Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trend Spotting & Those Pesky Kids

D and I made the ultimate mistake last night. We went to the movies.

This might seem like a fairly innocuous way to spend a Friday night. Typical, even. My parents' trip to STL was canceled as my dad wasn't feeling well and I felt like I was well on my way to getting a cold myself. So we decided to take it easy and -- as we used to say in high school -- go to The Show. (I did not go to high school in the dark ages, I do not know why we called it The Show.)

Anyway, I wanted to see The Reader, David wanted to see Taken. I generally like Liam Neeson, so I was somewhat willing to let him talk me into it. Plus I was sitting in a quiet coffee shop on the phone as we discussed, so I felt self-conscious about arguing. But after we'd gotten off the phone, David texted me the time and place. It was playing at the big 20-plex theater out in the county, not at my favorite 6-plex theater attached to a swanky hotel in the Central West End. I immediately texted him:

"Nooo!!! Not the tween scene!"

But that is exactly where we ended up. We walked up to the ticket booth and almost turned around and walked back to the car. The entire front sidewalk of the theater was crammed with junior high kids. It was ridiculous. The volume was unbelievable. Shrill junior high girl voices screeching. It was unreal. I covered my ears and stared.

We had been to this theater before on a Friday night and it was always a bit of a zoo with kids being dropped off and lots of groups of slouchy boys and hair-tossing girls. But this night was different. Evidently there was a Jonas Brothers Concert Experience also playing at the theater. Both shows were sold out. And ALL their groupies were outside.

I should say that I am not an old grouch. I feel optimistic about America's youth. I generally like teenagers. I mean, I'm bitten and smitten with Twilight, I watch Gossip Girl, and I think that Zac Efron is pretty cute. I have a lot in common with the average thirteen year old girl. But seeing them all together, en masse, it was something else.

Every girl there under the age of 16 -- and I am not exaggerating -- was wearing Uggs. Hot trends: Northface coats, Coach bags, skinny jeans, and the ubiquitous Uggs. One inexplicably popular look was the Northface jacket with Adidas soccer shorts, tights (my favorite look was hot pink tights) with tall Ugg boots. There were several girls wearing this. There were also lots of girls sporting shorts without tights but with Uggs. (It was about 30 degrees out). All of them clutched their cell phones. There was a lot of screaming and also they were brushing each other's hair. I told David that I had never acted like that. The middle-aged man in front of us turned around and said, "Oh, yeah, right!" But seriously! I think I was more sullen and eye-rolling than giggly and hair-brushing. But maybe I'm just blocking all of eighth grade. And who could blame me?

So the girls were one thing but the boys freaked me out too. In their baggy jeans and their hoodies, traveling everywhere in groups of three or four and dropping curse words and homophobic language. It took everything I had not to ask a curly-haired boy if he kissed his mother with that mouth as he gratuitously dropped the F-bomb. I mean, there is a time and place for salty language, but I hardly think that the parking lot of the theater just after you climbed out of your mom's MINI-VAN is either the time or the place. And why do you have an i-phone?? I don't have an i-phone! Why do you get an i-phone?

And don't even get me STARTED on the hummer limo that cruised by, full of awkward teenages screaming out the windows. The middle-aged man in front wondered aloud what kind of parents rent limos for their kids. I kept my mouth shut, but it seemed obvious to me: the kind of parents who realize that $80/hour is a bargain when it means that the screeching pack of tweens/teens is out of your hearing range for the evening. Seems like a brilliant plan to me.

Anyway, once the Jonas Brothers sold out, the tweens dispersed themselves to other theaters. We ended up behind six of them in Taken. So I got to watch them text for an hour and a half. Seriously? You think that just because you're not talking that your little lit-up screen is not distracting me from the only other lit-up screen in the theater? And what the hell are you texting about?

The movie was un-good, which actually made the entire situation more tolerable as I would have been much more annoyed if I had to watch The Reader while sitting behind these kids and their occasional exclamations "Daaa-yum!" and their whisper-whisper-whisper-SHHHH BE QUIET-giggle-giggle-giggle-smack-each-other and their musical chairs OMG YAY LET'S SET FOUR PEOPLE IN THREE MOVIE SEATS THIS IS SO FUNNY co-ed snuggling.

