Thursday, November 30, 2006

ice, snow, and a little ice and snow

That's what the forecast is calling for. This morning I slipped on the back steps in my slippers as I was letting the girl out to do her bidness.

This morning I also slept until 10 am. Holy shee-it.

Yesterday was a long day of meetings and student conferences and then baking cookies at night with the women for whom I am a faculty mentor in the dorm. The student conferences were the hardest, not for reasons you might expect. In fact, there were only two. But the traumas these two students are experiencing right now made me want to cry right there. And I almost did.

When I was a junior in college, my boyfriend of three years dumped me with absolutely no warning. I was a mess, crying in class whenever I thought of him, holing myself up in my room for days at a time, and ultimately somehow finding the strength to go talk to a counselor at school (didn't really help). And today, if there's one thing that really bothers me about talk of suffering is--and I'm sure there's a real name for this--the way we compare our own suffering to others' and think, shit, I thought I had it bad. Because when you're in it, there's no comparison.

This is all very simplified, no doubt about that. But yesterday as I sat and listened to these two women share with me traumas that no doubt will affect them for the rest of their lives, I couldn't help thinking a) my biggest trauma when I was a student was that I was dumped by my boyfriend; and b) how unbelievably strong these women are, and how much strength they're gonna need in the years to come.

Not really sure where I'm going with this. Except to say how much I respect my students for all that they're having to deal with in addition to the glut of final papers that are coming due. That's it.


Monday, November 27, 2006

a blow-up Santa's dirty little secret

Early in our relationship, I expressed to S. my astonishment that people actually pay good money for those blow-up Santas and snowmen and turkeys that they then put in their front yards, announcing to all who notice (which is all, for how can you not notice?) that they've just paid good money in order to have a ten-foot Santa block any view they might have had out their living room windows. S. told me he used to have a plastic Santa--one of those three-foot deals that light up--not nearly as obnoxious as the blow-ups, but not pretty nonetheless. He gave it away long before he met me, he said. I smiled. And I told him that if he ever puts blow-ups in the front yard, we're done.* A dealbreaker, as it were.

Friday night we're driving to the Goodwill store to drop off a whole bunch of stuff we'd cleaned out of his house. It's a relatively windy night, but warm. Too warm to be wearing an entire Santa Suit, even if you are a blow-up beast. Well, apparently, one of the blow-up Santas in Normal, Illinois decided he was gonna show us all just what he thought of his predicament in that front yard. The wind was blowing him just so, my friends. The wind was blowing him, he was spankin' it, and I was peeing my pants. While driving.

*Hillary once told her children that if they ever put a plastic flamingo in their front yards, she'd stop visiting them.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

ugliest Elvis I ever did see

ugliest Elvis I ever did see
Originally uploaded by aerobil.
me: What am I supposed to say about Elvis?

S: Well, you think he's the ugliest thing you ever saw.

me: Well, yeah, he IS the ugliest thing I ever did see.

S: Elvis is king. He's cool.

me: He's got a duck bill and a duck ass. How cool can he be?


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Leg warmers make a comeback

Leg wamers make a comeback!
Originally uploaded by aerobil.
I don't even want to go into the details because it's too exhausting, but Annabelle got attacked by an Akita on Thanksgiving day while she and S. and I were out for a walk. It was an absolutely gorgeous day--sunny and in the high 60's. And my poor poor baby girl, who did nothing wrong, ended up having to spend a couple hours at the emergency vet under general anesthesia to get stitches on both the inside and outside of her leg. In this photo the bandage has fallen down off the wound, so you can sort of see the outside wound. But if you click on the photo, I took close-ups of what that goddamn vicious dog did to her.

And now I just learned that little Miss Mittens, my dear friend Neecy's border collie, was attacked by three big dogs at the park yesterday. Three dogs who came with a woman and three other dogs. So yes, this ONE woman brought six dogs to the park and proceeded to pay no attention to any of them. Then tells Neecy that this is a dog park, these things happen.

Bottom line is our girls are okay. Belly's on antibiotics and pain meds for a week, and even now she seems fine. Putting all her weight on it, jumping on and off the bed with no trouble, running when I call her for a treat.

Stay tuned for funny blog posts soon.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

all that I've got

Or, annual post in which I acknowledge all that I'm grateful for. This post is particularly exigent today not only because tomorrow's Thanksgiving, but because I just received sad news about a student of mine, one I have come to care about a great deal in a very short time.

