Friday, September 28, 2007

not-so-self-evident truths

1. Every time I teach this course on the personal essay, I get this feeling about half-way through that I'm doing everything wrong, that I'm not teaching them anything they don't already know, that I'm asking too much of them, that it's just too hard for them to write the personal essay because it sounds too much like personal "narrative." Not the same thing. But I gotta get over myself because so far, these things have worked themselves out and students go on to write fantastic stuff.

2. I never thought these words would come from my hands: I'm ready to kill Mulder. The beagle. The one S. has been complaining about since I met him and for years before that. About 8 years, I think. Mulder is 14 years old. Which probably makes you go, awwwwwww, how could a 14-year-old beagle make you want to kill her? Before I moved in here, I was always sticking up for Mulder when S. would moan and groan about her. Now I get it. She is absolutely, unwaveringly, disgustingly ravenous at all times, which results in her following my every move with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I'll drop a crumb. I've stopped allowing her in the kitchen when I'm preparing food because she makes me nuts.

3. After about 6 weeks of living with S. and a bit of a mini-breakdown earlier this week, I came to a sad and scary insight. I knew coming into this that I didn't really know how to live with someone, and part of that not knowing is likely a result of this not-so-self-evident truth that came out of my mouth last night: I've never lived with someone I didn't distrust. This isn't to say that there aren't people in my life I've trusted. Not at all. There are many. None have ever shared the same roof with me for more than a few nights at a time. So when I convince myself somehow that S. is horrible (he's not), it's because I'm trying to make him into someone I can distrust. Hi, need therapy anyone?

4. Perhaps #3 explains why I so strongly identify with the Seymour Krim line, "I have never learned how to live. I improvise--and fuck up anyway."

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

the Cubs are gonna give me a stroke

It's not at all that I want the Cubs to just go ahead and lose so that I can stop worrying about them. I want them to win, I want them to get to the playoffs, I want them to make it to the World Series.

But I'd also like a rest from this anxiety.

I'd like to begin reading at night again.

I'd like to stop planning my evening Annabelle walks around the Cubs schedule.

Who am I kidding? I don't really want to stop planning my evening walks around their schedule. But I do feel like I've forgotten the pleasure of reading each night. Today they're on at 3:05, so by 6 I'll have the evening free.

I'm a nervous wreck. I don't like this 2-game lead. I don't like Milwaukee. I was actually rooting for the Cardinals last night. Holy macaroni.

For the record, I now have one more thing to talk with students about. I'm learning to do the baseball talk thing. I can officially participate in male bonding rituals.

S. keeps telling me that I'm not a true Cub fan until they've broken my heart. Does a stroke count?


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

what I bought at Target today

That's Tar-jay, thank you.

1. Halloween oreos with the orange creme in the middle. There's more creme than in regular oreos--almost like double stuff.

2. New pillowcases for the 14,000 pillows S. sleeps with. He's covered in them when he sleeps, and the pillowcases he has on there now are as thin as parchment. Pretty new wine colored ones. Much better. Now he can suffocate in style.

3. New eye shadow--a whole bunch. I realized today as I was doing my make-up that I'd had my eye shadow compacts for oh, I don't know, 14 years.

4. Fun Halloween flashing buttons to wear just because. One's Frankie and one's a jack-o-lantern. Both have blinking red eyes. I told S. he could choose which he wanted and he didn't care, so I chose Frankie.

5. Tootsie rolls. Because they were right next to the blinking Halloween buttons.

6. Stride brand fruit flavored gum. It's like Fruit Stripe for grown-ups.

See? I told you I had nothing to write about. *sigh*


Monday, September 24, 2007

is there such a thing as blogger's block?

I have nothing to say lately. Don't really know why. Funny things aren't happening to me, maybe? Or I'm not able to see the humor in things because I have so much work to do? I have been experiencing a great deal of anxiety about writing lately, in part because I'm not getting very much of it done. But who wants to hear about that on the blog?

So I'm blocked. Nuthin' to say except I'd better get back to grading all those essays. grumble grumble.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

oh, you know what they say about appearances

I'm teaching another section of the advanced writing course on the personal essay. On the books, it's not a course on the personal essay; I've just made it that each time I teach it. And each time I teach it, I love the personal essay even more. And I begin to think about how I can show my love for the essay. Duh, write one. Try to get one published. But that's a matter for another time.

One of the secretaries in the department has decided to take this class with me this semester. She'd been reading "on the sly" some of the essays I assign, and I keep telling her to just take the class already. So she is. And she's writing her first essay on smoking--why she does it, trying to challenge all of the cliched reasons that nonsmokers like me think we know about why she does it.