So I sat quietly and gritted my teeth and as we left the theater, D and I made a pact to never return there for a 7:30 show on a Friday night. Live and learn. But at least I know that Uggs and shorts is the hot look for spring with the too-young-to-drive crowd.

Friday, February 27, 2009


I don't know why I am in such a good mood on a cold dreary day in February, but everywhere I look, it seems like the universe is conspiring to make me happy.

I know, crazy, right?

The real good news is that my dissertation is going well. In fact, as soon as I finish typing this, I am headed to my neighborhood coffee shop to spend the afternoon revising the second half of my chapter so that I can get it to my advisor next week. I met with her today and she told me that she is about halfway through the wannabe article I submitted to her, but it looks "very promising" so far. And she gave me some good advice about interviewing to teach a *literature!* course for the fall. And she approved the abstract I am going to submit to a literature conference. Full speed ahead!

Even more exciting is the fact that David and I booked our trip to London for this summer! We will be staying at the Staunton Hotel in Bloomsbury and making our way around the city for a week and a half, with a couple of day trips planned to Bath and Oxford. In a freak twist of fantastic luck, it is very likely that my dear friend, former bridesmaid, and future legal counsel, Natalie, will be in London at the same time, studying there through an opportunity with her law program. Celebrating my birthday in London by going to see a Shakespearean play at the Globe theater with my hubby and one of my BFFs? Could I imagine a better birthday? (Well, I could, and of course it would include a fabulous afterparty with ALL my BFFs and my family, and anyone who reads this blog, and how about the cast of the play while we're at it... But still. This one's gonna be a good one.)

And we will spend the last four days of our trip in Paris. We have not yet finalized our accomodations, but we just got offered a great deal on renting a flat on the Left Bank of the River Seine. Does it GET any better than that?

The apartment belongs to our friend Kate and her husband -- Kate was our tour guide in Italy last summer and she and her husband Markus rent out their Paris flat (which is their homebase) as well as a farmhouse they own in southern France ( She is willing to let it to us for just the four nights that we will be there and they rent directly so we can leave cash and not pay extra fees for an agency. I am so excited!

Here is Kate's description of her flat:

The flat is situated on the fourth and last floor (no elevator) in Montparnasse in a quiet street (rue Bréa) between the Blvd Montparnasse and the Luxembourg gardens. Very good links to public transport - three different metro lines within easy walking distance, several useful bus links, a direct line to the Gare du Nord, as well as to both airports. There are also two stands of the city bikes (Velib) just outside. This is a fantastic and virtually free way to discover Paris. Check it out at Local food shops, markets, bakers, banks, post office, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and lots of lovely, expensive, clothes shops in the surrounding streets. Delightful Luxembourg gardens at the bottom of the road.

The flat has a large double sitting/dining room running across the front, with three windows onto the street and the little square Bréa-Vavin, with trees, cafes and a newspaper kiosk. The double bedroom and connecting bathroom are on the other side of the central passage, as is the kitchen. This side looks out over the building's quiet residental courtyard with a former artists' studio and trees. The flat is very light and airy, with big windows on each side. The bathroom has a bath tub with shower over, and there is of course a basin and loo. The kitchen has a gas cooker with electric oven, and a washing machine. There is Wifi access in the flat, but no television.

YES I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE FOR FOUR DAYS AND MAYBE I WILL NEVER LEAVE. I definitely trust Kate's recommendations and I am thrilled that she is willing to rent us her place. I can just imagine waking up in Paris, popping across the street (rue, I mean) to get coffee, croissants, and the New York Times, and eating a leisurely Parisian breakfast before renting bikes to take us sight-seeing. We can return home to have dinner at a cafe near our flat or buy bread and cheese and wine at a market and eat in the dining room with the windows open, pretending that we are locals...

I am so crazy excited about it I can hardly wait. What a way to celebrate finishing my dissertation and stayin' married for 5 years!!! I feel incredibly lucky and blessed and like the universe is smilin' on me.

