Tuesday, March 31, 2009

#1 Pitcher

I am married to the number one pitcher in St. Louis Adult Amateur Baseball.

Now there is a sentence that I would have never imagined typing.

But yes, David is ranked #1 pitcher not only in his Fountain of Youth baseball league (and we all laugh a little because that name is hilarious) but in ALL of St. Louis adult amateur baseball. Granted, I have no idea how many teams that includes, but it's still pretty cute (and isn't he cute in his little Red Sox outfit?). His team is all excited about it too.

I knew a little bit about baseball before we got married. My brother is a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan and I was moderately interested in Bonds & Bonilla when they were both there. We sorted baseball cards and I knew the rules of the game. Also attended a few Diamondbacks games when I spent the summer in Arizona and Natalie and I crushed on Matt Mantai (the Ice Man!). Oh -- and once I was a baseball player for Halloween. But I was not even close to being a real "fan." I used to tell people that my friend Stephanie was at softball rehearsal and I wasn't sure why people made a big deal about the distinction between "uniform" and "costume." Obviously I did theater instead of sports in high school...

Anyway, I have grown to appreciate baseball more since meeting David. Not only do I like ballpark popcorn and Bud Light in aluminum bottles, I can seriously keep score (although the Bud Light hinders this, as does sitting next to anyone willing to have a conversation with me during the game--you just have to pay such close attention it's really ridiculous). And really I like baseball because I know how much David loves it. And he tolerates me even when we're at the game and I want to discuss what Albert Pujols might possibly be saying to the runner on first base or how the game might be more interesting if each player had to switch positions each inning.

So even when I am annoyed about washing his uniform One. More. Freaking. Time. or irritated that he doesn't want to make plans that would interfere with the FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH Men's League (srsly), I try to remind myself that this sport makes the Duck very happy and the least I can do is show up occasionally and clap at the appropriate times.

So mark your calendars: Opening day for Duck and his Red Sox team is Sunday, April 19th at 12:30pm.

I am stoked because the field is under new ownership which means you can BYOB AND (most importantly) they remodeled the bathrooms.

A couple of years ago David was annoyed with me because I insisted that he help my friend Jamie move into her apartment on the day of a big game. He did not want to exert himself before a game (Here you can imagine me offering a blank stare, followed by excessive eye roll, followed by, "I don't care. We are helping Jamie."). After moving her furniture, he left to go play ball and I stayed to help J arrange her apartment. Of course he ended up throwing a no-hitter that day.

Which just goes to show that doing what your wife asks you to do makes good things happen.

I have yet to see a no-hitter, but now that I can drink bottled beer and wash my hands with soap, I might be a regular at these games!

Monday, March 23, 2009

So, about these conferences...

Oh crap. I got accepted to another one.

See, the thing is that way back last year when I was terrified of conferences (haha) I decided to just get my feet wet a little by sending a paper proposal to a conference Right Here in Town. That way I could just give my measly little paper and then if everyone was mean to me, I could come home and sit on my couch and cry with my dogs and husband as comforting presences. So I did that and it was fine and I didn't have to cry about it.

But that wasn't a "major conference" and these kinds of things matter.

Like there are "all grad student conferences" and those are just not even worth doing. No point in putting them on your CV. Not worth the effort.

Then there is The Major Conference -- the MLA (Modern Language Association) which is a huge deal and it's the one everyone goes to and it's where the Big Job interviews happen and where the Big Names and Very Important Published People present their work.

Then there are the regional MLAs -- Midwest, Northeast, you get the idea. These are also major conferences but not as major as the MLA. Still, these are CV-worthy. So my advisor actually wrote "Yay!" in an e-mail when I forwarded her my acceptance to one of these and she rarely uses exclamation points (except when she writes "This sucks!" in the margins of my dissertation. Oh wait, that's me.).

Anyway, Other CV-worthy conferences are major organizations in one's particular discipline. So last fall I sent a paper proposal to the North American Victorian Studies Association. I was desperate to go to this conference. Tim Barringer was the keynote speaker and the conference was going to be at Wellsley and included a tour of their Pre-Raphaelite collection. I was So. All. About. It. I wanted to go sooooo much.

And... rejected.

They rejected me. I was very very sad and dejected and only slightly comforted when I later saw their schedule and recognized almost every name which means they were ALL Very Important Published People. Still, it really hurt my feelings. And I mean that in the most professional way possible.

So I pouted for several weeks and then we had the Very Bleak Job Seekers Meeting and then I went into OMG I Have to Get a Post Doc Panic Mode and I sent out three more paper proposals to regional MLA conferences, hoping I might get accepted to one of them and then my CV might be not quite so meager.

So now I have been accepted to two out of the three and haven't heard back from the third and I'm thinking...

