Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snow on Snow on Snow

Back in Boston now.

Went to temple this morning for the last session of the year. It was lovely, peaceful, hopeful.

Until I got outside.

When I drove to the temple there was the littlest bittiest layer of snow on the ground--powdery and kind.

When I came out after the session it was inches thick, blowing and angry. I cleaned off my car and by the time I was done, it was snowed and icy again. I drove home, saying prayers in my head, hunched over, trying not to spin. At one point I got cut off by a snow plow, and honked my wimpy little Corolla horn. At another point I cut off an ambulance (the lights/sirens weren't on or anything), which, yeah, is really smart. The ambulance horn is not wussy: it's a growling roar.

I'm still getting used to this driving in the snow thing. Before we left for Christmas, we hadn't had ANY, aside from a gentle fluttering one Sunday, and a nonthreatening slush the day we left. And now, this nonsense.

But I made it! Here I am, home and cozy on my couch. Or as cozy as I can be, when our house is a house of non-insulated coldness.

Sam just called to tell me he was coming home, but instead told me he got in an accident. I gasped and felt my heart burst into top speed. Then he said he was calling from beyond the grave, as in, like, a joke. Isn't that SOOOO funny?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Personal Ad

I've had this raging cold for several weeks now, and my mom suggested, as a joke, that I might be allergic to cats. We have three, you know.

So I asked Sam, "What would you do if it turned out I was allergic to kitties?"

The man said, "We'd just take out a personal ad: 'Well-behaved Mormon Female to good home. Friendly disposition. Toilet trained. Likes pillows and cupcakes.'"

He likes the cats.

Anyway, no more school. Big sigh.

We're under the Tucson sun, visiting Sam's family. Went shopping with his mama, had a fancy dinner with the whole crew. The first grandbaby is about to make its debut in the world. Any hour now. We watched Emily's belly at dinner, saw the little feet kick it out.

Back in Boston it's 16 degrees. My school campus is closed because of the millions of feet of snow on the ground. And we are here in shirtsleeves. The sky is very big.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Tiny Miracle.

I feel like I'm always writing on here when I'm sad, but whatever. I write when I'm happy, too. And today I feel happy. Sam is napping, so I've had the house to myself. I've made healthy-ish brownies, listened to the Speaking of Faith podcast, straightened the house. Maybe some will judge me for straightening my house on Sunday, but I feel like it's been a physical manifestion of a much-needed spiritual straightening. So at least my rationalization is fancy and metaphorical.

I've been thinking I need to write down my little miracles, my humble gratitudes, etc. So here I am.

Yesterday I was sad. More than sad. I've had my bummer teaching days, but this was more like the heavy, aching depression that I experienced last year, and have been fighting off for months. I don't know how to describe it if you haven't felt it. Nothing was wrong: Sam and I went to an incredible performance in Cambridge (see other blog), we had a ward Christmas brunch, the kitties were cute and our house is cozy and the semester is ending and we love each other. And yet, sad. It's like being tired, but through every bit of you--like every cell, every atom of you is lifeless, weighed down, slow. It's awful. Really really awful.

So I went to bed at 5:30pm. I woke up a few times, once to eat, a few times to sit quietly with Sam while he worked on his computer. But mostly I slept. And every time I woke up, I would think of having to go to church today, and feel incapable of going. Not like being there would be a problem, but getting there would be impossible. I couldn't imagine doing the simplest tasks: put on my shoes, brush my teeth, feed myself breakfast, drive there. I always go to church. It fills me up for the next week. I know I need it, even if I don't want to get there. But I really didn't think I was going to make it. Thinking if I'd ever been ill, I was ill yesterday, I had pretty much decided to stay home.

I woke up this morning with plenty of time to get ready, but I still felt rotten, so I went back to bed. And I prayed this little prayer, my head still on the pillow, that if He wanted me there, He would get me out of bed somehow. I'll be honest: I didn't think He could do it. But sure enough, at 8:06, at nearly the last moment I could wake up to make it on time for the sacrament, my phone rang. Half asleep, I was sure God himself was calling me. And He sort of was, because it was my miracle: my visiting teach-ee, who doesn't own a car, had overslept. It takes her an hour to get to church by train, and she wouldn't have made it unless I got up right then, threw my clothes on, and gave her a ride.

She's never called me before for a ride, although I've offered. She's this totally with-it sort of law student, so it's not like she's a chronic over-sleeper. Of all days, of all things, of all moments.

He loves me. I remember. And I need church. I remember.

Nothing amazing happened in my meetings. I was just there, where I needed to be. There was this moment during Sunday School, where I looked around and saw all of these lovely people bending over their scriptures, their hands raising with insights and thoughts and spirit. And I thought, that's all I'm here for, to participate, to take part. It was enough to renew me, at least for now. What a blessing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's the Alpaca Lips!

Sam just shouted, "Ahhh!! It's the apocalypse!"
I don't know why. He does stuff like this when we're out of cat food or when he addresses a submission wrong or when he can't find his keys. It keeps life interesting.

Anyway, I heard it was the alpacalips. So here's an alpaca. And it's lips. Take cover.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Happier Story.

Weird weather in Boston today: rainy/windy, but a balmy 60 degrees. Word is a bad storm is on its way, but I don't care. I'm happy to not be so bundled. I wore the skirt I wore when we took engagement photos, and didn't even bring my coat.

So, but, rain. I was making myself breakfast when Sam left, sans an umbrella. Feeling wifey, I ran out the front door to meet as he pulled out, carrying his umbrella like a torch. He called me an angel, kissed my forehead and drove off.

Then I locked myself out of the house. We have two doors--the outside one's always unlocked, the inside one's always locked. When I opened the outside one, it made the inside one slam shut, and lock. Whoops. There I was, outside, in a misty rain, without a cell phone or any means of entry. I spent several panicky moments on the porch, combing through a visual catalog of all of our windows and doors, to no avail. I was scheduled to teach in about an hour, and we live 45 minutes away, and I was stuck.

Crisis averted: I remembered the stoplight down the street takes 47,000 years to get through at that time of morning, so I took off running. I was in tall brown boots and my flowy engagement-picture skirt, running down our street as fast as I could go. Darn, that felt good. I used to run an hour a day, but it's been a long time since I felt up to doing that. But this morning, in the balmy rain, with the clock at my heels, and the light changing, I ran like wind. Spotting Sam's green car ahead, I darted across the street, weaved between a few cars, and knocked on his window. The man was surprised, but kind, and I perched on top of the mound of papers in the passenger seat while he made an illegal u-turn, and delivered me home safe.

I don't know if it was the brisk jog that spurred my endorphins, but I had a miraculous day today. No crying on the way home for me. My students were sweet, the teaching was fun and brilliant, and all felt right with the world. Thank goodness that sometimes, after slumps, we have good days.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Bad, Folks.

Driving home from work. Another really rough day. And yes, yes I was weeping.

I adjusted my rearview mirror, and thought, "Self, it seems like we adjust this mirror a lot."

I figured it out: I do adjust that mirror a lot. When I drive home from work, I'm so physically/emotionally drained that I slump in my seat. I slump so deep that I have to adjust the mirror down to see out the back window. In the morning I adjust it back up. Rinse and repeat.

That's bad, is it not?

But the husband made chili for me (nice meal when it's EIGHT degrees outside.) and patted my hand and held me while I wept in our kitchen, my feet feeling icy on our cold tile floor.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Doesn't Matter

Right now I'm sitting cross-legged on my bed, and the cat named Meatsock has all four paws balanced on my knee like a mountain goat. Good kitty.

It doesn't matter really, but this has been a rude week. I got a cold AGAIN, which doubles the fun of any given venture. I tried to have an event at school, and the dude that was presenting was forty-five minutes late, then the sound wouldn't work, then most of the students left, then I realized I forgot to arrange to PAY the man, and someone in charge of me clucked their tongue at my incompetence.