And, in other good news on the local and domestic front, my parental units are coming to visit this weekend -- we don't have any big plans, but my mom is going to help me finish this sewing project I'm making for my friend Carol and I am going to ask my dad to take a look at our loo and see why it sometimes has condensation on the outside of the bowl toward the back. (Tip: Put your parents to work when they come to visit. No, they like it.) My mom and I also plan to do a little shopping and we'll go out Saturday night to have some St. Louis-style Italian dining on The Hill (or, technically, just south of it, in our neck of the woods).

Here's to health and happiness and safe travels, whether driving across town or state or jumping over the pond to Europe. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No Bake Cookies

David and I love No Bake cookies. We make them pretty often. Whenever we want something sweet but don't really have anything on hand. It only takes a few minutes to mix up cocoa and peanutbutter and oatmeal into a yummy gloppy mess that is so good we can barely wait until it's cool to start eating. David makes huge heaping cookies as he spoons out the mix onto waxed paper and I pretend this is somewhat annoying but really I delight in eating a humongous chunk of No Bake that is really only one cookie.

(In the interest of full disclosure: I did not take this picture and these are not my cookies. But they all look the same. And they are all delicious!)

We had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and made it taco night with all the fixings and Mexican beer. Dessert somehow got sort of overlooked so we just offered our guests the No Bake cookies we'd already made. And no one had ever heard of them before, much less eaten them! They were a huge hit and I was astonished and we were delighted to share the joy that is No Bake cookies.

One guest wanted the recipe so I was copying it for her out of a cookbook that D bought from his elementary school in Nevada. We were laughing because there were no fewer than 11 variations on the recipe for No Bake cookies in this one little cookbook. So I don't know if it's a small-midwestern-town thing or what, but we are happy to spread the No Bake love.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Uh Muh Guh!!! Pantry Emergency!!!

We are in dire straits here, folks.

I just discovered that our kitchen shelves are missing an item that I do not think we have ever completely run out of in all our married lives. I am not sure how we will go on.

I should preface this by saying that we don't have a real pantry. Our "pantry area" in our kitchen holds a stackable washer and dryer. While it would be nice to have that space for our dried lentils and canned capers and such, the truth is we don't keep much in the way of dried lentils or canned capers and such. We do have some canisters of pasta, but those we just keep out on the counter. So a pantry is something I have learned to live without and do so without much trouble (until I visit friends with luxurious pantries and envy them while I am in their kitchens. Then I leave and promptly forget about it).

Not having a pantry means we don't buy much in bulk and unless we diligently menu-plan and grocery shop accordingly (damn you New Year's RESOLUTIONS!!!) we always run out of stuff. I try to keep a can of vegetarian chili and a can of mushroom soup around for those evenings when I find myself screeching "OMG IT IS 7.30PM AND IF I CAN'T WARM UP SOMETHING WITH SOY CRUMBLES IN THE MICROWAVE I WILL STAB SOMEONE." But we even run out of those things sometimes.

And yet, in this small kitchen, we always always always have two staples on hand:
1) Tortilla Chips
2) Cheap Wine

Because if there is no can of soy to nuke for dinner, I can (happily) make a meal out of these two staples. Yay! Chips and wine! My favorite!

As I think I've mentioned, I've been doing more cooking of late (oh you New Year's Resolutions, how I dutifully attempt to abide by you) and it hasn't been half bad, really. I even kinda like it sometimes. But it is ONLY fun when someone else is there to say "This is awesome, honey!" or "OMG I see why these Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs totally won a cooking contest!" Cooking for myself... bleh.

So I used to make a meal out of tortilla chips fairly often when I was a single girl and lived alone. Seriously. "Dinner" looked something like this:
Monday: microwave popcorn and cheese
Tuesday: bowl of cereal
Wednesday: bread and olive oil
Thursday: frozen waffles
Friday: tortilla chips and salsa

Not to worry; I would healthify these "meals" by eating side dishes of apples and baby carrots. (It is no wonder that I quickly lost the weight I had gained during my "What are you allergic to? You should be on steroids? Now you won't get hives? But your face will get very fat! Because steroids make you gain weight just like a professional baseball player! And guess what? You are not allergic to beer! And now you are 21!" phase in college. Most of weight loss was due to stress that made me feel Sad. Not Hungry. whenever I tried to eat. Oh, and the fact that I was eating a bag of popcorn for dinner. My first year of graduate school hit me with a triple whammy: I was completely wigging out about the demands of graduate school and my lack of preparedness; at the same time I was pining for long-distant boyfriend; and simultaneously finding myself utterly incapabile of living alone and cooking for self after years of indulgent lunch-packing parent followed by snacking roommates, well-stocked mini-fridges, and all-inclusive campus dining hall. I am not endorsing this as a diet plan and I do not recommend it.)