* Great! Am awesome scholar with fascinating dissertation topic.
* Crap! Have to write a conference paper.
* Crap! Have to go to a conference and present my paper and then attempt to seem intelligent and speak coherently when asking questions about my paper.
* Crap! What if they ask a question I don't know?
* Crap! What if they ask NO questions thereby implying my paper was mind-numbingly boring?
* Crap! Have to book trips to far away places and wait (hope, pray) to be reimbursed for travel expenses!
* Crap! Will insist that husband accompany me so that if they are mean to me I can cry in hotel room and he can be comforting presence therefore we have to pay for him to fly also.
* Crap! Must find dog sitter.
* Hmm. Wonder if they will have free drinks?

Obviously the stressors far outweigh the little part of me that is happy I got accepted to the conference. Free drinks might help.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Because Jesus turned water into wine

So we went to a church social.

Our church decided to have a food night for young couples age 25-35. So D and I decided to show up. Partly because they asked if they could put our names on the invitations. (Because we are local celebrities and therefore a HUGE DRAW.) Only I was slightly annoyed because they misspelled "you're" on the invitations ("Please let us know your coming!") and seriously if my name is on something can we EDIT FOR GRAMMATICAL ERRORS PEOPLE???

Anyway, I didn't know any of the people who were going to be there. New social situations and small talk make me uncomfortable. AND right before Church Social, I had to attend Faculty Colloquium at school. So I listened to two professors deliver papers that were actually interesting (you know, race relations in the Caribbean and the nuclear fallout that has irradiated everyone in North America only the government is keeping it a secret). Afterward was the typical "eat our cheese, drink our wine, and say pretentious things to one another" reception that the English department holds without fail following lectures/colloquiums/poetry readings.

Between the upcoming Church Social and the Pressing Need to Say Pretentious Things Within Earshot of My Advisor and WTF we are all radioactive??!!! I ended up having a couple of glasses of wine. Small glasses. Just enough to make me feel chatty.

And then it was adios to the university crowd, howdy-do to the Strangers At Church crowd. And guess what? I totally brought my A-game. I was charming and friendly and fun and pleasant. Yes, I spilled my water at dinner when gesturing somewhat wildly, but am sure that had NOTHING to do with the glass(es) of wine.

Unfortunately, David (who is known is our circle as "the mayor" because of his stellar social skills) did NOT bring his A-game. I was CARRYING his ass.

We eat dinner at a 4-top table with another couple. They are sort of weird but harmless. I ask how they met. They met online! They seem a little hesitant to tell us this, but I quickly smooth it over, "Awesome! My best friend met her fiance online! They are getting married in June!" (Obviously I am supportive of online love! Online love is for EVERYONE.) We chat about their engagement, wedding date, blah blah blah. I say, "So where do you live?" The girl (I'll call her Stacey) says, "In Shrewsbury." I say, "Oh, I go to Jazzercise in Shrewsbury, blah blah blah."

Then D says, to the dude, (I'll call him Todd), "So, where do you live?" Even though if he had been paying attention to their previous conversation, it would have been clear that they had alluded to living TOGETHER.

So Todd sort of sheepishly and awkwardly nods toward Stacey and says, "Shrewsbury."

And THEN the table goes silent because I have already talked about Shrewsbury and am now chewing pizza. And for some reason D has NOTHING to say and instead prefers to make it seem like he just called them out on living together pre-marriage.

As if we care! As if we didn't do the same! But instead of saying something normal, he totally changes the subject, letting Todd and Stacey think we are judgmental churchy people. And he later makes a comment about moving to St. Louis after we got married, for some bizarre reason implying that we did not live together for a year before the wedding. Because we are so freaking HOLY. ( Meanwhile, I am secretly thinking that it is so GREAT that the garlic bread will TOTALLY kill my wine breath.)

So after dinner we all gather as a big group and we have to go around and say 2 things that are true about ourselves and 1 thing that isn't. (Some people hate this stuff, but I'm all, FUN!)

So I say, "I am a graduate student in English literature. Before I came here for grad school, I studied classical ballet. And I have a little dog who bites people."

Everyone is all, "You don't have a little dog that bites!" And I'm all, "Yes I do! But I did not study ballet! I am a klutz who spilled her water at dinner!" Hahaha everyone laughs. I am so charmingly self-deprecating and extremely delightful.

David says something boring and everyone easily guesses his lie because he is a terrible liar and his lie is so boring I can't even remember what it was.

Then we get to Todd who says, "I am a Cardinals fan. I'm in a Star Wars costume club. And I have two brothers."

David practically SHOUTS, "Haha! No way you're in a Star Wars costume club!" (laughs)

Todd, somewhat abashededly, "No, that's true." (small pause for awkward silence)

I think to myself, "WTF, David????" (also thinking WTF, Todd???)

