Monday, April 30, 2007

Elephantitus of the Brain

Let's all take a minute to talk about my little sister. Miss Betsy, gorgeous and beautiful princess that she is, was out running the other day. She is very svelte. Always has been. She runs way faster than me and, during the one and only rugby practice I have managed to drag her to in the past 8 years, outperformed me and was more aggressive. She is one of those thin, little, shapely people who looks really good in Lycra but knows better than to wear it in public.

Back to her jog. She was moving along down the sidewalk at a steady clip and had to swerve left to avoid a gaggle of sidewalk hoggers. We all know the type. They stand there, four wide, in clusters, oblivious to other activities. I'm sure Betsy growled internally as she had to pump her arms a little harder and step off the curb to get around them.

But she fell! And twisted her ankle! And the sidewalk hoggers didn't try to help, only said "Man, that sucks." My poor sister. The family urged her to go to the doctor. To seek treatment. But she insists she is fine. Her ankle is fine. What do you think?

Is that cankle fine?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Since I began college in 1999, I have lived in 10 different places. I have moved so often that I've developed this strange sense of place, where I don't view anything as my community or my town. Just somewhere I'm passing through. I've never invested myself emotionally in a location, never made friends with my neighbors in my adult life.

Last week, Corey and I made an offer on a house. They counter offered and we accepted. We are almost home owners. It's very strange and adult feeling. We're going with the house that has this potty:
That was the main selling feature for us (in addition to the spacious functional kitchen and well maintained structure of the house, ceiling fans, central air, and lovely back yard).

Now starts a very strange process in which we rush around to get everything inspected and pay people lots of money to process paperwork and give the city of Pittsburgh an obscene amount of money for reasons not entirely clear to me just for the transaction. I have clearly entered the wrong business. If I wanted a lucrative job, I should have gone into paperwork filing. I am actually quite good at paperwork filing. It's almost as fun as I imagine using that toilet would be.

In two months, barring disaster, our Steel City Experiment will no longer be an experiment. It will be our life. Our real, married, home owning life in which we have chosen a location to settle. I'm not scared about settling down with Core-man. I've always known he was my future. I feel a jittery sense of excitement at the notion of having a permanent place to hang my cleats. I will no longer be a nomad. It feels good.


Yesterday we lost horribly to Detroit. We traveled with only 14 players (the fifteenth dropped out inexplicably the day before) to play our toughest game of the season. I am very disappointed that the Angels. How is it that we have over 25 players in the fall when we are playing for nationals? I would like to not think people aren't committed unless they feel the game "matters." It's just so foreign to me to not think every game matters, to not come to practice regardless of weather and grumpiness levels.

This feeling of upsetedness is all complicated by my leaving the team halfway through the season because I'm going away for my wedding. Certainly everyone who missed yesterday had equally valid excuses; it's just frustrating.

So, while we were there along 8-mile (before we ate the best sausage in the entire world at the best social spread in history) there was rugby to play. And my team needed an outside center. SO they picked me to do it.

For eight years, I have played only in the forwards. Maybe a handful of games outside the tight five. But yesterday, I was a gazelle. In theory. I was so scared! And the flyhalf had to keep telling me where to go. But I looped our fullback! And got a stiffarm in the chest from their player of the match when I tried to tackle her. It was all very exciting, if unsettling and terrifying. I love stepping outside my comfort zone like that. I'll play wherever the team needs me to and do my best to run fast enough. I just hope we can get our act together for the fall when we are in the push for a national championship.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More Potties

This one is right next to the fridge. Like you could be using the john and think "I really want a nice cold beer. Hey! I'll just lean forward and grab one." Homer Simpson would be in love.

Then, after you spill some beer, you could just mop it all up and wash your hands, never having to stand up at all.

This one had some tile flooring around it and partial privacy walls, as if to say "I'm almost a bathroom!" I like the little shelf in the wall to accommodate the toilet tank.