Tonight D is home and we are "cooking" up our version of Qdoba burritos. This is one of my favorite meals and is always best with a side of tortilla chips, of course.

Of course.



This has never happened.

I cannot IMAGINE how they did not make it on the last grocery list. This is simply an unforseen event and we are still reeling from it.

Tonight I guess we eat burritos. WITHOUT CHIPS.

Thankfully, we do have a bottle of cheap red wine.

And life goes on.

Bon appetit!

Free Shopping!

Yesterday I hosted a smashingly successful Clothing Exchange.

I e-mailed the girls in the English Department and invited everyone to clean out their closets, bring any clothes/shoes/accessories they were tired of wearing, and come over to my house for mimosas and a clothing exchange. I went through my own closet after Christmas and was relentless about getting rid of things. Difficult for me! That stuff has been sitting in the garage, waiting to be donated and seemed like a perfect excuse to have a party.

There were ten of us all together and we piled everything onto my dining room table and a few chairs and then commenced digging through the clothes, grabbing things to try on, recommending things to other people to try on, and then modeling the clothes that worked. There were no tug-of-war fights (let's face it, we're all grad students and our clothes just aren't that great). And there were ranges of sizes so that if something didn't fit someone, it might fit someone else and everyone was generous and agreeable. Plus if one found something she really liked, it could be quietly tucked away in her bag and no one would fight her for it!

It only took a couple of hours to get through everything, and it was fun to hang out and get new stuff and not spend any money. I made my Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs, which were a HUGE hit. (Recipe available in This World's Very Magnificent Cookbook. Only now as I typed that did I just realize that the title of that recipe book matches all the siblings' last names. I was oblivious. How funny.) This is the recipe that won a kids' cooking contest in the late '80s or maybe 1990 and it still delivers.

It's true that today I have experienced a pang over a sweater that I donated and would *maybe* like to have back, but I know that it has gone to a good home with my friend Anna. And I hadn't worn it in over a year... I also got a couple of useful and cute things out of the exchange -- a button down white shirt, a pair of cute canvas flats that were half a size too small for someone else. Of course, when it was all said and done, we still had a lot of stuff left over (dressy sandals dyed apple red size 6/12, anyone?). The idea of loading up my car with all this stuff and dragging it somewhere seemed daunting, so I just scheduled an online pick-up with the Vietnam Veterans Association. They will be coming over tomorrow to get everything and then I will feel very satisfied about decluttering my life, gaining a couple shirts and a pair of flats out of it, and donating to charity. And it didn't cost a thing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Making School Lunches Cuter

I hate making lunches. I should say I hate packing lunches. I am not sure why I have such an aversion to it. I guess my mom spoiled me by packing my lunches all the way through high school.

I should note that while she dutifully made sure I was fed, she got consistently less enthusiastic as I got older -- the stickers and notes and cookie-cutter-cut-out sandwiches of my elementary days were eventually replaced by sloppy PBJs, half-hearted bags of crumbled Doritos, and an opened and half-empty package of nutty bars or ho-hos -- the other half of the nutty bar or ho-ho pair went to my brother). I can remember a day in high school when I was shocked to withdraw from my brown paper bag a turkey and cheese sandwich on a croissant, a bag of sliced strawberries, a bag of carrots, and some pretzels. I was delighting in the fact that my mom had prepared strawberries for me (a personal favorite but my mom -- inexplicably -- does not like strawberries), when I quickly realized that this was not, in fact, my lunch. My brown bag had gotten mixed up with a friend's, and that friend was staring at my apple-dented PBJ and nutty bar with confusion and, I think, disdain. She quickly claimed the croissant as her own and I couldn't argue.