What I love and am so very grateful for: a list

1. My Booda Belly Stinkbomb Girl who makes me laugh every day with her very predictable desires: pet me, pet me, pet me, and failing that, give me one of them biscuits.
2. My Honey Bunny Snuggle Bear who has me in continuous awe for what a caring, giving, compassionate person he is. I think today's a day where I can risk a cliche: he's really not like other guys I've known because a) he understands that what he says and does has effects on those around him; b) he understands how other people feel and what their motivations might be for doing what they do; c) is willing to play. We have so much fun together. If I had a nickel for every time I said to him, "You're a funny honey," I'd be up to at least ten dollars. And then I could buy us each a big ol' chocolate cake.
3. My friends, all of my friends here and everywhere. I am blessed with a gaggle of dear people who love my laugh (they oughtta know--they're the instigators of it) and who would do just about anything for me. Hard to believe I've been in Illinois for only 2.5 years--some of these friendships seem as old my grade-school friendships. What's most fun about friends is the little things, the inside jokes and the legendary stories that get told again and again. Some of the best ones are about poop.
4. The job, the job. Boy, I love my job. I love that it puts me in contact with so many bright young people who make me laugh and make me think and teach me about what's important in life. I often think about how little I knew at that age--I was book smart, but so very emotionally ignorant. Cynical, sarcastic, fearful. Holding on to my book smarts with all I had because, well, that's all I had, or so it seemed at the time. My students teach me always how to be a better person.
5. Work I love doing, which is not necessarily separate from number 4, but we'll put it here anyway. I'm excited to be able to sit at home today and read about literary forgery and get my mind going about all kinds of connections between it and plagiarism and the production of belief.
6. Colleagues near and far who help me make those connections meaningful.
7. My health (this probably should've come earlier).
8. Hot coffeeeeeeeeeee (love that word).
9. My sister and my brother and their wonderful children.
10. Cheese.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 20, 2006

stockings and presents and doggies, oh my!

For the first time ever, I will have a Christmas stocking this year. S. and I went out and bought six of 'em on Friday night. One for me, one for him, and four for the beasts. S. keeps threatening Mulder that she's getting coal in her stocking, but don't worry, I got her some greenies and some football-shaped snausages.

It always seemed to me that the stockings were the best part of Christmas. It's the fun little things that are so great to open, isn't it?

We bought some puffy stick-on letters at Target, and last night we spent time together putting all of our names on our stockings. The big dilemma was whether Santa should know Belly as Belly or as Annabelle, but given the size of the letters and the size of her given name, we went with Belly. She specifically requested a blue B cuz, well, her middle name is Blue.

And get this, people. I'm done Christmas shopping already. I will not get caught in mall crowds and I will not put my parking karma to use in the mall parking lot. I just can't take it. Sign number 453 that I'm getting OLD.

I've had so much fun shopping for S. and I wish I could tell you what his extra-special present is, but well, he reads this here blog-o-rama, so that's out. Call me and I'll tell ya.

Life, my friends, is like Christmas. The big presents under the tree are wonderful, but it's the little things in the stockings that always end up being the most fun.

I'll test that theory in a month or so.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 18, 2006

my honey the handyman

The other day I'm over at S.'s house and he's going through his mail. From my vantage point of about five yards away, I see a neon orange envelope with his name in huge black letters telling him he's won something or other.

me: What'd ya win, a million bucks?

S.: I can get a free gift!

me: Whatever it is, we don't need it. [gotta love that "we" here]

S.: I like free gifts. I can get a 14-in-one tool complete with a flashlight if I sign up for the Handyman Club of America. And it's only a dollar a month.

me: The Handyman Club of America. Um, honey? You're not exactly a handyman.

S.: They must've heard about me fixing the toilet all by myself.

me: Exactly. I called and told them because I was so damn proud.

S.: It's only a dollar a month and I get a free gift. Free stuff is good. It's like getting 13 things free plus a flashlight.

And so it goes, my battle with the hoarder I love so dearly. When he wasn't looking I threw away the membership stuff. A dollar a month is not enough to make this man into a handyman. So we'll save that and put it towards the girls' college edumacation.


Friday, November 17, 2006

on rejection and loss

Did I scare ya with that title, so soon after my last loving post about S.?


On rejection: I learn so much from my students, this is true. And I have no poker face, this is evident. But when, during a discussion of Facebook and Myspace this other day in class, we got to discussing the mechanization of "friending," my students told me about the rejection hotline, I about died. This, folks, is rejection for the new millenium. Or maybe I'm just completely out of it and it's not all that new (it's not), but I'm still shocked. See, if you're out at a party or a bar and an undesirable asks for your number, you can give them one of these numbers (for Chicago, my friends, it's 773.509.5027) and when the poor chap calls, they get a recording telling them that they've been rejected. My students played it for me in class from one of their cell phones set to speaker. Remember the good ol' days when you had to reject someone live on the other end of the phone?

