Monday, December 14, 2009

3am Rambling

It's nearing 3am and I just can't find a pathway to sleep this evening. D and I spent most of the day watching season five of The Office and had some wonderful stop-in visitors earlier in the day, as well. Who knew Sunday would be so lively at our house? Mainly, we wanted to stay in and have a lazy Sunday to recuperate from the crazy high we've been on all week long! Let me recap...

Monday: First round of oral comps from 2-4pm straight: passed!!!!!
Tuesday: Last official day of class with my students, Christmas shopping, dissertation reading of our darling friend A. who is hopefully reading this and feeling incredibly wonderful about his fabulous manuscript! Great job, A! Followed by a celebratory drink with the chair of my committee.
Wednesday: Coldest day that ever existed, D's last day of class...I attended and helped out a bit/
Thursday: Non-mandatory meet-up/critique with one class, conferences with students, second round of comps (nope, this is not the norm. One of my committee members was sick on Monday so we--the chair of my committee and the sick committee member--sat down and did an hour long Q&A which I passed, thank God).
Friday: More conferences with students, Christmas party, one of my best friend's here came home from the hospital (woohooo!!!)....and we got the incredible news that my SISTER GOT ENGAGED at dinner that night to her sweet boyfriend of three years, Anthony. Congrats to them!
Saturday: Em's birthday celebration, thank you cards from our wedding (we waited for wallet sized pics and started writing them asap when we got them last week, finally!) and Christmas cards mostly finished up, then even MORE good news that D's cousin Rachel got into Mizzou Law School (early admission) and will be joining us up here in Columbia next school year!

Can you see why we needed a bit of a rest come Sunday? Not to mention, I've been sick all week (longer than a week now) and it sucks. After a full day today, we had one more wonderful surprise: a call from D's best friend Andy who is working in a military base somewhere abroad. He left two months ago and will be back for a brief visit in early 2010, but we miss him and were very happy to get word straight from him that all's well.

Usually I survey a year near the end and think, "Man, I hope next year's better than this shit." But, honestly, this is one year that is going to be nearly impossible to top. Two of my happiest moments ever have occurred this year: marrying D and passing my comps. How can any other year top that???

Except, I can't sleep at the moment, with all the thoughts of having free time again to write and read at my leisure and take more classes for fun (yeah, I said that..."for fun"). I'm just so excited I don't want to waste my time sleeping, I guess. So, instead, I'm wasting it writing a crappy blog that you will now be subject to reading. Sorry. I'm going to try this sleep thing again. I've heard if you lay there long enough it eventually comes...eventually.

xoxo
N

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Outcome

"There's this memory I have of being twelve-ish and believing that one day soon, I'd be a ballerina. So I stood in the kitchen on the wooden floor and practiced tour jetes while my Mom cooked dinner. More than likely, she had her back to me, tired of watching me attempt to beat the height of my last backward, twirling kick leap. I tour jeted back and forth on the kitchen floor, occasionally saying "Did you see that? How high I got?" Thinking that the higher and I leapt, the better dancer I had become. Mom finally turned to watch me when I kicked and twirled, landing on my right foot, extending my left back and upward just as my eldest brother walked into the kitchen. "You nearly kicked me in the balls, Neesha! Watch it!" he shouted. I don't remember what happened after this, but my brother tells the story differently. Instead of leaping and landing gracefully, he contends that he came into the room and bore the brunt of that last leg extension. He swears my left leg came up steadily and kicked him straight in the balls. For years we told this story differently--he with the injured groin, me with the near-catastrophic kick. For him, it perpetuated the stereotype that I was a klutz, that bad luck followed me and reigned down on anyone who had the misfortune of standing or being too close to me; for me, it was the difference between truth and embellishment. Finally, a year ago, I asked my mother if she remembered the incident. If I did, in fact, kick my brother in the groin. I needed to know what the truth of the matter really was...whether I could've altered my recollection of the experience so greatly that I'd forgotten I endangered my brother's ability to have children. "No. I don't recall you kicking him," she admitted. "I remember him being indignant because you could have. But I don't remember it actually happening," she concluded without hesitation or second-guessing. This is the fault of memory," I explained to my doctoral committee Monday afternoon in an attempt to further support my discussion on the faultiness, yet validity of memory.

Incase you were wondering, I passed my comprehensive oral examination. I am humbled by being able to admit that and as proud as my modesty can permit. I cannot believe I've accomplished this feat. I cannot believe I have somehow been able to have a prosperous life on top of accomplishing this feat. I am in a state of constant awe and gratitude. I don't know how to begin to express how happy and relieved I feel or how grateful I am to all those who have helped me get to this place, who have supported me and believed in me. So, please accept my thanks and appreciation for sticking with our blog in its poor state. It might take a new direction, but will, hopefully, house more actual writing now that this process is ended for me. We do have Dustin in the lineup to consider, though, so all the prayers and thoughts can be redirected his way.

Thanks for your thoughts and keep checking back for more blogs!

N

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brink

Today I find myself on the cusp of the most important exam of my life. In some ways, it literally feels like I'm standing at the top of a rocky cliff, about to step out. At best, the ground appears beneath me, invisible until I step like in that Indiana Jones movie where he has to have faith that he'll step out and something will be there. I think he tosses some dust, perhaps, to make that faith visible. I don't have that luxury. At worst, I step out and tumble, landing alive, but visibly shaken and dejected at the bottom with nothing but the cliff still there for me to climb just one more time.

Tomorrow is the oral part of my comprehensive exam. While I've passed the written part unanimously, I still have to find the words to articulate my thoughts gracefully to an audience of five, learned, intellectual committee members, each with their own questions and specialities in tact and sharpened, ready for discussion. In my heart, I know they want me to pass. I believe this. But in my mind, I am intensely aware of the fact that any one of them could trip me up unintentionally, causing me to stumble off that cliff instead of find solid grounding.

For weeks, years, really, I have been preparing for this day, this exam. It's the culmination of my academic life. Just mention "comprehensive exams" and typically stern and stubborn forces part ways, make exceptions, extend deadlines, knowingly. I can almost see the sympathy and feel the gentle pats on my hand from faculty members when I tell them, via email, I cannot produce a syllabus for next semester yet because my oral exam is on Monday. "I understand the anxiety that can come from this exam," they say. "Just get it to me when you can," they allot. "Let me know if there's anything we can do to make this easier." They, too, have been here. Their own recollections of the difficulty before me overwhelm them, I imagine, and they wish me luck, tell me not to worry about the syllabus and send no more emails to distract me from the task.