I am certainly not faulting my mom for a lack of enthusiasm when it came to packing school lunches. I cannot blame her. There is something so unappetizing about making a meal many hours in advance, particularly the night before. Or rushing to make it the morning of. It explains why so many people buy their lunches from restaurants, cafeterias, and vending machines. The bringing of one's own lunch is just not very fun.

Poor D takes his own lunch almost everyday and sometimes will ask me to make it for him the night before. It is a small chore that I loathe, even more than emptying the dishwasher. I would rather do the laundry, run the vaccuum, take out the trash, change the sheets, dust the living room, anything but make his lunch.

In an effort to make lunch a little more exciting -- and environmentally friendly! -- a few months ago, I ordered David these reusable sandwich wraps from

He puts his sandwiches in these and if he mushes them just a little bit, he can fit two sandwiches in the one wrap. It is cloth on the outside with a velcro fastener, and the inside is a slick, clear plastic that wipes clean. Brilliant! No need for plastic sandwich bags that just get thrown away!

Recently I came across a similar product made to hold those lunch-time favorites: Doritos et. al. I ordered two of them:

It is essentially the same idea -- fabric outside, plastic inside. Machine washable and also dishwasher safe. Perfect for holding snacks that would otherwise go in ziplock or sandwich bags, which would then go on to a landfill. Plus these are so freaking cute. I just might volunteer to make D's lunch once in a while if I can put his carrot sticks and Krunchers potato chips into a couple of these bags.

Friday, February 13, 2009


The New York Times recently published an article that argues schools should not spend lots of money on dramatic interventionist techniques to raise test scores. Instead, just promoting student confidence can improve test scores significantly:

"Just telling students that their intelligence is under their own control improves their effort on school work and performance. In two separate studies, Mr. Aronson and others taught black and Hispanic junior high school students how the brain works, explaining that the students possessed the ability, if they worked hard, to make themselves smarter. This erased up to half of the difference between minority and white achievement levels."

This blows my mind. So does the fact that "Simply reminding blacks of their race before they take an exam leads them to perform worse, their research shows."

I can remember enjoying standardized test day when I was a kid. It was fun. My mom would usually make us cream of wheat instead of cold cereal for breakfast and when I got to school, we would all clear our desks and the room would be quiet and all we had to do was read some questions and color in the corresponding circle answer. And I knew I would know the answers. I had my nice sharp pencils to color in my neat little circles on the score sheet, and the confidence that I would finish early and do well. (Sometimes I would pretend that it was my job to take the test and my boss wanted the circles to be really perfect and also I needed to have good posture.) Doing well on tests -- from the Iowa Basics to the LSAT pretty much happened because I'm blessed with the ability to read very quickly, and I knew, when in doubt, to guess C, and I didn't psyche myself out.

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming testing genius. I was not getting perfect scores or anything like that -- particularly on the LSAT! I'm just saying that I think my scores reflect my confidence in test taking as much as they reflect my ability.

I wish I could transfer that confidence to writing a dissertation. Standardized tests are a walk in the park for me compared to empty pages that need to be filled with brilliant insight and nuanced analysis. It is far more intimidating and I get much less positive feedback. But still, it's not like there is some dramatic intervention I can do tomorrow that can miraculously turn me into a better writer or a better thinker. At a certain point, it's all about confidence.

Maybe if I focus on having best posture while I work...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spring Awakening

David and I are going to see Spring Awakening at the Fox Saturday for Valentine's Day. It won a bunch of Tonys and is supposed to be really great. (It also received some attention when it was featured on the new 90210 as West Beverly High School students performed it).

I honestly don't know a lot about it other than it is set in the 19th century and it involves young people who fall in love. Everything I've heard about it has been good, though, and I love going to the Fox no matter what.

Today at my orthodontist's office, I overhear him telling another patient that he went to see it last week. He proceeds to announce that (1) it was a good show (2) Act I ends with a sex scene on stage and (3) he is glad he did not take his elderly mother to see the show because she would have been mortified.

So after he checks out my retainer, I tell him that I am going to see Spring Awakening. He says that it is worth seeing but "maybe a little much for these St. Louis crowds." I assure him that I won't be seeing it with anyone elderly. He says that it's a good show.