That evening, I was supposed to go to this Relief Society Wreath Making activity because I was sort of in charge, and I went and sang in the program, and when everyone else wept a little at the moving Christmas music, I sobbed. I couldn't stop crying. I snuck out before the wreath making or the real socializing. At this rate, I'm going to have so many friends.

I also listened to a book on CD about budgeting (Dave Ramsey) which caused me to figure out how much debt we have (remember how we both have Phds?--ouchie) and try to work out a budget for next semester (triple ouchie). This, budget-thinking, is not a thing I recommend when you're already having a rude week.

So now I'm trying to convince myself to grade twenty research papers, which may be possible because it reminds me that next week is the LAST WEEK of the semester. Sigh. I doubt I've ever been so happy to reach it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Turkey, You Turkey.

I made me a turkey. But I didn't touch the guts. I barely touched the raw bird at all. I made my med school friend (who was visiting from NY) touch it because she wasn't afraid of the flesh. She does flesh. She even liked looking in at its cathedral of ribs.

So she rinsed it and I patted its butt dry (which turned out to be its neck--weird), we slathered the goosebump skin with butter and salt and pepper and popped it in the oven. Three hours later, a golden gorgeous beast.

If I do say so myself, it was a damn good bird. But not better than my stuffing. Boy was that stuffing good: cornbread, onions, celery, apples, bacon. Nothing over the top, but it was mighty tasty. Which brings me to wonder, who thought of the stuffing? Who was it that said, let's stuff the bird full of ... hmmm, I've got it ... BREAD! That'll be GOOD. Whoever they were, they were right on the money.

When we were sitting down to dinner and I had the table all set with my pretty red plates and real cloth napkins and stuff, Sam discovered pepper on his plate. He was afraid of the pepper. He didn't believe it was pepper, so he said he'd just have to use a blue plate (yes, we ended up with some red, some blue plates--long story.). I'm ashamed to say I freaked. Looking back, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was my TABLE. And if you've seen what my sister Amara can do, what she posted about her Thanksgiving on her blog, you know why I had to hold on to the uniformity of my red plates, at the very least.

Which, yeah, getting all worked up like that made my prayer of Thanksgiving really powerful and sincere and sweet and gentle. Actually, no, it was lame. And I had such self-righteous plans to display my spiritual gratitude in front of my non-mormon crowd. Which is probably exactly why I didn't get to. Sigh.

But still, a good dinner. Something satisfying about doing the whole show. And I had a very long nap and then a very tasty pie and we watched a movie and then I actually got really sad. I miss my family: my big, big family with babies and my mom and my dad and my siblings. Friends and husband are wonderful. But why can I not have my family, too? Is that really too much to ask? Christmas. I wait for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Work Gives Me a Tummy Ache.

I admit it. I hate to admit it, because I'm so blessed to have it, and someday I think I will like it. But it's my first year, and I find it terrifying.

I mean, it's busy. Not only am I teaching three new classes to students I haven't figured out yet, I'm also supposed to oversee a student club, develop a reading series, sit on two committees, advise a bunch of students on registration, and find time to write/publish my own stuff. It's hard.

And every time I have to go to work, it ruins my day. I come home in the worst mood, feeling terrible about myself and the world. While I'm on campus, I always feel like I'm bumbling about, like I have no clue what I'm doing, like I'm doing it wrong, like a fraud. Ten hours of that, and I'm bound to feel low, right?

I'm whining, I know. But I just realized yesterday that it's true: I'm not enjoying this. I want my mommy. I want to sit at her Thanksgiving table with her moist moist turkey and Amara's exquisite pies and decorations. I don't want to buy my own turkey and cook it. Turkeys are yucky and raw and frozen and they have guts. Sort of like how I feel at school, without the guts part. I don't have those.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Double the Blogs, Double the Fun.

I've become increasingly aware that I never really talk about reading or writing on this blog--the stuff I'm doing and thinking and teaching about all the time, or whenever I get a chance.

This seemed like a problem. But it just didn't come naturally for me to talk about it here.

So ... time for another blog. This one you have in front of you will still cover everyday sort of happenings--my cats, my husband, outings and excurions and cookie-driven angst. But hopefully on the other one I will I'll post bits I've read that have struck me, stuff from podcasts and audiobooks I like, links to literary journals, maybe even stuff I'm writing.

It's called picking up handfuls of birds, from a line by Herbert I've had on my sidebar here. In case you don't get the birds, I'll post the entire poem over there at some point, and perhaps that will illuminate.

Anyway, happy Sunday. See you at the other blog, if you feel so inclined.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cloudy with a Chance of Fish

Driving home from Coolidge corner and the sun going down. Gentle oranges, marshmallow blues, etc.

And in the middle, straight ahead, floating lonely at the end of Beacon Street: a big cloud, in the shape of a fish, precise.

This has never happened to me, seeing a cloud picture without looking for it. I can't even remember it happening to me as a grownup.

Has it happened to you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Look

Too much? Cheesy?

I'm afraid of it. I don't think I like these weird buttony things on the sides.

Your thoughts?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Success! Progress! Happy Cats!

Today was a milestone in our household, at least kitty-wise.

We fed them. They did this:

This may not seem shocking. They're just eating next to one another. But the proximity is key. For reference, the kitty on the left is my cat, Meatsock. The one on the right is Sam's, Tadzio. They're tough, territorial fellows. Or at least they'd like everyone to think that. They're actually desperately affectionate saps. I mean that in a good way.

Do they hate each other? Yes, yes they do. Since Meaty arrived, they pretty much haven't been able to coexist in the same room without a festival of hissing, a flurry of paw swipes. But slowly, in the last week or so, they've been cozying up to one another, relatively speaking. I caught them napping on the same bed a few nights ago. Not snuggling, mind you. But on the same bed. Shocking behavior.

And then. This moment! The one you see here! Eating! Right next to each other!

Granted, they were starving. They'd been alone all day with empty bowls. But still.

And then the girl kitty (Sprout) came over, too. So all the kitties were exisiting in unity and culinary joy. A Tadzio sandwich of love. A pleasant feasting. Sam and I stood in the kitchen, grinning, nearly shouting. Such a lovely moment in our cat family.
Although, you can see in this picture that the men have begun to eye each other, have realized their new peaceful dwelling habits, and are considering reconsidering.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

From a Student Paper:

"I enjoy making mistakes for big events."

This sent my mind a-flutter, writing in the margins of the page. It was sort of an interesting thought: messing something up to celebrate. I think I know people who do that.

Turns out, on continuing to read, he meant, "I enjoy making MIX TAPES for big events." As in, like, music.


Still. Freudian slip?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meet a Geep.

This is a geep, which is a bioengineered combination of a sheep and a goat. No, really. Did you know they could do this?

They--the proverbial they, which means smart people, scientists--have also figured out how to make real human blood run the veins of cows. And there are apparently some mice with teeny tiny human kidneys. So, soon we'll be harvesting cows for blood transfusions and organ transplants. I know not what to think of this.

I learned this on RadioLab. If you don't listen to Radiolab, I suspect your life is not as quite as happy and fascinating as it could be.

Anyway, since I heard the podcast, this question has been nagging me: How will God go about separating the sheep from the goats if they're all geeps? I'm not just being cute. I mean, the question amuses me. But I wonder about it. When Jesus made His statement on the subject (in Matthew 25: 31-34), did He know that someday we'd literally combine the two and mess up the metaphor? I assume the Heavens knew something about it.

But now, writing this, it occurs to me that maybe we haven't messed up the metaphor at all. Maybe it just underscores the idea that we're all a little sheepy, a little goaty. We're geeps, every one. And we just have to hand over the goat bits.

Perhaps a timeless metaphor, after all. I'm not surprised.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Confessions at 10:13pm.

Gosh you people are kind. Thank you for telling me I'm normal. Made me want to cry some more.

