Sunday, September 25, 2005

Huge Nerd

So when I was tutoring last week, I noticed my student had left the price tag on his baseball hat. I said "I can't believe you spent $50 on a baseball hat! Why did you leave the tag on?" He just laughed and took off his hat and put it in his bag. This week, I was working with a group of football players and they all had the size and price stickers on their hats. I asked if this was the new thing to do and they all started laughing at me like they felt bad for me. Betsy has confirmed that I am indeed a huge nerd and that kids these days leave stickers on hats if they want to be gangsta. My one student told me, though, that the hat you "rock every day" doesn't get stickers. The stickers are just for when you go out. Who understands kids these days?

Yesterday we lost 19-5 to Detroit, which is ok since they are the defending national champs. We had a late game, so we just went on the town still dirty from our game. It was really fun to walk around the south side wearing our new matching sweat bands from Kelly E and our rugby uniforms. Lust still had blood all over her knees and Dez never did go to the emergency room for her collar bone. She just walked around with her arm ace-bandaged to her chest and had people help her drink her beer.

One guy from the men's team brought his girlfriend out. Of course she was wearing inappropriate shoes (stiletto heels? with rugby people???) and her feet hurt. So Christian gave her his flip flops and he wore the heels for a few blocks. He decided the heels would look better if he tucked his jersey all the way into his shorts and pulled them up until he had a camel toe. I'm surprised they even let us into the bars we went to. It's really nice to feel at home with a new crowd of hoodlums again. They are really pressuring me to coach the high school girls this spring. Apparently, they will have to close down the north side team if they don't find a coach. I hate this pressure! What should I do????

Monday, September 19, 2005

Stupid Cold Part 2

Tutoring athletes with clogged ears is quite an unusual experience. The students have low reading esteem and mumble and I spent about 2.5 hours saying "WHAT????" and then they had to yell out the answers they already felt self-consious about saying. What a dilemma!

Today I had to drag my groggy ass to the office to work on gerontology papers. It was actually pretty interesting today, so it kept my mind off my throbbing ears. People kept looking at me like I had plague when I was blowing my nose on the bus. I guess it is pretty upsetting to be squeezed into a confined space with a nose blower.

So Friday night I was talking to a girl in my program who spent last summer living on an island off the coast of Washington. She was there as a writer-in-residence and totally thinks I have a chance at being accepted for this coming summer. The application deadline is October 1, so I have to get in gear if I want to apply. Imagine! Living on an island in a private hut being paid to write and having my meals delivered to my door! And all the meals come from the organic garden on the island.

I'm going to also apply to 3 other summer residencies with later deadlines, but this one definitely sounds the most exciting. From my newfound knowledge of graduate school, I know that winning a residency is a major, major honor for your CV. Hopefully my head will clear out and I can work on my application for the next 11 days.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Stupid Cold!

I have a horrible cold again. I hate when I get these abominable sinus disasters that fill my entire head with congestion. I can't hear people, I have PND, I can't breathe or sleep! Obviously I decided to play rugby in the rain yesterday, which totally was not fun. I kept gagging on my mouth guard and had tissues in my pocket. I think I snotted on the Cleaveland hooker, though, so that was cool.

Today, Freya and JP and I went to check out the local Unitarian church at Jordan Lev's advice. I haven't made a decision about it. They didn't invoke any god or higher power at all. I didn't really find inspiration from the service. We read some affirmations declaring equal human rights and the spirit of love and peace. That's a pretty cool message to affirm weekly. There was a "babtism" of sorts for an adopted baby girl. In the Unitarian version, the parents and "godparents" vow to raise the child to be diverse and loving and welcoming rather than to raise the child to be spiritual.

But then the sermon was a recap of the church budget. I just don't know. I think Freya and I will go again next week to see if we like it better on the second try. On one hand it's awesome to be in a room of people that share the same political beliefs and overall attitude of equal rights. On the other, some of the readings were very new-agey and I had to sit and listen to a buget recap for a half hour. I should at least rest assured that these people perform interfaith wedding ceremonies as well as civil unions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rainy Day in Steel City

Well Corey has been gone again for almost a week. Luckily, I deposited him at the train station on one of my two 9-9 days and haven't had the chance to miss him too much. Yesterday I got nostalgic and hungry and made beef stew in the crock pot despite almost 90 degree temperatures. I should have waited until today because it's rainy and gross outside.

I have finally gotten my tutoring schedule straightened out. As you can imagine, I was starting to get very antsy not knowing when I needed to work until the day before, hence several 12 hour days per week with meetings and class, etc. I now have to be on campus for a few hours every day, but have a much more even schedule. I don't know why I thought it was a better idea to cram 15 things into 2 days per week rather than space it out. I'll still have a large portion of each day at home to write.

I've been meeting with several professors to discuss my writing project. I have decided to write profiles of awesome women rugby players I've met--Pam Gouwes who started women's rugby in South Africa, Dinanne Schnapp who is the best firefighter in San Francisco, Lois Bukowski and Grace Gavin who ref men's games and are both highly ranked international referees...the list goes on for days.

I have discovered that the key to getting money from the University is to sit in Professor's offices and chat with them regularly. They pretty much need you to just ask for the dough and they will remember to mention you at budget meetings, or so they say. The director of the MFA program was pretty impressed that I had been proactive in seeking out funding with the old people journal. Apparently the rest of the people who were not funded this year just sit around and bitch about it.

