Saturday, September 30, 2006

a beautiful day for a walk in the cemetery

Don't tell Annabelle, but S. and I took a "discovery walk" through Evergreen cemetery this morning, where we learned quite a bit about some of the people who are buried there and, by extension, about the community in Bloomington.

The tour didn't include much information about Adlai Stevenson or David Davis or Jesse Fell, all of whom are buried here. It focused instead on everyday folk, and for that I liked it.

It was an absolutely gorgeous fall morning, and a terrific way to spend it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

photographic evidence

The paper is done.

The paper is done and I actually kinda like it. Writing my way through the chaos of all the ideas I had about the connections between the personal essay and trauma worked. I came to a point that I'm pretty proud of, and I may actually do something with this beyond Watson.

But for now, I need a majorly large drink. This paper was born out of much pain and suffering. And nightmares. Ugly ones.

So cheers to me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

two funnies for the day

1. Today all I've been doing is grading grading grading. S. came over at lunch time with burritos and quesadillas and chips and oh boy he is wonderful. When he got here, I was in the middle of a paper, so I didn't get up right away. But Belly ran to greet him, tail wagging, kisses all over his face, a happy happy girl.

S: The dog greets me, but my girlfriend just keeps on workin'. Hi. I'm here.

Um, sorry.

2. A couple weeks ago I told my students about my next project on boredom. Yesterday a student asked me to say more about it, so I did. Then when I was finished I asked her why she wanted to know.

Student: Have you read The Dirt by Motley Crue?

Me: Um, I haven't read anything by Motley Crue.

Student: Cuz they talk in there about the book being written as a result of sheer boredom. I'll bring it in for you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the stress, it's eating me alive

This Watson paper's gonna be the death of me.

Okay, so not really.

But this Watson paper on top of the 14 bajillion other things I have to do is going to kill me.

I'm excited to go to Watson--can't wait to see Paul-o and Schmoozin and Jim and have some drinks and shoot the shit and room with the Wonka and all that good stuff. It'll be rejuvenating and stimulating and so so good to get away.

But in the meantime, in order to carve out those four days to be able to do all these things, my life is non-stop work.

Bitch and moan. Bitch and moan.

Monday, September 25, 2006

3 doggies who have no trouble with the dog door


This isn't a really great picture of Kylie because she's so damn black you can't really see her, but if you click on the photo, you'll see others, including a sweet one of Kylie.

Mulder's the beagle in the middle, a fatty whose whole goal in life is to eat. Scully's the sausage with her head on the pillow--she's a Bassett/dachshund mix or, as we like to say, a sausage. Much more descriptive. Scully's main goal in life is to clear the room, any room, with farts so potent they'll set your nose hairs afire.

These three beasts call S. their daddy and have taken it upon themselves to teach Belly how to use the dog door. They're making progress, little by little. If there's food involved, Belly can usually figure out how to get her butt back into the house. And Scully--Scully's S.'s favorite, but don't tell the others--Scully was all set with a map of the cemetery when Belly was lost a couple weeks ago. She'd divided it up into a grid and was calling all the dogs in the neighborhood to help in the search when S. called to tell her we'd found the Belle. That Scully's a good girl.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

flowers from my honey

Before he came over, I asked him to stop and get some m&ms to help me get through stacks of student papers.

I got my m&ms and a sweet surprise.


Friday, September 22, 2006

trying so hard to maintain some dignity

In this house, we're early with everything. We cannot abide tardiness, even when it comes to deciding on Halloween costumes. So here she is, a punkinhead, a full month before it's time to go trick-or-treating. Click on the photo to see a couple more on flickr.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

words I don't like: a list

The other day in class, I used the word "interesting," and then immediately told students how much I dislike that word because, well, it doesn't actually say anything.

Student: There are a lot of words you don't like.

Me: hmmmm. That's true. I should make a list.

So here it is, in no particular order. Rhetoricians will understand why I don't like most of these.

1. interesting
2. good
3. bad
4. right
5. wrong
6. bias
7. opinion
8. lady (this one's for S.)
9. society (as in, "in today's society...")
10. objective

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


In Illinois, marshmallow Fluff is kept in the baking aisle. Who knew?

My students knew, that's who.

In recent weeks I've had a hankerin' for a fluffernutter sandwich, and I was sad that I couldn't find Fluff in either the peanut butter aisle or the ice cream toppings section of the two grocery stores I go to. I just figured it was an east coast thing, since I couldn't find it when I lived in Alaska, either. So I'd sadly resigned myself to PBJs instead. Deep sigh.