To this, I thank them all. Thank the teachers that have come before them and the ones before that. Thank my husband who has graciously taken on the upkeep of our lives. Who has patiently remained a true partner even when I was lost, before he married me and after. Thank, even, my pets for seeming to know and lying at my feet as warmers or company. Bust, mostly, I thank my parents and siblings who don't quite understand what this means or what it's like. Who have, certainly, felt frustration at the years spent moving from place to place, ever further from home. Who have remained, a constant nucleus of love and regenerative strength. Who have tried to understand the processes and tests, papers and explanations, meaningless to them, of "comprehensive exams" and "dissertation," the weight of the words falling on them, the reality of them still elusive. It is with great patience they have followed me on this path, supporting me without fully knowing what it all means. Joining me in wondering, when my sanity was tested, whether it was really going to be worth it, after all. Whether I'd make it out, in the most literal sense, alive. They have accepted what they could not understand through trusting that I was doing what I needed to do. They believed in this and me with blind faith.

Tomorrow, when it's all over, I will either be walking high above the cliff I've conquered or standing at the bottom, contemplating a new way to reach the top. Either way, I will be a stronger, better version of myself for taking that step with only my good strength and sense to guide me and the support of all those who will stick with me whether I rise or fall. I cannot consider myself anything other than the most blessed person I know.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I Remember

In my MFA program back in Pittsburgh we read a lot of books and essays that mentioned or talked about Pittsburgh in a class I took. At the moment, I can't remember the class or what it's real focus was, but I do remember looking for Pittsburgh in the strangest of places. Tonight, while rereading Li-Young Lee's incredibly poetic memoir The Winged Seed, I was reminded of that search in various texts when I turned from page 77 to 78 and saw, in a black marker-like ink I have since abandoned in favor of a fine-pointed black ink, "Finally!" scrawled into the margin with an arrow pointing to the phrase "East Liberty." At the time, I must have been searching for Pittsburgh amidst the symbols of "seed" "R" "winter" "ash" but now, four years removed from my last reading of the text, what I remember most is a scene where the author describes removing excrement from his father's bowels because his body will no longer purge itself of it without aid.

For years, when someone sharing a table with me ordered salad at a restaurant, I have waited for the image of a man lifting limp leaf after limp leaf of lettuce from his plate, depositing it into his mouth while spouting poetic brilliance or dropping socially awkward conversation between leaves without remembering precisely where the notion of such a thing came from. A story someone told me? A memory from my past? Until I stumbled across the description in Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar this afternoon. This was her memory, her reality or fantasy and I felt such relief at having discovered the source of this expectation, the reason for why a plate of greenery triggered this hope.

These are some of the moments from literature that have remained with me like a sticker on an old notebook whose image was once complete but now remains only a probed, scratched, faded fragment of the whole. Part of it remains, unremovable, though much of it is gone and its true form is entirely obliterated.

As a child, I could read countless books and recite in great detail precisely what happened complete with character descriptions, thoughts, authors, and, often, page numbers. My mother likened me to a sponge, constantly absorbing whatever I came into contact with, often unconsciously remembering. If you gave me a title, I could respond with a complete encyclopedic, Cliffs Notes knowledge without thinking. This was a time time of untainted recollection, too soon in years for me to confuse experience with a story I'd read. I filled my mental library, devouring books alongside my dinner at the crowded table each night, and stayed up late to know the ending, guided only by the moonlight streaming in from my bedroom window. I simply had to know what happened to these characters, these lives so different and more fascinating than my own. And I remembered every detail as if it were my life.

In the last year, I have read over 150 books in an attempt to study for my comprehensive exams. The list should have ranged from about 110-125, but in the course of revamping it, many books I'd read were abandoned and new books I hadn't read filled their void. These titles are piled in towers on my desk, precariously shifting with the vaguest hint of breeze. I have sorted and separated them into categories according to subject, resorted them by theme, stacked them according to which of my four questions they applied to and started over in favor of how they related to one another, what theories they exemplified, which ones directly alluded to others and so on. Many have come to feel like limp leaves in my hands, my recollection of them like irretrievable waste from my insides, though I have known them all intimately, but cannot call them to mind the way I once did as a child on a whim or as a game.

When I go to bed at night, the last image I have is of those towers of books across the room, stacked high, waiting to be reorganized and remembered when the time comes for me to call upon them when asked. My fear is that when that time comes, they will only come back to me in flashes of lettuce leaves and stubborn bowels, just a single, blank remnant rather than a complete symbol or whole. Already I have forgotten entire plots, authors, characters. Already, life has filled me with memories competing for space, making themselves comfortable in the minute spaces of the card catalog compartment of my mind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stolen Lines, Abandoned Selves

I dated this poet once that used to steal my lines. Can you imagine that? Sometimes I'd write them or text them or say them and then, suddenly, as if they were his own, they'd make a guest appearance in one of his poems. Not the Hilary Duff-like guest appearance on Gossip Girl, where she's scheduled for a handful of episodes in a season, but Blair's-employee-Dorota-guest appearance on the same show. The kind where she pops in for a minute and just as seamlessly pops back out and we don't see her again for the rest of the season. He inserted them in as if he had written or even just thought them up when he hadn't. Don't get me wrong, he had a masterful command of language, but it felt a little like creative theft to me. 

One time, during a reading he gave, someone seated a few feet away actually whispered to the person beside her, "I love that. Did you hear it? I love that." After said poet read: "I am on sabbatical from the world." 

Yup. That was mine.

At that moment, I wasn't upset, I was still rationalizing the emotional conflict I felt about being written and read aloud about. I was still hoping that my existence, if it had to be used in someone's poem, might have the ability to spark some sort of genius that I doubted my own life would be suspended long enough to create. On the first count, I'm fairly sure it didn't. On the second, I've now come to the realization I was wrong.

I have since decided I don't mind that I was written about and I've come to this conclusion because that person that was written about all those years ago is like the narrative self in creative nonfiction: chosen to serve a purpose, to tell a specific truth, not to make sense of or define a whole. That person, who was broken and depressed has remained just where he knew her and committed her: to paper..to the past.

Last semester, a student of mine from a class I taught his poetry to years ago emailed and asked me for a copy of his work saying, "I think my class would really enjoy it and I need to bring something in. Do you have it? Can you send it to me?" I didn't, but I directed her to the last email address I had for him, one I found in my old email account that serves as a receptacle for junk mail, forwards and the rare significant note from a long-lost friend, the one he used to write to when we still cared for one another in a way and with weight only letters could carry, around the time when he started to steal my lines and I started to fill my belly with bottles of rum and pills. When I found the address among the graveyard of my old life, those emails were there, too, shoved into a folder called "Ebay and Stuff" along with purchase confirmations and tracking numbers for vintage clothing from the 40's that I no longer wear. Those dresses of pink, black, white and plaid hang somewhere in the closet I share with my husband. I had forgotten I even had them.

When I navigate away from the email account, I leave the contents untouched, unopened, not willing to visit the girl that I was, afraid to hear what destruction she spoke, what lines he stole, how unknowing and desperate we were: he in his love, me in my despair. I think it's better, not feeling bad for what happened between us, not trying to make sense of that self I can't understand or excuse. I abandoned her there out of fear. How frightening it was to be left alone with her! Anywhere with her was like death! Even then, with so much time passed, I decide it's best to leave her there, amid the unwanted emails and unworn clothes, an age that defined an era, a movement of tragedy. Unopened, unread, unstirred. Sometimes its best not to linger on what scares us most. 