This post was longer. Was rambling on, saying nothing really. I have a cold blah blah blah. Sam went to bed early so I watched a dumb movie blah blah blah. Today a lady stuck a bunch of acupuncture needles in my face blah blah blah. I ate some SOY DELICIOUS "ice cream" because I have a cold AND a sweet tooth that won't leave me alone. Blah blah blah.

But really, all I want to say: I have a PhD in English, and I still, on far too regular a basis, mix up my their/they're/there and my no/know. Not like I don't know which is which. I DO. I just type the wrong one like ALL the time. What is with that? It's particularly embarrassing when I send an email to a student with that mistake. Head smack.

I'm secretary of this department committee, which means I have to take minutes. And I submitted my minutes for review, and this lady, who looks like my kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Sanders) but ISN'T anything like my kindergarten teacher, pointed out four errors like that--not precisely like that, but stupid like that. I felt like pulling her hair. Ever since then, I've been terrified of everything I say or type.

I wish there was some pill I could take to cure me of such a horrifying habit. I could just wake up every morning, pop a homonym pill with my calcium supplement and be on my way for an error-free day. Is this not a good idea?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I think I'm afraid of girls.

Before I explain, a plug for a girl I'm not afraid of: Tia, my niece. She is certainly one of the most elegant, intelligent, articulate females I know. Seriously. And now she has an etsy shop. So, go here. And buy a thing, if you like. Pretty stuff, no?

Also, my sister just found out she's having a baby girl. I'm not afraid of that girl either. (Although, I think my sister might be. She had her heart set on a family of boys.)

Anyway, this one time, last year, I was in the Dallas airport having some lunch and waiting for a plane. I was by myself and therefore earnestly eavesdropping on the phone conversation 9f the girl next to me. This girl was telling someone (a girlfriend), in perfect detail, the events of her evening the night before. I mean, this was thorough reporting. Something about noisy roommates and moving boxes. I don't really remember. But I do remember how it felt to follow her conversation. And how I thought, wow, someone is really willing to listen to that girl. It wasn't her mom or her boyfriend or her sister or her anyone. Just, it would seem, her friend. And it made me sad. Really really sad. And baffled. I could not remember for the life of me what that felt like.

In other moments in my life, I've been supremely blessed in the girlfriend department. I have a dear and loyal friend from high school in San Diego that I still see and talk to. (Hi Arin.) And my group of friends in high school in Utah is still close and wonderful. (Hi Genev, Eden, Kathy, Tara, Heathers, etc.) And I had some of the most funny, delightful, dear roommates (Hi Emmer, Amanda), and I went on two study abroad with some of the most fascinating, amazing women on the planet (too many to name, but no less important, you know who you are.).

But then I moved to Mississippi. I recall being afraid of moving there, afraid I wouldn't make any friends, afraid I'd just be lonely. And don't get me wrong, I got some incredible deals from those three years: a PhD, a husband who really is my dearest friend. But as far as girlfriends go, the type that live nearby and will listen to stories about moving boxes, those were lacking. Not for lack of trying on my part. I made two, actually. And both of those relationships exploded in these really shocking, weird, painful ways. Other than those two, I tried to go to church activities and talk to people at school and gather people for lunch once a week. But still, really, nothing. Those were hands down the loneliest, most socially painful years of my life. Just ask the shrink AND psychiatrist I managed to need while I was down there.

You know what I mean, right? It's not like I don't have people to love and talk to. A husband is a husband and they are wonderful creatures. I appreciate mine more every day. And I love you people, my friends that are far away. I talk to my mom almost every day, and my sisters quite often. But you still just need girlfriends, don't you? Close ones. That you can call when little stuff happens. Whose couch you can sit on, who will compliment your shoes, who will shop with you or take a walk or ... or ... wait, that's what I'm trying to say here: I don't even remember what girlfriends do. How to have one. How to be one. Or, most importantly, how to MAKE one.

My ward here is chocked full of these really accomplished, beautiful people. They terrify me. Even the ones who seem to want to be my friends. ESPECIALLY the ones who want to be my friends.

One of them called me tonight, hence the post. She had things to say and wanted to hang out this weekend and told me some REAL-ish stuff. Like, she had felt things, and she told me how she felt about them. It was so weird. It's not even like she overstepped the boundaries of our connection, or that I don't like her. Because I do. I want to be her friend so badly that I cried when I got off the phone, trying to remember what had happened to me. How I got like this. Afraid of girls.

So this post is more personal than I usually get. Which means I'm afraid now, too. But if you people who read this little thing, if you can tell me what you know or how you do it or (pretty please) that I'm sort of normal, that would be wonderful. I need I need.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gimme Pretty Food

Good day today. A TWO post day.

Sometimes, food is not good. Earlier today, I stopped to get an Italian soda, made the UNFORTUNATE choice of picking gingerbread flavored syrup (I KNOW. What was I thinking?!) and had to dump it out in a gutter. I think I was subconciously wishing for a cookie, and that was as close as I felt I could come.

But sometimes food is good. Tonight Sam took me to a fancy place for dinner. Lineage, in Brookline. I forgot how much I LOVE me a fancy restaurant. I didn't even know how much I loved them until I started dating Sam and he took me to Cafe Degas in New Orleans, Purple Parrot in Hattiesburg, Restaurant August in the French Quarter, and some place in Greenwich Village I can't remember the name of where I got the most aesthetically pleasing meal of my life, etc. Since we moved here, we've been attempting to be more financially conservative. To be, like, grown ups. But I'm so glad we didn't tonight.

Here's what I remembered, what I want to remember because we paid a darn fortune for these details: At fancy places, there are tablecloths--clean, crisp, white ones. People fill your water glass, give you fresh silverware for nearly every bite, have intelligent things to say about the menu items, wear pretty clothes. At this place, they had a big wood-burning stove in the back. (I caught the reflection of the fire in the window and briefly thought a car was burning.) The salt and pepper were in little wooden cellars on the table. They played semi-cheesy jazz music that didn't seem cheesy at all. They brought us fire-warmed rolls in a big oblong basket.

And the food. The FOOOOOD.

For the appetizer, we had lobster tacos: little taco shells stuffed with lobster meat, creme freche, avacado mousse, and some indian spice that I can't pronounce. (Okay, maybe the tacos sound weird but holy happy loveliness.) Sam had scallops on a bed of fennel squash risotto. The bite he could spare for me was wonderful. I had this thin, bafflingly delicious pizza with (and this sounds odd, too.) yukon gold potatoes, sauted mushrooms, sprinkled with some green herb and drizzled with truffle oil. I also had a salad with cranberries and oranges and bacon and strange lettuce that looked like coral. They brought it out with pears poking at artsy angles, and Sam said it looked like the underside of a lobster.

Dessert (sorry, Chinese Herbalist.): dark chocolate bread pudding made with brioche. Vanilla ice cream on the side.

Seriously, folks. This was such a happy time. Sam kept trying to talk to me, carry on a human conversation, and I found it so distracting. I wanted sush him, tell him I was eating, close my eyes and listen to the sappy music and feel the heat of the wood stove and swoon for the flavors in my delighted mouth.

This is what prompted Sam to say, "You're in love with food." And I got offended, huffy.

But it's true. It's TRRUUUEE. I love me a lovely dish. I'm a sucker for restaurants and waiters and water in tall glasses and especially for pretty things that taste pretty. Sigh.

It was worth every penny. Every darn penny.

Boston MFA

Today Sam and I shrugged off our stacks of ungraded papers and went down to the Museum of Fine Arts, finally.

Although, honestly, I wasn't as dazzled as I had hoped. Maybe we just weren't in a art museum sort of mood. Or maybe it's because they're busy renovating and it's sort of confusing in there.