Yesterday before class began I asked students if they knew what a fluffernutter was. Yup. Then why don't they sell Fluff in the grocery stores? They do, said they. It's in the baking aisle. Last night I triumphantly bought two jars of Fluff at Jewel and I anxiously await lunchtime when I can indulge in a fluffernutter. I just love that word. Fluffernutter.


Monday, September 18, 2006

quotation meme-o-rama

From the Schmoozin, who appropriated it from many others in the blogosphere:

Go here and look through random quotes until you find 5 that you think reflect who you are or what you believe.

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."
Saul Bellow

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
Salvador Dali

"Autobiography is an unrivaled vehicle for telling the truth about other people."
Philip Guedalla

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
Roger Caras

"A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down."
Robert Benchley

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Belly's essay

With Annabelle's permission, I reproduce here a portion of the essay she wrote while stuck in the house yesterday, unable to enjoy the beautiful weather because of a hurt footie.

She titled it, "I am a Good Girl"

By Annabelle Blue Butler

I will never toy with my mommy's emotions again. I will never toy with my mommy's emotions again. I will never toy with my mommy's emotions again. She's always telling me what a good girl I am, but then again she's also always calling me a stinkbomb and I DO NOT STINK. I am a treat for the olfactory glands, in fact. So maybe I can't really believe everything mommy tells me. When she tells me I'm a good girl and then I go missing for an hour (I wasn't really missing), I think she gets really confused. When I finally found her again, she seemed so happy to see me, but she was telling me what a bad girl I was for running away. I'm so confused. But mommy says it doesn't matter because that was my last hurrah. I'm only five. How can that be my last hurrah?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

another first for the Belly Girl

I made a big decision last night, one that I haven't made in probably a year of Saturdays: We're not going to the dog park this morning. Her foot is bothering her from the very long run she had on Wednesday and from pulling my arm out of its socket last night in order that she may better chase a bunny. So she's taking it easy today. S. and I are going to the pumpkin festival in the pumpkin capital of the world, Morton, Illinois, and I know how jealous all of you are. Pumpkin pie! Yummers. And the Belly Girl, she's going to sit and reflect on her actions the past few days and write a five-page essay about the ways she'll try to be nicer to her mommy's fragile emotions. Writing as punishment. Ah, yes, just like in the good ol' days. But unlike those good ol' days, I'll let Belly use my brand-spanking new computer, which I'm loving so so much. It's so fun to type on this keyboard I could just keep typing and typing and typing.

Last night I dreamt that I went rollerskating for 20 minutes without a bra. And when they gave me my change, instead of giving me four ones, they gave me two ones, a fifty, and a hundred-dollar bill. Perhaps I shall be receiving a windfall shortly....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Belly's last run

or, The End of an Era.

Last night Annabelle had her very last run in the cemetery by our house. She scared me to death and the scenarios I had running through my head as I called her name and wandered through the cemetery crying were enough to make me completely rethink my approach to exercise in her little life. I've held it up above all things--in fact, I've been downright obsessive about it since I got her--though I thought I was pretty careful about keeping her safety number one. The cemetery is not completely fenced in, but as she's gotten older, she's also gotten better about coming when I call her and sticking relatively close by. Not last night.

It's not a story, really. She went missing for a good 45 minutes. I was mad at first, then scared, then pessimistic, then convinced I was going to find a big black splat on a very busy street. After she'd been missing for about a half hour, I went over to a house that neighbors the cemetery and asked the woman who lived there if I could borrow her phone. I know, I know, where was my cell phone? At home. Stupid. I called S., and, though I'd held it together until then, as soon as he answered, I started blubbering about Annabelle being lost. He came right away, after stopping at my house to pick up my phone for me. We drove through the streets that surround the cemetery, going on our usual walking route, past the house, and back to the cemetery. By this time it's 7:00 and the light is fading. And I'm freaking out and getting sick to my stomach because Belly's missing and because I'm in the passenger seat while S. is driving through very windy roads. Finally I tell him I have to drive or I'm gonna get sick, and as soon as I get behind the wheel and start to go, he tells me he sees her. She looks scared and she's soaking wet, but she's okay.

Here's some of what was going through my mind:

1. We're going to find her on the road, she'll be in so much pain and it will cost so much to operate on her and she'll never be the happy dog she was that I decide right there that we have to put her down.
2. It gets so dark that we finally have to go home and I sit in my house wondering if I'll ever see my girl again.
3. I call S., and he comes to the cemetery, but when he gets there, he's got Annabelle's dead body in the back seat. He picked her up on the way.

