email responses to our questions have been so generative.

I'm gonna miss this class. I know there are three weeks left, but still. The classes in which I learn the most are the ones I miss the most. Of course, that's not saying much since I always get nostalgic toward the end.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

in this house we've got one Eeyore and one Piglet

I went to the doctor yesterday for two reasons: a) to meet him because I had to switch primary care doctors because my other guy is leaving (I don't think squeezing Clara had anything to do with it, but one never really can tell); and b) to talk to him about upping my meds. He asks me to describe my depressive symptoms.

Me: Hopelessness, sadness, self-pity, just get into bed and if something goes wrong, just shoot me.

He: So you're an Eeyore rather than a Piglet.

Me: Piglet's depressed?

He: Well, Piglet's got anxiety disorder.

Me: I love it: a Piglet or an Eeyore.

He: You really didn't know about that?

Apparently, each of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters is a psychological personality type. Piglet's got anxiety disorder, Eeyore's the apathetic depressive, Tigger's got ADD.

Me: What's Pooh?

He: Pooh's just normal.

Me: Surrounded by a bunch of freaks.

The new med he gave me for a 3-week trial would not be good for the Piglets of the world, but for the Eeyores, we might be making some progress.

Now Belly's got another nickname. Piglet Wiglet. She's quite the little worrier, she is she is.

Monday, April 10, 2006

the morning after the first softball practice


Sunday, April 09, 2006


An entire weekend without doing any substantial work. Damn. This is rare for me. I'm so proud of myself. Here's what I did instead.

Got up early and went to the dog park with the girl. Did four loads of laundry, vacuumed, swept, talked on the phone to Keita, whose little boy Trevor, age 3, is also very much enthralled with cleaning. At one point while we were talking, Alexis, age 7, comes upstairs and tells Keita, "I have to get the vacuum for Trevor." Fifteen minutes later, I hear a small boy crying. Funniest line of our entire conversation is when Keita says, "Trevor's crying because Damon won't let him vacuum anymore. After a while the sound starts to get on your nerves." Five minutes go by. Trevor comes up and says to Keita, "I need the broom so I can go downstairs and broom." Love him.

Wrote a letter of recommendation (I know, this does qualify as work, but it's the only thing that does). Went to the grocery store. Ironed two pairs of pants (IRONED TWO PAIRS OF PANTS ON A SATURDAY! that's what I call proactive). Took an hour-and-a-half walk with Belly, Julia, and Tucker. Made taco salad for dinner. Watched Conviction. Talked to Hillary for an hour. Went to bed at 10.

Got up early and went to the dog park with the girl after playing a couple games of online Scrabble. Came home. Had lunch. Went to the first softball practice of the season. Did pretty well until I started getting tired and then I sucked it big. Sat on the porch with Belly, a beer, and the Atlantic Monthly. Cleaned the yard. Took a nap. Walked the girl. Grilled chicken for dinner. Played a couple games of Scrabble. Praised myself for not doing any work.

Next up: Grey's Anatomy.

Oh, and lest I forget to mention this: on Friday night I got together with grad students to workshop essays for The Violence of Class. One of the ones we workshopped was mine. HOLY SHIT. These people are good. I could write an entire essay just about the workshopping of the essays. They saw connections I NEVER WOULD HAVE SEEN MYSELF and for that, I thank them.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

add Clooney to the list

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Stephen Ambrose
Jayson Blair
George Clooney

I heard about this on the local radio station yesterday and the dj had to throw her two cents in after reading the quick blurb about the story: "Plagiarism isn't something you want to mess around with." Cuz, you know, it could get you sued and shit.

Friday, April 07, 2006

these arms are made of paste

Recipe for pasty white arms:

3 cups of white bleached flour
1 tablespoon water

Attempt to combine. Keep covered under long sleeves for six months of the year. Do not apply lotion.

Uncover in early April. Pass out from the glare.

Repeat process beginning in mid-October.

Don't even think about the legs. Dem damn things are beyond repair.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Yesterday I told my therapist how much I've been noticing lately that the weather affects me. I mean, I know I suffer from SAD. No news there. But lately it's been real bad. Real bad. Sunny days, I'm great. Productive and happy. Or rather, productive and not depressed. Rainy days, it ain't pretty. The gray weather just makes everything look so ugly, inside and outside, as it were.

My favorite line from therapy yesterday: I'm all about drugs cuz, well, we know it's gonna take at least 40 years to heal the old-fashioned way.

Woke to a thunderous April morning in Bloomington, Illinois. I had to put Belly on a leash to get her to pee. So there I am out there on the sidewalk with my umbrella and my hair wrapped in a towel, pushing Belly up onto the grass to try to get her to go. And saying, like the lunatic that I am, "you're not going in until you go potty." All this as she's staring longingly back at the house, her ears plastered to her little head. Even I had to laugh at this sight.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

a mid-sentence writing reflection

I'm literally in the middle of a sentence a couple windows over as I draft this article on bullshit and plagiarism and I want to put this out there:

You know how when you're reading a really really good book (or essay, of course) and it hits you right there and because it hits you right there you have to stop and take a step back and breathe for a minute and relish that feeling? I think I wrote about this is my last CE article--about literally having to stop myself when I read, for example, Carolyn Steedman's Landscape for a Good Woman because it's so damn on. Well, do you ever get that feeling while writing, too? I'm totally onto something right now and because I'm completely onto it, I feel the need to step back and take a deep breath and relish the feeling of being onto something. Cuz, shit, this feeling doesn't come everyday.

And this blog entry: it's me, stepping back, relishing the feeling of being completely onto something. Cuz it's important to remember what that feels like. To remember that you've sometimes gotta stop yourself when you're in the middle of a sentence and say, yay me. (Sounds an awful lot like A-my).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

in which Amy sounds pretty smaht

Mike over at vitia has posted a summary/review of my "bullshit" paper at C's. I only wish I'd had the term "word-wanking" in my vocabulary before today. Imagine the uses to which it could be put!

Thanks, Mike, for being such a good listener.

Monday, April 03, 2006

um, this blog's gonna make me famous


Cheryl Strayed, author extraordinaire of the essay I've been obsessing about on this blog and in real life, wrote to me today to say thanks for my kind words.

Hi Cheryl!

We're friends now, you see. Just like Vince D'onofrio and I are getting married.

Doncha think this makes me a bit more interesting?

You know what this means, don't you? Cheryl was googling herself today. I'm all about the vanity search.

I ordered her new novel, Torch, today from amazon and am anxiously awaiting it. Surely you'll hear me obsessing about it soon. Soon, I promise.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

today I am grateful for 2 things

1. Daylight savings time and sunshine.

2. Getting new $86 sneakers for $59.

These two are connected. Belly and I will walk for longer each night, me in my new sneakers, she in her groomed feet.

And it's time to break out our two baseball hats, hers with holes for the ears, mine with a hole for the ponytail that my hair is too short to make.

Our team is called the Tricksters. Don't ask me why. Really. Don't know that I could actually explain.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

she WILL be the death of me

How many adults does it take to draw 2ccs of blood from a four-year-old lab mutt named Belly Stinkbomb? FIVE. How many jars of baby food will be used as bribe? TWO. How many years is this dog going to cut from my life if she keeps getting worse at the vet? SEVENTEEN.

She's exhausted. I'm exhausted. Things used to be so much easier with her. But now she's scared to death of anyone at the vet coming anywhere near her. Muzzled and restrained, she's so damn pathetic. So now we're going to keep her on heartworm meds year-round so there'll be one less test to do each year.

Mother o' god.