Anyway, we walked into the Impressionism gallery with tons of Degas and Monets and Renoirs that should have been, well, impressive.
Sam said, immediately, "Well this is boring." Did I tell you why I love that man? Because that was EXACTLY what I was thinking, but I never think I'm supposed to say stuff like that. Sam, on the other hand, is refreshingly free of filters. At least sometimes it's refreshing ...

Still, blaspheme, I know. My artsy friends have stopped reading. I guess I'm just tired of seeing the images I've seen 5,000 times. They are beautiful, yes. But I can't really SEE them any more, you know?

But the visit ended nicely. On our way out, we passed this security guard sitting outside an entry covered with thick black curtains. We popped in, and, voila: What you see above--Rachel Whiteread's Place (Village). 200 dollhouses, lit up, stacked like a tiny town. The houses were empty, the room was dark except for the lights from inside, and Sam and I were alone in there. Slowly our eyes adjusted and we noticed more detail. It looked more real. Magical. Eerie. Wonderful.
There was this particularly beautiful moment: Sam was leaning up against a white column in the middle of the room. I was standing a few feet away. And for a second it felt like we lived in those houses. Like we were kids out playing on the street. Or that we had never met, and I was looking at him with everything in front of us again. This handsome man, leaning against a lamppost, looking back at his house, then looking up at me, smiling.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall Debris.

I find these autumn leaves shocking.

I mean, I expected them to change. I looked forward to the reds and yellows and oranges.

But I forgot: when leaves fall, they stay put. We are past the trees that look like they're burning. We're before the trees put on sweaters of snow. So now the trees are mostly bare, and at their feet are mounds and drifts of leaves. They fill the ditches, cover cars and sidewalks and speckle the street.

The other morning, driving down a street lined in swaths of gold, I saw a red boxey truck with an enormous black hose attached. Two men wearing galoshes and rubber gloves were using the hose to suck up all the leaves, shooting them into the big red box. They were vacuuming.

Which makes sense. In a place like this, where there are so many leaves, leaves upon leaves upon leaves, one must do something. Leaf collection can't just be rakes and bags in the front lawn, jumping and scattering the piles. Sometimes the cities have to get serious. Sometimes they have to hire maids in galoshes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Healthy Shmealthy.

Went to this presentation on campus today, mostly because it involved a free "healthy" lunch. And the lunch was good, and healthy: grilled chicken with mango salsa, broccoli, salad, squash chunks. Finished off with a cup of light strawberry yogurt with fresh strawberries.

And afterwards, sitting there, listening to all of these feisty New England woman bicker back and forth, obsessing over calories and trans fats and pedometers and how many weight watchers points are in a chicken wing, I couldn't help but think, "Well, that was fun. Now it seems we should all eat a lot of cake."

I tried to tell this to the woman next to me. She didn't seem amused.

But I AM trying not to eat so many sweets, again. My witty and delightful Chinese herbalist (yes, I have a Chinese herbalist.) made a compelling case for it, having to do with my stomach chi or my spleen fire or something like that.

So, here's to cups of light yogurt!

No, actually, I find them to be yucky.

So ... maybe ... here's to drinking warm, satisfying, belly-chi-comforting cups of herb tea!

Except for my comforting cup of tea this morning burned the hell out of my tongue. So that's not very comforting at all.

So maybe just, here's to insisting the husband polish off the rest of the chocolate!

He hasn't needed much encouragement for that. And if it's not in front of my face, maybe my brain will eventually leave me alone and stop calling so sweetly for a little scrumptious something to put on my poor burned tongue.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Needfully Vague Account of a Teaching Adventure

Weird teaching day.

Student wrote story about having a continuous romantic relationship with the ghost of an old rock star. Weird, but potentially good story.

Trouble was, Student believed it. I mean, Student was the "her." Student felt she was the story. Student was in love and desperately missing her rock star ghost boyfriend.

I'd like to say more (as more occurred), but in the interest of good taste, I'll stop there.

I'm tuckered out.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Did you know ...

that it is possible to hiccup while you sleep?

Sam was sleepy. Very sleepy.

Sam had hiccups. The mean, painful sort.

I gave him water. Salty crackers.

Nothing helped.

Sam fell asleep.

Sam snored.

Sam snored, then hiccuped loud like a seal, then snored some more. Repeat.

Ultimately, the man slept, snored, and hiccuped on the couch.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This morning I was trying to convince myself to get up for church. Sometimes (Okay, all the time.) it's sort of hard to get up because it's so early and Sam is still sleeping and he's wrapped up in our yellow blanket so he looks like a big human-banana and I just want to stay next to him and be a banana, too.

But anyway, so I was trying to convince myself to get up, and found myself listening to the sound of my eyelids opening and closing. (Do your eyelids make a little sound when they open/close?) I was half asleep, so the sound sent me back to the first time I found out they made a sound: in an old boyfriend's car, after a movie, in the parking lot where we sat for several hours because his car wouldn't start. We were sort of snuggling, but not really, but close enough for him to say, "What's that noise?" When we figured out it was my eyelids, I think it really freaked him out. I mean, in my memory, I think he made me sit on the other side of the car because the sound was so irritating/distracting.

So that memory was so weird that I started remembering other things about dating this man. It was in Denver, my junior year of high school. For various reasons, I was very depressed in Denver. So depressed that I slept most of the time and barely ate. I mean, barely. I lost 30 pounds in 3 months. (If only I could manage to have that brand of depression again. Now I have stuff-my-face depression. I'm so lucky.) And somewhere in there, I started dating this odd man, with an odd name, which we will pretend is Buddy, for the sake of a little anonymity.

Here are things I remembered this morning about dating Buddy, in no particular order: Buddy whispering in my ear "You sing like an angel." Buddy picking me up from school in a pair of bright maroon-ish pants and wrinkly yellow shirt with a huge chocolate ice cream stain down the front. Buddy leaving messages on my answering machine while I was at school so I got to listen to them all when I got home. Buddy kissing me with slobbering kisses all over my face, removing my makeup. Feeling, after hanging out with Buddy, that if anyone ever touched me again--held my hand, put their arm around me, slobbered me with kisses--I would die, or at least vomit. Taking romantic pictures of Buddy and his ex-girlfriend in the snow. (Yes, we were dating at the time. Yes, it was her idea that the pictures be taken, his idea that I be the one to take them.) Reading the lyrics of a sappy Alanis Morrisette song to Buddy over the phone, most sincerely ("You held your breath, and the door for meeee...."). Buddy's glittery T-shirt, the way he drank an entire pitcher of juice in three minutes whenever I made one, the way he didn't cut his finger nails often enough, the way his voice sounded when he told me over the phone that he had kissed the ex-girlfriend and didn't feel bad about it, so, well, sorry.

All of this, and three supremely embarrassing things that still embarrass me to think of:

a. Buddy once insisted that I had a spot of spaghetti sauce on my chin. Insisted and insisted. It was, of course, a zit.

b. Once, when Buddy was at our house, my mother made me drink this super healthy green grassy drink. She was worried because I never ate anything and was trying to insist on some nutrients. This stuff wasn't even wheat grass, which she's made me drink on other occasions. It was worse: imagine mowing your lawn, blending the grass clippings up in a blender with some twigs and leaves mixed in, and drinking that. So, Buddy was over, I had to drink this generous portion of the green drink. I took a swig, and proceeded to spew it all over the kitchen table. With a horrible retching sound escaping my throat, and the green nastiness dripping elegantly off the sides of the table.

c. Buddy was over once, and hungry for lunch. I made him an avocado sandwich, cut it like butterfly wings, and presented it to him. He found eight (count them: EIGHT) of the long hairs of my head in that sandwich. Not eating much makes your hair fall out, apparently.

Wow. They all involve food. No wonder I didn't have an appetite.

But I just did an experiment. Sam's eyelids don't make sounds. And, he says, he can't hear mine. What a relief.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

His, Mine, Ours.

Here's Sam and yours truly in front of the Bunker Hill Monument.
Here are pretty trees above a cemetery in the North End.