The final moment of David's Collossal Failure at Social Skills was when I sat down to talk with this other couple who is splitting a CSA share with us this summer (Community Shared Agriculture). A church member has a connection with an organic farmer and is organizing a CSA through our church. I have been interested in this ever since I picked up a flyer way at the Earth Day festival way back when. So I got in touch with the guy organizing it and he sent me an e-mail with prices and schedules and all that. I forwarded the e-mail to David. I then discussed it with him and talked about it on at least FIVE separate occasions. "It is a little more expensive, but it is eating local! And supporting a local organic farmer! Plus, this will be such a great challenge! We will make all kinds of stuff! We will break out of our food rut! I will do more cooking! Look I already found a recipe for chocolate chip zucchini cookies! Yum!"

At every point, David has been NOTHING BUT AGREEABLE about the CSA. And then - as I am signing the f*&%ing contract sitting across the table from the girl who is splitting our shares and the man who knows the farmer and has organized all of this - David says loudly, "How much is this?" (leans over me to look at contract) "That seems kind of expensive for produce."

I spun around in my chair and GLARED at him with a look of DEATH. And TRUST ME, if looks could kill, he would have been writhing helplessly on the floor with blood spurting from a major artery as I signed my name on the contract and wrote a check for our share. He could obviously tell that my look said, "Shut the f&*$ up" (or maybe I was silently mouthing that at him.)

So David made lame attempts to make small talk with the minister and I went on being charming and sociable with everyone, "Oh! Can't wait to sort out our vegetables! Oh my gosh, I will totally be the coordinator for your wedding!" until we finally left and got in the car, at which time I gave David the pissed off rant that he was expecting (and, I think we can all agree, deserving) for (1) calling out the engaged couple for living together and acting all holier-than-thou; (2) openly mocking Todd's membership in the Star Wars costume club; (3) embarrassing me by suddenly objecting to the CSA that I had discussed with him on NUMEROUS OCCASIONS.

He actually agreed that I was right about all of those things but he also said that I should consider myself lucky that he DIDN'T say during his introduction time, My name is David. I teach k-2 grade PE. I'm from Kansas. And my wife is drunk right now."

So that made me laugh (I would have had to insist to everyone that he is actually from California! Hahaha!). And he admitted that he really was in poor form tonight.

Fortunately, a glass of wine improves my social skills to such a degree that I think I was able to make up for him. And we had lots of material to laugh about on the way home. So the church social I was dreading turned out to be pretty entertaining after all.

And, yes, we ARE signed up for the CSA.

And, yes, David recognizes my extreme sensitivity to being embarrassed in public (I mean, really, I can knock over a water glass and embarrass myself, thankyouverymuch) so he just walked in the door with:

*Chinese food!
*peanutbutter oreos!

And -- just when you think life can't GET any better than this --

* the movie Twilight!!!

And I'm out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

News on the Home Front

* I got offered the teaching job I interviewed for last week. It is for a novels survey course in the fall. MWF 11-12. It is a lot of work for wee little compensation. I accepted the job.

* I got accepted to one of the conferences I sent a paper proposal to. It is in Utah in October. I sent in my $25 membership fee. Now I actually have to attend the conference. Crap.

* And for those of you who have been desperately awaiting to hear about my dog's latest gross bodily functions, you'll be interested in this piece of news. Occasionally, Cooper's ass inexplicably smells like a dead animal. (My aunt Peggy will recall the disgusting odor of what we can only presume was a dead mouse inside the wall of her guest bathroom. It was the summer Natalie and I lived there and after we BOTH on separate occasions thoroughly cleaned the bathroom, we discovered that it was NOT our bathroom that smelled like dead animal, but, in fact, a dead animal in the wall. That is what Cooper's ass sometimes smells like.) We do not know what causes it or what makes it linger, but it is absolutely vile. Today I was curled up in my reading chair, revisiting some key moments in Bleak House with the puggle snuggled on my lap and the next thing I know, DEAD ANIMAL ASS SMELL. I immediately started gagging and ran dramatically to the bathroom to retch and dry heave over the sink. D is home on spring break, so he had to give Cooper a bath while I changed my clothes (dudes, the smell lingers).

* Oh, right. About the burn. Went to Barnes yesterday and met with very nice doctor who told me she is currently reading Middlemarch. I automatically liked her. She told me to buy silicone gel sheeting at a medical supply company and to follow the directions on the package. The idea is that it will flatten the ugly raised part of my scar. I am going back to see her in three weeks and if it has not improved, she will refer me to plastics for something that sounded like a derm imbrasion (?) or some kind of injection that I guess will liquify the hard scar tissue and help to flatten it. This silicone sheeting reminds me of the burn pads I was buying before (except that it costs $88!!!! For a piece that is about 5"x7". I cut it to fit my scar and then I cover it with a bandage I bought that is sort of mesh tubing to pull on and fit around my arm (only $.79/foot!). I wear it for 4 hours the first two days, then 8 hours the next two days, then 24 hours a day except for when I'm showering and such. Evidentally it is very important to follow this schedule and get my arm acclimated to the silicone sheet. It can be washed off and reused. When it loses flexibility, I am supposed to cut a new piece to put on the scar. The interesting thing is that silicone has been shown to improve scars but nobody knows how it works. They have researched it at the Wash U med school as well as some other places and they know it gets results but they have no idea how explain why. I think this is strange and it makes me distrust the medical profession a little bit, even though I liked my doctor and I hope this works!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Halloween, back when we were cool

A Blast from the Past.