When I send my student the address, I wish her luck, apologize I can't do more and hope he understands that by sending her instead of me I'm letting him know that I'm sorry and that he can keep the lines.

N

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Years

Today is our two-year dating anniversary. In other words, two years ago today we decided we would stop dating other people and just date each other. Six months after this day two years ago, we were engaged. Now we're married...for exactly 151 days. In 31 more days, we will have been married for exactly six months. I could continue with these numbers, but to calculate them, I keep needing to pull up my desktop calculator and I'm losing track of what I'm calculating (that's what you get from a literary person).

For the last few months, I've been busy writing and revising answers for my comprehensive exam. This has rendered me useless to the rest of the world, for the most part. The oral is schedule for December 7th which is the last week of regular classes for the semester, 11 days before D's 32nd birthday, 20 days before my 30th (ouch) and, has a 50% possibility of being the last important day of my 25 years of education. (I know. I'm doing it again! The number thing!) WOW! 

For the last few months, D has been studying for his comps, teaching, and holding down the Michael fort (which is no easy task with a pair of humans, dogs and birds, plus visitors! and a wife that is not allowed to drive in the state of Missouri for another thirty days or more).

I'm not saying we're "back" yet, since catastrophe or tragedy could occur at any moment (keep in mind that orals day)...but we're, at least, thinking about it.

Mainly, I just wanted to let everyone know that two years ago today I began dating the man I would inevitably marry and couldn't let the day pass without mention.

I love you, D. Happy Two-Year-Dating Anniversary! Here's to many more!

xoxo
N

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yes, Virginia...

I don't have much time for a real blog, but as I was perusing the news today, I noticed some info about this 1897 editorial, better known as "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." A movie is being made about this editorial in which an 8 year-old girl wrote to the New York Sun to inquire as to whether there was a Santa Claus or not, having been told by classmates that such a thing did not exist. The response has become one of the most reprinted pieces in new history. I felt ashamed that I'd heard this quote "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus..." before, but never knew where it came from or what the significance was. I suppose I thought maybe it was written in a tone where the rolling of eyes would be appropriate, but found myself in a mist of touched tears when I read it through, recognizing such beauty and care in the response the author wrote. So, with Christmas a little over a month away and Black Friday, the season kick-off and cue for sheer insanity and greedy chaos to ensue just around the corner, I thought I'd post this as a reminder of innocence and beauty and faith.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. 
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. 
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' 
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. 

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Smell from the Fridge

We have been catering to this horrid stench coming from the refrigerator region for the last week. It began, as most things do, quite suddenly with just the slightest subtle bit of rancidness. Each day, I'd go through the remnants of leftovers, guessing at what might be causing the odor, throwing things out and flushing them down the garbage disposal. For the most part, I'd notice that the smell was gone until about twenty minutes later when I'd re-open the refrigerator, sniff the air and think, "Man. Seriously? What could it be?"

It got to the point that I was throwing things out that I'm not even sure were bad, but had no other choice. It was like sacrificing to the leftover Gods...and their hunger was insatiable. Something had to be causing it! There must be some way to relieve the scent.

We went home to Cape Girardeau this weekend and D left the "instructions note" on caring for the dogs, birds...etc...with a note that the weekend inhabitants could eat anything in the fridge. I "P.S.-ed" that everything smelled, but nothing was bad.

When we returned, none of the food had been touched and the scent was now lingering OUTSIDE of the refrigerator. So with a vengeance, I tore through the fridge again at 10:30 last night. D and I looked UNDER the fridge thinking maybe something had gone under it and died...nothing. 

"Maybe it's time to clean out the whole thing and just wipe it down all over," D suggested.
"I just did that last month," I groaned, removing beer bottles and condiments from the shelves, nosing around freshly purchased veggies and milk. "It's still clean!"

Then it happened: my hand landed on a ziploc bag with three lone brussel sprouts in it. We'd eaten these sprouts a week ago or so and I'd, clearly, forgotten about them since they got shoved off the back of a shelf and were dangling precariously between shelves. No wonder I didn't find them sooner! They'd hidden in the balance between levels of food and beer. Bastards!

It was with dread that I entered the kitchen this morning. D sat up on a stool at the breakfast bar reading his book beside the chirping birds. I faced him on the other side of the bar at the sink and filled up an oversized mug with black coffee. "Does it still smell in there?" I asked sipping at the scalding liquid. "I don't think," he said hesitantly, "But I'm stuffy." He referred to his allergicly reacting stuffy/runny nose.

Slowly, I opened the door to the fridge and took a deep breath. Finally! We have success!

So "Sunday Dinner" tonight will be odor free. More on Sunday dinner another time.
Thank you leftover Gods! It seems we have FINALLY reached their quota!

N

Monday, August 31, 2009

Whoops.

Dustin here.

A little follow-up to that last post. I didn't run away from home. I was just playing racquetball with our pal Robert Klick; I'd told Neesh about the plan, but forgot to tell her when, and apparently she didn't notice when I kissed her goodbye and slipped out that morning. That was totally my bad. Next time, I'll leave a note. Sorry for panicking everyone (especially you, Neesh)!

We're at It's a Grind cafe now. Neesh is writing and reading for comps. I'm writing a poem that I hope will make it into tomorrow's update at www.asininepoetry.com. Fun fact: Poetry was like, my specialty while I was in grad school at Southeast; since there was no nonfiction writing program there, it was all poetry and fiction workshops, all the time. So I know my way around a rondeau, but up in these here parts -- especially with only two allotted public readings in five years -- there's really no occasion for one such as me to put that out there. Besides, the poets here got that mess staked out hardcore like the Neil Armstrong's U.S. flag on the moon. They're all, like, yoink. 

But that's okay, because Neesh and I got somethin' in the pipe for the creative types in these parts whose voices maybe aren't getting heard so much. More on that as it develops. I'm stoked about it, though. I can tell you that much. 

Back to the matter at hand before they close and kick us out of here. Peace out until next time, loyal reader.

--D




Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two Strange Occurrences at Piranha Court

The full first week of school is not yet under our belts (D teaches MWF so he still has tomorrow, and I teach today) and all kinds of strange things are happening. One-a student of mine missed the first day of class (he was the ONLY one to miss it). The class is for students majoring/minoring in English. He then wrote me an email claiming "scheduling conflicts." Out of curiosity, I facebook him (is "facebook" a legal verb yet?) and find out that his status claims he not ONLY missed class, but he missed the WINERY!!!, too. I planned to say nothing about it and just kindly point toward the attendance policy in my syllabus so he had an idea. D thought I should call him out. What can I say? I cave under peer pressure exerted by my husband, so I casually advised him, at the end of the informative email, to alter his facebook page to a more private state so his claims of having "scheduling conflicts" could be more believable. Followed by a "see you in class tomorrow!" I'm still not sure whether I actually WILL see him in class today.