And here is Tadzio, Sam's kitty. He did not like the new young kitties showing up. He could tell as SOON as they walked through the door, and he started up the hiss-fest. But, actually, now, he's pretty chill. Meatsock hisses and hisses him, and he just waits for him to shut up so he can get by and get the cat food. Also, and here's the real bonus: he likes me more now. I must be the least of all the recently-added evils, but suddenly he lets me pet him and he'll sit on the bed when I'm in it and just generally doesn't give me evil eyes like he's always done. This is a miracle.

These are my kitties. They did not like the airport. Meatsock peed on himself, which made the ride home in the car REALLY fragrant and fun. And he pretty much cried from the time my parents left the house until Sam got done scrubbing him down with a hot and soapy washcloth. All of the cats slunk around that first night: terrified, angry, hissing, growling deep in their throats. Meaty couldn't even stop growling long enough to eat food, the poor little man. Sprouty, on the other hand, was dignified for the most part. Ever the lady, she just found a little corner to crouch down in and waited out the night. The next day she felt comfortable, and she's pretty much been curled like this ever since, in a perfect circle on my parents' suitcase. Tadzio's been spending the night in our room, and my cats have been spending the night in my parents' bed in the guest room. How my parents became people that would allow cats in their bed can only be explained by my cats' remarkable charm.

Overall, I'd say our cat-family is adjusting ridiculously well. We bought this special stuff that's a chemical simulation of facial pheremones, and we've been spraying that all around. It's supposed to make them comfortable in a new environment. If that's working as good as it seems to work, I'm planning on using it as perfume every time I go to a scary social gathering. Anyway, I'm glad they're here. I can't tell you how nice it is to come home and see my babies and wake them up and pet them and rub their bellies and snuggle them. I am much happier with my cats in the world.

And my parents. It's been wonderful having them in town. Mostly we've done our favorite things to do: take walks, eat yummy healthy food, and read books. We took them out for macrobiotic food in Waltham, for pho at a vietnamese place, and Sam made white bean soup one night and flounder another. I made a big batch of the healthy cookies. We went on the Freedom Trail around downtown Boston. I took them out to see the school I teach at. And all of the time in between that stuff, we've been reading and reading and talking about books and politics and podcasts.

I love these people. I wish I could keep them here like my kitties. I would put their food in a purple bowl and give them a place to sleep. If only that was enough.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Poor Kitties. My Poor Parents.

My parents are currently in New York at JFK airport. They've been there for six hours, and counting.

Worse still, they have my cats.

Because we wanted Sam's kitty to have a chance to stake out his territory before my cats arrived, Sprouty and Meatsock stayed with my parents. They're happy there, showered with attention: my dad lets them attack his feet while he reads, my mom feeds them seaweed (which they LOVE, oddly enough), and they get to play in the backyard and catch birds. (Then they bring the birds inside to show my parents, and get even MORE attention.) So the plan was for my parents to come out and visit and deliver the creatures.

This morning they flew from Salt Lake to New York fine, but the flight they were booked on from there to here was cancelled. They were standby for a 7pm flight, but that didn't work out. So they are stuck there until 10:30.

My parents are frazzled and bored enough. Imagine my cats. They're stuck in these little bags; they haven't eaten since 6pm yesterday (as a precaution against accidents); they're high as kites on tranquilizers, and they're not happy. They're frantic, actually. Sprout, the mama, is a dignified soul. She's been sitting quietly in her little black bag. The baby, on the other hand, is not as dignified. He's been crying, downright moaning, my mother says. They're drawing all sorts of attention from passersby.

They tried to feed them a tuna sandwich, by they're both so high that they can't figure out how to chew. And still Meatsock cries. My mom said at one point he was on my dad's lap, on his back like a baby, with his mouth hanging open while my dad scratched his belly. Did I mention this was in the middle of JFK airport? Check out the cat people.

I'll just be glad when they're all here, safe in my little house. I will give my kitties some cat food and show them their litter box (which we've set up with a room divider so it's like their own little bathroom) and scratch they're necks and give them kisses and introduce them to their new brother Tadzio. (They won't like the Tadzio part any more than he will.) And I will give my parents clean towels and show them the bathtub and the warm bed with clean sheets and in the morning I will feed them blueberry yogurt and apples.

I don't like airplanes or airlines or airports. I like kitties and parents and here with me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We Walked, New Winglandly.

Sam and I took a wee walk today, around a reservoir near our house. I've gone there a few times, and for some reason, that place feels more New Englandy than any other place I've been. So I always end up walking around, chanting in my head, "New Englandy, New Englandy, New Englandy." Which inevietably leads to remembering a principle of linguisitics that Sam told me about, which is that it's nigh unto impossible to actually say New England, with a real E. Our tongues blend the words together so that, despite our best intentions, we say New Wingland. Try it. Bet you can't say Eng.

So this time I took some pictures, because the fall colors are really starting to pop. Pretty, no? We're liking this place more and more. Especially since this week has shown us temperatures that hovered around 70. Didn't Utah get SNOW today? Bless your frosted hearts.

My favorite building on the path--an old waterworks building, which is now a museum.
It was sunny, so Sam protected his head.
Then, he got silly, as he's wont to do.
Then, we posed with the creeping blood-red vines.
Handsome bloke, no?

You can see downtown Boston from this side of the water. Here it's covered by the blushing botanicals.
There's a little yellow house that I'm dying to live in. Can you spot it? Sam says he'll buy me one just like it some day as long as I'll let him board up the windows against zombie attacks. He worries a lot about zombie attacks.

A fuller view of the bleeding vines.
A shot that's attempting to be arty, but is not so arty because my camera's not a diva and I don't have skillz. Still, you get the idea.

Cookies? No Sugar, Flour, Butter? Ummm.

Found a recipe for "healthy" cookies on 101 Cookbooks. No sugar, flour, butter. It calls for coconut oil, so it's not 100% healthy, per se. But apparently coconut oil is all the rage, now? It's supposed to be good for you in all these significant ways, which is different than I'd heard before. But it's pleasant and ever so slightly nutty and actually doesn't really taste coconutty, so I plan on trying it in other stuff, too.

It took me about two weeks to find all the ingredients. We went to Whole Foods for them. That place happens to be the closest grocery store to our house, and also happens to be this uber-snoody, pricey, gorgeously wonderful place. And it was shaping up to cost me about $30 bucks for the ingredients. When we were at Whole Snoods for the cookies, it had only been a week since I'd run in to just get a few things, and came out with a FEW things and a fat, horrifying amount at the bottom of my receipt. I can't even mention that number because it hurts me. I ended up putting all the ingredients back and leaving in a huff. Anyway, this stuff (especially the coconut oil and almonds for almond meal) is more reasonable at regular grocery stores that have a fancy section.

Most importantly, I made them today, and, mmmmmmm is my verdict. I took some out on a plate to Sam, and he was back in the kitchen in about thirty seconds, saying only, "More cookies," and heading for the heaping plate by the oven. He likes, me thinks. I like. Your turn.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mr Sam and the Fiasco of the Slacks

In news that has nothing to do with the slacks, I can hear a big flock of geese out my window, honking, announcing their flight South. And yesterday, the Sam and I went to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plains. Pretty pretty. Some pictures. The first one represents our best attempts to take a picture of ourselves. Notice all the trees we managed to include ...

Now, the fiasco: This morning Sam tried to wear a pair of black pants to work. He prefers jeans, but a while back I bought him a nice shiny new pair from Kohl's and I've been whining a little that he hadn't worn them much, especially since they've caused a fair bit of hassle. (No, they aren't actually shiny.)

What happened was, I bought the pants. And they were on clearance, so I got the NICER pair, because my bargain hunting sometimes frightens Sam. I brought them home and presented them triumphantly, like a caveman presenting his woolly mammoth kill.