10.29.2006. St. Louis, Missouri.
Jessica Simpson seems to have moved on and enjoyed the weekend she spent in St. Louis following World Series Game 5 and the big Cardinal win. Her divorce from Nick now old-news, she was seen partying with a still-unnamed Boy Scout all night Saturday. The music-maven and her new boy-toy were drinking merlot and keg beer while rubbing elbows with music legends Yoko Ono, John Lenon, and Kenny Rogers. "Jessica was laughing and having a great time," tattles a loose-lipped party goer, "It was like she was just chilling and putting all this drama with Nick and everything behind her." Some were surprised by Jessica's choice of associates. "I couldn't believe she and Yoko were, like, BFFs," another "friend" of Jessica's commented.

Jessica and her Boy Scout escort left the party early, with the Boy Scout reportedly telling Kenny Rogers that it was "Time to go home and make Jessica forget all about Nick." I wonder if they make a Boy Scout badge for that?

Exclusive photos attached.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Poem (not by me)

I don't study poetry. I like to read poems just for fun but the truth is that I am not really very good at analyzing poetry and I don't know how to scan and, honestly, I only like poems that are short. Probably why Emily Dickinson is hands-down my favorite over any of the Romantic poets. Narrative poetry (and I try very hard to make an exception for Tennyson's In Memoriam which is more than I can do for Wordsworth) just makes me groan internally and read on auto-pilot. It is the weirdest thing. I mean, I am perfectly happy to slog my way through thousands of pages of in-your-face Victorian narrators and characters and extensive pastoral scene descriptions that drive other people batty as long as it is written in prose. But if a poem is more than five stanzas or so, I just zone out.

I was recently given a handout at a not-school-related-event that included a poem. A nice, short poem. A poem I kinda liked. I had never heard it before and I didn't recognize the poet's name (because I don't read much poetry, after all). After googling it, I discovered that the writer of the poem does not like it. She allows it to be used in very specific ways (eg. not on board exams, but on personal blogs). But she would prefer that her name not be attached to it.

Here is the explanation she offers on her website, in answer to the FAQ:

Why do you hate "Sometimes" so much?

I think most people read it wrong. When read carefully, it says sometimes things go right, but not that often, and usually only when people make some kind of effort in that direction. So it isn't blithely and unreasonably optimistic. But a lot of people read it that way, which means I didn't write it well enough - the writer can always make the readers see what he wants them to if he does the job right. Also I know, because language is my job, that I have written poems in which the use of language is simply a lot more interesting and imaginative than it is there. So it bugs me now and then that this is the only one a lot of people think I've ever written.

Leave it to a poet to dislike a work because too many people interpret it as optimistic! Anyway, here's the poem. It was written in the 1980s. I respect the poet's wish to have her name left off.

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
From bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
Faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
Elect an honest man; decide they care
Enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss;
sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
That seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

I think the poet is right about this being easily misread. Her poem makes very clear that these things only happen sometimes. The problem is that human beings are eager to believe that sometimes could happen anytime. Including this time. Statistically speaking, human beings are irrationally -- "blithely and unreasonably"-- optimistic. Otherwise no one would ever win the lottery because (as my brother and I used to remind my mom when we were little and we wanted her to buy a ticket) "You can't win if you don't play!". And you wouldn't play if you didn't think there was a chance you might win -- a one in a million chance that YOU could be that one in a million. The truth is that most of the time, most of us are desperately willing to have hope. Even if the reality is that things only sometimes (which, in my mind, means less than half of the time) turn out the way we think they should.

The line I like best is "Some men become what they were born for." And I think maybe it speaks best to what the poet claims that she wanted the poem to say. To me, at the same time it gives hope that people can rise to the occasion, it also suggests that a lot of men do not, in fact, become what they were born for. That too often potential is lost and dreams are deferred and people become easily or angrily resigned to something other than what they were born to do.

So the poem is only optimistic in the way that stories of someone winning the lottery is -- yeah, once in a while someone gets lucky. But there are a million other suckers out there who will never win, but who desperate enough to pay money to make a bet when all the odds are against them.

Because sometimes it works.

It's Raining Babies

I have five girlfriends from college with whom I am still close -- three of them live in St. Louis, the other in or near Columbia, so we do a pretty good job of staying in touch. I see the St. Louis girls on a regular basis (at least once a month) and the other girls a c
ouple of times a year.

