Wednesday, May 31, 2006

question for summer

What--with salads salads everywhere:

Can croutons get stale?

thankful for the bossoritis

I called Becky last night in the throes of all kinds of confusion about this article I'm working on. She was in the middle of putting away the groceries so she put me on speaker phone, which she knows I hate. But that way at least I got to say hello to Teakettle, Luigi, and Freddie (where was Ruthie, I wonder). As she's clearing out the fridge to make room for the new stuff--"I'm not gonna eat ham that's dated April 27," she says--she listens to me try to articulate my argument about anger and plagiarism and, away from a computer, away from a note pad even, she repeats back to me what she hears me saying and when she does that, it begins to make sense! (I hate exclamation points! but here they're warranted!) I had been a little bit hesitant to call because I wasn't sure I could even talk her through it--she being a terrible audience for me because she can fill in all the blanks that I don't necessarily cover--if I couldn't talk her through it, I couldn't talk anyone through it. But I did it, she got it, and she helped me enormously. So thanks, boss.

Incidentally, it has come to my attention recently that I use an awful lot of italics for emphasis in my writing. What's that all about? And now I'm hyper aware of it. For some people, this is a nuisance. Just let the language do the work, says Julie Wonka, emphasizing that fourth word.

Well huh.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

it's been a while since you've seen the girl


Here's Molly and Belly relaxing at the dog park on Molly's second birthday, Memorial Day 2006. Molly's still so full of puppy. My girl, she likes to think she's a gained a bit of wisdom in her four+ years, so she works on not letting her tongue hang out quite so much.

Love these girls.

approximately 3000 walks later

Four years ago today I adopted my girl from the SPCA in Syracuse, NY. Uncle Paul was instrumental in picking her out as I probably would've walked right by the pathetic creature whose nose was running and covered in snot. We were in the small/medium hallway and there was Annabelle, who at the time weighed 67 pounds. I didn't want a big dog. I wanted a medium dog. But I got me the best doggie in the world. And she's not a bad swimmer.

I was so utterly clueless about what having a dog would mean. And I wanted to give her back after about a month, but Paul and Mary convinced me to give it at least a semester.

I've had her for approximately 1,460 days. I figure she's gotten at least two walks a day, sometimes more, which is how I came up with the figure in the title. Uncle Paul and Auntie Mary came on at least 750 of those walks.

This will be the first summer since I've had her that we're not moving. We're actually staying put.

My life would be so empty without this beast. She's a funny, funny girl and I love her to pieces.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

tomorrow the record shall be broken

The record is from 1911 and the temp was 93. On May 28. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high of 96. Mudder o' god.

And you still won't catch me in shorts.

Friday, May 26, 2006

know thyself

I am the biggest wimp when I'm sick. Somewhere along the way I got it in my head that I've done my fair share of suffering in this life, so I don't need to be suffering with this nuisance of a cold. It's really that: a nuisance. But I'm so damn impatient with it. Go away already.

I sheepishly asked my doctor yesterday if he wanted to give me anything for the cold. Since I was there anyway. As though I were making things more convenient for all involved. He asks me how long I've had it. Since Sunday. Okay, he says, I'll make you a deal. If you're still sick on Tuesday, give me a call and I'll prescribe antibiotics.

In other words, you have to suffer just like anyone else who gets the common cold.


At times like this, I tell myself that it's good that I at least understand that I'm a big wimp. Worse is the big wimp who thinks she's perfectly normal.

This is what I tell myself. It helps me sleep at night while I'm hacking away.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

moaning and groaning

What's worse than a cold in the summer? Tomorrow's temp will be mid-high 80s, and we've got 90s in store for the weekend. And this damn cold won't go away. Coughing, hacking, sneezing, hurting.

But I can't sleep, so I go to school to write.

And I ache.

And I moan and groan and wonder if my doctor will give me something good when I go see him today (I'm seeing him not for the cold--I'm not THAT much of a wimp--but for a follow-up on the new pharmaceuticals).

Moan. Groan.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

add water and she becomes a real dog

Yesterday at the park Belly seemed really hot, foaming at the mouth a little and everything. So on the way home we stopped at White Oak park, which is a one-mile trail that surrounds a small body of water (lake? pond? I dunno). I'd taken her there before for actual walking, but this time I wanted to let her take a dip. At first I let her go in with her leash still attached, but then we found a beautiful stick, so I unleashed her and threw it for her again and again, and she actually FETCHED it and brought it back more than once. Simply amazing.

And then.

She saw a duck.

She looks back at me longingly. Can I? Can I, huh? Oh, okay.