Now. When I get new clothes, even when I'm the one who bought them and tried them on in the store, I try them on again with the clothes I have at home, check out my butt in the mirror, make sure everything's a-okay. If the clothes suddenly seem less then perfect, if my butt feels unflattered, no problem. I simply return the clothes. Returning clothes is almost more fun than buying them in the first place, when you're a deja. I get to take them back and get DIFFERENT clothes, with money that feels free because I spent it yesterday. This is how I shop: returning about 50-75% of what I get on the first run. It pleases me.

I'm learning this is not Sam's way, and perhaps it's not the way of the husband, in general. His pretty black slacks sat on top of his dresser for days until I straightened the room and hung them up in the closet. Then one morning, he put them on, conducted his odd maneuver of holding up his pants while holding down his underwear and tucking in his shirt, and went to find his shoes. To my dismay, his pretty black pants were too short. He thought nothing of it, changed slacks, and put those ones back on top of the dresser. Aside from the fact I did a bad job at buying the man clothes, I didn't mind the thought of returning them. Except for one glitch: he'd tossed the tags.

Another element of me as shopper: I'm fastidious about tags. I don't take them off until it's actually time to leave the house and I'm really REALLY sure I want the item. Sam cuts them all off and chucks them before he's even tried the clothes on. This is very strange business.

I looked for the tags, hunted in every wastebasket, examined every counter top. No sign of them. I was devastated. Here was forty bucks, essentially, just sitting on the dresser, nonredeemable. I'm embarrassed to say how much it distressed me. I mean, I think I lost sleep over those pants. Sam, on the other hand, remained unfazed. He said he'd give me the forty bucks if it would make me feel better. But now that we're married, that doesn't help much.

So I decided to try to take them back to Kohl's anyway, throw myself on their mercy, plead clueless husband. And for the record, they were very kind. They would have let me make the return, but they said they actually didn't carry those pants, didn't have that brand in their store at all, as far as they knew. I was huffy; I was rude; I insisted that they did. They told me I was welcome to search the store. If I found the same pants, I could return mine.

Oh I searched and searched. Never has a woman been so determined. But I finally had to admit they appeared to be right: if they had ever carried that brand, they did not now. So much for clearance shopping.

I remained defeated in this slacks fiasco until later that week, when I was straightening up the bedroom again, and I decided to re-hang the poor pants, in hopes that maybe someday I'd be smart enough to let out the hem, or that maybe Sam would shrink or something. And I noticed: those were not the size numbers I had so carefully selected. We'd had a big conversation about how men sizes work, how to pick the right one, etc before I went shopping, and these, these were not those numbers. I went to the closet, flipped through a few hangers, and found the BEAUTIFUL shiny slacks I bought in the FIRST place. The TRUE pants, with their slick black tags still perfectly afixed, and their righteous size numbers clearly proclaimed. What a moment of bliss that was.

By the by, they fit beautifully.

But what I don't understand: how could someone, anyone, put on an OLD pair of pants, and think they had the new one? Are new clothes not one of the purest joys, and can't one tell when fresh fabric enfolds the skin? How could one not notice the taglessness? Sigh. The husband is a strange creature.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bleh Blah Blek Blluuum Bllllleeehhhhh

What am I supposed to be doing right now? Deciding what to say to my 2:30 class, that's what. But I can't. I won't. I ... can't. Today is a no-good teaching day. Tried to teach Whitman this morning and had nothing to say. I mean, what is there to say? He's my dead boyfriend. I love him. His words are shiny objects that feed my soul. And you want me to like, say something about that? Why? Why can't we all just read and smile and giggle and swoon and bask in the loveliness of it?

Sometimes, school, as a thing, seems so lame.

I stood like a moron at the front of the room, flipping throught the pages, begging God to supply me with some brilliant question to ask that would fuel discussion for another 45 minutes. The heavens were closed. Nothing arrived in my head. It was awful. AW-FUL.

It triggered all sorts of who-am-i, what-am-i-doing-here, how-did-i-get-this-job, i-sucksucksuck feelings. I'm brimful of self-loathing.

But tonight, Sam and I are going to the circus. Barnum and Bailey, even. And there, when the big kitties are jumping through hoops and the elephants are swinging their trunks, and the clowns are falling down, it won't matter if I can ask a discussion-inspiring question, will it? Will it?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bow Wow Wow

Don't worry. They make shoes for puppies. I had no idea.

They even make little sneakers that light up.

And houndstooth booties.

And ducky slippers.

It's gotta be really weird being a dog owner.

I won't even mention the halloween costumes. Oh, to be a hot dog.

This has made my day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Loveliest of Trees, the Autumn Ones Now.

We're inching towards a New England fall, and I can hardly stand it, I'm so excited to see the colors. I was in Mississippi for three years, surrounded by disappointly green pine trees, so the seasons feel like a thrill. I know I won't think so when it's icy freezing winter, but for now I'm happy to be in an Autumn world.

I take the Mass Pike to work every day, and every day the trees are a bit more changed. Today I felt like I was driving down a corridor of red, and not all of the trees have even decided to participate yet.
I'm trying to figure out how we can possibly afford to cruise on up to Vermont for a weekend. Isn't that what one is supposed to do? I mean, it's a cliche, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice of cliche-ness if it means I can walk through a forest of colors and kick up pretty leaves and eat soup by a fireplace while wearing a scarf.
Maybe we could eat nothing but potatoes for a month ... That's a fall-ish food, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ya-honk! I say, and teach the Whitman!

I rocked the teaching today. Totally rocked it. And I say this not because I think I'm really cool, but because I've been so un-cool, really, in the classroom, and it's nice to have a decent day. I also assume that next week (or tomorrow) I'll have an uber-crappy day, and I'd like to record here, now, that I don't always suck, so that I don't forget.

I had them read this beastly long essay on "bipolar unities" in Whitman. Truthfully, I hadn't read it before I assigned it, which is a giant teaching no-no. I barely survived the experience of reading it yesterday, and I was trying to get them pumped up this morning (8:30am), give me some interesting thoughts about it, and they just wouldn't. They were un-pump-able. They looked at me like I was reciting the alphabet in Chinese, backwards, very slowly, over and over.

Did I panic and stutter and clam, as I've done every day since I started this job? Oh no. Not today, mon ami. Instead, we shouted Whitman. I teach in this great classroom in the library with a big greenhouse-like-attachment-deck type thing. So I told them their faces were blank and boring, and herded the whole class out there, and made them shout chant 14 of Leaves of Grass, which starts, "The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, / Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation ..." Is it not lovely? I got goosebumps up and down my legs as we all shouted the chill, triumphant ending. Oh, it was beauty. And they said, as we went back into the classroom, "We should shout Whitman every day." And so we shall.
So then I was trying to teach structuralism, as applied to Leaves of Grass, so we did a crazy Whitman madlibs, where groups crossed out sporadic words of the poems and other groups picked new words for the slots. And they giggled at themselves, and then we talked about how it fit in, how the words make up the structure, how, although words are abitrarily assigned, they hold up the structure and context of the poem, and any alteration unravels the binaries, etc etc. They were BRILLIANT! It was wonderful.
Aside from how we wrenched and butchered the bard's pristine poems in the madlibs exercise, I think Uncle Walt would have been proud.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As Mother Says, If We Didn't Have Bad Luck, We Wouldn't Have Any.

My parents had a notoriously rough first year of marriage (a rough pregnancy, my dad working long hours and trying law school, a bad burn that required my mom to get skin grafts right before she gave birth), as did my little brother and his wife (a rough pregnancy, kidney stones, etc etc.), and now, I guess, it seems safe to say that Sam and I will too.

I was on my way out the door this morning, running late, just zipping up my tall brown boots and swigging the last of my breakfast shake, when Sam found me. I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and he put his arms around me, looked at the two of us in the mirror, and kissed my neck. I wondered what led to this affection, what caused him to find me in the back end of our little house. Usually, the morning is writing time: snuggle time for Sam and his computer in his office at the front. I have to tug on his sleeve to get a kiss goodbye.