Of my five close friends from college, four of them are pregnant at this precise moment.

We managed to spread out our weddings so there was only one year of overlap -- Beth & Stephanie both got married in 2006. The rest of us spaced it out so we had once Fabulous Social Event a summer -- Allison in 2003, me in 2004, Carol in 2005, Beth & Steph in 2006, and Jamie in January of 2008.

But then everybody went and got knocked up at the same time, and now my 2009 social calendar from April to October is a baby shower frenzy, folks.

Carol's shower was this Saturday at Beth's house -- Jamie & I co-hosted with Beth. It was a lovely time and a fun afternoon during which I kept drinking wine while sitting next to my pregnant friends and saying things like, "OMG, this is the BEST wine I have EVER tasted. OMG I am going to get totally wasted on this stuff!!!" And then I would stand up (sloshing my wine on them just a little and it was white) and say something like, "You know, Pilates has done wonders for my abs, but do you think these jeans kinda make me look fat? But are they a little bit tight right here?"

(Just kidding, I did not say or even THINK any of those things. I try to be a good friend and ooh and aah appropriately at ultrasound pictures even when I'm really thinking, "WTF am I looking at? Where did I put my wine glass?" Kidding again. But seriously.)

So what I really did was buy cheese & crackers AND create a glorious diaper cake (adorable! AND useful! whee!). A YouTube video taught me how (thank God for the internet I don't know how you old people made diaper cakes or egg salad without it).

My project required:

1 roll of wide ribbon - $2
1 roll of narrow ribbon - $2
1 pair of wee little newborn booties - $4
2 packages of 48 diapers - more money than childless people can believe

The result:
Seriously, it was even cuter in person.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the g-rents

D's g-rents were here for the night before flying out to visit their daughter Lana and her family in Portland.

Although I have had my moments where a visit from his grandmother would throw me into a cleaning frenzy -- "OMG! When was the last time I scrubbed these baseboards? Oh that's right. Never. Must do it NOW before Gma gets here and realizes grandson married filthmonger." I've calmed down enough now to figure that as long as I vacuum up the dog hair, my house is reasonably tidy.

So I dutifully vacuumed yesterday before I left for work and they were here and enjoying relatively dog-hair-free sofas when I got home at 7:30. David didn't make it back until 9:30 from class. A teensy little part of me missed my "home alone on Wednesday night routine," but Gossip Girl wasn't new anyway, so it was really no big deal. And the g-rents are pretty entertaining. So I greeted them with pleasantries and then left them in front of the television (I had courteously thought ahead to stick a post-it note identifying which of the gazillion remote controls they should use: "Use only THIS one!!!!", but they somehow still managed to flip the TV from satellite to regular TV which could only have been done with one of the other remote controls) while I proceeded to make a salad and cheesebread and have a glass of wine in the kitchen so that my blood sugar and blood alcohol level were at the ideal levels for chatting with in-laws.

And it was a pleasant if uneventful evening. They marveled at my mad skills: I made a diaper cake! I checked them in online and printed their boarding passes! And I made it look so easy!

This entry has no purpose other than to celebrate my diaper cake making and printing skills. And to suggest that pinot noir pairs well with in-laws.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Burn Notice, Part Deux

That is the mark of Lord Voldemort on my arm. Yes, I was scarred in battle with the dark evil wizard and am now marked like Harry Potter but with lightning shaped scar on bicep instead of forehead.

It has been slowly (oh so slowly) healing since November and I finally went back to the doctor this week to see what I should be putting on it (Neosporin? Moderma? Lotion? Vaseline?) because it still is tender and irritating -- sometimes itchy, sometimes painful.

So as many of you may recall, when I went to student health the day after it happened,I saw a Lame-Ass Doctor who was Unpleasant and Unsympathetic. She also made a rude comment about how long I had been at Wash U (WTH? Six years is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE for a PhD in the Humanities and don't you think I am TRYING to get out of here??? And seriously, why am I having to justify my graduate career to you when I am here with a SERIOUS burn injury?). She told me to put moist burn pads on it and keep it clean and come see her in a week.

I did that and at my next appointment she said, "Well that is definitely going to scar but it looks clean and not infected. Come see me again later if you feel like it."

Well I did not "feel like it." Why would I pay $15 to hang out with this doctor so she could tell me it wasn't getting infected and it was going to scar? As far as I knew -- based on the information she gave me -- there was nothing more that could be done. So I ignored concerned friends who were like "Dude, are you going back to the doctor for that?" because I really thought her lack of concern meant there was nothing that anyone could do about it and it was just going to heal on its own and -- eventually, I hoped, with the use of copious amounts of Moderma, fade away.

