Monday, May 28, 2007

sunny, sunny North Carolina

It's raining in Bloomington, and has been for days. So S. and I chose a good week to leave, it looks like. Have I mentioned that I miss my bug-bug? Oh how I miss my booda booda girl.

We're having a very nice, very relaxing time. I'm usually not very good at this "vacation" thing--but I'm learning how to not feel guilt about sleeping in every morning until 9, about not constantly worrying about what I should be doing (though I confess to having thought about my book a few times), and I'm learning how to just sit and visit with S. and his family. So so good and relaxing. There'll always be a part of me, of course, that stands back in pure amazement at families who actually like each other and enjoy spending time together. But I'm getting there.

This morning after breakfast, as she was sitting upstairs playing solitaire on the computer and listening to me and S. and his dad talking, S.'s stepmom told me how much she enjoys hearing our laughter in the house.

Ah, and I made a pop culture reference yesterday that S. didn't get--let me repeat. I made a pop culture reference that S. didn't get. I was talking about how stupid Grey's Anatomy has jumped the shark this season. This was a moment to remember.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

the things I'll do to find these chips

I should be getting paid to say all this, btw.

I love Snyder's flaxseed gold multigrain tortilla chips. Love them very much. Deeee-licious and good for you, too. I first found them at the pricey grocery store in town--Schnuck's--but they haven't had them for a while. Last night I went to Schnuck's for burgers and buns and, specifically, these chips, but they didn't have them and I was very very sad. When I got to S.'s house, I went to the Snyder's website to see if I could buy them online (they're that good). Well, turns out you can, but only in cases of 12. Will we EAT 12 bags of chips this summer? Probably, but just to be sure we can't find them anywhere in town, I went on a journey. I had some time on my hands while S. was mowing the lawn, so I went to Jewel first. Nope. They carry the line, but not the flaxseed gold for some reason. Then I went to Cub. Nope. I already knew Kroger didn't carry them, so I didn't bother going there.

And then.

Horror of horrors. I just wanted to run through all of my options before spending $39.99 on a case of chips. I went to the Evil Empire. Wal-mart. Thinking for sure they'd have them and they'd probably be 50 cents cheaper per bag. I found the chip aisle. I tried not to look at all the stuff in the Evil Empire for so cheap. As I walked to the chip aisle, I found myself understanding the draw of the place. It's so huge. And bright. And shiny. And cheap.

And I reminded myself of their business practices.

I got to the chip aisle. Three quarters of the aisle was taken up by Frito Lay products. No Snyder's anything. Not pretzels. Not tortilla chips. And somewhere inside I breathed a little sigh of relief. Snyder's doesn't do business with Wal-mart, I'm assuming. This is why a case of chips is $39.99.

I returned home to find S. still mowing. I had no flaxseed gold tortilla chips. I won't order my case now because we're leaving for NC tomorrow. There's always the chance that I'll find them in a store there and can just carry back three or four bags on the plane. But if not, I'm hoping Belly doesn't yell too much at the UPS man when he comes. After all, he'll be delivering a box of gold.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

on finishing one another's sentences

Ya know how they say you sound like a married couple when you begin finishing one another's sentences? We ain't quite there yet. Instead, I often don't let him finish his own sentence. Witness:

I'm driving him to work this morning because his car's in the shop. As I'm driving, my arms on the steering wheel, I say: My muscles (prounounced "musk-les") hurt from carrying all that water and soda into my office yesterday.

He: Couldn't you have borrowed a cart or something?

Me: Yeah, but I didn't think I'd need it.

He: What about for the fridge?

Me: Yeah, I used a wheelie for the fridge.

He: I've got a dolly at home if you ever need it. It's cool--you can put things on it standing up, and then there's a way to put it so that things can be lying down on it.

Me: So you could wheel me around.

He: It's got a pretty heavy weight capacity... [sentence unfinished]

Me, screaming: ACK! It's got a pretty heavy weight capacity, so that means it can carry ME?

He: You didn't let me finish my sentence. I was going to say, it's got a pretty large weight capacity so it could probably carry both of us.

Me: I'm still gonna blog this.

He: As long as you make it clear that I hadn't finished my sentence before you hit the roof.