So I sent her off after the duck, but the duck kept moving and Belly kept following. She was pretty far out there and I knew she was getting tired, but she was determined. I was getting a little nervous, afraid she'd get too tired to swim back, so I kept calling her, but she was set on that damn duck. Finally, when she was about two feet away from the duck, she looked back to shore, saw how far away I was, and turned around.

The image of her swimming back to me, her little head bobbing, her legs working so hard beneath the water, brings tears to my eyes. SHE. WAS. TIRED. She's not the young whippersnapper she used to be. When she got to shore, I gave her lots of praise, hooked her up to the leash, and brought her home. She slept, wet, on the couch for most of the evening, dreaming of that damn duck. How yummy it would'a been in her tummy.

God, I love that beast.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

how sexism makes things stupid

Last night the Tricksters lost their third game, by a very close 3-2. And there's some question about whether the game will "count" because it seems the other team might have misread the rule about women being able to walk instead of hit when there are two outs. Here's the way the rule is written:

"Any walk to a male batter (intentional or not), will result in a two base award. The next batter (a female) will bat. Exception: with two outs, the female batter has the option to walk or bat."

Okay, so the only time a woman gets the chance to walk without batting is when there are two outs and the man has just walked to second. Except last night many women on the opposing team walked when there were two outs regardless of whether the man had just walked.


We decided as a team that our women wouldn't take the free walk unless it was crucial. I mean, what's the point of playing if you're just going to take the free walk? Isn't half the fun being up to bat?

Here's what really made me mad though. The other team's got two outs. There's a female first-base coach and a female up to bat. She's not sure whether she should hit or just take the "free" walk. She decides she'd better walk. As the batter gets to first, the first-base coach slaps her five and says, "way to go, selfless women!"

Oh. My. God.


Oh, selfless women, why are you on that team? To allow the men to play in a co-ed league? Selfless! As though deciding to actually play the game would've made that batter selfish.

It makes me ill.

Oh, and did I mention that this was a religiously affiliated team? The backs of their shirts read "Our faith moves walls." And those walls, they're crushing their own women.

Monday, May 22, 2006

hot off the presses

My review of Candace Spigelman's Personally Speaking: Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse can be found in Composition Studies 34.1 and here online.

In three words, binaries be damned.

I'm no longer an IKEA virgin

When we were parking at IKEA, I told Keita that I was excited that I'd no longer be an IKEA virgin. Then when we walked in, there was a huge sign that said, "It's okay to be an IKEA virgin." That made me feel better. I bought some chair pads and some fly swatters. Big spender, I know.

Keita lives in Stafford, VA, a suburb about 30 miles south of DC. Her neighborhood is one out of the movies. All the houses are the same, they've all got fenced-in yards with a monster wooden play set for the kids, they've all got 2.5 kids and 1.3 dogs. Fun to visit, but it would drive me craaaaazy.

On Saturday we went to the beach. For some reason, there were ladybugs EVERYWHERE, which Alexis, age 7, just loved. She'd collect them on her hands and come over to me and Keita and tell us to look at the six ladybugs on her hands. At one point I walked down to the water with Trevor (age 3) and before I walked away, I told Lexi she should name the ladybugs. While I was gone, Keita told me that Lexi said that the first one to walk, she'd name Walker. And this other one on her thumb, she'd name Itch.

Keita: And she didn't even see the humor in it.

Keita takes Trevor up to the bathroom and I'm sitting on the beach blanket with Lexi, who's immersed in her ladybug kingdom. Then she points out to me that one seems to be giving the other one a piggy back ride. I'm a bit confused because, well, since they're called LADYbugs, I had just assumed...but then again, they've got to reproduce somehow.

Keita comes back and Lexi shows her the conjoined ladybugs. Keita gives me a puzzled look. I shrug my shoulders and say, "They reproduce somehow, right?"

Keita, to Lexi: Flick them off. That one on top might be having a seizure.

It was all I could do to not die laughing.

Sallie the 11-year-old dalmation was my Annabelle substitute for the four days I was there. Sweet, sweet, sweet. The minute you show her any attention, she gets down on her back, all four legs dangling in the air, and puffs out her belly for you to rub. Perhaps SHE should've been named Belly.

And so far, knock on wood, Annabelle hasn't punished me for going away. Stefanie took very good care of her, that much was clear. Christ, she took Belly to the park at 7:00 on a Sunday morning, the day I came home. That's love and devotion.

More to come. I'm so happy to be home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

auf wiedersehn

See, I've still got a bit of my German language skills.

Tomorrow morning, people, I'm off. And boy, do I need to be off. There'll probably be no blogging until I get back on Sunday because, knowing Keita, she's got every minute of my trip planned.

Puzzle of the day: I'm in Illinois. Keita is in Virginia. Yet one of the first things we're doing when I get there is to eat at Pizzeria Uno. Why is there no Uno's in Bloomington-Normal? 'Splain.