Optimistic, I know. But my life has trained me to expect nothing but the worst. Yet S. gets to the cemetery, I get in the car, and he keeps telling me that we're gonna find her, she's gonna be okay, have some faith, she's a smart dog, we're gonna find her. And all I'm thinking is, I can't imagine how.

As we're driving back to the house, I tell Belly that she's no longer allowed to run in the cemetery. She has exactly one place left where she's allowed to run free, other than her own back yard, and that's the dog park.

I am not strong. When we got back to the house, I kept saying to S. that I can't imagine how people whose children have gone missing even manage to function. I just can't imagine. I would be catatonic.

I've never loved a being the way I love this girl. She gives me so much, she makes my life so happy, and I'll never take that chance with her again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

in which she spends a lot of money

I'm so frustrated with my home computer I'm ready to pitch it out the window. It's 6 years old, running on Windows 98, for crying out loud, and ever since I hooked it up to a cable modem, the pathetic system that is Windows 98 can't handle it, so my access to the Internet at home has been compromised. And that's just not okay.

On Monday, in a fit of compulsiveness during my office hour at school, I went to and put together a nice new desktop system for myself. I got the whole shebang, including a flat screen monitor, a new printer, plus shipping and tax, all for $812. Those silly folks at Dell actually gave me a credit line, the reasons for which we can only really speculate. But alas, that is a discussion for another time when we all have a lot more energy. I was pretty damn proud of myself for my purchase, and excited to get my new computer, which arrives tomorrow from the big brown truck.

I came home from school on Monday only to have a little tiny heart attack when I opened my cell phone bill. See, folks, I talk too damn much. My plan includes 1000 minutes, plus free nights and weekends, but apparently that's just not enough for all the things I have to say to people. Between August 4 and September 3, I talked for more than 3000 minutes, folks. I'm happy that I get to blame a big part of it on S., who I met on August 12.

So the great deal I got on that Dell? It's all a wash when we factor in the cell phone bill. I called Nextel and signed up for a different plan--one that includes 800 minutes with all incoming calls free. So that means that, if you're someone who talks to me regularly, after October 3, I'll likely be calling you, saying, "Call me back," and hanging up. I trust you'll understand.

We won't even talk about the cost of a hotel room at the 2007 C's. Holy. Mother. Of. Jesus. H. Christ. On. A. Bicycle. One night at the Hilton at the conference rate, no less, makes my cell phone bill look like small change. That is out-fucking-rageous. Shameful, in fact.

Monday, September 11, 2006

know thyself. every month.

I shouldn't be surprised each month around this time when my patience is thinner than usual (and "usual" ain't so great to begin with) and I get frustrated about the smallest things. Even the excitement of a new relationship can't stop the damn hormones from raging when I'm reading a text that really does seem to be saying the same thing over and over and over in paragraph after paragraph with no acknowledgement that we've already been through this. Yesterday's reading reminded me of some of the frustration I felt as a grad student reading stuff I hated. But always the dutiful, obedient student, I worked my way through it and then went for a long walk. Yesterday Belly benefited from this frustration.

In other news, the dog swim was a lot of fun for everyone except Annabelle, I think. I've said this before, but this year it was really crystal clear that she doesn't do well in that kind of chaos. She just looked stressed out the entire time. My poor baby girl. And the Lexington fair didn't have any fried dough. What on earth is a fair without fried dough? I'm three pounds lighter for it, but still.

Moan and groan. It's that kind of post. It's that kind of rainy, thunderstormy day. And I haven't turned on the television because I'm not sure how much of the coverage of today I really want to know about. I just can't bear to see W playing compassion and sincerity or his nostalgia for a national unity that just wasn't. See, it's that patience problem. I have none of it today for him.

Friday, September 08, 2006

big day tomorrow in central Illinois

First, we have the doggie swim at 10:00. Instead of our usual Saturday morning trip to the dog park, we'll be headed to the Fairview Aquatic Center (no lie--that's its real name) for the annual Dog Daze swimming extravaganza. It's sponsored by the Humane Society (Belly's been saving up for the $5 admission fee all summer). They empty the pool of chlorinated water and refill it with plain old doggie-friendly water and the doggies get to go crazy. The Booda, well, she's not so big on CHAOS, so she doesn't usually do all that much swimming, but she loves to run around in the sandy volleyball area. And she loves the cookies she gets when she leaves.