The last time I saw a sex scene on stage, it involved the puppets in Avenue Q. I am assuming this won't be nearly as hilarious (David and I agree that Avenue Q was absolutely the funniest thing we've ever seen -- my face hurt from laughing) but it should be interesting...

I wonder if Nevada High School might consider taking a cue from West Beverly and putting Spring Awakening on the calendar for this spring? Something tells me that's not likely.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cash Only, Please

So D and I decided to go on a cash only policy this year. In our systematic approach to paying off debt, it just seemed to make sense to forgo having even trifling amounts on credit cards and to focus on getting rid of (1) the car payment; (2) his student loan; (3) my student loan.

As I have quickly discovered, paying off the credit cards wasn't that hard. It is keeping the balance at zero that is the KILLER!

It's a vicious cycle, right. I paid the $200 so the balance is at zero. But now I don't have the $200 cash that I would have had. So I can't buy the bag/shoes/shirt/Valentine's day wreath/yarn/circular knitting needles/jacket-on-super-sale/darling polka-dot swim suit/earrings/notecards/whatever because I don't have any extra cash.

But if I put it my credit card, I will have the extra cash next month to pay it off, right? So, why not? I mean, I'm paying the balance in full, right? Might as well get the miles/points, right?

No. That is not the point of cash-only. Cash only means saving up cash for what you want. And paying cash. (Or, possibly, putting it on credit card to get miles but then paying it off right away.)

I have always been pretty responsible with credit cards but, in keeping with our new financial strategy, I now have to admit that the Target credit card is too much for me. I am weak at Target. Something in the air there. Having a Target credit card -- unlike any other store or any other card -- makes me buy things I would not normally buy. I tell myself that buying more now will save me money in the long run. Not true!!! See, the gimmick behind the Target card is that for every $1,000 you spend you get one day of 10% off shopping. This might be worth it if you were going to spend responsibly on necessities at Target and then buy a Dyson vacuum on 10% off day. Otherwise, it is so not worth it. So I am canceling my Target credit card. They'll get plenty of my money without it.

So that's my story. Cash only feels un-fun when I leave Target without the ruffly pink shirt I really wanted, but I know that when I am in London this summer, I will be very glad we did this.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

D is for.... disgusting.

God love him, D is super gross right now. This picture does not really illustrate the grossness. It was taken a couple of summers ago but I think it is much funnier than a picture of D taken at present would be.

Last week was the strep throat drama. For me, strep throat means (1) my throat hurts. This requires (1) popsicles, juice, and ice cream; (2) Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Freaks & Geeks; (3) three days on the couch with some whining. Then I'm fine.

D on the other hand has to (1) run 101.5 degree fevers, (2) shake, (3) sweat, (4) have horrible body aches, and (5) be absolutely miserable for three days and then (5) weak and exhausted for two more before he's back in action. He is less demanding than I am in the sick-food and drink area, but he does require violent action movies and stupid Will Ferrell comedies.

So strep throat runs its course. But the fun doesn't stop there: once his immune system was down with strep, he developed a cold sore on his lip. I ran to Wal-Greens before the superbowl and bought him Abreva, but the cold sore is still pretty bad. Last night he's sitting on the couch and I look at him and I'm like "Dude! Your mouth is bleeding!" It was nearly running down to his chin. SICK! Bless his heart; he's bloody and disgusting. So he bled all over his pillow case last night.

I typically love Sunday mornings. We wake up fairly early and lounge around, having coffee, eating pancakes or cinnamon rolls, playing with the dogs, and watching HGTV because church doesn't start until 11. This morning, I roll over at eight o'clock, about to ask David if he wants cinnamon rolls or waffles when he looks at me and says, "I think I'm going to get sick."

Half an hour later, he's vomiting what sounds like a gallon of curdled milk into the toilet and I'm spray-and-washing his bloody pillowcase. How gross is my life?

Anyway, he says that he feels better but not great. I am just hoping that my immune system holds out and whatever bug he has this time does not infect me. Considering we both had cheesy mashed potatoes and broccoli last night (D added a steak) and I feel fine, I don't think it was dinner.

Back to my home health care and laundry duties.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Burn Notice

It has been a long time since that fateful day in November when I sloshed hot tea on my arm and scalded myself. My second degree burns have been healing (but slowly, oh so slowly) and yesterday as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that it was the first day I had not been aware of the burn on my left bicep.

