Saturday, July 29, 2006

I miss my blog

I'm in Syracuse at Schmoozin's and I'm trying to catch up on reading some of my regular blogs and I'm sad because I really miss my blog. Like I've not talked to a good friend in a few days.

One quickie: it takes leaving to really really appreciate the unbelievable landscape of New England: the lush lush green everywhere and the valleys and hills and mountains--they've been taking my breath away this time around. You can put me in the middle of the corn fields, but you can't take away my desire for random farmside corn stands in the middle of my New England landscape. And apple orchards. And state roads that wind and wind and climb and fall and make me sick if I'm in the back seat.

Good to be back east.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

goin' back east

I think I won't call it home anymore. But tomorrow I travel to Massachusetts to visit the family and the friends. I'm taking my cell phone with me. Yes, I finally broke down and got myself a cell phone--as they say, welcome to the 21st century. I canceled everything but local on my landline, and I think in the long run this will save me money. PLUS, while traveling I won't have to ask friends if I can borrow their phone so I can call my dog.

I'll travel to Syracuse to visit Susan and Jen and Michael and Nola on the weekend, and the rest of the time I'll shuttle myself back and forth between Chicopee and Chester. Hillary's now got an in-ground pool, so we shall sit by the pool and play Scrabble and drink and develop skin cancer.

Belly's gonna have her favorite babysitter staying with her, so she'll be in good hands. I have to keep reminding myself of that because I'm gonna miss my little stinkbomb so so much.

And she's off...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Amy & Belly in the woods with shotguns

Recall that in December Santa brought Annabelle a new pair of boots from L.L. Bean. Santa bought them from Bean's cuz they come with a lifetime guarantee. Our choices--er, Santa's choices--were safety orange or camo, and we chose camo because that way Belly thinks the squirrels won't see her coming. Apparently this order put us on a mailing list at Bean's for the HUNTING catalog, which I received in the mail yesterday. It contains such necessities as the Waterfowl Sweater and the Moose Horn-Call pack.

I do love L.L. Bean. I really do. But the hunting catalog is a bit much. Even for the little groundhog killer we call Belly.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

about that trial I got out of...

Yes, I got out of jury duty by telling the court what I thought about the law that designates a corporation a person, but that doesn' t mean I wasn't interested to read about the outcome of the case. Indeed, I was quite pleased to see that the former employee was awarded more than $250,000 in lost wages and punitive damages. What had me very confused when the judge gave us the quickie overview of the case was that the defendants were denying that the plaintiff had even been employed with them in the first place. Um, that would seem to be easy enough to prove or disprove... In any case, score one for the little man.

Monday, July 17, 2006

until the heat wave breaks... me Sylvia.

Sylvia Plath.

Driving around in my un-air-conditioned car, I'm like Sylvia Plath 'cept my whole damn body's in the oven.

Crude, yes. I am crude.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Procrastination 101

1. make iced coffee
2. sweep the kitchen and bathroom floors
3. count the money you made last night playing Tripoley and then call friends to say that yes, you whined a bit about losing, but actually, you came out 35 cents ahead
4. go to the grocery store to buy mozzarella for the homemade pizza dough you'll make later to procrastinate
5. make pizza dough from scratch
6. persuade yourself that you need a nap
7. resist the nap resist the nap resist the nap until you're exhausted from resisting and you just give in already
8. blog
9. play online Scrabble
10. clean out dresser drawers and fill a big bag with old clothes for the Goodwill
11. drive to the Goodwill drop off place
12. 11 seems like a lot of work
13. take a nap

Saturday, July 15, 2006

the 5-year-old girl smiles for the camera

She had a burt-day hat on earlier in the afternoon, but she wanted to look like a grown-up doggie for her photo.

Friday, July 14, 2006

bittersweet morning

Bitter because my dear friend Julia is moving to Virginia today and she's taking Tucker and Callie with her. Belly will be boyfriend-less. I've been pretty much in denial about this, even when I stopped over yesterday and saw the moving truck and met the moving guys and took home an unopened bottle of Plochman's mustard. I don't even like writing about it here because then it becomes real. We're having lunch together at our favorite yummy yummy pizza place and then it's not goodbye, but until we meet again...

Sweet because today's my big girl's fifth birthday. And she's healthy and happy and snuggly and such a little mischievious shit. She's my Annabelly Bugs. Dog park party this afternoon in the pea-soup humidity of central Illinois. The party consists of beer for the adults and hats and treats for the dogs. Okay, so the hats are really for the adults' benefit. But still. There will be a hat-wearing contest: who can keep it on his or her pointy head the longest? Extra treat for that doggie.