Then after doggie swim, it's off to Lexington for the Taste of Country fair. Christy of pottery fame (click here to see her stuff) has rented a booth to sell her wares, and one of those wares is a horrendous Scrabble-board trivet that I made more than a year ago. I HATE it, but Christy says if it sells, I get the proceeds. I pity the fool. Scrabble tile coasters--now those I can do and do well. But the board was a bit trickier.

Fried dough for my figure. That shall be yummy. And apples and pumpkins and trinkets, oh my!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


how quickly things can change

how the right person can make you see everything differently

how immediately comfortable I've felt with this person I met not a month ago

that I've found someone for whom shopping is not a chore

indeed, that I've found someone who just might like shopping more than I do

that I can be myself with him completely (okay, so he was a bit shocked the first time I dropped the f* bomb as an expression of surprise at something he said. He said x, I said, "Fuck you," he said, "Amy!" I said sorry. But it's all about how the words function, right? Um, yeah.)

that I'm learning to accept a compliment. slooooooooowly.

how much we enjoy doing the same things (except football--that's all for him)

how quickly Belly accepted him as her people

how right it all feels

and, so, how scary it all feels, too.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Belly's smart bump IS rather large

And yet.

S. has three dogs, all of whom are older and smaller than the Belly Girl. Kylie is a 13-year-old border collie mix, Mulder is a 13-year-old beagle, and Scully is a ten-year-old--are you ready for this mix?--Basset dachshund mix. All are female and, don't tell anyone, but Scully is S.'s favorite. A few months ago S. decided to install a dog door on the back sliding doors so that he didn't have to get up every five minutes to let one in or out. Now they can come and go as they please and the squirrels who used to hang out on the deck and taunt Scully? They've moved on.

The first time I brought Annabelle over to meet the dogs, I was vewy vewy afraid that she'd be a big shit and try to dominate the other three. But my fears were unfounded and she was SUCH a good girl. (Maybe I ought to stop worrying about her being a shit and just let her be. Hmmmm....) But here's the funneeee: she couldn't figure out the dog door.

I pushed her out the dog door and she resisted, but finally I pushed her butt hard enough that she was outside. But she couldn't figure out how to come back in. S. and I tried to give her positive reinforcement by having a treat in hand at the other end when I shoved her body back into the house, but no go. Instead she sat and stared up at the human door, waiting for me to open it for her. Meanwhile, the other three goofballs are coming in and out, in and out, while Belly's sitting there waiting for me to open the human door. And when she was outside, she'd stare back in at us with the most pathetic look on her face, every once in a while looking down at one of the other three who were good-naturedly demonstrating for Belly how it's done. But she just didn't want to learn. It is, I think, beneath her to imagine that she could do this for herself. Nope. She needs the assistance of her humans.

We're having her smart bump measured again on Wednesday.

Monday, September 04, 2006

overheard at the dog park

Nan brought the coolest tool to the park yesterday. It's called a shedding blade and it does just what its name implies. I got an unbelievable amount of undercoat off Belly with it, and so, as I am wont to do, I became a little bit obsessed with it. Obsession in this case=wanting to brush ALL the dogs.

Meanwhile, it's 11:30 in the morning and people are wondering if it's too early to have a beer in honor of Labor Day. It's quickly settled, and the discussion is now revolving around who's gonna get off their asses and drive over to Nan's house, all of about a block away, to get the beer. All the while I'm brushing Sarah's dog, Lucky.

Nan: Oh, I'll go.

Neecy: Amy probably has to go to the bathroom.

Sarah: I've really got to get myself one of those.

Everyone: A bathroom?

Amy: Of course I have to go to the bathroom. I'll go with you, Nan.

Sarah: A shedding blade.

Lucky: Give it up already will ya? Rrrrufffff.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I used to be such a good blogger

Remember when? Remember the days when I blogged about the big things and the little things and all the things in between?

It's all S.'s fault. Blame it on him.

I'm getting over the "problem" of S. treating me too well. I'm beginning to like it and appreciate it and perhaps even be okay with it. There will probably be regressions, during which time I turn into a bitch as a way of pushing him away, but he knows about that and will be on the lookout for it and will call me out on it.

I'm with him not because my mother has drilled into my head that a woman is worth nothing without a man. I'm with him not because of all that bitching I used to do about being alone and dying alone and the woe-is-me crap that has taken up way too much space on this blog. I'm with him not because he snuck into my house this morning while I was at the dog park and left me a dozen red roses on the kitchen table (which he did). I'm with him because he is a kind and generous and compassionate soul. I'm with him because the night we met it felt like I'd known him for years. We fit.

Plus, he loves to shop.

Had to lighten the mood there, didn't I?

Cheers to me and my blog neglect.