This isn't a potty at all, but is very interesting anyway. Does anyone else have a bench covered in vacuums in their house? If yes, I'd love to see a picture. I wonder which vacuum they use around their basement potty? Perhaps the one with the attachments.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pittsburgh Potty?

We've been looking at houses. A lot of houses. Like 8 every weekend. This past trip out, I was shocked to discover many of the houses had toilets just sitting in the middle of the basement. Imagine a white trash lawn that has a toilet sitting in the middle. Then, imagine a finished (or unfinished!) basement around that toilet. Laundry machines, workout equipment, and a toilet. In the middle of the room. Like in jail.

There is no stall around the toilets. There sometimes aren't even walls nearby. These are functional toilets, that people might pee upon. I cannot fathom using such a toilet. I have enough trouble in my own cozy apartment, let alone in the middle of a room where, at any time, Corey or an intruder could burst down the steps with some laundry and interrupt a BM. Who would ever use such a toilet?

When I first saw it, I sucked in my breath and held my hand to my mouth and grabbed Corey's arm. "Look!" I pointed, as if there were some roadkill in the basement.
Not in a bathroom, but in the middle of the basement

Both he and the realtor looked at me like I was the crazy person.

"That's just the Pittsburgh Potty," they told me, as if this were totally normal. When did Corey get all in with the lingo? And why the heck did the city invent such a thing? Corey told me some story about mill workers and dirt, but I don't see how you are any cleaner after pooping downstairs. I think it's madness. Trailer park habits disguised by cement walls and dryer sheets.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring Fling Her

It was another great weekend to be an obsessed fan in Pittsburgh. After our rugby domination of Chessapeake (72-5!) I barely took time to eat tacos at the social so I could dash off to the roller derby bout.

This time, I knew all the rules and was a very confident and rowdy fan. I was horrified to discover that Scary Schiavo wasn't skating. She has a collar bone injury and won't be back until the May bout.

I was still rooting for the Wrecking Dolls, though. They are clearly the best team, with Navy Blue Dickies uniforms with orange trim, power tools, and characters like Elsa Slam and Sharon Fluids.

Yesterday's bout was on a concrete floor, which was exciting because it was very slippery. Corey said, in his monotone voice before the bout, I bet the girls will slide right into the crowd when they go down tonight. His predictions were very accurate! Despite some skaters having special wheels meant for just that very surface, there were some intense collisions. I have a hoarse voice today from all the excitement.

I personally felt the refereeing was terrible yesterday and that the Wrecking Dolls got shafted. This is not because I am an obsessed fan. For example, Sharon Fluids skated tremendously in the third period and I thought she had gotten at least 12 points. After the jam was over, AFTER, the referees gave her a retroactive penalty, which took her up to 12 penalties. She got sent retroactively to the penalty box, was kicked out of the rest of the bout, and only 4 of her points were valid for that round. So not only did they retroactively penalize her, the Wrecking Dolls had to start the next jam with no jammer! Seriously, this was upsetting.

Afterward, I reached a low point in my adult life. I ran to the team area and got my picture taken with Scary and met her mom and dad.

I fear I have ruined all chances to be actual friends with her. I just can't help it. I think roller derby is really fun and I think it is incredible for youngsters to have tough women characters to look up to. Look at this great picture of Scary signing an autograph:

Don't you all wish you had a tough chick with tattoos to look up to when you were small? I think roller derby will change the world. Women are awesome! Especially when they are on roller skates!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Why I Love Rugby Players

Reason 1899953342335: Chicken

I love how rugby players eat. I love how food is first in their thoughts, in their plans for a day or a weekend. Because I share this obsession with eating. Last Saturday, after our game, we had to wait through a men's a & b match before the social. After I play rugby, I am ravenous. Hunger like I have never imagined takes over my thought processes. If, for example, a teammate finds an apple rotting in the bottom of her cleat bag, I will fight her for it and fight aggressively. So it was no shock to me at all that I made even better friends with Mike, the rookie from the men's team.