One of the requirements for this assignment is that students incorporate into the essay another person's perspective. Try to get into the other person's head as much as you can and write it how they would see things. Which is admittedly really hard to do. All the more reason to do it.

So in this essay that the department secretary is writing about smoking, lo and behold, I am the other perspective. And I am the other perspective because as she's thinking about why she smokes, she realizes that it is in part a crutch, a way to get through all the things in life she "has to" and is "supposed to" do. I come into the essay because I appear to need no crutches. I appear to have my life pulled together.

I truly was shocked when I read this. I'm not performing some kind of false humility (saying this makes it all that more likely that I am, of course, so I'm in a bind of sorts). I guess I can concede that it may appear that I've got things together. But lordie pie. Anyone who's read this blog for any amount of time has some idea of the ways I torture myself on a daily basis with constant work and constant guilt when I'm not working.

Anxiety. Guilt. Never feeling like I've done enough. It doesn't show?



Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm gonna miss most of tonight's game

Teaching is now officially interfering with my addiction. Tonight's Cubbies game is at 7, and I teach until 8:20.

But seriously, folks. I love that baseball is on EVERY. DAY. It's like I've found this fantastic new prime time show and it's on every night. I don't have to wait until next week for the drama to continue. These last few games have been stomach-turning drama.

I always used to wonder how people could sit inside and watch sports on a perfectly gorgeous summer or, especially, fall day. Now I get it. S. and I had to do some shopping on Saturday afternoon and we wished that we had a little mini tv to carry around with us. As it was, we got into the car, turned the AM station on and got very very mad when they went--no lie--two or three minutes without telling us the SCORE. S. says, "This is just bad radio."

But we won. And then we lost. And then we won again.

And tonight, stay tuned for more drama.

I love this stuff.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

ketchin' up

One thing about the blog I have to say: it does seem to be a nag when I've gotten back from a trip and don't really want to recount the entire thing. I feel like I can't move on to blog about other stuff until I've finished this. So, because I can form no narrative of the trip (mainly out of laziness), I offer this list.

1. The 9 1/2 hour flight from ATLANTA. Yes, we flew from Bloomington to Atlanta, only to double back so that we could be on the plane for 9 1/2 straight hours. This made it easier to torture us with films like Georgia Rule and Fabulous Four. Pain, I tell you. Pain.

2. The limo ride to the hotel that came as a result of waiting in line for no less than an HOUR for a cab. When it was our turn to get one, it just so happened that the next one to show was a limo. we shared it with two guys going to the same place, and I stretched out and watched the drive from my back.

3. The way I fell into complete despair after having been up for TOO MANY HOURS in a row. When we got to the hotel, it was approximately 3 am our time. I'm no good past midnight. NO. GOOD.

4. Am I just going to complain about this trip? No.

5. The beach. The glorious sea. It was fantastic. My favorite day was spent sitting by the water with fruity drinks in front of us as we watched the sea turtles swim-swim-swimmin'. I shrieked every time they popped their cute little heads up. Impossible to take any pictures.

6. The trip to Pearl Harbor was moving. Here's my favorite pic taken from inside the USS Arizona memorial:

7. The hike up Diamond Head was exhausting but rewarding. Felt good to have made that climb in the middle of such a hot, sunny day. And the views were incredible.

8. S.'s CPCU conferment ceremony. I was so proud of him. And the food was fantastic, the drinks were free.

9. Speaking of food. Holy fresh pineapples, batman. Oh my god I love them. We even made up a song about pineapples when we bought a box to take home with us. It goes something like this: Pineapples, pineapples. We love the pineapples.

10. The pathetic little beach umbrella we purchased for $15 because we couldn't, on principle, pay $40 to rent one for ONE DAY. It didn't give us very much shade, and we barely used it, but we still felt like we made out better that way. I wish I had a picture of us squeezing together under the umbrella, trying to keep important parts of us from the sun.

11. The aborted attempt to eat dinner on our last night at Ruth's Chris steakhouse. We thought there was a special for a $39.95 three-course dinner, so we made reservations, only to get there at 8:30 to realize that the special was from 5-6 each night. We took one look at the menu and, even though the Big Corporation was going to reimburse us for the meal, I could not, on principle, pay $41 for a steak that didn't even come with a vegetable. The side of broccoli, folks, was $8. Um, no.

12. Missing my girl like crazy. So so good to be home. Time to get myself into some kind of routine. Lots of reading to do for my classes today. Cubbies are on at 1. Don't know if I'll be able to watch them. But oh how I love them so.


Friday, September 14, 2007

I know how much you miss me

And I miss you, too.

