Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Got My Wish

After cleaning my house and reading a (slightly depressing) batch of student papers, I glanced out the little window over the kitchen sink. The color of the sky - the pale pinkish orange of reflected light - surprised me, so I parted the living room curtains and poked my head between them. And in the glow of the street lamp that illuminates the Corner Bar's parking lot I could see a crowd of snowflakes floating downward. I pulled the curtains closed around my neck to prevent the glare of the living room light on the window and looked into my yard, where the snow has already begun to pad the hard icy shell on the ground. I'm excited for the softness of tomorrow.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gin and Tonic

We just went to see Sofakingdom at the pub, and I had two gin and tonics. Yay!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Grinch, Scrooge, Naysayer, Party Pooper

That's me. Here's why: According to our "digital weather center," it's 40.8 degrees outside. According to the calendar, it's January 27. According to the road map in my glove compartment, this is northern Minnesota. Most people are walking around delighted at the sunny, relatively balmy weather (except for the members of my afternoon class, who were mostly sleeping), and I - as a person who loves sun, warmth, grass, leafy trees, and open water - should certainly be doing the same.

But I'm not. Maybe it's because I've only been able to use my new cross-country skis once. Maybe it's because I'm an environmentalist and extremely concerned about global warming. Maybe it's because I have Norwegian heritage and I don't want to see my distant homeland swallowed by the ocean as a result of said global warming. Maybe it's because I firmly believe that any project undertaken should be done to the best of one's ability, and Nature's pitiful rendering of winter discourages me. Maybe it's because, as a native Minnesotan, I'm proud of my ability to withstand near-arctic weather, and I resent the fact that this winter has presented such a minor challenge. Maybe it's because I fear the loss of one of my favorite feelings: the levity of a long-awaited spring. Or maybe it's just because four month's worth of dog shit that my neighbor has never picked up is now gradually reappearing in the front yard.

Whatever the reason, I want snow and far-below-zero temperatures. Let the name-calling begin.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Emotional Hangover

I'm not proud: dozens of laughable insecurities, inane jealousies, uncouth curiosities and roundabout doubts scar my days. Ups, downs, selfish wishes. Now, a desk and a task. But I feel isolated in my little cell in this top-floor honeycomb. One more emotion on the pile, and now I'm broken. Too weak, even, to passively read.

Ode to Insomnia

For Keats

O Insomnia! lifting heavy lids,
Charming busy thoughts and long reflection,
Loose me from thy grip and bear destruction.
Alas, tomorrow's work of me does bid
A most calm and alert disposition.
Yet you insist upon holding most fast
Until even black and siamese cats
Wonder at the crinkle of old pages
In volumes of English literature,
At three in the morning, from past ages.
A shot - no two - of brandy should suffice
And yet I only float more peacefully
About sleep, which at this hour would be nice.
I beg you, release me mercifully.

(This is the first time I have used pentameter. Please forgive me if it is not also iambic.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Is there anyone alive who can focus while reading Aristotle?


So I'm relatively new to this blogging thing, and I found out a couple of days ago that when I'm bored/procrastinating/full of obsessive energy with no outlet for it and I haunt my friends' blogs hoping for new posts, they can see how often I've looked at their blogs using a tracker. How very shy-making. Anyway, I have a tracker now, so instead of obsessively checking other people's blogs, I can obsessively check to see who's been looking at mine. But a thought occurred to me: what if I find out that not many people look at my blog? And that's just like me: always inventing new ways to be insecure. Welcome to my least favorite aspect of my personality.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


A thousand bare wires touched together like hotwiring a car, just below my skin. I can almost hear the buzz of electricity if I lay my ear against my shoulder. Something about too little sleep, too much to do, too weirded out by my completely irregular role in last night's impromptu festivities. I need to read, but the noise in my head will not abate. If only I could lose myself in someone else's story, be soothed to sleep by imaginary voices instead of vibrating, wide awake, with this humming beneath my ribs. But it's too late, and too early, for sleep now. Maybe Spaghettios.

Monday, January 23, 2006


When I get in front of a class, at least one bra strap immediately slides off my shoulder. This is the only time that I have this problem, and the only time when I'm unable to deal with it. Because, as far as I know, fixing a bra strap in front of 26 people is about as gauche as fixing a wedgie would be. Damn you, physics!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday School

Greeted by the glow of vending machines, I pull on the creaky door and mount the mood-lit stairway. The largest building I've ever been alone in. Surrounded by the lingering energy of work-worn weekdays, swallowed in the dark hallway. Office door shuts: click-thunk. Warm light, 7' x 9'. Quiet. I love having a key to this Sunday-abandoned, day off-darkened school building.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Things I Should Be Doing

  • the dishes
  • cleaning the litter box
  • reading something
  • writing that pesky story
  • studying Spanish

But I'm not feeling very motivated tonight. Even reading doesn't sound appealing, and it's usually the one thing I can be content doing when I don't feel like doing anything. (After all these years of being an English major, I still have moments when I can't believe that reading novels is my homework.) But lately I've been falling into these hour-long naps on the couch whenever I read, and hour-long naps on the couch after dark always make me feel dull-witted for the rest of the night. In fact, I think the side effects of my naps are causing me to develop a Pavlovian aversion to reading.

