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