I have about an hour before I have to leave to tutor the football players. The tutoring is so intensely difficult that I have to steel myself way in advance for what I know will be three hours of massive concentration. Imagine how hard it is on their end! Thankfully, I can unwind at a department barbeque later tonight and then I have a match tomorrow! Yay rugby!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Irish Festival

Yesterday I had my first game with the Angels. We dominated Buffalo 38-12 and it felt pretty good. Their front row weighed 600 pounds, so scrumming was painfully awful, but it was really good to be playing rugby again. Afterward we played flip cup with the other team for hours before heading out to the Pittsburgh Irish festival down by the river. There were all these bands playing and vendors selling Utilikilts (khaki kilts with cargo pockets. tres cool!) and other Celtic goods.

Gaelic Storm were the headliners and they were fantastic! Their music was really, really fun and full of energy. It was so awesome to be there with my team, all of us dancing together. The men's team came along, too, and I really like that this team hangs out so much with the men's team. In Morris, I couldn't even name three players on the men's side, but here they are my friends.

Jackie and her boyfriend Sunshine gave me a ride home and I found out they live really near me. I'll be able to carpool to practice with them!

Corey came to watch my game but was so disinterested in Irish music that he wouldn't come to the festival. Now my whole team thinks he's a party pooper cause he stayed home to watch Entourage. I guess he IS a party pooper...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Who Knew???

So I guess it didn't actually occur to me that I have to write a book to complete this program. Needless to say, I am quickly discovering that they weren't kidding. I just now returned home from a 2 hour meeting detailing all my dealines for the next three years. I had to, right this evening, on the spot, in front of everyone, select a reading committee based on my one drunken meeting with the four writing professors. Luckily, my selected committee chair is going on leave starting tomorrow. Her wildly successful novel just went into paperback and she is on a book signing tour. Not at all intimidating to someone who has no clue where to even begin!

Maybe if I quietly complete all my coursework and attend all the lecture series and acquire grant money to travel across the country, an idea will come to me and Corey will write my novel for me one evening while I watch Sex and the City reruns.

Or maybe they will count blogging as a new genre and I will revolutionize the MFA program and never even need to revise my work.

I need to go to bed now because I have meetings and/or class from 9 until 9 tomorrow. If you think it's a fun and stress free idea to cram your entire week's worth of work and class into two days, you are DEAD WRONG!!!!! I should have just sucked it up and spread things throughout the week.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Best Pittsburgh Weekend Ever!

Shelbie came to visit this weekend! She showed me some awesome sights in the city so far. Saturday morning, we went to the markets in the Strip District. I bought garlic so fresh it still had stems as well as basil and meats. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. is an awesome Italian market where you can bottle your own olive oil if you want! You can bring your own or use their gallon glass jugs and fill your oil from a huge cask. There were cheese samples and all the amazing foods you could feast on.

We ate biscotti and cheese dip and grilled fish. You can catch your own fish in Wholey's Meat Market or buy living sculptures made from moss at the craft stores. The strip district is a fantastic place and I am glad to have it in my city.

After that, we walked around Point Park and watched some of the Pirates/Cubs game on the jumbo-tron across the river. All the boats line up outside the field and wait to catch home runs! We could also catch a view of the crowds filing in to the football stadium for the Pitt/Notre Dame game.

THEN we did the coolest thing of the whole weekend and ate at the Church Brew Works. An enormous, stained glass window endowed church has been remodelled into a microbrewery. They have a fantastic menu, a living hops garden, and a golden brew works in lieu of the alter. You eat your meal sitting in the pews while the sun streams through the stained glass apostles. We enjoyed Pittsburgh perogies, which are ground kobe beef, onions, blue cheese in a mushroom and red pepper sauce. YUM! And I drank pipe organ pale ale. Anyone who comes here needs to eat at this place.

We ended the fun at a series of cool bars in the south side, including a stop to eat cheese steaks at a place with doors all over the walls and ceilings as well as a stop at the rugby bar owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Rugby Football club. Today, we are off for some pancakes and a visit to the Natural History museum to see the bog people.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I think Jordan should get his own blog if he has so many birthday stories to share.

A Grad Student At Last

Before I get into my exciting news of graduate school, I want to register my ire that a Comcast van is most definitely parked outside my building, paying a visit to another customer within. Why, then, was I told nobody could come to my building until September 22 to work on my cable? If indeed it takes only 5 minutes for them to switch on the cable in the bedroom, surely he could pop next door from Ruth's apartment and turn mine on for me?

At any rate, I started classes this week. While the week was a hectic zoo full of administrative disasters, I definitely enjoy being back in the academic game. My first course is called Narratives of Teaching and Learning. It was so good to be analyzing literature again! The course involves reading memoirs of teaching, both successes and failures. We discussed how educators are typically demonized or deified in media today and the instructor sought a middle ground in the reading list. I love this course.

My other two classes are ok, but I can definitely tell the Teaching Narratives course will be my favorite.

I am definitely overwhelmed and excited with the upcoming literature conference at Pitt. Learn more about it here. It's called 412. Michael Ondaatje is coming to speak! And Mary Karr! Also, editors from major national publications (New Yorker!!) as well as local Pittsburgh media will be on site to speak with nonfiction students. As you can imagine, the New Yorker will meet me and immediately fire Susan Orlean once they see how much more interesting my writing is. You just wait.