Me: Have a lovely day at work, honey.


Monday, May 21, 2007

I feel boring

Not too much to say these days. I went to my new basement office this morning, brought the fridge over from the old building, and stocked it with diet Coke. So I'm ready to work. I also unloaded a few boxes of books. Got lost in the building looking for a) the English Dept. office; and b) the elevator.

S. and I and a couple friends played mini-golf on Friday night. The other professor and I, we weren't so good. We were both in the suck-it boat, but we had fun. S. won, the stinker. On Saturday night we went to see an indoor football game. I don't like football all that much. Never have, probably never will, but it was fun to people-watch and drink beer.

Belly ate three entire cooked chicken breasts last night after S. left them on the counter while we were eating outside. When we saw that there was only one left on the plate, we looked at her, the only dog who can reach that high, and she didn't look the least bit guilty. Um, yum, she said. That was good. I saved you one.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

she was loved, this little girl

Kylie with her daddy
Originally uploaded by aerobil.
S. hates having his picture taken, so there are very few photos of him with his doggie wogs, so I took this one (and a few on the photo to get to my flickr account) on Thursday afternoon. While S. was at work on Friday, I had it printed I framed it and it is now displayed proudly in his living room.

Kylie's in the big buffet in the sky, as S. likes to put it, catching up with her brother McFly, a Cairn terrier who lived to the ripe old age of 13. He takes good care of these doggies.

The house is eerily quiet without Kylie, but calmer in some ways too. I don't think S. realized how much he was constantly worrying about her. There's no more worry, just some sadness.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

for Kylie

Not the least hard thing to bear when
they go from us, these quiet friends,
is that they carry away with them so
many years of our lives. Yet, if they
find warmth therein, who would
begrudge them those years that they
have so guarded?
And whatever they take,
be sure they have deserved.

--John Galsworthy

update of sorts

Grades are done and turned in and I've gotten no email complaints in the first 24 hours. This is a good sign.

Becky mailed our manuscript on Monday and it's a hefty one. Full of intelligence and insight.

I've been working at the Coffeehouse on the prospectus for the collection of essays I've been working on with grad students for what seems like forever. But for all the publications acceptances in the world I couldn't've gotten out of bed this morning. It was chillers last night: only 48 this morning.

Illinois, this new home of mine, is the most average of the states. Somehow that's comforting.

S. and I are going to NC next Friday to visit his parents. God, it'll be good to get away.

Part of the reason we're both going to need to get away is that S. is having sweet, sweet 14-year-old Kylie dawg put down tonight. He made the decision last weekend, and the vet is coming to his home tonight to do it. This way Kylie's home with her people and all her sisters and isn't freaked out by the vet's office. She's been diagnosed with what is probably Cushing's disease, which causes the body to create too many steroids, which explains the heavy drinking (not that kind of heavy drinking) and the peeing all over the house. But more than the disease, I think it's just old age. She has a hard time getting around. She's increasingly confused. I've never put a dog down. In fact, I've never even seen a dead dog, so I'm not sure I'll be able to be right there when the vet does it. But I'll be close by. As will Scully and Mulder and Annabelle. And there will be many many tears. Knowing it's the right thing to do doesn't make it easier. As I think about how to comfort S. tonight and in the days to come, I can't help but keep coming back to an essay by Sam Pickering called, simply, "George." I taught it this semester in my personal essay course. I hadn't read it before I taught it, and though I knew it was about a doggie dying, I wasn't at all prepared for how much it would affect me. I keep coming back to this:

In general, people weep more over the death of pets than they do over family members. The death of an animal does not disrupt routine or impose responsibility. Consequently a person has the leisure to indulge his emotions. When a family member dies, a person suddenly has so many chores that not only does leisure vanish but the dead person himself disappears. Funerals must be arranged, taxes paid, and estates settled. Clothes must be given away, and houses and apartments sold. In the mail legal forms arrive and thank-you notes go out....
With a dog, though, there's no bureaucratic busy-ness to keep you from your emotions.

The puppy I trained has vanished from memory....No, the dog I remember best and most fondly was old, at first pestered by yeasty ears, then deaf, only able to hear a high whistle. On walks this past year George began to lose his way....