When I woke up this morning, my husband was gone. Seriously. He still is, as a matter of fact. All of his things are here, though, and so are his running shoes so I have crossed "running" and "leaving me" off of the list. However, he's not in the house. I once woke up to find him gone and decided he must've gone out for something, but found he was really closed into another room whose door we usually keep shut. I checked those doors, though. And this time, he's really gone. I have faith he'll be back, even though he's not answer his phone. But where could he have been at 8am? Weird.

More to come on the first week of school sometime after I find my husband.

-N

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Demands of the Kitchen and Other Tales

When did I get so boring?

I have been toying with the Great Removal, as in, the Great Removal of my Myspace Page as I don't ever use it and it is kind of pointless to have that space on the internet devoted to me when I'm not devoted to it. However, it is home to my previous blogging. A blog that tells the story of a girl who came before me: confused, uncertain, depressed, seeking and falling frequently. It takes place in a mind that roams, is sometimes witty and, mostly, quite odd. I'm no longer that person, of which I'm glad, but I do appreciate some of her writing as it's really kind of quirky, engaging, and, at times, enlightening. So I made this attempt to copy/paste it all into a blog on here, but it's over 1mb (or something like that). Then I tried to save it in a document on my computer, but Word physically and flat-out refused to do it. As a last attempt, I emailed it to myself, but I'm not convinced it will ever see the light of day again if I keep it in my old email account. What to do with a past self? A blog that reveals a journey to the now? I don't know. Do you have any other ideas?

Other than reading books (they're for my exam, Kelly!) by the score, I have been drinking coffee like it keeps my heart pumping. D, God bless him, must find me even more boring than I find myself. Last night he tore out of the house to go see a movie that he KNEW was going to be bad, though I tell myself it was the company of his friends he was really interested in, not in parting ways from the Book-Eater that he's apparently married.

However, this alternate universe I'm living in has its own interesting moments. For example, the other day I looked across the room at Dustin sitting over in the kitchen. He was reading intently and, from where I sat, it looked as though he and his giant brick-colored coffee cup were floating. For a good hour, every time I glanced in his direction, the coffee cup appeared to be hovering near him, waiting for him to grab hold of it's handle and sip.

A spider crawled up to me while I was reading the other day and I would bet money it was the exact same spider I saw earlier in the week. On the first occasion, it was near Dustin who, I think, doesn't love spiders. Mostly the spider was yellow with a distinct black stripe on him. Not huge, but fuzzy-looking. I didn't get a chance to tell D about it before the spider scurried off and then reappeared, days later, beside me on the couch. For a minute, it was like me might saddle up and ask me how Mary Rowlandson's "Captivity" was going, but when I returned his attention, he took off in the other direction. I knew this wouldn't do either of us any good...all this running amok on the couch business, so I scooped him up using an envelop as a shovel. He ended up folded inside of the envelope and I set him free out on the patio, much do the dogs' dismay.

Lastly, all this reading has forced me to confront the issue of the paint on the walls of our home. The color is a greenish, but was supposed to be a yellowish, a mistake I've lamented since the day I moved in. I have never stopped wanting it to be yellow and so for the last four years, I've tried to ignore the proud green walls that stare me down from every direction and room. Once, I though I'd paint the study a deep burnt orangey-red. I haven't given up the idea, just haven't gotten around to it. But the kitchen is beginning to get awfully pushy about me painting it yellow. Do you know what that's like? First, the kitchen demanded a pot-holder that would dangle from the ceiling over the sink and breakfast. It kind of insists that the holder will bring a new artistic feel to the room. It has a point. Then, when I began to look around for such a piece, it began hinting at wanting a new color. Mostly this began last Sunday when Dustin, my most wonderful, thoughtful husband, brought me home a shock of yellow roses. I adore them and put them on the breakfast bar in the kitchen so I can see them from where I study. The kitchen has really become quite taken with them itself and now thinks it's THE color. I got some swatches when we bought a can crusher the other day. We, (Dustin and I) are discussing. The dogs don't like it as their hair will lay claim to the wet paint and we know it, but we're still turning the idea on its head to see if it takes or not. Mostly, we're just waiting to see if the kitchen backs off or stands its ground on the color change. You know how kitchens are.

This is what you get when you put a writer in a house and force her to read for weeks on end. Thankfully school starts next week and I'll finally be able to leave the house for a reason!

Otherwise, more to come.
N

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting Back

What a glorious day today turned out to be! I finished one book, started and finished the next and am now on my third book. D and I got a run in, then we met up with a new nonfiction student and his wife, who we did not get to meet previously. We met them for a late dinner (mostly my fault for running into the dark, but more on that later) at Addison's where Nick and Cecelia ordered the ever-tasty Mediterranean salad and some wraps; I stuck with the scrumptious rare-Ahi tuna with a side of the still undefeated-best-vegetable-ever-created: Broccoli and D had these tasty Nachos Bianco!-------------->

We chatted about their move and D's great, secret idea (which I will reveal in an alternate blog at an undesignated date that will, hopefully, be in the near future) while nibbling on the most tasty foods we could think of (I was starving after our run so I might be a bit biased). The company was splendid and the conversation just as satisfying. We were also pleasantly surprised to learn that Nick and Cecelia live just around the corner from us, basically, which is awesome. Almost no one from school lives near us (and if they do, we don't know it). We're not the kind of people to go knocking on the doors of our friends and just barging in, but it's nice to know that if they need us or just want to swing by our place, we're close enough for it to happen. It's especially nice if there's an emergency. Nick and I might carpool to school since he couldn't get a parking pass (they're tough to come by)...and we have a similar philosophy (all of us) on wanting to be at school, do what we need to do, then peace out and get back home to our lives, dogs, home...etc. When we parted ways at the end of the night, we couldn't help but remark about what "good" people they are and, it's unfortunate, but not often that I find myself saying someone is inherently "good" and "genuine" like these two are. What a nice, needed addition to the program.

Fast forward to before we met up with these two lovelies, though. Today my "half marathon training schedule" said I needed to run 4.5 miles, which I wasn't compelled to run in the state of fatigue I found myself in come "cooling hour" (around 7). However, I am a woman of my word and I pulled on my running gear and, accompanied by the huzbah, went to the Katy Trail. We agreed that I would run about five miles and D would run whatever he felt comfortable with...whoever made it back first would wait for the other. Cool.

It was 7:30 when I took to the trail, my feet crushing rocks and dirt beneath me as I found my pace and began pushing my distance further up: Maybe I'll just run a little over five m
iles, instead. I'll see how I feel...it's not out of the question. A girl with purple shorts and a heavy white t-shirt and her running partner, in purple shoes and purple shorts, pulled ahead of me on my left. A man with no t-shirt and black shorts swooped past us all "Nice work, ladies. Keep on going," he called out to us. "Great job, buddy. Nice stride," he waved to a middle-aged man running toward us...and he continued to call out encouragement to each runner he passed as he went. The girls chatted idly and picked up there pace; I started to follow there lead and then some, gaining on them as we reached the half-mile marker. Woah, woah! You'll never get six miles in if you run at this pace, I chided myself and begrudgingly slowed down. I am competitive by nature and swallowed my pride as the purple-clad girls pulled to a comfortable distance ahead of me.  (Photo is of the Katy Trail during daylight.)