A moment later, he confessed. Chest pains. A numb left arm. Throat closing up.

Off to the ER. Again. And no, our insurance hasn't kicked in yet.

After six long hours of painful, stinky waiting, it was pretty clear he was okay. No heartattack showed on the cardiogram. And we wanted to go home. The emergency room was packed: a pretty brunette with a terrifying allergic reaction to shellfish, a electrician with a racing and palpitating heart, and several large old women with mountainous bellies and sunken mouths that looked very unhappy. There were so many sick people today that they moved us out to the hall, where we waited and waited some more.

And Sam's so patient. I wanted to stomp around and insist on more pain medication, cop an attitude with the fuzzy-headed nurse, snap at the techs when they wanted to move us to the other side of the hall. This comes from my father: he taught me how to make my case in the world of retail/healthcare services, and often, I think, stand up for all that's true and deserving. But Sam's always saying that it's not their fault, that they're doing their best. I listened to him today, held off my mama-bear instincts for the most part, and I was glad I did when the nurse said so sincerely that she was sorry and she knew how frustrating it was and she appreciated how long we'd waited and could she get us anything else? I wanted to cry when she said that. I'm not sure why: because it seemed like she actually cared after all? Because I have a good husband that teaches me how to be nicer to people? Because I walked by all of these rooms with very ill-looking people curled up in wrenching exhausting pain, and I realized we are lucky, after all? Blessed to be in the relatively good health that we are?

When the doctor showed up again, and we told him we were going home, he told us, basically, that if we did, Sam could die. If something was indeed wrong with his heart, he wouldn't have any warning the next time. He could drop dead without so much as a squeak. He'd seen it too many times to tell us our plan to scram was a good idea. Sam was disappointed. He had wanted Indian food and a chocolate sundae.

So they shipped us up to the sixth floor, and there Sam stays. I'm at home, now. Munching on crackers because I don't know what to do with myself without him here. I never really got it when people talked about how easy it is to get used to sharing a bed with one's spouse, how quickly odd it feels when they're away. But it's true. I miss him. I want to snuggle up to him before I kneel to say my prayer, want to talk to him about school and his cat and what I'm reading and what he's writing and what we'll eat for dinner tomorrow.

But I shouldn't complain. At least I'm not at that dreadful place--with the beeping and rushing around and odd smells and nurses who come in to take your temperature and ask if you've had a bowel movement yet. Sam's roommate is an old man with bony shoulders who smells like he messed his pants and keeps his TV on really loud, even when he's asleep. He snores. (Although, I also snore ...)

When I left the hospital to get Sam's laptop and a book, it seemed like I needed a prize for such a harrowing day. I stopped at this little pastry/gelato shop down the street called Athen's and got a little heart-shaped strawberry mousse cake. It was pretty and pink with a chocolate foundation. And it made me forget for a moment that my husband wasn't coming home with me, that I have mountains of teaching prep and writing and submissions and department business to attend to, and I didn't do a lick of it today; that we're out here in an unfamiliar place with new jobs and new pressures and no real friends and a batch of health problems we can't currently afford. I didn't even realize the coincidence of picking a heart-shaped cake. I must have wanted to see one whole, wanted to have one pretty on a plate, wanted to take it inside where mine hurts, and Sam's hurts. Wanted to feel grateful for a moment that I could be there, afford it, quietly sit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Do-DO-do-DOooo. (Like, you know, twilight zone sound.)

In church today, sacrament meeting.

Little girl: very bald, odd-looking, wearing all white, maybe 10/11 months old. She's sitting on her dad's lap just down the row from me, and I'm kind of watching her, wondering why she looks so weird.

She crawls off her dad's lap, comes and toddles over to stand in front of me, looks right at me, and says, "Day. Ja."

Okay. What's with the creepy baby saying my name? It's not like she was babbling. That was all she had to say. Then she toddled back over to sit with her dad.

I can think of only two possibilities: 1. Her parents are teaching her French. or 2. She met my babies in heaven and they told her to say hi when she got here.

What else am I to think?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Give Me a Kiss; I Turned Twenty-six

As promised, pictures of our grand balloon adventure on my birthday. Did I mention this was absolutely a surprise? I have no idea how he managed not to tell me. I would have burst my beans a million times. But yeah, it wasn't until we were on our way that I figured it out. Nice man, no? Good husband.

This is how the fiery top looked. It was pretty, but it made the top of Sam's head sweat. I'm short enough that I didn't even really feel it.

This is us, up high in the balloon. Isn't it lovely (not that you can see much...)? It's surprisingly serene up there. I think I thought it would feel sort of precarious and dangerous. But actually it's such a smooth ride, so peaceful. Several times we were low enough to see people waving and hear people shouting hello. They were on their back porch, taking pictures of us.

View straight down. Right after this, when we got low enough to graze the tops of the trees (on purpose, to slow us down), Sam plucked a pinecone off the very tippy top of a tree. Boy, was it dripping in sap. After dropping the pinecone, he clapped his sappy hand on my arm and, when I protested, said, "I'm cleaving unto you, see? Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Cleave." At the time, I did not find this amusing. But now, thinking about the pinecone being from the tippy top, it pleases me. It only took a week to get the sap off my watch.

Okay, as odd as it may seem, this was perhaps my favorite part: blowing up the balloons. The had sam and another passenger hold it open like this while they aimed a powerful fan that puffed it up like so. Then they start the hot air part, and that's what gets it to stand up. There were two big yellow ones in the field--ours and another--and it was just incredible to witness these massive, happy-looking objects take shape.

Best birthday present ever? Perhaps. Quite possibly. I'm pretty sure, yes.

Monday, September 1, 2008


i just got home from my first trip ever to the emergency room. wahoooo. urinary tract infection. suspected i had one, should have taken it more seriously, but it wasn't really bugging so i thought i had just imagined it. spread up to my kidneys. horrible pain and nausea. sam took me in. i threw up goo into a pink retangular bucket while shivering because it was FREEZING in that place. during that special shivery/vomity mode, sam looked at me with the most beautifully kind, concerned face i have ever seen on a human being.

the nice people brought me magic heated blankets, hooked me up to an iv with pain meds, anti-nausea stuff, antibiotics. then sent me home.

in other news, they said i'm NOT prego. we were actually a bit worried, so this was a relief for both of us. married for one month and three days equals not ready for babies. i told sam he looked like the very proud father of nothing.

also in other news, sam took me on a hot air balloon ride for my birthday, which was so much more jolly than the trip to the er. stay tuned for pictures. lots and lots of pictures.

come to think of it, i don't know if it was actually more jolly. i mean, it was more peaceful, more fun, more celebratory, and more, well, elevated. but sam is particularly smooth in a crisis--charming, keeps me laughing. and by the time the pain meds kicked in, i was a pretty jolly gal myself. i was cracking myself up: when sam said he thought the blankets were just for patients, i said, "well, i think you have a lot of patience." get it? if i hadn't have been hooked to an iv, i would have been rolling for that one. and that's just the one that made sense.

so, jolly enough time. i just really really wish we weren't two days from our new jobs and new insurance. that's gonna hurt.

and now i'm going to sleep.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Note to World

What is UP with car-getting? Why is it such a gosh-darn pain to be a grownup?

I mean, the plan today was just to jet over to the DMV to get the license, then dash into Manny's Auto Center to get my cute vehicle.

And yet. Here it is, 5pm, and I'm still carless.

Talk about your all day.

Can't we simplify things, World? Why so many papers to sigh over and sign? Shouldn't there just be one all-inclusive pass that says I'm buying a dang car, I scrawl my new-fangled signature (do you know how trixy it is to switch last names? to remember ones new identity 78 thousand times?) and I drive off into the sunset?

