Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Belly's halloween costume is ready

You know when you carve a pumpkin and there's the round jaggedy top part with the stem attached? Imagine that in a bright stuffed orange with a cute green stem and an orange string coming down from either side to keep it on her head. Oh. My. Good. Lord. She's gonna be the cutest doggie in the city. Well, say some, she already is the cutest dog in the city. This will be too much to bear. Stay tuned for a picture. I promise.

In other news, classes are going very well. Here's a nice thing that comes with a few years' experience teaching: connections that you hadn't necessarily planned among the readings but that were there all along waiting for you to come to them as you talk your way through them. Yeah, that was a good thing last night.

Though I'm still a bit unsure about the blogging-about-the-boy issue, I have to tell you this one small thing to give you an idea of the kind of person I'm talking about here. Let's put all of our creative juices together and call him S. After about a week of S. being really really nice to me, I started feeling the stirrings of a vague discomfort that some might know as I-don't-like-myself-enough-to-allow-this-person-to-be-so-nice-to-me. What's-wrong-with-him. So I made an appointment with my therapist, who I haven't seen in 3 months. I knew I had to talk with her about this so that I didn't push him away because at the core I don't believe I should be treated well. I told S. that I had made the appointment and his response--

His response?

S: Let me know if she wants me to come in with you so she can see us together.

Monday, August 28, 2006

when there's nothing really to write...

...because the really important things that are happening in your life aren't really bloggable yet,* a picture is always nice.

This was taken on one of the hottest days of the summer. I wanted to give Julia some pictures of me and my girl because I know how much that would mean to her, so I asked Nan to take some photos at the dog park. This is the best one. You can see that I'm not really wanting to touch my girl because it's so damn hot, but she doesn't seem to mind.

*which leads me to this question: how much time is enough time to make a very young relationship bloggable without jinxing everything? Not that I really want an answer to that, but it's a question nonetheless. Just so's you know what I'm thinking.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

what I'm learning

Taking a course on cultural trauma less than a year after one begins dealing in any substantial way with one's own traumatic past might very well be the cause of, oh, I don't know, a little bit of depression. Raise your hand if you noticed that on the blog in the past six months. One of the things I'm--er, one is--realizing is that that course functioned to justify my willingness to give it all up when things aren't going my way. I never expected to make it this far; I should be happy that I did. Fuck it. That's how the reasoning goes. When I was in Florida this summer with Tropical Storm Alberto and we got notices under our doors about what to do in case of evacuation, I thought, shit, who cares? Just make sure someone takes good care of my girl.

This is the line that will stick with me from that course: Kai Erikson writes that "traumatized people calculate life's chances differently."

But the good news is that these days I'm really feeling good. If I say it's in large part because I met someone, I'm afraid I'll jinx it, but well, one met someone. If you want to know more than that, you'll have to call me, keeping in mind that all calls on the weekends are free.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

in this town there's a creature named Sprout

And I thought I was being so damn clever.

I'm still planning on naming my next dog Sprout. Full name Sprouticus. It'll be a number of years--hopefully at least 9--until I get another dog, but I'm saving that name in my back pocket. Sprouticus Maximus. And then we can call him Glutey for short.

I learned the other night that one of my colleagues on the softball team has a bird--not a parrot, but a parrot-like specimen (can't say I know much about birds)--named Sprout. Oh. My. God. The bird apparently came with that name, so they're not taking credit--or responsibility--for it, but it's so damn cute. Now, there's a creature who would benefit from my little poem,

My name is Sprout.
I want to come out.

In other news, classes are off to a very good start. I can't imagine not teaching graduate students. Last night the comp seminar met for the first time, and we had what I thought was a meaningful discussion about writing and publishing and professionalization.

I have no clever way to end this post. Except to say, one more time, Sprout!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm feeling the desire to be contrary... I'm going to talk about the reasons I'm ready for school to begin. Lest we academics give ourselves a bad name out here in the blogosphere with all this moaning and groaning about classes starting, I'm here to say that if I had to go one more month without teaching, I might end up in the loony bin. I was productive with my writing this summer. I have a new project I'm excited about. I had fun this summer. I made new friends and took Belly swimming a few times. I went to Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts, and got a head cold on each trip. But I saw my family and friends and it was rejuvenating.

Teaching makes me feel good. That's not just a load of shit for a teaching philosophy. I love students. They're smart and they're funny and they always--always--make me think about things differently than I do right now. Life is one long search for connection, and with students I often feel like I'm connecting in ways it would be impossible to connect with anyone else.