I followed them for two miles, passing children on bikes sandwiched between their parents, also on bikes, a man and his dog and granddaughter, two women and their dog, runners, walkers, bikers, roamers...we passed old people, young ones, women pushing strollers, people walking dogs both big ones and tiny ones through shaded portions of the trail and the overcast-sunny ones until the girls broke off at the rest place and walked clear off the trail. I continued forward, glad I didn't keep up with their stride, through a tunnel, under the road, into the forest beyond city limits.

It was still light out when I hit 3.15 miles and turned to make my way back. Still light out as I ran the un-shaded mile with nothing but fields on either side of me and heard "moo-ing," but saw no cows. It turned dark as soon as I hit 4.2 miles and not just dark, but black. The trail went dry and empty without a soul in sight or sound but my feet hitting the ground, the occasional hoot in the dark or flicker of dull light where the trees parted overhead. I thought of Dustin and why I hadn't run into him yet. He told me he thought he'd run five miles. He should be out here somewhere. Unless something happened to him. The band on my arm that keeps base withe the satellites that track my mileage blinked green like a firefly in the dark; I ran through a spiderweb that stuck to my face like hair on my wet skin. 

The silence turned on me and something rustled in the forestry surrounding me, the trail turned to wood as I passed over a bridge that I thought I'd already crossed. A man on a bike nearly hit me, though we saw each by the light of the rising moon and had plenty of space between us. I worried he might turn around and come at me on his bike from behind. I couldn't possibly outrun a bike if he attacked. I'd be no match. Still no Dustin, only darkness. In the distance, I spotted a vague white glint ahead, fast approaching that disappeared as I passed through a particularly thick area. I didn't see it again until it was an inch from me: another woman, running alone in the dark. Or was it? Images appeared then disappeared, something flew past my head; I heard a whooping from above. Am I not alone, after all?

At the end of the trail, where I began, the lights glowed yellow a mile away like a beacon guiding me back and the fear rising inside of me boiled so furiously my pace only increased. I forgot I had water to drink or feet that had run nearly six miles. I worried Dustin might be worried or looking for me or, worse yet, hurt...and that light still a mile away. I pressed on, fighting the relentless spiderweb off my face, hearing animals in the wood around me, shifting leaves and crunching gravel.

As the gap between me and the end closed in, a flashlight went on in the distance: fluorescent and bright. Then off. Did I see that at all? Is my mind playing tricks now? Then on again, consistent and stable. I knew it was him searching for me in the distance and ran faster. The last two minutes were easy; the fright subsided and I ran to the light: "Neesh?" I grabbed onto him and hugged. "I knew it was you." My heart beat hard in my chest from being so scared. "How did you know?" he asked, guiding me back to the car. "Because you always come for me. You're always there waiting and making sure I find my way safely back to you."

I will be running earlier from now on. The mind has a way of playing the most frightening tricks on you at the worst possible times...or does it? Whatever the case, I don't want to find out next time.

Thank God for Dustin.

Sweet dreams, all.
xoxo
N

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Blog I Didn't Write Last Night

I started a post last night whilst awaiting some Berry Bread I concocted (successful creation, I might add) to finish baking in the "Can't-Screw-Up-The-Yeast-This-Time" bread machine (that's its FULL name). However, it turned into what could be a really crappy essay filled with lots of information that isn't terribly interesting. In short, I wrote about Wolverine from the X-Men. Forgive me! The blog-writing came on the cusp of the final credits of the movie Hulk and my awaiting the final BEEP of the bread machine. So instead of that blog, filled with tangents and stories that take too long, I give you this new one that I will write just for this occasion.

A few weeks ago, D entered an essay contest (and we just found out he came in THIRD! Way to go, huzbah!) and kept urging me to enter, as well. I was reading some book or another on my comps list and told him I just couldn't do it. Plus, I had no inspiration. It's been a while, actually, since I've felt like I could put down a book and write without losing myself to it, causing me to reject completing the book. No bueno, amigos. But he did push topics at me and, eventually, tackled me into a conversation on Wolverine. We had recently seen the Origins of Wolverine movie and Dustin began advocating Cyclops while we sat, computer before him, book in my hands, in Panera Bread on Hilton Head Island.

"Cyclops is pretty great, too. He got the girl," Dustin remarked, mentally likening himself to the character. "He's a good guy: reliable, powerful, important, smart. He could totally kill Wolverine with his power if he wanted to. AND, he got the girl."
"He has no edge. No...spark. Wolverine is just mysterious and rebellious and he only has eyes for Jean Grey. He's sexy and funny and untamable. Cyclops is the right choice. The smart choice, the guy Jean should be with, but women are always attracted to the Wolverine's in the pack."

We continued to discuss the fact that Cyclops felt intimidated by Wolverine. In the first movie, he tells Wolverine to 'stay away from my girl,' moments after saying that IF he had to tell Wolverine that, then Jean was clearly NOT his girl. Obvious unsettlement on the part of Cyclops. Obviously he's threatened, and who wouldn't be? It's Hugh-Sexiest-Man-Alive-2008-Jackman!

I've had my students watch and write papers on this film. Mainly, they've discussed LGBT Rights, Civil Rights, the Holocaust...etc. But one of my students wrote a paper on Jean Grey's plight of having to choose between the "good guy" and the "bad boy." We spent quite some time discussing how girls always go for the ass holes who treat them like shit and always overlook the wonderful, stable men who adore them. In the end, the paper was just ok, but the points we discussed or that I found my thoughts wandering to when faced with the dilemma of Dr. Grey's choice were accurate.

As a normal woman, Jean was clearly drawn to the unequivocal sexual energy radiating off of Wolverine and immensely attracted to his passionate desire for her and her alone. He was smart, funny, strong, independent, devoted, sexy and capable. But he was also temperamental, unpredictable, at times, frightening, prone to fits of rage and disappearance...in short, completely unpredictable and unreliable. Whereas Cyclops is also attractive in a subdued kind of way when compared to Wolverine (the guy wears turtlenecks and, let's face it, not all men should be wearing turtlenecks...especially if they're trying to appear more masculine than the leather-jacket clad, motorcycle-stealing, on the hunt, steel razor-clawed Wolverine), smart, reliable, loyal, adoring, trusting, responsible, kind, caring, thoughtful...etc. Need I go on? So, why the hang-up, Jean? Why the obvious feelings of hesitancy when Wolverine is around?

The answer is simple: something in us wants to rescue that lone Wolverine, pull him in and tame him just enough to keep him "ours." We don't want him to lose his mystery or passion, we just want him to keep it reserved for us. 

The problem is, once Wolverine is ours, or, hers, that is...she wouldn't want him anymore because he wouldn't be what she loved after all. He couldn't be rebellious and independent, temperamental and unpredictable yet loyal and stable, cautious and reliable. In the end, what women really want and what it takes some of us 28 years to figure out, is the calm, certain version of Wolverine: Cyclops.