On loss: My Alaska sister wrote to me this morning to ask if it was okay if they included my name in a newspaper memorial they're (who's "they," was my first question) planning on running next month as it will be the 30th anniversary of my father's death. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about the fact that it'd be 30 years (December 3, 1976, the day after my oldest brother's 14th birthday). But there it is. And I get to imagine once again how different my life would've been had he lived longer. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm the last to hear of this plan, that I was an afterthought, that the email my sister sent was nothing more than perfunctory since they're including my name in it. Mechanized memorializing, as it were.

And as of right now, my mother knows nothing about this plan. Tell me what that says about rejection and loss. So I guess I'm NOT the last to hear of this plan. Christ.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

at the end of the day

A gem of wisdom last night from, of all places, Grey's Anatomy. I know, I know, should I really be living my life with respect to the cliches and commonplaces of this mediocre television show? Well, no. But. It got me thinking. Meredith, in her voiceover at the end of the show, says something along the lines of, you know you're with the right person when you can say that, at the end of the day, you come home to the person you most want to talk to.

About a week ago, S. was reading my blog with me standing over his shoulder (oh, that's ripe for analysis, ain't it?) and commented on how I haven't written about him lately. "In fact," said he, "I think I'll go through and count how many times I've appeared on the blog." He was kidding, of course. But it got me thinking about why I haven't blogged about him very much and I think that that, combined with the relative lack of things to write about lately, leads to an insight about the ways that this blog has functioned for me.

It has served as a way for me to maintain contact with people, as a way to share things at the end of the day, even if that meant sharing things with a computer screen rather than a human being. Now that I'm sharing more of my day-to-day stuff with S., I'm finding myself more at a loss for what to write here. This is not to say, of course, that I won't continue blogging--I love my blog. But I don't want to write about S. in ways that compromise what we have together. Cuz it's really, really good. This summer I was complaining to a dear friend about being single. He asked me what was wrong with the men I'd met. "They're stupid." "You don't need smart. You need someone who's gonna be good to you." Lest you read this as a comment on S.'s intelligence, don't. He's smart and articulate and still so willing to see things from different perspectives without needing to defend his position (which I can't always do). Instead, read this as a comment on S.'s goodness. He is a good person and he is an even better man.

At the end of the day, I've somehow managed to find someone I'm eager to talk to, someone I can't wait to share the details of my day with, someone who makes me laugh, someone who is so so good to me. I can only try to be so good.

Labels: ,

Blogger now has categories!

Okay, folks, help me come up with categories for the miscellany that is Lyings and tirades and fears, oh my!

stressin' out
dog park


Saturday, November 11, 2006

does it GET more gorgeous than this?

This photo was taken a couple weeks ago when I had friends over for my birthday. She's staring intently at the snacks on the coffee table that PEOPLE are are preventing her from getting.

She's thinking about posing for BARK! Magazine. And with the money she makes, well, you know what she'll do with that: hire full-time help and buy all the snacks her little heart desires.


Friday, November 10, 2006


This semester I've signed on as a faculty mentor for a floor of a women's dorm here on campus. The idea is to encourage faculty-student interaction and mentorship outside of any kind of evaluation. I'm hoping one of the things I can teach them this year is how to laugh REALLY LOUDLY in order to get people wondering what's so damn funny. Keep 'em wondering: that's my new motto.

Okay, not really.

Anyway, I got an email this morning from the RA on my floor asking me if I wanted to come to the cookie-baking event at the end of the month. Um, yes I do. As long as I can eat half of them and take the other half home for me and Belly to share.

The RA asked me to RSVP as soon as I could because--get this--if I show up for the event, they get more funding. I never thought I'd see the day when my very presence at an event translated to the ability to purchase more sugar. Yet, here is that moment. I have arrived.

I wrote back to her and said that yes, I'd be there as long as I get an entire tub of sprinkles to myself as we're decorating. Poor thing never thought she'd see the day when a faculty mentor was more demanding than the women on her floor.

Arrival, indeed. It's yummy at the top.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

office hour

In the last hour I

1. helped a student with ideas for her presentation--then she told me a story about a customer who brought her an entire bag of mint M&Ms when she (the student) worked at a gas station. She had mentioned to this customer that she remembers these M&Ms from her childhood, but that clearly they don't make them anymore. When the customer brought her the big bag of them, she said to the customer, "I'd hug you if it didn't get me fired."

2. granted an incomplete to a student who is suffering from depression. I wanted to give her a hug because I UNDERSTAND. That is, I'd've hugged her if it wouldn't get me fired.

3. turned down the opportunity to talk with a reporter from the student newspaper about plagiarism. Irresponsible, I know. But a) I really don't have the time (but I have time to blog about it) and b) every other faculty member I know who's granted an interview to this paper has regretted it. One student quoted Julie Wonka as saying that she once wanted to be a doctor, but BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T LIKE TO TOUCH THINGS, she went into rhetoric. Um, yeah.