But this burn happened in November. And although it has healed from its huge blisters that looked like arm-herpes, and then raw open skin that made me kind of gag to look at it, and it is now scarring over in an ugly, raised, jagged, and angry scar. It is pretty wicked looking. I realized that I had kind of gotten used to it and it was mostly covered up with sleeves in the winter. But the lovely warm weather we've had lately (until today, freaking Missouri, and my poor magnolia tree is in crisis and its lovely blooms turned brown), these warm temperatures have me wanted to wear short sleeves and I have become increasingly aware that this scar is pretty scary looking.

So I decided to go back and see a different doctor and ask for a referral to a dermatologist who could maybe give me some miracle ointment or something.

This new Super Great Doctor walks in, takes one look at my arm, and her jaw drops. She asks what happened so I give her the story, "blah blah hot tea, blah blah spill, blah blah back in November... so I was wondering if maybe I should see a dermatologist?" And she says, "Oh, honey, I'm referring you to the wound care surgical unit at Barnes."

Umm.... That would be Barnes-Jewish hospital, home of Wash U med school and Wash U's "Top Docs." I have only been there once before when D had Very Terrible Vision Issue and we were terrified he was going to go blind (but that's a whole blog entry in itself). So anyway, Super Great Doctor leaves the room, makes a phone call, and schedules an appointment for me with a Wound Care Specialist in the Acute Care Surgery Center on March 18th.

So I have mixed feelings about all this. I'm glad I went back and saw Super Great Doctor, but I'm also furious because it is clear that this sort of action should have been taken months ago by Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor when I first showed up with a hideously blistered and raw, scalded arm. I cannot believe that Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor acted so nonchalant about it (and neither could the two Very Sympathetic Nurses who saw my arm as my Very Important Surgery Consult Appointment was being scheduled and they were Extremely Nice and Felt Quite Sorry For Poor Disfigured Me and asked who I saw the first time and when I told them, they Exchanged Knowing Glances and Did Not Comment).

I am also kind of freaked out because, um? surgery? ouch? and please please please no needles!!! (Seriously, I can just look at needles and pass out -- just ask my orthodontic surgeon, but that's a whole blog entry in itself). Also... does my insurance cover this? I mean, since Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor didn't refer me to anyone, is this now "superficial plastic surgery like the Real Housewives of Orange County" instead of "holy shit you have a hideous burn surgery"?

Super Great Doctor said that since the scar is still red and tender, it is likely that they can still "do something for me" and it's true that whatever needs to be done is purely cosmetic because it's not infected or anything. It is mighty ugly though. So now I wait and see what Laurel in the Barnes Surgical Care Center thinks about the mark of Lord Voldemort...

... to be continued next Wednesday.

Blue Lake Bloggers

My mom, it seems, comes from a blogging family. Her side of the family has produced four bloggers (besides me). Reading their entries has been fun because I still feel kind of connected to these people even though I haven't seen most of them since I was a little kid.

The last time that whole side of the family got together was in 1989. Family reunions were held in Blue Lake, Oregon, which I remember as a beautiful and nature-y retreat. They (my Grandma Vance and her three sisters and one brother and all their kids and grandkids) got together at Blue Lake every 4 years for a week of catching up. I had my first birthday there and my fifth. I was 9 years old at the last Blue Lake reunion so there are still lots of things I don't remember -- I imagine that other people have better stories of funny things that happened that I can recall -- but there are certain things that stand out in my mind as crystal clear memories.

As a little kid at a big family reunion (the 5 Talcott siblings who each had anywhere from 3 to 5 grown kids of their own, plus those kids' spouses and kids), there was no way I could keep straight exactly who all of the adults were and which of the kids and grandkids belonged to which sister or brother. But I quickly learned that if I wanted something (a cookie, a coke, a piece of cake or candy or whatever) that it was best to ask any of the moms there who were not my mom. Where my mom would be likely to say, "No, it's almost dinner time," her cousin Pam or Amy or any of the great-aunts Beth, Lois, Jean, or Barbara, could be counted on to say "Sure, here ya go!" and give a generous helping of whatever treat we desired. My brother and I worked this system with much success the entire week we were there.

I was about five years younger than the "big girls" -- Angie, Jeny, Bethany, and Briana -- and I thought they were sooooo cool. With their bangs and tight-rolled jeans and general awesomeness, I wanted to be just like them. They were pretty nice about including me in some things and I remember we all went horseback riding together. Aunt Beth was always telling me Amazingly Awesome Facts about Bethany and Briana. "Beth likes the book Little Women" (which I immediately wanted to read.) "Briana got to play Dorothy in her school's play The Wizard of Oz" (and I was promptly filled with awe and a desire to do musical theater). Bethany's blog is here. (And she is still cool. I am sure Briana is still equally cool, although I am not aware that she blogs or that she has pursued musical theatre since the days of Dorothy. I do hear that she as an adorable baby boy.) Angie and Jeny I saw more often, as they are my first cousins, so their awesomeness was already well-known to me before the Blue Lake reunion. They still had a tendency to ditch me and hang out with Bethany and Briana, but who could blame them?