Pickering, Sam. "George." The Best American Essays 2006. Ed. Lauren Slater. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 133-152.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the boy's getting good at Scrabble

Last night HE asked ME if I wanted to play a game of Scrabble. Why yes, my love, I'd love to. Just let me pick my jaw up off the floor and I'll be right there.

He's getting so good that he's even begun pouting (he calls it sulking, though I fail to see the difference) when I take the spot he'd been planning on using. He knows the S-rule very well: never use it unless it gets you an extra 8 points. And he's become quite adept at making two or more words at once.

On Sunday night, he put down the word "wed" for many points--it created other two letter words in its wake. In my next turn, I put the word "clean" on top of it, with the A over "wed" and the N over the E. So I made three words: clean, awed, and ne.

S., many minutes after the turn, finally sees what I've done and says, "a-wed" is a word?

Me: Awed, honey. I've been awed with you since we met.

Happens all the time of course. Made me think of the time Hillary got all high on her horse about "his"--prouncing it as a plural "hi" and snarking about it.

He won Sunday, I won Monday. Getting him to suggest a game of Scrabble though is completely my win. He's addicted and there ain't nuttin' he can do about it.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

S.'s ebay withdrawal

S. is addicted to Ebay. For a very long time he bought a lot of crap on Ebay (but, lest I get in trouble for not mentioning this, he's also gotten me a few things I like a lot on Ebay), but recently we had a talk. About not buying so much on Ebay. So he's been going through something of a withdrawal period.

S.: They've been calling me everyday! They think I'm dead.

When I told him I wanted to buy Belly a reflective collar (Julie's idea, and a good one), he immediately went onto Ebay.

Me: Uh, honey, I don't think a collar is something we need to pay shipping for.

But he showed me some of the ones he found anyway. I was convinced I'd be able to find a cute one here in town. I did get one yesterday, but I'm not thrilled with it. Belly's position as fashion plate is seriously in jeopardy. She's now wearing a red collar decorated with reflective paw prints. Talking with my friend Nan yesterday, I was trying to come up with the term to describe this collar, the one that only bad doggies have to wear to let the world know they're bad. Not an ankle bracelet, cuz you can't really see that....

Nan: The scarlet collar.

Me: Exactly.

So last night I looked again at Ebay's selection of reflective collars, and I gave in. We're paying $2.99 for shipping for this collar. It's not quite as scarlet and it's not quite as trite.

And S. feels so much better because he's back in with Ebay. Phew.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

this should win some kind of contest, I'm thinkin'

Originally uploaded by aerobil.
In case you've forgotten just how pathetic a look this girl can drum up, here you have her after a very long day's work. Could someone please feed me? Note her toy in the background--that's Boris the rescue dog with his orange vest. Clearly he's had a rough day at work, too.

Does she kill you or does she kill you?

In other, safety-related news, I'll be shopping today for Annabelle's very first reflective collar. I usually prefer to go for cute cute cute (she currently wears a Life is Good collar), but given her recent escape, safety is more important. Perhaps we can find a cute reflective one. We're certainly not going for the safety orange. Too ugly.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

my doggie wog, she's just like me

I'm loud.

She's loud. At the dog park, she has designated herself referee and yells to try to break up any group of dogs who are having too much fun. She also yells to try to get the doggies to play with her, but they pretty much ignore her. And the daily visit by the mailman? Let's not even go there.

She's needy. When she's not getting enough attention, she'll come over to you, shake her whole body so her tags make lots of noise, and then paw you a couple times. I'm here. Why aren't you petting me?

I'm needy. I'll be at S.'s house, he'll be doing something in another room, and I'll yell, Honeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey. What? Nothing. (Why aren't you petting me?)