I lowered my book to look at Dustin plugging away at his computer across from me, glasses clutching to the bridge of his nose, hair tousled from his hands running through it in concentration, tanned face and glowing green eyes and said: "In the end, no one really wants Wolverine because no girl would ever be happy with the kind of life that would mean for her. He would never change or become reliable. And if he did, he wouldn't be the person we fell in love with and the whole relationship would be a great big sham. At the end of the day, once we figure out what's good and true in life, we're all going to go for the guy with the glasses who will love us forever and never make us wonder where he is or if he's coming back. It's why I married you, honey."

I think he was excited that I, too, had likened him to Cyclops. He's right, after all, he's a pretty awesome character, too!

On an unrelated side note, Bogey is doing much better today (thanks for all the well-wishes). I ran 6.2 miles yesterday, which brought my week to about 20 miles. I'm still aiming to do the Roots and Blues BBQ Half Marathon on the last weekend of September so I'll have to get my mileage up, but I am proud to say I ran the 5k distance in 23 minutes...a new PR! And the huzbah did 5 miles, too! Welcome back, D! By the time school starts, I want to be up and finished with my run by 7am...just one week left...ugh.

xoxo
N


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Metaphorical Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow?

It's been a rough day in these parts! I woke up with a renewed sense of plugging away toward my comprehensive exams this semester, thinking I'd get a whole lot of stuff done before the husband arose (it was, after all, only 6am), but I was slightly irritated that I hadn't slept well. I'd gotten up at 3am for some unknown reason and the next three hours were filled with a sleep so frail, one of the dogs just breathing deeply woke me. Every sound, every change in the atmosphere and I was up all over again. Needless to say, I had very little sleep from 3am onward.

Once 6am hit, I gave up and I did so fairly optimistically thinking the early morning gave me lots of time to read, visit the bright yellow sunflowers in our garden, have some coffee from a giant red mug and relax. Unfortunately, the Fates had other plans.

No sooner did I brush my teeth than Bogey, the small, white, oldest dog, began vomiting with a vengeance. Poor boy threw up all over the rug (of course...he is too good for the tile, which you'll later learn more about). I quickly scooted him out the patio door and proceeded to clean it up. If you're a dog owner, you know that these things occasionally happen. After I made coffee and got the dog's breakfast ready, I let Bogey back in and fed the two pups. Then I take the bigger, younger dog out for her morning walk (short and sweet: this is a potty trip only). When I get back inside, Bogey and I go for his walk (though I knew he'd probably already gone outside, but didn't want him to feel left out). All's well, so I settle onto the couch, open my book "The Accidental Asian" by Eric Liu, and proceed to read for about a page. Byz (the second dog) is laying at my feet in the living room on the rug. Bogey has his belly pressed against the tile floor in the kitchen, ten feet away, and watches me from across the room. Just as I get absorbed in the book and confident that I can and will finish it today...I hear it. That gurgling, gagging in the back of his throat. I look up just in time to see Bogey throw up...again. And not on the tile where he was laying, but he made an extra special effort to get it on the rug. Again. 

Out to the yard with Bogey. Back to the coffee table with Eric Liu. On my hands and knees cleaning puke. Again.

Then we all settle back into our routine once more...and Bogey gets sick two more times, in a row and on the rug this time. Everything stops. This continues until Bogey has thrown up a grand total of five times, not to mention the puddle of dry bile I found in the bedroom in a corner...something that probably happened while D and I slept. This brings us to six. At this point, Bogey has been sick for hours. Dustin is awake; we've had breakfast and Byz has decided to join in the fun by PEEING all over the kitchen floor. (I should explain that this is typical of her when she is not getting attention or feels she is not getting the attention she wants because Bogey was getting so much attention. I don't expect her to understand the complexity of WHY he was getting the attention. I'm just perplexed by her ability to be spiteful and act on it in this manner. And trust me, it's purposeful. This is not the first time she's resorted to the pee-tactic.) Time to call the doctor who, in turn, tells us to medicate him with four milligrams of Benadryl, keep him calm and in a quiet place so he won't get anxious or upset. Don't feed him much. Right. 

Here is what poor Bogey looks like on Benadryl:
Perhaps the word you are looking for is "stoned?" Poor baby couldn't even focus his eyes for more than a minute. For a brief period of time, calmness ensued. I fell asleep, accidentally, while reading. Dustin read the better part of a book. Three hours passed without incident and we let Bogey out of the laundry room (the emptiest, all tile, confined space in the house). All was right with the world.

I continued with my day as if nothing had happened and, for a while, my day could be summed up like this:
I finished that book (which inspired SO much thought for my dissertation revisions!), updated my comps list, worked on the questions for my comps a little and fed the dogs. We walked them, put Bogey in the "Calm Room" again and headed off to the 9:50 showing of G.I. Joe.

If you have seen this movie, skip this next paragraph as I am about to rant for a few sentences. If you have not, bear with me. (Actually, skip to the very last paragraph as my rant went on for MUCH longer than expected. My apologies. I had no idea I felt so strongly about my dislike for this film!)

A few months ago D and I went to see the movie "The Watchmen" and I wrote a blog on how disappointed I was which, if you're interested, you can read here. I would, however, be hard pressed to find a film worse than the one we saw tonight...(and, by the way, there are some similarities to "The Watchmen" in plot--at least the "why" of why the villain--or in this case, lesser villain--claims to be doing what he's doing). Where to even begin with the horrific experience we just sat through! I once dated a guy who, after a long day of work, expr
essed the desire to go see a movie that was "All action, no plot." The creators of this movie attempted to have both action AND plot, but failed to set a standard for either. Or, if they did, it was extremely low. The acting was average, the dialogue made me sick to my stomach ("Try this on for size, boys"...and "What'd you say your unit was called?...'I didn't."), the
explosions and mindless action gave me a headache. I almost broke into tears of laughter at moments where no one else was laughing...simply because the dialogue and delivery was so ridiculous. Seriously. At first I thought it was the popcorn that was making me physically react with a headache and a sickly stomach, but after much careful consideration while more poor dialogue was spouted off, I knew I was wrong. The last time I felt that way during a movie was when we saw "The Watchmen!" Weird.

I hated what Stephen Sommer (writer and director on this one) did to the romantic ideas I had about the cartoon I watched as a child. The Baroness and Duke were engaged and star-crossed lovers? Covergirl dies via knife in the back less than halfway through the movie? Icy chunks sink when the ice-lair is exploded (doesn't that defy the laws of physics...or, at least, the laws of ice?)? Cobra is really RELATED to the Baroness? What is the world of G.I. Joe coming to? They packed in more cliche and corny lines (both story and spoken) than three or four 80's movies combined. Besides the predictability of every single moment of this movie, the acting sucked (did anyone else notice that "Duke" is, essentially, a Brad Pitt-wannabe? I began wondering whether his real job is as Brad Pitt's stunt double and since they couldn't get Brad for this role they just cast the guy who normally doesn't...and shouldn't...talk, instead). The story mimicked others we've seen very recently. 