4. listened to a colleague recite this week's (THIS WEEK'S) poem that she's written for her kitty, whose name is, drum roll, Miss Kitty. I nearly peed during this performance.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 06, 2006

job ad: Annabelle petter

Full-time. Five positions open. Beautiful, high-maintenance, doggie wog seeks five humans to serve as full-time petters. Positions to be filled immediately (my mommy doesn't pet me enough). Pay is pretty low, but benefits are good. Medical: I'll lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight with lots of walks. You'll develop upper body strength, particularly in the upper arms, from petting me nonstop. Dental: I'll brush your teeth for you first thing in the morning. Sick days: As many as you need, as long as your arms are still working. Vacation: summers off since Mommy's home with me.

Serious applications only to Lyings and Tirades and Fears, Oh My! I trust my mommy, who works way too much, will forward applications to me out of guilt for not petting me enough.

An equal opportunity employer.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

in which Annabelle stars in a Lifetime movie of the week

Today at the park one of the funny things (there were many, some of which are too racy to report here) that developed was the pre-planning for a Lifetime movie of the week starring everybody's favorite love-starved dog. Its title shall be

Desperate for Love: Annabelle's Struggle

We came up with this brilliance after watching Belly desperately try to attach herself first to Neecy then to Sahara and then to me, all with little luck because Neecy and Sahara were too busy monitoring the playtime shenanigans of their boys Tanner and Lucky. So Belly wandered off, sullen. Poor baby girl.

With the royalties from her movie, she shall hire four or five full-time petters.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

yummy tums

I just took Tums for the first time in my life. Fruit flavored tums. And I think I love them. I started out with two for a minor tummy upset, liked them so much that I took another. And just now I went back to the bathroom and took one more, though I had a hard time deciding between red and orange.

How, with the weak stomach that I have, have I lived for 34 years without the pleasure of these chalky treats?

the importance of "Amy time"

S. and I have been dating for almost three months now, and this relationship is completely changing the way I perceive time. Before, when I was alone, I had so much free time, but it wasn't really free time because I used it to work or to clean or to blog or to read or to bake apple pies. Now my free time is simply not as free. This is not at all a complaint, I promise.

I've been alone for SO LONG that having someone to do things with is simply wonderful. Knowing I can count on him for just about anything is deeply comforting. And one of the best things about him is that he UNDERSTANDS my need for alone time. I need A LOT of alone time, or what we've taken to calling "Amy time." Much of the time that I spend without him is devoted to schoolwork: grading or reading or grading or writing. But then there's time that I spend without him--like tonight, probably--when neither of us is actually busy with anything, that I'll spend doing random things that I used to do before we met.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to Keita on the phone, and I was marvelling at JUST HOW MUCH writing I'd assigned my students this semester. Her response: "You planned the course as a single person. You had more time then."

Indeed. Not, of course, that it's all that simple. The dangers of making these claims do not escape me. To claim that I have less time than a single person is to claim, then, that single people have more time to work and so should be given more responsibility. Trust me, I know this and actively resist it.

All of this is to say that I'm realizing how much alone time it takes to keep me sane, and to wonder--not at all in jest and not the least bit sarcastically--how people with children manage academic life. I'm so grateful that I recognize how much I need to be happy and how little it would take to make me come untied, undone, to make me break down. A couple times this semester, I felt very much on the verge.

I wrote, in the beginning of an essay about my childhood, that my mother is the kind of person who probably should never have had children. I, too, am a version of that kind of person.

But I think I can be happy with someone who respects my need for lots of alone time. And S., he's so damn good that way. We've imagined our future home with a sound-proof room for me so I can have Amy time without hearing the sportscasters for the football games he'll surely be watching in the living room. That I can live with.


Thursday, November 02, 2006


Here's almost verbatim what I said to students yesterday as I was explaining to them how to write an academic paper to be read aloud to an audience:

"You want to provide your readers with a kind of roadmap to help them see how you're getting from point A to point B."

and then I said the word roadmap one more time, which led to this:

"I've been having this recurring dream lately, where I'm running to catch a plane and I barely make it. And I'm always at the Boston airport."

Their faces were dumbstruck. What the hell?

Um, yeah. I just illustrated what not to do when presenting material to an audience. I just assumed that students would be able to follow my train of thought, which was something like: roadmap, transportation, flying, that damn recurring nightmare about missing my plane.

It made complete sense to me.

And this dream, it's disturbing. You all know how I can't stand to be late for anything. And lately I've been feeling this horribly vague anxiety. Don't know what it is or what it's for or what my problem is, but it's making me a bit nuts.