I guess it was the last night of the reunion that we had a family talent show and I can remember Angie wearing this long fancy white dress (I have no idea why someone brought formal wear to Blue Lake? But I remember it being lovely. I guess someone just prepared for the talent show in advance?). So Angie wore the white dress and sang "Blue Moon" on the back deck where the talent show was. "Blue moon, you saw me standing alone..." I am sure there were other equally inspired acts, but I can't recall them. There must be a video tape somewhere...?

I (evidently showing my lack of musical talent at an early age) was given the role of providing commercials in between acts. This included a Pert Plus shampoo commercial in which my cousin Casey (he must have been about 12) reluctantly participated. I assured the audience that "If you have hair like this..." (hold up strand of Casey's short hair) "and you want hair like THIS" (toss my own hair), Pert Plus would make all the difference.

I also led the little kids in a rousing rendition of ring-around-the-rosy in which I remember no one being very cooperative although we had practiced several times previously. When I wasn't tagging along with the big girls, I was making myself Babysitter In Charge and corralling the little kids -- Brennan and Alex and Briana's little sister Casey, who were all about two years old I think. I found them absolutely adorable, like the cutest kids ever. I cried on the airplane home because I wanted to be able to babysit them all the time.

My mom's cousin Susan (her blog can be found here) was there with her two boys, Kale (his blog about teaching on a remote Alaskan island is here) and Hal (his blog about adventures student teaching in England can be found here). It has been fun to read their blogs and see what kind of people they've turned out to be because I have very little recollection of meeting them except for two particular incidents that stand out in my mind:

Hal was a little cutie when he was around 4 years old (I'm guessing?) with a blonde curls and a round belly (he is still quite the cutie, and evidently a hit with the British junior high girls). But I did NOT find him so adorable when I started looking for my missing hair clip. This was an awesome hair clip that I had begged my mom to buy for me and it was a treasured possession. It was like a banana clip, but instead of a hinge at the bottom, it had a bendy, stretchy, zig-zag shaped plastic piece to keep my short hair from falling out of it. Angie and Jeny were sporting the banana clips and I thought that I was sooooo cool with my super awesome banana clip. But I put it down on the picnic table for one second and the next thing I know, I turn around and this cute little Hal has grabbed hold of it, opened it up, has one end of it in each of his chubby little kid hands and is stre-e-e-e-etching the zig-zag plastic piece across his little round belly! Like pushing out his belly into it.

I was so pissed. My prized possession, destroyed by Hal's pudgy little belly. It was devastating. Now I would never be as cool as the big girls.

It occurs to me at this point that perhaps little Hal was innocently and unintentionally doing me a huge favor, as I had absolutely no business putting my hair in a banana clip (they really required the long perm a la Angie & Jeny to make it work and even then...). So I give him the benefit of the doubt and am sure he is a very nice young man who no longer ruins things that do not belong to him. But that is my vivid memory of little Hal Iverson. Rampant destruction of glorious '80s hair accessories.

With so many adults hanging out at our little compound at Blue Lake, it seems that it was easy to assume that someone else was keeping an eye on your kids, even if you weren't quite sure where they were. Kale and my brother are around the same age which made them 5-or-6ish at the time. My memory of Kale is the evening that he and Brandon rejoined the group after being gone for an unknown amount of time and they were completely filthy. Absolutely covered in a fine, dusty dirt from head to toe. Their skin was several shades darker than their normal color, tinted with dirt made darker by little boy sweat and even their hair was coated in dust. Their clothes -- and I believe Brandon was wearing a Mario Bros. muscle shirt, if memory serves -- were also covered in a layer of dirt and grime. When he took off his sandals, you could see the white lines of pale skin that had been protected from dirt.

No one had any idea where they had been. In fact, truth be told, they had not yet been missed. So no one was watching them when they disappeared and when they showed back up at the cabins, no one knew where they'd been, how long they'd been gone, or what they could possibly have gotten into to get themselves so freaking filthy. But it was clear that they had been enjoying themselves. I can remember my Grandma Vance laughing at how dirty they were. Of course there were pictures taken of the two of them, documenting their fun. My mom took a picture of Brandon and Kale that perfectly depicts them at the moment, in their skinny, grimy little kid glory, grinning like they can't believe they got so dirty and everyone thought it was so funny.

So those are my memories of Blue Lake -- and the smell of pine trees, and the little A-frame cabins everyone stayed in, and the adults sitting around in lawn chairs and laughing.

The next time I'm at my parents' I'm going to have to dig out the photo album from this summer and I'll scan and post some photos to illustrate Blue Lake.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happiness is having a puggle to snuggle

This was Cooper in April of 2006. Which means he just turned three in February. It is so hard to believe that he isn't a puppy anymore. It is equally hard to imagine life without Cooper. Isn't he just a heartbreaker?