I'm all for being entertained by a movie, even if it's not Oscar Award worthy or even particularly awesome ("The Hangover," for example, was entertaining, but not a fabulous masterpiece of cinematic genius by any account.) This movie couldn't even do the basic service of entertaining me. But more than anything, I felt taken advantage of when I left the theatre. Like the movie creators capitalized on a dear childhood ritual of mine: racing inside after a long day of school followed by run-down in the local empty lot with a bunch of neighborhood kids, up to my parents' room (the only one with a working t.v. my dad wasn't watching the news on), sitting too-close to the t.v. cross-legged on the wooden floor with my brother and singing the theme song. We sat there fixated until the credits rolled and the Public Service Announcement ended. (Not old enough then to note the irony of the violence throughout the half hour show immediately followed by the warnings to "Not talk to strangers" or "Not use a stove without parents" or, my personal favorite, "Don't fight" all given to us by cartoons that solved problems with violence first, conversation and understanding second or not at all.)

I expected the movie to be crap. I'd read the reviews and, though D was the one who kept suggesting we see it with a boyish twinkle of excitement in his eye, I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't lured in by the call of my childhood self, as well. This is precisely what the movie makers expected: to make millions of dollars off of those of us who loved G.I. Joes enough to not let our siblings play with the plastic men unless carefully supervised (my brothers). This is exactly what they were banking on when they watched the film all the way through after the final edits and went ahead with it, anyway. (Let's face it. There is NO way they watched it at that point and thought: THIS ROCKS!) They thought: This will make us money! Those children of the eighties will come running. And run we did...right out of the theatre and back to the jeep where we breathed easier and recounted our memories of the cartoon show...our favorite moments, characters, weapons. "Every time Covergirl rode in with this big missile tank, like a mobile SAM, I knew shit was going to go down. The only one I liked more was the bridge layer. My favorite. It was awesome," D struggled between his nostalgia for the "old days" and his calm dismay at the atrocity that had been made of it. G.I. Joe the film, much like Covergirl the character, died as fast as it flashed onto the screen. 

Needless to say, it was disappointing (at best). When we got back to the house, we were pleased to find that Bogey had not gotten sick in the laundry room and Byz had behaved splendidly...but just as those very thoughts finished forming in our minds, Bogey threw up two more times and Byz peed all over the floor. We cleaned up the mess, cracked a beer and cheers-ed to what we hope will be a better tomorrow.

Hope your day was better than ours!
xoxo
N

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our Summer in Photos!

It's like I hit 98 blogs and immediately stopped posting! So sorry, fair readers! However, we've returned from an INSANE summer filled with weddings, deaths, births, jobs, love and breakdowns. All the makings of a reality t.v. show (or if you were born BEFORE reality, a soap opera). Just to give you a quick idea of what our summer was like...I give you a photo montage! In chronological order...

Stacy and Todd's Wedding

Dustin, Me and our new friend Jill

The BEAUTIFUL Bride and Groom

Anabella's First Trip to the Beach

Bella and Coire

Us in the Pool
Pre-Wedding Events

College Roommates Meighan and Ali Two Days Before Nups


Girish, Danielle, Jimmy and Kier: After Rehearsal Dinner Welcome Party!
Soon-to-be-marrieds! Summer and Keith.

Wedding: Bride Cam-Style

Some of My Ladies: Lindsay, Erin, Sar and Seale
Most of the boys: Kelpe, Trickey, Kurt, Brian, Matt, Becky (wife of...)Carl, D and Andy
One of our Flower Girls, G, and Dustin
Two of our most favorite people AFTER the wedding with D. Meghan and Tim!
The Honeymoon!
Hot Springs in Santorini!
Farmer's Market in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Castle at Monaco
Il Duomo: Firenze, Italia
Trevi Fountain
Poseidon's Temple: Greece
On the Boat at Sundown!
At the TOP of Mt. Vesuvius
Our Dinner-Mates!
In Barcelona with HS Buddy James
Park in Barcelona: Can You Spot the Husband?
Barcelona at Night

The Aftermath: Working & Living in Charlotte
Baby Sister's 27th! Oh, my!
Sleeping in Charlotte
Fourth of July: Risk
Karaoke at our place of Employment
Baltimore Stop on our Way to a Wedding in Philly
Staying with College Roommates the night before the wedding
Wedding Reception
The Newlyweds: Jill and Liam-(who I've been friends with since 1st grade!)
Cape Friends in Philly!?!
Visiting the Carolina Raptor Center near Charlotte
Our Job with Wings! (Wild Wing Cafe, University Park, Charlotte, NC)

That's not ALL we did this summer, of course, but it gives you an idea of what a whirlwind our summer has been. There are other photos and events not included just yet: the reception my mother-in-law threw us back in Cape Girardeau, the Jour de Fete 5k with the killer hill we ran last weekend followed by a super BBQ with two of our groomsmen (D's friends), their families and D's best friend Andy, the week we spent in Cape with D's brother...all the running around we've been doing since we got back...etc. If we make any reference to an event we haven't talked about this summer, we promise to give whatever back story is necessary.

Now that we're back in Columbia and have unpacked and put away all of our gifts and clothes...etc...we have been in "fix it" mode. Our AC unit leaked a pond into our garage so we were stuck with the task of fixing it. I did a check online for some advice, we followed the advice, and much to the huzba's surprise...IT WORKED! Flawlessly! The battery to the subaru legacy we've got died and today we're going to attempt to fix it. The car literally started to breakdown WHILE I was driving it the last four miles from the highway to our home a week ago. It made it right to our door then turned off and hasn't run since. We're hoping to get more time out of it and are considering "Cash for Clunkers." Does anyone know anything about that program? Or have reviews of it?

I'm in training mode for a half marathon at the end of September (the Roots and Blues Fest here in CoMo), but in the meantime...we are doing the Heart Walk on August 29th with our dear friend Lexie and are volunteering for the Heart of America Marathon over Labor Day weekend. Speaking of "training," I had the privilege of running with the Columbia Track Club yesterday during their "speed workout" and let me tell you...it was like running with the US Olympic Track Team. These guys were awesome...and I was a SORRY sight for all runners. It was a bit embarrassing just how far behind them all I was (I mean they lapped me and could've done so about fifteen times), but they were so gracious and encouraging that I actually finished the whole workout. The mileage was nothing I don't ordinarily run, it was the tempo-ing and the stopping and starting and quickness that I'm not used to. This means I need to work harder and get better so that NEXT time I join them for a workout I've improved. So, even though I'm pretty sure they don't read this, a giant shout out of thanks! to the Columbia Track Club...especially Ted and Tony and Beth for getting me out there to begin with!