Plus they make me laugh.

So, here's to a new school year, my friends. Autumn is my favorite season, school is my favorite place, I've got the best job in the world, and life is good.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

what's happening to Amy the blogger?

Two days in a row with no posts. What the hay-ull?

Busy busy busy girl. Be careful what you wish for and all that lovely advice from mom. Learning more and more about how damn sarcastic I am when I have to face uncomfortable emotions. Trying hard to be aware of my methods of self-sabotage so that I don't do it. Et. cet.

Saw Little Miss Sunshine last night and absolutely devoured it. I mean DE.VOURED it. I'm no movie critic, that much we all know, but damn this was a good movie. Little Olive was just so damn sweet, and the craziness that is the Hoover family is really not all that crazy at all. They're a bunch of people whose dreams are in some way always kept out of reach, whether that dream is to be a famous motivational guru or that dream is to have something other than chicken for dinner. To be with the one you love or to get the chance to do the thing you love doing.

I'm excited about school tomorrow. I've gotta get my schoolgirl outfit and my lunch box ready. I might even iron. You heard it here first.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

today's my last day off

Revise. Today's my last day "off." Today I've got to get at least a little bit more done on my g.d. teaching portfolio and perhaps respond to one Sites essay. Tomorrow begin the meetings. 11:00 writing faculty meeting to discuss hiring priorities for the year. 1:00 department meeting to do same with larger group. 6-9 p.m. welcome back party at Julie Wonka's house.

The teaching anxiety dreams have been coming with force, largely because I'm gonna do something different on the first day of my rhetoric class and I'm not quite sure what that something different is. I've been doing a lesson on the rhetoric of smoking campaigns using an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point where he discusses the failure of such campaigns to account for the "coolness" factor. But I've done it so many times that I need something new. This semester's two sections of rhetoric are focused on "rhetorics of choice," an emphasis that comes in large part out of our many discussions last semester of the proposed smoking ban in B/N. So much of that rhetoric was dependent on the concept of choice, sacred as it is in our consumerist culture.

I love Fall. Can't wait for crispy fall weather. Sweatshirts and jeans and apples and pencil cases.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

um, Tricksters could win the tourney!

That's right, folks. The Bloomington, Illinois Co-Rec B Tricksters were forced to forfeit the first game of the tournament last week because so many of their players were out of town and yet, theoretically, we could win it all next week. Here's how it went down.

Our first game at 7:00: the other team didn't show up, so we won by forfeit. We took the field and did some batting practice and goofed around some, which was lots of fun, and I think we got a lot of our errors out of our system before playing the green team.

We were the away team, so we were up first, and we scored 6 runs in the first inning. Excellent start, Smithers. For most of the game we were ahead. And then we had the requisite meltdown inning, where the other team pulled ahead of us by one run. It was painful. Painful, I tell you. But then next inning we tied up, 12-12. Our last ups, we scored two runs, making it 14-12. And then, my friends, we held them. We held them despite the very large men who hit the ball very very far. They scored nada. Oh, and did I mention that we were one person short, so every time the invisible player was up at bat, it was an automatic out? Imagine what we could've done with all of our players there.

My favorite favorite moment of the night: During our meltdown inning, when the other team had scored probably four runs and we still hadn't gotten anyone out, Julie Wonka, who plays catcher, calls a time out and walks over to Bill, our pitcher, to conference with him. She looks all serious, with her sleeves rolled up to reveal her muscles and a very serious, non-Wonka look on her face. They chat for a minute, she nods her head and goes back to her position. We get three outs fairly quickly after that.

Over beers after the game Julie tells us that she was dying to go talk to Bill just to give the other team something to think about. See, they'd been quite a rowdy team all night. Lots of cheering, lots of shouting, lots of hoopla. And when they got all those runs with no outs, Julie knew she had to do something to calm them down a little. So she walks over to Bill and says, "I just wanna give them something to think about. Make it look like we're talking strategy here."

And it worked. It was a beautifully rhetorical softball moment.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I just found a white hair on my eyebrow

I am now going to bed to cry.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

so I'll never be on Grey's Anatomy...