I have tried in last few weeks to go without a bandage on it but I usually end up regretting it. Even though the burn is no longer raw and open, the skin is still very sensitive. But yesterday I went the whole day -- carrying books and bags, throwing my coat on and off -- without a bandage on and actually forgot about the burn! Of course by the time I woke up this morning, it was a little sore and I slapped some more Neosporin with pain reliever on it (although I think I may have developed a tolerance to the pain reliever part of it as it doesn't seem that effective anymore). Still, it is nice to see that it's getting better. I don't even want to think about how many dollars I spent on moist burn pads ($6.99 for 4 of them) and extra large bandaids ($3.99 for 10 of them) since the week before Thanksgiving.

Now I'm just ready for it to be completely healed so I can start spending my money on Moderma and hope that it will help to alleviate the scarring. It's going to be quite a doozy. I hope that the angry redness of it will at least be faded by the time short sleeve weather arrives.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Puggle vs. Possom

Our friendly neighborhood possum was back last night. And this time he introduced himself to Cooper.

D and I were in the kitchen when Cooper started going ballistic at the back door. Cooper barking maniacally is not all that uncommon (gotta LOVE the beagle bark) but it usually happens at the front door when the mailman comes. (Cooper evidently does not comprehend the idea that the mailman is a public servant and we pay taxes so he will bring our mail. Instead he is quite sure that the mailman is trying to break into our house via the mailbox in order to murder me and steal Cooper's food sources. At least that is how Cooper reacts. He also looks very smug each day when the mailman decides not to try to carry out his wicked plan and instead to go on delivering mail.)

D was drying dishes and I was on my laptop trying to see if my friend Ben's flight was delayed again as I had to pick him up at the airport later. So D walked to the backdoor, said "What is it, Coop?" and, not seeing anything, opened the door.

Well, he quickly discovered that "it" was that nasty ol' possum, venturing up onto our deck. No doubt perfecting the use of his opposable thumb in order to shimmy up our deck railing and open the backdoor (thank you, Brandon, for putting that fear into my head).

So Cooper chases the possum off the deck and over to the side of the house by the bbq grill. D follows Cooper, brandishing the soup ladel he had been drying and was still carrying. At some point, he threw down the ladel (I retrieved it off the deck this morning) and picked up a snow shovel. He used this to push Cooper away from the possom, which was cornered and hissing beside the bbq grill.

I went outside with a treat to lure Cooper away from the possum and back in the house. D, still guarding the possom with the snow shovel, looked at me frantically and said, "Do you want me to kill it?"

WHAT??? OMG! No I don't want you to kill it! And how were you planning to kill it? Beat the poor thing to death with a snow shovel?

The possum was still hissing and I'm sure it was terrified. As I explained to D, while staring at him like the murderer he had just offered to be, I don't want it DEAD, I want it to LEAVE our yard. But I found it totally disturbing that D actually asked me that. I think he was just caught up in the heat of the moment. Later I was like, "Um, did you want to kill that poor possum?" He said no, that he really had no plan. He just felt like he should ask me.

I think that he must have felt some kind of primitive instinct just like Cooper does: it is the duty of dogs and men to protect their territory from crazed mailmen and loitering possums.

As I did not want him to bludgeon it to death with our snow shovel, and he was not agreeable to my suggestion (fashion a cage, lure possum inside, and gently but firmly relocate the possum in Forest Park), we decided to just leave it alone. We came inside and stood at the back door, watching that saucy little possum saunter back up across the deck before it moseyed across the yard to return to his cozy little home under the shed.

I know people say possums have terrible eyesight, but I swear that that damn thing stopped about halfway down the sidewalk between the deck and the shed, just after our garage's motion light flickered on. He looked back over his shoulder, and made eye contact with me, before scornfully turning around and continuing on his way, swishing his huge long rat-tail.

Cooper, good guard dog that he is, kept his post at the backdoor for a long time last night. He even sacrificed some couch time watching The Office with us to sit back there and stare into the dark backyard. No further sign of the possum, so he joined us for 30 Rock.