Oh, the miles I've walked with my stinkbomb. One might think I'd be thinner than I am.... harumph. Happy birthday to my sweet sweet girl.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

PMS: it's good for you

One week every month, I get to be superwoman. Holy productivity, batman.

And I'm always so proud of myself and I always think, if I keep this up, I'll have all of these books read by the weekend. Five days later, I'm thinking about a nap. Or doing the dishes. Or the laundry. Or walking the dog. Anything but work.

But today, today's been a good one for reading. I've been working on Richard Lanham's Economics of Attention and loving it, seeing all kinds of connections to other ideas I've been having of late, and, while I probably won't get around to writing that damn NEH grant proposal (there's always next summer...), I feel like I'm able to trust myself that something juicy shall come of all this reading.

Now really, how many people can describe their work as "juicy"?

how to get out of jury duty

Sit quietly through most of the questioning, but when the plaintiff's attorney asks you what you teach, be sure to get in the words "the study of argument," and when she then says, I see you were in Syracuse for a few years--as if it's a question--be sure to say that that's where you did your doctoral work. And the winters, they ain't pretty.

Then, after everybody else on the jury has told their tales of workmen's compensation and employment termination and their involvement in family businesses and you just want to die from the tedium, make a face when the plaintiff's attorney asks what she says is her last question--

This is a case involving an individual against a corporation. Under the law, a corporation is given the same rights as an individual. Does anyone have problems with that?

--and raise your hand. Cuz yeah, you've got some problems with that.

When she asks you to explain, tell her that the primary problem you have is that a corporation has more power than an individual so to equalize them under the law doesn't seem just. Then tell her about the movie The Corporation, that the movie is all about this very issue, the corporation being considered a person. Tell the court that what the movie does is psychoanalyze the corporation--if it's a person, it's got a personality--and what it finds is that with its lack of empathy, lack of sympathy, lack of concern for its effects on others, etc., the corporation is a sociopath.

When the defendant's attorney asks you if you think this will affect your ability to be impartial, tell her yes. You've sworn, after all, to tell the truth.

When the judge tells the court that you've brought to everybody's attention the notion that the best way to understand our own biases is to first admit that we've got them, nod your head and say, "yes, exactly." When he then asks you if you can set them aside for the purposes of this case, tell him that first you've got to say that you believe this is impossible, but you'll do what you can. But clearly the individual in this case is working with a headstart.

When you're standing in the elevator with one of the other people who've been excused from jury duty, and he asks you if you're really all that surprised, say "Um, not so much."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

just how humid IS it in Illinois?

Well, when the forecast calls for a high of 81 with a "RealFeel" of 100, I gotta wonder why it doesn't just rain already.

Monday, July 10, 2006


she's gonna be okay. foot troubles likely less serious than originally thought. here's a killer: she's better in the doctor's office without me than with me. holy guilt batman. holy guilt.


couple things

1. I use this blog to write about daily happenings and to record funny little things that happen. Sometimes I write about bigger things, like depression or abuse, but for the most part, this blog functions as the place to record the daily. As such, it becomes really really hard for me to a) not blog when something potentially bad happens to my girl; and b) blog about something complicated and potentially bad that happens to my girl. So suffice it to say that we're keeping a close eye on the girl's feet.

2. Here's a potentially awkward situation: you're with a whole bunch of friends, only one or two of whom read your blog, so most of them don't know about some of the funnies you write on here. So when retelling the funnies for the benefit of all, you invariably end up repeating the exact language you used on the blog, and your one or two readers brush you off and say, "I know this one already. I read the blog." Well. Harumph.

Friday, July 07, 2006

when a girl reaches a certain age...'s time for a big girl bed!

Belly will be 5 (holds up an entire paw) one week from today, and I'd been wondering what on god's green earth I was gonna get her since she's the girl who's got it all. And then I saw the pile of doggie beds at the store. On sale.

Belly's been sleeping on a makeshift bed since I got her four years ago. Uncle Paul generously donated an old quilt for her crate (ah, the good ol' days when Belly was contained...) and that quilt has served as her bed ever since. I'd been admiring the beautiful dog beds in the Fosters & Smith catalog and the LL Bean catalog, but alas, a girl with millions of dollars in student loans can't afford such luxuries.

So she got her burt-day present a week early, and I think she likes it. As soon as I walked in the house with what is essentially a huge pillow, she knew it was for her. She was so excited, running around the house flinging her toys and in her little head she was singing, "big girl bed! finally! a big girl bed!" I put it in her spot and she promptly sat on it like a pretty girl. "Mine. Big girl bed all mine."