...but I CAN wear my Chicopee t-shirt with pride. No makeup, crazy hair, and a Chicopee, MA t-shirt. What more do you want?

here's what makes me feel good

I'm walking the girl last night, as I do all nights, when I run into one of my neighbors. We're both a few streets away from our own street, and she says, "That dog gets more exercise than I do." Granted, I'm not all that sure that this person really GETS all that much exercise, but the point was well-taken.

In the beginning with Belly, I was paranoid about making sure she got enough exercise, primarily because she was still a puppy and I lived in an apartment with no yard. So we walked a LOT. We still do. But the point is I used to beat myself up about it on the off days when she didn't get what I considered to be enough exercise.

So yeah, I'm a good dog owner. I'd be the worst parent on god's green earth, but this I think I'm doing pretty well. And that, my friends, is largely because she doesn't have to go to school and interact with other children--this means she can't tell people about the horrors of her home life and the things I say to her when I think nobody's listening.

Friday, August 11, 2006

if I didn't keep this blog, where else would I record gems like this?

This post could also have been titled: "Why I love Julie Wonka after all these years"

New cell phone is old news for the blog, I know. No more land line, et cetera. Earlier this week I sent out my new number to friends and family who I thought might care. As I pushed send on the one to Julie and friends, I knew it was the wrong mode of communication for her. I knew it in my soul. But I sent it, hoping she'd read it while sitting at home but guessing she'd probably read it at school, which isn't much use since Julie's far far more likely to call me from home.

As associate director of the Writing Program, Julie's had a busy week, so I decided I'd call last night and ask her how the TA training was going. I began to leave a message when the machine picked up...."Hi Julie, it's me, just wanted to see how your week was and to make sure you've got my new number...."

J: Amy! I'm so glad you called! (exclamation points warranted in this case)

A: I figured you'd been wanting to call but couldn't find my number.

J: Ohmygod. How did you know. Three times this week I went to call you but then thought, "Oh Shit!" Her number's in that damn email. My computer's down here, so it's not online, and I'd have to go upstairs to Rob's computer, which was made in 1982. I couldn't bear it.

A: I knew you couldn't, so I knew I better call. I could just see you going to call me and then dropping the phone and going "Jesus Christ."

J: Exactly! Oh my god how did you know?

A: I know things. I read people.

And then she made me come over so she could feed me homemade pizza with homemade whole-wheat crust and we were both happy. And we spent some time memorizing the new number. Repeat after me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

a little *bleeping* lesson about control

There are four smoke detectors in my cute little house: one in each bedroom, one in the dining room, which is close enough to both the living room and the kitchen that those two rooms don't need one. And the fourth one is in the basement. Since I moved in a little over a year ago, I've had to replace the batteries in two of the four. How did I know when it was time to change the battery? (I really want to pronounce that word "battry" with an English accent.) It bleeped at me every two minutes until I shut it up with a fresh nine volts.

So on Saturday I'm putzing around the house, minding my own business, when I hear the familiar *bleep*! *bleep*! I know it's not the basement one, cuz I just changed it, and it's not the other three because the *bleep*! I hear is further away. Hmm, says Amy. Maybe there're two in the basement. I go downstairs, search quickly, hear the *bleep*! even further away, so I'm pretty sure it's not down there. I come back upstairs and realize I'm gonna have to climb the stairs to the attic, something I haven't actually done since I moved in. It's a wee bit scary up there. I use the entryway to the attic as a closet, storing my vacuum, ironing board, air conditioner, and other rarely used appliances there. So I climb the steps up to the attic, which in all honesty would make a fabulous upstairs bedroom or office space, but it's not finished and it's not my house, so forget that. Anyway, I tiptoe around the attic, cuz ya know, if you tiptoe and the floors are unstable, you certainly won't fall through. Not like if you walked normally.

I found nothing. I searched the basement again. Checked the pantry, the bathroom, the huge closet that connects the two bedrooms, I even checked the outside porches. And still I'm being taunted with the damn *bleep*! every two minutes. Finally, after about an hour of this, I call my landlord and ask him where all the smoke detectors are. I tell him the situation and he has me go back downstairs and look between the rafters very carefully. Nothing. He tells me he'll come over to help.

Couple hours later, I'm on the phone with the boss when Stan arrives. I get off the phone and once again we search the entire house. He hears the *bleep*! only once, but it's enough to help me feel like I'm not going off my rocker. Finally, he's sitting in the living room with me and he says, "Do you think it could be coming from outside?"

Um, I dunno. "Have you heard it when the house was closed up and the a/c was on?"

Um, I dunno.