And so the possum remains. Comforable under the shed. Snoozing. Chillaxing. Flexing his opposable thumbs and waiting for the perfect time to venture back up onto the deck.

Monday, February 2, 2009

five and twenty

For those of you who are facebook friends with me, this list is old news. For those of you who do not care to enter the seedy online world of social networking, the current Facebook trend is to post a note listing 25 things about yourself and then tag 25 of your (nearest and dearest) Facebook friends so they will do they same.

As someone who would eagerly complete any sort of online/email survey before settling down to do "real work," I was happy to oblige.

1. When I use my married name, I occasionally find that people are inexplicably unashamed to exclaim, “Oh! Like the Mighty Ducks! I love that movie!” I usually respond with a blank stare, followed by, “I’m not familiar with that. But it is the last name of Virginia Woolf’s first stepfather.”
2. I like to think of myself as decisive, but I am not really decisive at all. I constantly second-guess myself. It is a terrible habit.
3. My dogs are ill-behaved, largely as a result of my lax parenting. I can only hope it will be different with my human children.
4. I love planning parties but I hate planning vacations.
5. I have a jagged burn scar on my left bicep that I like to think makes me look sort of like a superhero.
6. I used to think I was a cat person but I’ve gone to the dogs. And cats make my eyes itch.
7. Most 19th century American literature makes me cringe. There are exceptions, but they are few.
8. If I worked in a different profession, I would wear Uggs. Also leggings. As someone who teaches college students, I feel these are off-limits.
9. I like where I live, but I also feel a nagging sense of inferiority to those who live on either coast.
10. If I had more money, I would blow it on buying clothes.
11. I used to have really cute feet until I started working out on a regular basis. The increasing not-cuteness of my feet (calluses, etc.) has been an unexpected and disappointing side effect of my general health and well-being.
12. I think it’s cool when people have a personal therapist.
13. When I was a kid, my brother and I would spend hours organizing and alphabetizing his baseball cards. I still know a lot about baseball players in the late '80s and early '90s.
14. I am fascinated by the Duggar family.
15. I believe in keeping secrets.
16. I am in love with my tiny two bedroom one bathroom house and I wish we would never have to move.
17. I fret. I’m a huge fretter. But I don’t bite my nails.
18. I sometimes really miss community and high school and college theater.
19. Being married has turned me into a clean freak. Also maybe having two dogs means that "cleaning" is more of a "constant battle against dog hair."
20. I don’t like to talk to people on the phone unless we are close friends/family. Talking to strangers or slight acquaintances on the phone makes me seriously uncomfortable and I always feel a huge sense of relief when I hang up and I’ve managed to not make an ass of myself.
21. I love office supplies. New pens and notebooks. I crave them.
22. I sometimes think I would have liked to live in Victorian England but then I remember that I can’t draw or sing or play the piano. Without these life skills, I would have been destined to be a Gissing-style spinster.
23. I am a vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms, which sometimes makes my life complicated. When my friends and family go out of their way to accomodate me, it makes me feel loved.
24. I am teaching myself to sew. Somewhat successfully.
25. I wouldn’t have traded growing up in a small town for anything. But I also don’t think I’ll ever live in a small town again.

Here are 10 Bonus things about me just for my loyal blog readers:
* I pay the extra dollar for cage-free eggs. It helps ease the creeped out feeling I get if I think too much about eating eggs.
* When D laughs so hard that he goes silent and his face is all crinkly from grinning, I think it is the cutest thing ever and I especially love it if I'm the one who has made him laugh.
* I don't like hot showers and I can't usually tolerate hot tubs. Both the temperature and the vague sense that one can contract STDs in hot tubs. (Is that even true? I don't know).
* Eating beef and pork makes me break out in hives.
* I am shy.
* I worry too much about what other people think and I always want them to think I'm cool.
* I think babies are the cutest when they are so fat they have rubber-band wrists.
* I am trying to keep my New Year's Resolution to do more cooking, and I am sort of enjoying it. This shocks me.
* Nothing pisses me off more than someone who is patronizing me.
* After this summer, I will have been a bridesmaid 6 times, and I have the dresses (and matching pumps) to prove it: apple red, lavender, champagne, chocolate brown, plum, and sweet orange.