And on her birthday she shall have ice cream.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Here's what feels good:

The thunk of a 30-page manuscript, times 3 hard copies, inside a big manila envelope, dropping into the outgoing mail box in the department office.

Now I sit on my hands and wait.

Not really. Now I get my teaching portfolio together and work on a grant proposal for next summer.

But today I do no more work. Carrying all the weight of that paper was enough for one day.

Think. Thank. Thunk.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

'twas a happy 4th

morning: humid and hot hot hot at the dog park. But good nonetheless to see the crew after a late night at the Peoria Chiefs baseball game and fireworks. My question while at the game, which no one seemed to enjoy but me: If Cubs are little bears and these guys are the little Cubs, what does that make them? The preferred answer is preemies, but I'm the only one who thinks that.

afternoon: 4th of July party at the McBrides, complete with the annual game of 16-inch softball. The weather was much less humid up in Chenoa, the game was fun (my team won), and the company was delightful. Did I mention that the beer was really good? Oh, and the parade was nothing less than a slice of Americana. With clowns who shoot water at you. Huh. In my day, that kinda thing never happened.

evening: Bloomington fireworks. I found out yesterday that my landlord lives practically in Miller Park, where the fireworks were, and I knew he was having a party, so I crashed it with Belly. Met new people and watched the beautiful though unsynchronized (there was apparently music, but only if you'd brought your radios along with you) fireworks display.

See, I've been trying to make this post a bit more upbeat than those others where I write about shooting myself and Belly licking up my brains. Cuz a couple of friends were apparently concerned. But this'll make you laugh:

At the Peoria Chiefs game on Monday night, I bought a fountain soda. After the woman gives it to me, I'm looking around for a straw but can't find any. So I ask for one. She shakes her head and tells me they're not allowed in the ball park.

Me, as though I completely understand: Oh, so that people don't kill themselves with them?

It was an immediate response and it made perfect sense to me: I pictured an unlucky person taking a sip from his straw, and the ball being fouled right to his head, the straw going down his throat and choking him to death.

She: No, it's so people don't throw them on the field.

Why would people throw straws on the field? An unlikely story. I like my explanation much better. Death by straw. There's something you don't hear everyday.

Monday, July 03, 2006

overheard at pottery

A: Hillary's making new friends so that she'll have backups when I've shot myself.

J: You know, very few women die that way. Most take pills.

C: Yeah, why would someone shoot themselves? It's so much easier to take pills.

J: Just take a shitload. I'd never shoot myself because I'd be worried that I'd miss and then I'd have to live with the damage.

A: You know, the one thing that's stopped me from shooting myself is the thought of Annabelle licking up my brains. She'd be right there, cleaning me up.

J: That's so sweet.

A: You really think pills?

C: Just don't call us in the middle of it when you've changed your mind.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I like to think I'm open-minded...

...but when it comes to my dog and stupid people, I'm just NOT. (Reason 7563 I'll never have children...)

Why, why, WHY, would someone bring an UNNEUTERED male pit bull to a dog park on a summer Saturday morning when there are all KINDS of dogs--big, small, male, female, aggressive, submissive.

Oooh! Oooh! I know! (raises her hand)

Yes, Amy?

Let's see how many dogs it can start a fight with before the entire park clears out and that damn pit bull with his balls swinging around is the only one left.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

oh, the sense of responsibility...

So last year when I moved into this house, Julie Wonka gave me a beautiful tomato plant. I loved it and watered it for days, perhaps even weeks, until I finally gave into my instincts and killed it. It now sprouts a couple of dainty weeds from a ginormous teracotta pot. It. Is. Sad.

Last night Julia and I went out for a burger and then we watched a movie at her place. I don't know if I've blogged this yet, but Julia's moving in a couple weeks. On Annabelle's birthday, July 14, to be exact. She's taken a job at a small all-boys school in Virginia, but I'm thinking that if I kidnap Tucker or Callie, she won't be able to leave and all will return to normal. Except that Annabelle might not share her bed with them. We'll work it out. In any case, I am heartbroken that she's leaving me (like how it's all about me?) and as a way to show her how important her friendship is to me, I agreed to adopt four of her house plants.

Yes. You read that right. There are green things living in my house.

Three jade plants and one ivy. The smallest jade plant is named Sprout. I'm less likely to let him die if I name him.

But I can't promise anything. I will try. I will. But without someone hovering over me as I hover over the plants, I don't know that I'll know what to do when one of the plants looks sad or when one wants to cross the street by herself. I can probably spare a quarter for the ice cream truck, but I don't know about new Birkenstocks.

It does, it feels like I've got four little lives in my hands. Pray for me now and at the hour of their death amen.