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

how to feed depression

1. Decide you're going to have pizza for dinner no matter what.
2. When S. declines because he's got a migraine, go to the mall to have a slice of pizza in the food court.
3. Go to the mall for pizza in the food court on a cloudless 80-degree evening.
4. Order two large slices even though you know you'll only be able to eat 1.
5. Sit in the food court and wonder about the other people who are eating at the food court on a cloudless 80-degree evening.
6. Go the the Hallmark store and pick out cards for important people. Later that night you'll write one out for Hillary and then decide the next morning that it's far too cheesy to send. You don't write very well when you're depressed.
7. Wander around Bergner's looking for something to make you feel better.
8. Try some stuff on and realize how big plaid shorts make your ass look.
9. Wander over to Macy's and try a whole bunch of stuff on. Buy a couple things even though a) you don't need them and b) you probably can't afford them.
10. Leave the mall as the sun's going down and realize that none of this made you feel better. But you weren't trying to feel better. In fact, you were specifically trying to feed the depression. Mission accomplished.

Go home and snuggle your doggie and tell her that you love her so, so much. It's gonna be okay. Take her for a lovely walk on this lovely evening.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I lost more than my dog last night

She's okay, but something has been lost. I'm hoping it's temporary.

11:15 pm. Last call. I let her out as usual, and about 10 minutes later go to bring her in as usual. She's been such a good girl for so long about coming right up the back porch steps when I open the gate that I thought nothing of doing this last night. Open gate. Belly walks up the steps and into the house. Except last night. I open the gate. She walks toward the steps and stops. Deadset on something. And takes off. My instant reaction is anger. Disgust. Not this again. I put on different shoes, grab the leash, put the front porch light on, and begin walking the streets to try to find her. My assumption at first is that she'll come right back.

God I'm so sick of this.

Fifteen minutes later I'm beginning to get worried. I call S., who has to work in the morning and usually gets up at 5:30. It's 11:30 by now. He comes right away. While he's on his way, I see a kid on the street who asks if I'm looking for a big black dog. Uh, yeah. I saw her standing on a porch on Oakland Street a little while ago, he tells me. And all I can think at this point is that she's done chasing the critters and is trying to find her home. Her front porch. And I start crying as I walk toward Oakland, a very busy street. The whole time I'm looking for her I'm thinking, I love this dog too much. I shouldn't love her so much.

S. shows up, we drive around a bit, we walk the neighborhood separately a bit, we get back in the car. All of this takes about a half hour. When we get back in the car the second time, I'm crying for real. It's so dark out and she's so black. We're driving real slow up a one-way street when I realize there's a cop behind us. I pull over and wave him down, tell him we're looking for our dog. I tell him her name and he says he'll keep an eye out for her. We keep driving. A few minutes later we're turning onto my street when S. thinks he hears her barking. I look toward the house and see her bookin' it into our driveway. I pull into the driveway, relieved, sick to my stomach, angry. But mostly relieved to see that face.

Not two seconds later, the cop car pulls up in front of the house to check if we got her all right. Apparently, the cop had seen her running, called her name, and that's when she booked it into her driveway. Belly, it seems, was chased home by the Bloomington Police.

This is a story that could be made funny, could be compared to the time I was brought home by the police when I was 15 for stealing plastic flowers. I like the idea of Belly hearing that the cops were after her and running home to tell Mommy she was sorry. This is a story I contemplated not telling on the blog because you've heard it all before.

But earlier this afternoon as I was walking her, I kept thinking about what was going through my mind last night. I love this dog too much. Can you love a dog too much? Am I getting mad at myself for letting this creature do this to me again? I lost a lot of trust in this dog last night. But there's more to it than that. I feel like I'm still grieving. I walk the same streets with her today that I walked last night in my pajamas and it just feels different somehow. My heart hurts.

Just Friday night I was saying to my friends what a good dog Annabelle has turned into. She's loyal, she's funny, she's smart, she's mischievous, and she's got loads of personality. She milks her best pathetic look every day. And I know that her running off last night doesn't make her a bad dog. It's her hunting instinct. But I don't know how many more times I can take this. I'm just not that strong.

It'd be so much easier if I could just stop loving her so much.


welcome to the 20th century, Amy

Holy shit, my iPod is going to change my life. Took me a while to get here, but holy shitters batman. I bought one of those fancy little things that allows you to play the iPod in the car and have I mentioned that this is going to change my life? No more stupid commercials in the car! Only songs that I like! And how on god's green earth does that little teeny tuner thing work? It's like there's little aliens inside that are transferring the iPod songs to the car stereo.

