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

ERRRRRRRRR

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.