But this will have to suffice until I find the energy to organize the Hawaii trip into some kind of narrative.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

hurry up and grow up

About a month ago, I'm walking Annabelle to the small park that's in our neighborhood. It's late afternoon on a beautiful summer day, and I wanted Belly to have a chance to run a bit. This park is good for that because it's mostly fenced in, and the girl has learned where she can and can't go.

As I'm walking her, two kids and their dad were on bikes on the sidewalk behind me. The girl was maybe 6, the boy 4. They're on bikes with training wheels, so they're not going very fast, but eventually they pass me. "I like your dog," the little girl says as she passes. "Thanks," I say.

When Belly and I get to the park, the kids are parking their bikes on the bike rack. As Belly and I pass them, the little girl says, "Can I pet him?"

Me: Well, she's not really good with little kids, so you'd better not. I don't want her to scare you.

The Dad, translating for his daughter: She's just not used to kids, honey.

Belly and I keep walking, and when we're about 20 feet away, the little girl yells after me, "When will she be used to kids?"


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

how all this feels

I got a "new" car on Friday night. We're going to Hawai'i on Friday, all expenses paid by large corporation.

I feel like I was the next contestant on the Price is Right and I made it all the way to the Showcase Showdown. And won both!

D-A-N-G dang.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

where Alcatraz has taken me

I bought Alcatraz Prizm in February, 1996. I was 23 years old and working at Better Communications and, well, pretty unhappy. As you already know, I paid $10,400 for him. My monthly payments were $228, and I paid him off in five years. He was a leftover 1995, so I didn't really get any choices on options and such. Power nothing. No power windows, no power doors, no air conditioning, even NO POWER STEERING. My arm muscles have been built up over the past 11 1/2 years, and now that I have power steering, my arms might start jiggling or something.

I took him home to an apartment in Brighton, MA.

One year into owning him, we were rear-ended on the way home from work. The body shop fixed him up real good, so good that the paint on the ass end was better than the original paint, so for the last four years or so, he's been two-toned. Pink with a red ass. And, let's be honest, a wee bit of rust.

When I took the job at Readak, Alcatraz was really put to work. I drove him from Massachusetts to Appleton, Wisconsin.

From Appleton to Dearborn, Michigan.

From Dearborn to Cincinnati.

From Cincinnati to Lincoln, Nebraska.

From Lincoln to Minot, North Dakota (with a 9-hour stay at a gas station in a South Dakota blizzard thrown in).

From Minot to Minneapolis (not to teach but to visit the Mall of America with Keita).

From Minneapolis back to Massachusetts.

From Massachusetts to Hershey, PA.

From Hershey, PA to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

From Beaver Dam back to Massachusetts.

Then Alcatraz had a 3-month rest while I went to Barcelona for my final (thank god!) Readak teaching assignment. He stayed in a friend's garage in Holyoke, MA.

When I returned from Spain, we settled in to attend graduate school in Boston.

Many trips back and forth from Newton, MA to Littleton, MA, where my boyfriend lived.

Then I was off to grad school in Syracuse for four years, during which time we drove back to Massachusetts many many times.

And finally, the 16-hour drive to Normal, IL in August 2004. Since that time, Alcatraz had entered what you might call early retirement. He wasn't pushed quite so hard, and he continued to serve me well despite a few obvious signs of aging.

But the most important thing about this car was that it was what I drove to bring home the Annabelly girl from the Central New York SPCA on May 30, 2002. She had many many many rides in the car and she was always such a good girl. She loved that car. Her nose marks were all over the windows, her hair all over the entire car all the time. I admit to being very sad last night that Belly didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

I was 23 when I bought it. I'm now almost 35. Holy jesus h. on a popsicle stick. That's adult.

That car was part of my identity. My fantastic bumpersticker, "Dog is my co-pilot" made me easy to spot. It was emotional last night saying goodbye. I know that sounds kinda cheesy, but it's true. It was my first (and probably will be my only) brand new car, and you might say I grew up in it.

I grew up so much, in fact, that the car I now "own" (loan) is incredibly grown-up. It's on the verge of luxury, I have to say. It's no kid's car. It's beige, not red. All the windows work. Air conditioning is fab.u.lous. And it's got a button to pop the trunk. All of these things, to my mind, indicate luxury.

I already miss my car in a strange way. I should've taken more pictures of it.

35. Drives a Honda Civic EX. Lives in a very suburban-ish neighborhood. Is officially ADULT.


and in the 12th year she said, let there be air conditioning

It's official, folks. I'll no longer be driving around central Illinois without air conditioning. I am the proud owner of a 2003 Honda Civic, and jesus h. does it drive smoothly. I haven't thought of a name for him yet, but I'll keep you posted on that.

More to come on saying goodbye to dear ol' Alcatraz...