I haven't seen Keita in a year and a half. And for good measure, I've got no fewer than 4 zits on the chin-lip area. Pretty.

I bought People Magazine for the plane and it's all I can do not to read it now. This, my friends, is what we call regression. Or vacation. Delightful.


Monday, May 15, 2006

wrist-slitting weather in May

Grumptastic. Shitterific.

Cold wet rain. For the eighth day in a row. The sun peeked out yesterday for about ten minutes, but the rest of the day was gray with spit. I'm outta here on Wednesday, thank christ, and off to Virginia, where it'll be sunny and in the 70s.

I'm guessing our game will be canceled tonight, which makes me partly sad and partly relieved cuz I can't miss the 2-hour season finale of Grey's Anatomy. Which reminds me--I. AM. HILARIOUS. Last night as I was watching the first hour of Grey's, I heard scary screaming and lots of commotion outside. I figured it was just the crazy neighbors doing god-knows-what. I thought about calling 911, but waited until the next commercial, when I looked outside to see no fewer than four cruisers with their lights flashing, glass in the street, and my next-door neighboor Jeanne talking to an officer. So, clad in my slippers and jammies, I run over to ask Jeanne what happened.

She: Didn't you hear the screaming?

Me: Yeah. I was gonna call 911 at the next commercial.

Um, don't count on me in an emergency if there's a good show on.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I haven't done this since grad school

No, I'm not stalking anyone.

I actually spent most of my Saturday afternoon writing. I haven't spent a Saturday afternoon writing since the early years of grad school. Even when I was finishing up the dissertation, I usually only wrote in the mornings, and almost never on Saturday mornings.

And, on top of that, I spent my Saturday afternoon writing at home. I never write at home. I blog at home. I read at home. I plan classes at home and I grade at home. But I rarely try to write because I suffer from situated ADD while I'm here. Laundry, the dog, the phone, email, the blog, the dog again, food. All of this conspires to steal bits of my attention while I'm doing those other things: reading, blogging, grading, planning. So I always write outside the house: at school, at a coffeehouse, at Borders or Panera. But today I did it. I sat at my dining room table surrounded by all my crap and I actually got a few pages in. And I can't stop thinking about it. That's a bit of a problem. Instead of leaving all my crap out on the dining room table, I had to pack it all up and put it away even though I'll be working on it again tomorrow. Otherwise, it would literally nag me, call to me every time I walked by it.

Hurray for big pharma.

cheat sheet

Okay, the answers to yesterday's Scrabble quiz are C and V.

The new online Scrabble dictionary includes two new 2-letter words: QI and ZA.

Don't ask me to define these words, but let's just say they come in mighty handy.

Oh, and my least favorite letter of all in Scrabble is the stupid V. Grrrr.

Friday, May 12, 2006

a quiz for you

Here's your quiz, the reward being the satisfaction that comes with knowing generally useless information. But if you're a Scrabble addict, it is entirely USEFUL information.

Name the only two letters in Scrabble with which you cannot make a two-letter word.

(Insert Jeopardy theme song here)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Miss Ellany

I leave for Virginia in a week to visit Keita and Damon and the chilluns. I think we're planning (me and Keita, not all of us) to visit the Holocaust Museum in DC one day. After taking the course on cultural trauma, I'm anxious (in many senses of the word) to see it.

I've amazed myself a bit this week by working on my article rather than grading. I've still got half a class to go. I never do that. I always get my teaching stuff done and out of the way before getting any writing done, but not this week.

I've been reading all kinds of stuff on anger recently and O.M.G. do I have a lot to say about it and plagiarism. This article will be kicking a little bit of ass.

Just woke up from a nap after taking Belly for a 2.5 mile walk on a very windy day. She's still sleeping.

There is no sugar in my house. No chocolate. No candy. No cookies. No nothing. Which makes waking from a nap a wee bit harder.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

you are reading an international blog

Just so's you know.

Readership spans four, count 'em FOUR countries, with the freedom-loving U S of A at the top of the list. Then we've got 7 readers from Germany, 2 from the UK, and 1 from Sweden.

And my good friend Keita's not even IN Germany anymore.

You've always belonged to an elite group. Now you can boast that you belong to an elite international group. You are my readers. Be proud.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Tricksters double-header 1 and 1

The Tricksters started the 2006 season off on the right foot with an 8-4 win. We lost the second game, just barely, 14-13, but I gotta hand it to us, we had a beautiful rally in the 4th inning, coming back from a 9-2 deficit. In the second game, I actually hit the damn ball and managed to make it all the way around to home. I walked a couple times, struck out twice (grrrr. that last one was FLAT, by golly), and had a couple good hits but didn't make it to first fast enough. Everyone played well, especially Kris D. with some awesome catches out in left center, Robbie Doodle with his fielding at shortstop (MVP for game 1 if you ask me), and Bill with his walk-free pitching (I'm imagining there's an actual term for that in baseball lingo, but here, on LTF, it's called "walk-free pitching").