Why has nobody told me about how easy this all is? I'm getting rid of a bunch of my CDs once I download them because so many of them have only one or two songs that I like. Buh-bye.

We all know how much I love to get rid of stuff. Poyhaps I'll even sell them. Yippee!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

seatbelt saga

For at least a couple years now, the driver's seatbelt in my beloved 95 Geo Prizm has been tempermental, showing its sticky side most often in the summer months. I'll get into the car, reach for the belt, it'll stick, I'll swear, tug, tug, tug, it'll finally give, and I'll be on my way. This week it got real bad. I mean real. bad. On Monday I stopped by the car fix-it place and asked if I could borrow a man with really big muscles to tug on it for me. He came out, tugged and tugged and tugged, and finally got it.

"You're my hero."

"You're gonna need a new seatbelt."

"Yeah, but for now I'm in denial." I drive off, and struggle with the damn thing every time I get in the car. It gets so bad that if I've been successful in getting the seatbelt to work, when I get OUT of the car, I buckle it so that I'll be assured some give when I get back in the car. It didn't always work.

Two days later I stopped by said fix-it place again to make an appointment to have the seatbelt replaced. Estimate: $300. Sounds worse spelled out. Ahem. Three. hundred. dollars. For a seatbelt. Why? Because it's a 95 car, for one, they can't use used parts, two, and they only make so many of these for older cars. Supply and demand, as it were. The seatbelt itself was $217.50. Jeebus. Labor, about $55.

Last night, I had friends over and I'm telling this story.

Me: So I reasoned that if I got pulled over for not wearing the seatbelt, it'd probably be $100 ticket, so I may as well just bite the bullet and pay for it.

Sarah: Not to mention that you might be DEAD.

Me: I've told that story to many people and you're the first to say that. Huh. Three hundred life (here I'm doing the scale balancing gesture with my hands).

Later that night Sarah takes a photo of me from the side--a profile shot, as it were. NOT. PRETTY. She shows it to me and I beg her to delete it.

Me: That picture's enough to make me want to go get my money back for the seatbelt. I'll take my chances.


Friday, May 04, 2007

we had fun

ENG246: The Personal Essay
Originally uploaded by aerobil.
I took Liz's advice and took photos of the students in each of my two classes this semester. Happy I did this. Now when they come to my office on Tuesday to drop off their final projects, I can give each one a photo of our class.

This was one of the best teaching semesters EVAR. I'm proud to have worked with such fantastic students. Click on the photo to get to the others (someday perhaps I'll learn how to put more than one photo per blog entry....but I'm not promising anything).

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

people keep talking about this thing called compromise

S. and I watched Little Children last night. I'd read the novel a few months ago and was eagerly awaiting its DVD release, which happened yesterday. And we watched it last night. We're on top of things, yes we are. I loved loved loved the movie, but I do always love stories of fucked-up relationships, especially those that look so perfect on the outside. "Beauty is overrated," says Brad. I'd like to believe that. This movie helps me to believe that. One thing I was waiting for during the whole movie was the scene where Marianne's husband denies her their weekly Tuesday night, 9:00 sex date. Cuz she's such a bitch in the movie and in the book. But it never made it to the screenplay. Just keep that in mind during the book club scene. It'll make you feel better.

(and I was also thinking as we watched the movie that it demonstrates beautifully what Vivian Gornick's talking about when she encourages essayists to consider the "loneliness of the monster.")

Anyway, this is allegedly a post about compromise. As S. and I were watching the movie, it occurred to me that he's been asking me since we met to watch Lord of the Rings with him. And Star Wars. And I've done neither. What's my problem? The Star Wars thing is easier to understand--I kinda like claiming that I've never seen it because of people's reactions. But the LOTR movies--I'm just so resistant to fantasy. I imagine I'll be able to get into that world and will probably enjoy it once I allow myself to, but there's something in me that is fighting fighting fighting it. I don't want to believe in fantasy. I guess that's it. But lo, the reasons I don't want to believe in fantasy--that's a book in itself.

But this summer I shall. If only because S. watches everything I want to watch with no complaint. He so wants me to enjoy them. So I'll try.

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