Turns out the empty house next door is *bleeping*! ready for a new battery, but when it catches on fire from kids playing with matches, my smoke detectors will alert me, and Belly and I will escape with our lives.

well now, THAT didn't take long

I'm getting rid of my land line, people. No more phone in the house. Big step for me, who only less than a month ago finally broke down and got a cell phone. But I'm so so so so sick of Verizon's fees fees fees for breathing. I've been paying them more per month for phone and DSL than I'll now be paying Insight and Nextel combined, and now I get these bonuses: more cable channels so I won't miss Nip/Tuck or The Closer or Grey's Anatomy. And I'll be able to watch the news whenever I want (never thought I'd actually miss 24-hour news stations, but when the alternative is the local news in Bloomington-Normal, um yeah, I do). And, get this, she's getting even more techno with a DVR--digital video recorder, thank you very much. So that means that, despite my FOUR-HOUR grad course on Tuesday nights, I still won't miss Nip/Tuck. Push the button and she's recording. Yippeee. And faster faster faster cable internet access. All this plus the sheer convenience of the cell phone. FOR LESS THAN I WAS PAYING VERIZON EVERY MONTH. GRRRRRR.

So buh-bye Verizon. Buh-bye. And buh-bye to my stupid cordless phones that last all of twenty minutes before beeping at me.

On today's list of things to do: Get Belly a new tag with the cell number on it. Always thinkin', that Amy, always thinkin'.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

circus be damned

Tonight when I told Julie Wonka that the fist picture was on my blog, her response went something like this:

Hmmm. I used to charge good money for that. And now the entire internet can see it for free. Something's not right.

Indeed. Something isn't right. So if you viewed the Julie Wonka fist picture, please send 50 cents to her c/o Lyings and tirades and fears, oh my! I promise she'll get the money.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

a funny moment with the maternal unit

First, let me just say that my trip to Massachusetts can be characterized as a success because, drum roll.....

I didn't kill my mother. Nor did I really want to for more than five minutes at a time.

So, as everyone in the country knows, last week was HELLISHLY hot. DEVILISHLY hot. DEADLY hot. And the air conditioner at my mother's house is broken. So one morning I'm standing near the toaster feeling the sweat drip down my back as I await my cinnamon raisin English muffin. I had attempted to blow dry my hair immediately before this, so I was experiencing paroxysms from the heat, not knowing what to do with myself or how to cool myself off. I was like a caged animal, pacing and circling and going nowhere because there was nowhere to go to escape the heat.

Except, of course, my zippy little rental car.

As soon as my breakfast was ready, I said to my mom, "I'm eating this in the car."

She: Wait! I'm coming with you.

So there we sat, looking at the dilapitated garage, eating English muffins and drinking orange juice, relishing the cold air blowing our faces. Going nowhere and laughing at ourselves.

mother of all teaching nightmares

Let them begin, my friends.

I woke this morning exhausted from battling the beast known as Teaching Anxiety.

Last night's dream had me teaching a graduate course completely unprepared. In the class were students who'd just finished their dissertations along with--jesus h--professors from Syracuse there to check up on me.

Get a grip, Amy.

Two weeks left of freedom. Except it's not really freedom when you're COMPLETELY UNPREPARED for classes. A couple weeks ago a student from my grad course (who's taken other grad courses with me) emailed to ask which book we'd be reading first. I wrote back: Excellent question. When I know, I'll let you know. He wrote back: Well, at least I started the semester with an excellent question.

Excellent question, indeed. Egads.

Friday, August 04, 2006

my family's attempt to prevent me from shooting myself

Prevention in my case = banking on my never having enough money

Me: Guy, you have a gun, right?

Guy: Yup.

Me: Can I use it to shoot myself?

Guy: 20 cents for the bullet.

Nancy, in the other room: 20 cents!? Two dollars! And only if you promise to shoot Guy first.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

if she hadn't gotten tenure, she could've joined the circus

This is why I love the Julie Wonka: she can put her entire fist in her mouth. TAL.ENT.

Pic taken at Christy's birthday party on Saturday, July 22. Click for more on flickr.

a few weeks late, but pathetic nonetheless


Schmoozin was kind enough to scan this photo for me so I can share Belly's forlorn look with the world (or all 3 readers of LTF). If you look hard enough, you can see that Belly's friend Molly signed her cast.



Footie's all better. Vet visit in an hour to make sure of that. Pat that girl on the head.