I love softball. Funners!

question of the year

Will I ever find jeans whose zipper is not constantly falling down?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Url the gristle bear

Oh. My. God.

Last night was the annual Fiesta! party at Chris and Christy's house and it was a blast. I almost wet my pants I was laughing so hard. There's a beautiful cliche for you on this lovely Sunday morning.

The title is in reference to Rodger's sketchy skills at playing Catchphrase, which is akin to Taboo, but it's electronic and there are no lists of words that you cannot say when giving clues. Normally, once you've gotten your team to respond with the clue, you hand it to the next person, who normally doesn't even LOOK at the word you just played because he/she just presses the button and moves on to the next word.


Rodger is a retired DP, which of course stands for Distinguished Professor. Rodger had never played Catchphrase before last night. Rodger made me almost pee my pants.

First, this clue. He's clutching at his neck, feigning fear, and yelling "Bear! Bear! It's a bear!" while stomping his feet so loudly that nobody could hear the beep beep beep of the game itself. The beautiful thing about Rodger's clue-giving skills is that he just kept repeating over and over again the original clue while clutching his neck. Finally, someone yells "Grizzly bear!" and Rodger passed the game to Thomas.

Except Thomas, before hitting the button for his next word, actually noticed that the word Rodger'd been working with was gristle, not grizzly.


The other Rodger clue was a reference to the Dixie Chicks, which I didn't get and so was glad I wasn't on his team, but eventually Cherlyn guessed "Earl." Only to find out later that the correct answer was URL (thanks, Thomas) and that Roger had no idea what a URL was. "What in Christ is an URL?" he says indignantly.

URL, dear Rodger, is a type of gristle bear.

P.S. Cherlyn's pregnant. If it's a boy, she and Bill are thinking about naming him URL.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

the bittersweet end

I know I say this all the time, but it's MY blog and I'll get all nostalgic if I want to. I had my last meeting with my students in the personal essay course this morning and IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. Everybody read an excerpt from their long personal essay, and then we sat around and talked about what we each learned from the course. It was informal, and that's why I liked it. I didn't have to ASK anyone to talk. It just happened. And I could just cry I'm so damn proud of them.

I read them an excerpt from an essay I'm writing that explores the various reasons I don't want to have children, one of them being that as aware as I am of my own limitations and despite people always saying that this awareness would make me a BETTER mother, I know that so many of our motivations and so many of the effects of our actions can never really be known.

Case in point: Today Rachael told me that on her Facebook page, she has a quote from me. "Lord only knows how I'm fucking you guys up." I laughed out loud because I honestly don't remember saying it, but it certainly sounds like something I'd say. And I apparently said this during a different day's discussion of having children--or, rather, of NOT having children. So I made a little speech about the ways that so many of the things we say have lasting impressions on people and we don't even know it. The EFFECTS are more far-reaching than we can ever know.

I learned so much about myself, about the personal essay, and about how meaningful a class can be when it really works. I am so grateful.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

check ME out

Major spike in readership yesterday. Write about abuse and these things happen. Go figure.

But the real reason for the title of this post is a follow-up to last week's accusations of cheating at Scrabble. My opponent had mistaken my brain for a software program. Well, yesterday I was again kicking ass and taking names and I had not one, but TWO opponents RESIGN. No accusations. But two in a row just up and quit on me. Now how's a girl supposed to rack up the points when everyone's intimidated by her software-like brain?


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

it's been a while since I've posted about dreams

Didn't I just write the other day that it was clear that I'd been making progress in the psyche department? Life lesson that sometimes takes a long time to sink in: it's a process, this thing called health. One week I feel like I'm done and the next week I have dreams like this.

I'm back living at my mother's house and, though she knows that the last thing on earth I need is to see my sister, the one who beat me, she tells me that said sister is going to be moving back into the house for one day a week--Mondays. I do lots of screaming, primarily about how much I want her dead (nothing new there). Then the academic in me shows up and begins explaining to someone (I don't remember who) the difference between shame and anger. Shame is anger kept inside, directed at the self. Anger is directed at others.

As though it were all that simple. But in my dream it was, and somehow that helped me understand a) sister's anger and b) my screaming and shouting about wanting her dead.

No wonder I'm an Eeyore. These dreams bring back the futility that characterized the first eighteen years of my life. Why bother?