What's up next, you ask?
Well, the semester starts in a little over a week. The fair in Cape and my mother-in-law's birthday is next month. D has a wedding in Mexico in October and I have a wedding in September near Philly. Unfortunately, we can't both attend both weddings as finances won't allow it (does anyone else have the problem of being a grad student and NOT getting paid for the majority of the summer months??? It SUCKS!) I am taking my comps this semester (I know, I know...finally!) and, we're playing in a Whiffleball Tournament in October, as well! But, from now on, there will be consistent updates since there is consistency to our lives again so check back, sign up, stick with us...the best is yet to come!

Hope you're all enjoying your summers and can't wait to catch up on all the adventures you've blogged about!

xoxo
N and D

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is This Thing On?

Well, hello, hello, lovelies! This is Neesha coming to you live from my newly renovated room at my parents house in SC. If you're wondering where the ever-dashing Mr. Michael is, he's a short leap of stairs above me in a much cooler room than my own (read "cooler" as in temperature, not as in a judgement of what's awesome and what isn't), most likely sound asleep. I think that's wonderful since I, myself, haven't been doing much sleeping. It's not that I'm worried or upset or emotional on some level...I'm just not the precise trait one needs to acquire sleep: tired.

So, instead, I'm gazing around my "warm" colored room and thinking about Barcelona (read: Barth-elona...if you've ever taken Spanish with Senior Presberg of MU, you know what I'm talking about here). A few weeks back, a day or two after arriving here in Dixieland, a man rang the doorbell at 8am, setting off a chorus of barking (my parents' two dogs as mine were keeping D-bones company in Mizzourah). My tiny mother made her way across the wooden floor to the front door where she pushed the dogs aside, grabbed the biggest dog-the one at least half her weight-by the leash, and opened the door. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this was the moment Ray entered my life. That's right: Ray. And not just my life, but my bedroom where I was still mostly asleep. For the next few days, Ray came like clockwork to my bedroom door, but, alas, I had moved to a room that would not be disturbed at 8am by Ray so he could paint the walls a a dark yolk color with just a touch of the finest gold you've ever seen.  Because my room will be in "candid" photographs, it will be staged (now that it's been painted and revamped in deep scarlet and gold hues with black accents framing each piece of furniture) for our photographer, for the bridesmaids, for the wedding day. 

My mother is an aesthetic genius when it comes to rooms. She looks around and sees an entire scheme, complete with furniture and the tassels that will hang from the lampshades on the two nightstands that don't match in anything but color (this description goes for both the stands and the lamps and their shades). It's ridiculous the things she can do to a room. For example: nothing matches specifically to each other. The fabric that climbs from the floor to the ceiling, well beyond the reach of sun from the windows they cover, is decorated in carefully stitched golden leaves that grow, without pattern, over the red-set curtain backdrop...and these splendid, curtains fit for a God do not exactly match the red bedspread that feels like silk schantung, but simply cannot be! Lest we forget, I'm a mere mortal and we do not sleep on beds of silk schantung. But, though the color is similar to the heavy fabric that keeps the room dark when the sun comes up, the material on the spread is too delicate to imagine. It's the sort of material that "shhushes" beneath your fingers like cascading water from a fountain. It, too, has rich tones of muted gold that are, really, orange against the red backdrop its unassuming plaid design is etched over. I mentioned the unmatching nighstands and their unmatching lamps with their unmatching shades, heights, shapes. The furniture has been painted or bought in stark black with moments of wear at the edges, giving the impression it is older than it is, that it's seen more life than we know. And who am I to criticize? Maybe it has...maybe it has.

Amidst my mother's stunning canvas are signs of her patience: pastel colored Welcome bags huddled together where the floor was once empty, empty boxes I dare not throw out because I might "need" them, countless white-wrapped gifts with strings of gold ribbon whose ends have been tricked into banana curls so they might dangle attractively from the packages. The robust, black armoire has remained flung open, the way I left it weeks ago when I first arrived and began using it to store Wedding goods, separating items by shelf and side. Each time I approach the enormous wooden piece, I imagine the open doors, so far apart from one another, are spread out, awaiting my arrival, as if prepared to embrace me at any moment no matter what I bring to fill the empty drawers with, no matter how full I cram the shelves. The whole room, always waiting, happy to be used, bursting with warmth and celebration.

This is what the last few weeks leading up to the wedding have been like.

Wonderful, busy, rich in warmth and light, oceanic, beautiful and patient. Just a little over a week left!

It's nice to be back. I hope you're still out there reading.
xoxoxo
N

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lance's Dilemma

It happens to the best of us, that time in our lives where we simply must make a decision, and for us, we've put it off long enough. We were told we needed this decision 60 days before the actual wedding and we are mere days from that mark. The thing about it is, EVERYONE has a strong opinion about this one: whether they love it or hate it. There is no in-between.

Do we or do we not play the Electric Slide at our wedding?

For my sister, this is a no-brainer. She is the queen of the Electric Slide. She absolutely LOVES it and will, literally, come running from wherever she is, no matter what she's doing, to jump on the line (usually at the very front of it) and dance the Electric Slide. (I can already picture my beautiful, petite sister looking completely sophisticated in her gown bursting out of the dramatically lit ballroom that will be our reception, still chewing whatever she has managed to stuff into her mouth, drink in hand, to lead off the dance--I would take bets on this one.)

The last time we saw our groomsman Lance and his super awesome girlfriend Emily, the discussion of the Electric Slide came up to which Lance stunned and silenced us all by saying, "I don't know how to do that dance." Shock and fallen mouths filled the room. Crickets sounded. "What?" Dustin asked. "What? You guys act like everyone knows it." Lance replied.
"Everyone does know it." Someone said. Everyone, that is, but Lance.

This is shocking to us because Lance is really good at everything and by everything, I mean...well, everything. The boy is a natural athlete and there isn't one sport or physical activity you can throw at him that he won't excel at within moments...and by excel, I mean he'll be better than you even if you ARE an expert. Example given: Lance had never ice skated before we went to Kansas City in February for a day outing. When we got on the ice, Dustin had the most experience having grown up near a pond that froze over every winter while Emily and I had our fair share of experiences that didn't, by any means, add up to experts. In other words, we could all hold our own on the ice with D being able to skate backwards a little--the crowning achievement of the group. By the time we finished on the ice, Lance, who was carefully sliding his feet forward inch by inch at the beginning, was literally, I do not kid you dear readers, literally doing one footed circles by the end. It was outrageous.

So when Lance said he didn't know how to do the Electric Slide and we decided to teach him, we, of course, assumed he'd pick it up just as quickly as he did the ice skating thing. After finding a youtube instruction video and showing him how it was physically done, I hit the record button on the camera and captured this: 
video

I couldn't believe it. The boy who stops suddenly to watch is Lance and he really doesn't know how to do the Electric Slide and hasn't yet picked it up. 

Despite Lance's inability (we're going to continue with our dancing lessons on this one), we are going to have the band play the Electric Slide. Fi and I love to dance, though we're not having the Chicken Dance or the Macarena...and even if people there don't like to dance, we figure this is easy enough to pick up before the song ends, right? Even Lance will have it down by then!

Did you guys have any songs you debated being played at your wedding? 

xoxo
N
WE LOVE YOU, LANCE!