Okay, anyway, a piece of advice: When the car dealer man, Harry, insists that you try some odd object that he's calling a "chicken strip," don't do it. Just don't do it. Tell him you've never been so full.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Cats, My Wheels

As I mentioned, my cats are far away in Utah. My parents report that they used to cry for me, sit and despair in my room. But now they're cool, comfortable as cucumbers. I wish I were thus.

Instead I'm looking over at Sam's kitty, who has his handsome head resting on his paws, and I'm sad that I can't just snuggle him. He, unlike my Meatsock, is not so much into snuggling me. Not that Meatsock REALLY is, either. But memories wax romantic when it comes to these cats. And at least Meatsock will curl up to (and/or playfully attack) my feet. When I stand up or move into a room that Tadzio's already in, he runs away, heads for the nearest table to hide under. Do you know that's like? To have this furry creature dash off at the first site of you? It's a bummer.

Aside from that glitch, and a violent but brief bout of vomiting over the weekend, all is well out here. I finally found a car--a 2006 Toyota Corolla. Red. Very cute, which was my main requirement. I think it's even cuter than this picture because, well, it's MINE. Man, was it a beast to find. And in the end, I did it on my own: found a good deal at a dealership, marched in there, didn't smile or giggle, told him my price, he told me a price a few hundred bucks more, I said okay, and the deal was sealed. Or mostly sealed. We have to finalize things tomorrow, but hopefully I'll be cruising around in my new wheels by tomorrow evening. It's been lame (for Sam, for me) to not have my own means of transportation. I plan on going SHOPPING for CLOTHES while listening to FIONA APPLE and singing really loud: all freedoms one can enjoy in ones own car. And poor Sam can go to BLOCKBUSTER, and listen to ZAPPA very LOUDLY and keep the air conditioning on really COLD. The man gets roasted out when I'm in the car. I understand better a comment my father made some time ago: "From now on, when your mom's in the car, I just have to drive naked." I mean, he didn't. But the point remains: we Earley women run a little on the cold side.
See? Look? Cute car, no? Tell me she's pretty. Tell me she's shiny. Tell me she'll make all my dreams come true.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

D to the Dizzo

Went to get my name changed at the Social Security office, which was a very odd feeling. Yes, little lady, please officially make my name Deja Anne Ruddick. Doesn't Jane Eyre say something both beautiful and heartbreaking about becoming Mrs. Rochester? Yeah, it was like that.

More importantly, on the way to the office, I rocked out to this CD that one of Sam's old girlfriends made in like the mid-nineties. Yes, that was weird.
But as it turns out, this gal and I have similar tastes in music. Especially this little number, by Jay-Z. Just listen for a moment. It'll make you happy. H to the izzo, V to izza. I don't know what that means. But I do know what he means when he says, "That's the anthem; throw your damn hands up." I like that part. Why didn't anyone tell me this is the best song in the world?
Also, went to the doc's yesterday and learned I've gained a very impressive FIFTEEN pounds in the last month or so. Thank you, anti-depressents. Thank you, birth control. Thank you, countless fancy-pants dinners and room service breakfasts, and the giant creamy-goodness-filled "lobster tail" we got at Mike's Pastries in the North End.
Yesterday was sobby day, mourning the re-appearance of my big-fat self. But today I feel tough, powerful, like I can hit that gym again. Like I'm totally over the eating of ginormous chocolate chip cookies whenever I feel a little gloomy or happy or itchy on my foot or whatever excuse I fabricate for the eating of cookies.
Vegetables and grains and legumes (what are legumes? beans?), here I come!
Also, don't let me watch scary movies any more. We watched one last night, and at 2 a.m., I dreamed there was a big scary man looming over Sam, threatening to hurt him. I screamed, kicked Sam in the side repeatedly, and started weeping profusely. Poor husband was baffled. I had to keep waking him up so he could rub my shoulder so I could think happy thoughts for an hour before I could get back to sleep: kayaking with my friend Chris on Utah lake, lying with my sisters and mom under the trees on a camping trip, reading a book on sunny Sunday mornings at my parents' house, running with my sisters, driving with Sam to a bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, sitting on the couch with Sam and kitties when it's raining out, etc. Happy vibes.
Have to go buy a car now. Woo-hoo! Mrs. Ruddick gets a new (old) car!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just When You Wondered if I was Coming Back

Here I am!

What's happened since the last time I posted? Well, I got engaged, then I got married, then Sam (the man in question) and I moved to Boston. And now we live here in a cute little hardwood-floored house with a new king-sized bed, and Sam's kitty.
Kitty is an enormous striped fellow who's obsessed with Sam, and not so impressed with me. Never has been. He's warming up to me, since I sneak him little pieces of cheese and fish skin to win his heart. But if I make a wrong move or pet him for an instant too long, he hisses and swats at me with an enormous paw. All in all, it's nice to have him around because his cat-feet make a lovely sound when they pad across the floor. But mostly I miss my kitties, who will arrive by plane with my mom and dad sometime in October. Which, yeah, they're gonna love that.

Anyway, so another thing that has happened since I last posted? I made this delish black bean/brown rice salad that was in a cookbook my mother gave me for my wedding. Easy, and so tasty. To make:

black bean and brown rice salad

combine, in big bowl:
3 cups cooked brown rice (I used those quick Uncle Ben's pouches.)
1 (16 oz) can black beans
1 (16 oz) can corn
1 (6 oz) jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
2 scallions, minced (I used a bit of red onion. Worked great.)

then make dressing, in small bowl:
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil (I used more like 1/8 cup. Didn't miss the rest of it.)
Add the dressing to the rest of it, add some chopped cilantro and top off each serving with half an avocado, sliced.

Anyway, try it out. It's a party in the mouth. We had ours last night with some vegetable samosas from Trader Joe's. (Bless me for living near a Traders. They make me such a happy camper.)
Another thing that happened? I got a lot of bowls for my wedding. Serving, mixing type bowls. I love all of them, but I'm wondering if I have too many. Take a look: The colorful set, I'm definitely keeping, because they cause great joy. The other set, I haven't un-packaged yet. I love it, but I think mostly I love it because Emily had it when I lived with her, and one of my goals in life is to be elegant like Emily. But my question is, even if I have pretty and colorful bowls, and even if I'm elegant like Emily, will I actually use these bowls? Or will they just crowd my cupboard. I'm new to this kitchen-y stuff. So, discuss.

That's all I can manage for now. I need to throw in some laundry and figure out what on earth I will teach when school starts in a very few days.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tap Dancing Mama

I got these pretty red shoes yesterday at Ross for ten bucks. Yes, I said ten bucks. They're the red shoes of my soul.

I fashion-showed the red shoes and my other loot for my mother while she was propped in bed, watching the news with my dad. Later, when she came out to get some vitamins before going to bed, she stopped in my room, tried on the red shoes, and ended up doing a tap dance for me on my hardwood floor.

I told myself as I watched, as she danced: I must remember this. My reserved, wonderful mama, in her nightgown, dancing in my red high heels.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I'm going for a record three posts in one day. I couldn't resist posting a few of more pics. One of kitties, sleeping. A few of Sam and me at Arches. One of how it looked in my rearview mirror when a cop pulled me over for speeding through a tiny town in the southwest crumb of Colorado. (whoops.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alpaca Show

Sam was out in Utah with me for a few days, and, while looking for things to do, we came across the national Alpaca show. How could we not attend?

There were hundreds of Alpacas, looking like unicorns, hippies, fraggles, snow owls from space, wookies, hairy hillbillies, poodles with problems, q-tips, you get the idea. You'll have to pardon so many pictures. They delight me.

P.S. In the second one of Sam and me, we're wearing the Alpaca-fur duds he bought for us: winter hat and pretty shawl object. My kitties are suspicious of them (because they smell like another furry creature, I suspect), but I like.