So for now I'm kind of just biding my time until Eric gets home from work and we can go to Brigid's, where a former student of mine is supposed to be playing at 9:00. I've got a little over an hour to kill, and I'm burned out on The Sims. Maybe I'll attack the dishes and the litter box and see what's on PBS.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'm a Very Bad Girl

Someday, Tiffany and I will be partying in the Sixth Level of Hell. This was a fun test, even though I disagree with it a little. Yes, I'm a glutton and a heretic. But gloomy and wrathful? Violent?

On a related note, the Catholic Church has been talking about doing away with Limbo. I suppose it would be heretical to acknowledge some of the implications of that fact.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Shortness is a Disability

Because sometimes it turns everyday tasks into death-defying stunts. Like if you're trying to put blankets and pillows back into the cabinet above the closet, and the cat litter bucket you're using as a stool tips and you fall backwards into the brand new ice auger your boyfriend still hasn't put in the garage.

The Cuteness, Part II

Eric and I (along with his brother Nick and our neighbor/good friend Nils) went to the Cities this weekend to help Eric's aunt move into a new apartment. Because she moved to the same town where I babysat Eric's brother's kids a couple of weeks ago, I got to see the kids again. And this time, I took pictures.

Owen was sick/teething this weekend, so he wasn't smiley like he usually is. Poor little monkeyroo.
John kept wanting to do these crazy poses for the pictures I was taking. So for this one I told him, "Let's do a normal one now." At the last second, he did this.

Friday, January 13, 2006

How Did It Get to Be 5:30 Already?

Somehow, I've managed to accomplish exactly nothing today. And Eric's brother, who's visiting for the next couple of days, even went to work with Eric this afternoon to allow me the opportunity to work at home. Instead I went upstairs to rest my sharply painful head for a few minutes and drifted lightly in and out of sleep for more than an hour. (I've been dreaming about empty apartments lately, and for some reason I find it hard to leave those dreams behind.)

Now I need to find something in my cookbooks for dinner tonight, go to the grocery store, and cook. Maybe I can fit half an hour of reading in somewhere between the shopping and the cooking, but there will probably be no writing today. And just two days ago I was so encouraged because I spent more than two hours working on my story, not because I forced myself to, but because I felt like it. Tomorrow I'll lock myself into the office and dig into the story again. Tomorrow...

Proof of the Youth of My Experience

I've been tagged by Jessie, which works out well, since I have almost an hour before I need to leave for class, and I didn't feel like trying to squeeze any productivity out of that time.

4 jobs you've had in your life:

1. veterinary assistant (My first job in high school; it paid next to nothing, but it's still the job I look back on with the most nostalgia.)
2. line worker at a factory that packaged hair care products
3. housekeeper at a couple of hotels (I did this for a few years, long enough to become the assistant head housekeeper at the AmericInn. That's too long.)
4. teacher (What I'm doing now and hope to continue doing...maybe forever.)

4 movies you would watch over and over:

1. Chocolat (I even made my class write a paper on it last spring.)
2. Grumpy and Grumpier Old Men (They count as one movie, right?)
3. Garden State (I've actually only seen it once, but I remember thinking as I watched it that I'd like to see it again.)
4. A John Cusack movie, probably High Fidelity or Grosse Pointe Blank.

4 places you have lived:

1. Rochester, MN (Born there.)
2. Maple Grove, MN (Graduated high school there.)
3. Morris, MN (College for a year and a half. Sometimes I miss it.)
4. Tualatin, OR (I lived there for a couple of summers with my dad.)

4 TV shows you love to watch:

1. Smallville
2. CSI
3. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
4. The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross (It soothes me.)

4 places you have been on vacation:

(Please understand that my travels are wide and exotic, but so far almost entirely in the future.)

1. Chicago (I was in a suburb for a wedding last summer, and we rode the train into the city, where we had about two hours to spend. We had pizza at Giordano's. It was the best pizza I've ever had.)
2. Oregon (Sometimes, instead of living there for a summer, I take short vacations. And on the way, I ride in the train/bus through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Once, my flight had a layover in Texas.)
3. Seattle (In 2000, Eric and I took the bus to Oregon and we had a layover there for about an hour and a half in the afternoon. We went in the Space Needle gift shop - they charged $11 per person to actually go up in the needle, and we didn't have it - and perused a sex shop on our way back to the bus station.)
4. Duluth, MN (This is where we usually go to get away from Bemidji. It's enough of a change of scenery to make us content for a couple of weeks.)

4 of your favorite foods:

1. cheesy acini de pepe (It's pasta balls the size of BB's, which I cook in chicken broth with sauteed onions and garlic and then season with salt, pepper, and Romano cheese. It was Rachael Ray's idea.)
2. moo shu (Which they unfortunately do not serve as a dinner special at New China. That makes it the expensive meal that I almost never get.)
3. ice cream
4. shredded wheat bread (My mom makes it. It's probably the yummiest bread ever.)