Cute puppy destroys landscaping!

Cooper and basket - April 2006.

Cooper and basket February 2007

Cooper and basket. Taken today.

Sister & Cooper. Still in puppy days. This was the summer of 2006.

And this was their Valentine's Day portrait. Cooper has outgrown Sister! Also note that is the same ottoman from the first picture.

Happy (belated) birthday to Cooper!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Panty Freak

I hesitated to post this blog for fear of offending some of my more delicate readers.

Then I figured, what the hell. I've already talked about it to some of you and if I had to experience this, then you should have to experience it too.

Also I know a couple of my friends hate the word "panty" and "panties" and would prefer to say "underwear" or "roos." To you I say: sorry. This post is about panties.

So the thing is, my dog is a Panty Freak. Yes, I refer to Cooper, not Little Mac. (Although, to be completely fair, one time when I was in my old apartment and D left Mac with me for the week I came home from class one day to find her wearing a pair of my underwear around her neck. Seriously. I have no idea how it happened. My best guess is that she was rutting around on the floor on them and managed to slip them over her head and then couldn't -- or didn't want -- to get them off.)

I no longer leave panties on the floor because (1) my husband is a Neat Freak and clutter stresses him out (crumbs on the counter and dirt on the carpet not a problem for him though -- we have very different perspectives on what "clean" means) and (2) my dog is a Panty Freak.

Cooper is not alone in his penchant for eating panties. I understand that many dogs relish a good panty. His cousin Sonoma is quite the panty-lover himself. Sonoma's mom, Lana, reports that Sonoma has a preference for the high-dollar panty (Hanky Pankies in particular) and thongs. Cooper is not so discriminating, although when I think back to the 3 pairs of panties that he has eaten, it would seem that he has a thing for horizontal stripes.

So since Cooper's puppy days, I have learned to be very careful about where I'm throwin' my panties and I am careful to make sure they end up in the laundry hamper and not on the bathroom floor.

Last week, I was doing some laundry and had separated clothes from the hamper into laundry baskets. A pair of my underwear was on top of one basket -- cute new cotton undies that my mom gave me for Christmas. Horizontally striped cotton undies. I noticed Cooper was mighty interested in that laundry basket and particularly in the cute little horizontally striped number on top. I gave him a couple of Verbal Warnings in a Very Stern Voice, "No, Cooper! That is not for babies! Do not eat your mama's underwear! Get your snout out of that laundry basket!" But I got distracted making and eating dinner and the next thing I know:

crotchless panties on the dining room floor.

Needless to say, when my MOTHER gave me these panties at Christmas, they most CERTAINLY were NOT crotchless. So I threw away what remained of the underwear and scolded Cooper and yelled at D because somehow it must be HIS fault that our dog is a DISGUSTNG PERV WHO EATS HIS MOTHER'S UNDERWEAR.

Then we went to bed.

The next EVENING when D gets home from work, we are chatting -- the typical how was your day, mine was fine, students were crazy, my dissertation makes my brain hurt, etc. -- and he casually says, "So I think Cooper puked last night."

"Um, what do you mean you think? Where did he do it? You didn't clean it up?"

"Well, he was under the covers and I heard him like gagging. But it was early this morning so I had to get up and get to work."

*pause for reflection*

"Are you telling me that you THINK our dog VOMITED in our bed UNDER THE COVERS and you GOT UP at 6am and WENT TO WORK and left me to SLEEP IN DOG VOMIT until my alarm went off at 7:25am??? Did I spend an hour and a half unconciously lolling around in DOG PUKE????"

D starts backpedaling to save his life, "Well, I'm not sure he puked. I mean, he could have been coughing."

I run to the bedroom, fling the comforter up off the blanket at the foot of the bed and find this:

Yes, Reader, that is dog vomit and the crotch of my panties in two pieces.

Yes, Reader, my husband left me sleeping with that in bed with me.

I know it could be worse: at least the panties didn't get lodged in Cooper's intestine, forcing us to take our a second mortgage on our home in order to pay for emergency veterinary surgery. At least he didn't vomit on my face. At least they were VS panties and not Hanky Pankies. But SERIOUSLY. I didn't know whom to be more annoyed with -- Cooper for puking or D for being completely UNCONCERNED.

So, that is my life. My dog is a Panty Freak, my husband is a "Neat Freak" whose desire for cleanliness clearly does not extend to clean sheets and I sleep in dog vomit. Stay tuned for more zany fun!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fashion by the Brooke

Oh! What a cute top I'm wearing? Where did I get it?

I made it myself!

OMG! Love it! Where'd I get the pattern?

I didn't have one. I just made it up!

Turned out pretty freaking cute, no?