4 places you would rather be right now:

1. Oregon (Where it is currently 47 degrees and raining, and undoubtedly smells like that indescribable and intoxicating combination of water, earth, and moss.)
2. On a train in Glacier National Park
3. Somewhere in Europe (where I will go, someday)
4. Spin a globe with your finger on it. Unless it stops with your finger somewhere uninhabitable or very dangerous (like Iraq or Israel), then I'd like to be where your finger is.

Tag -- you're it!

1. Emily
2. Natasha
3. Tiffany
4. You, whoever you are.

Monday, January 09, 2006


This morning I awoke in my own bed for the first time in a week. Also for the first time in a week, I did some badly needed yoga. And for the first time since New Year's Eve (when, the evening news told me, nature deigned to give us 132 minutes of sunshine), it looked like this. To celebrate the gorgeous day, Eric and I went out cross-country skiing for the very first time (ever!) on the skis my mom got us for Christmas this year. Happily, there weren't many other skiers on the trail, because I'm sure we looked pretty pitiful at times (especially me; Eric never actually fell). By the end of the trail, tired as we were, we had the hang of it. As long as the trail was well-groomed. In one place, near the bottom of a small rise in the trail, the snow thinned to a criss-crossed weave of shallow ski tracks, and my legs went out from under me in opposite directions while I fell forward and skidded through the snow on my chest.

Now, my muscles ache deliciously and I'm ready to curl up on the couch with a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and a movie.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Cuteness

Over the past week, there were lots of times that I wished for a camera. But, alas, I have to make do with very old pictures of Eric's nephews, with whom I spent all of last week. It feels THIS GOOD to be home, but I miss them. How could I not?

This is John.

He's 3 years old. This picture was taken in April, and now he looks much more like a kid (instead of a toddler).

This is Owen.

He was 2 weeks old in this picture, but he's almost 5 months now. He has big blue eyes and a mohawk from the two cowlicks on the back of his head.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


And now I will cocoon myself under blankets, in pillows, inside the warm halo of my clip-on book light. I will blot out all of this big hollow basement except for the tiny section that contains a bed, a dog, and the town of Empire Falls.

I look forward to this every night.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sleepy Eyes

My own, right now. Four hours ago, Owen's. I pumped formula into him all the way through A Pup Named Scooby Doo, and he kept looking up at me through heavy slitted eyes. But when he fell asleep, something would startle him awake: his big brother, despite my pleas, climbing on the couch; a phone ringing; my arm sliding out from beneath his head as I set him in the crib. The trick, finally, was to let him cry it out for a while in his crib and then feed him more (no wonder my arm aches from toting him around). Finally, exhausted from crying, he fell asleep and stayed that way for two and a half hours. When his dad got home, I almost had John asleep, too, watching a movie in his room.

Today has been a better day, even though my shower had to wait until noon. (I was up at 7:45, and feeling all over gritty and greasy for four hours didn't help my patience.) I managed to read about 40 pages of Empire Falls while one kid slept and the other played with his Leap Pad in the living room, next to me. Now my babysitting stint is pretty much over for the night, and I need to write. Yesterday, I expanded a full two pages of older stuff, which is not as good as writing fresh stuff, but necessary, and more than I've done in the past month.

I think this week will be good for my story, because it'll give me insight into the life of the character I'm creating. She's taking care of her father, who has Alzheimer's. In my imagination (and probably in reality), that's a lot like taking care of a young kid. Both can remind you of the complexity of daily tasks, and both drain your time and energy. Lately, I've been feeling the tug of biology - and ignoring it admirably. I want too many things for myself before I have kids: a Ph.D., marriage, travel. The past two days have confirmed that these things should be undertaken before kids. I'm still too selfish. Already, after two days of babysitting, I'm finding myself daydreaming about my own daily life. At home, on a day like today, I would have written and read at my leisure. Here, with kids, my writing and reading schedule bends by necessity to the eating, pooping, and whining schedule of children. A week of this will probably weaken biology's pull for quite some time.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Slightly Homesick

I'm writing this in the basement of Eric's brother's house at 1:00 AM. My bed (a very cozy-looking queen-size) is to my left. The decor: clear plastic over pink insulation and wall studs, carpet remnants, a water softener. My bedmate, a labrador puppy, is already cashed out in the middle of the bed. I'm not complaining, and I'll probably be happy to have the lab's company. But I miss my little lofted bedroom, my cats, and my boyfriend. I'm a homebody, unfortunately, and I always feel kind of empty my first night somewhere else. Also, I think I'm a little bit scared about babysitting a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old for a week. Once I realize (tomorrow, I hope) that I'm capable of that, and I see this house in daylight, I'll feel better. I always make myself at home eventually.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My Little Vampire

This is Piper. Or Piper Head, Pippy, Pippyhead, Poopy Pippy, Pip, The Pip, Pipsqueak, The White One...
Sometimes she sticks her tongue out. It's my favorite thing, ever.

Sometimes she bites.
But usually only if strange people try to sleep in our house. Once, our old roommate Sara came to visit, and slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room. There was a thunderstorm that night, and Sara rolled over in bed to see Piper standing over her, staring, illuminated by a flash of lightning.