I sauntered over to Mike, already feeling the 40 of St. Ides I was drinking for extra class, and realized he was eating delicious chicken. Mike had the forethought to pack a sandwich baggie filled with pre-grilled marinated chicken chunks. How smart is he??? In all my rugby days, I have never thought beyond a peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar for after game emergencies.

As Mike shared his protein feast, I realized that whole new worlds were open to me for away games. I could travel with hardboiled eggs. I could bring pasta salad. If he could secret chicken chunks into the vans, I could surely smuggle some hard cheese and fruit. Tomorrow, even though the social is right after our game, I might see if I can learn from Mike. I just might travel with some pre-cooked sausage. Or perhaps a pear?

My teammates are getting more and more like my students every day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Small tear, big freakout

I just had my last session with my hungry student and my anxious student. It's very sad to let them go, off into the summertime to not hang out with me 8 hours a week anymore. What will I do with myself? I guess the anxious kid will be around when I get back from my honeymoon, but it still feels weird that I won't see these folks every day. It's so interesting how they have moved from major stressors who keep me up at night (how will I tutor them properly? How can I best explain chaos theory to this kid?????) to important parts of my life who I will miss terribly.

Instead, Corey has taken the role of major stressor in my life. It's not entirely his fault. The enormous to-do list of things I never thought I would have to care about (lighting in porta-potties, for example) has taken over my days. I spend long periods of time tracking down twinkle lights in bulk and wind up blaming Corey because I can't locate sheet music for the ceremony musicians. Thankfully, I will leave in ten minutes to go play some rugby and really bang out all my emotions. I intend to come home tonight drained of all sorrows and anxieties, leaving nothing behind but my will to watch Survivor, Fiji.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fitted Sheets

I originally learned fitted sheet folding from watching Oprah. Martha was on once, years ago, and demonstrated. I'm not as good as Martha. Mine still get a little lumpy in the middle. But I can still make a square several ways. I cannot imagine writing directions out in words. I would have to make a video of myself folding. I'm not sure if I'm willing to do that. Lots at stake there!

This is a link of the day Martha taught me these things. Here is where Martha explains how on her website, only with no photographs. The quest to fold a fitted sheet into a perfect square is only something I attempt during finals week. Revise manuscript submissions? No thank you. I fold things. And only after I have done a purge of the household. I find the purging so cleansing. I throw things in the garbage can. Things like Corey's insurance bills and recent New Yorkers. I can't help it. They must all go if they aren't glued to the hardwood floors by a puddle of dried beer.

Finals week habits make for great conversation with a fellow crazy person. Hence my student and I discussing our manias. He wants to make the bed sheets so taught he can bounce a coin off them. I want to fold perfect squares. Though after hearing each other's goals, I think we are a bit curious to conquer all aspects of linens.

Perhaps I can start a fund to bring Martha to Pittsburgh and she can show us how to do all things cotton related.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

That Spam Guy

How do I get Alex to stop posting spam comments on my blog? I don't want to be an advertisement for pharmaceutical companies! Every time I delete one of his big long comments, I check back a few hours later and he has reposted one.

I want to report him to Google or something, but I don't see how to do that. What is going on here, Alex? Get out of my life already!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ego boosting

My anxious student has to take another English class this summer. He got very nervous to hear that I would be away getting married during half of the first summer session. His face fell and he lamented that he couldn't possibly take English class without knowing for certain he had a sounding board to talk out his anxieties. (Oh god, he must have been thinking, what if I slip into passive voice???? Who will help me maintain consistent verb tenses????? Have I explained my point clearly?)

So I must say that I felt myself puffing with pride (perhaps gas?) when he told me he rearranged his whole summer schedule to accommodate my honeymoon. "I'll be able to work with you if I do that, right? Right?" he asked. It just made me feel good inside to know that I am the tutor to beat when it comes to my anxious student. At last! Reassurance that I am winning at work! I hope that this doesn't go to my head. I hope I keep remembering that anal people tend to find each other among the chaos. Today, after our little ego session, we bonded about the fun of alphabetizing and compared secrets for folding fitted sheets into perfect squares. I have to remember that I bond so well with this kiddo because I, too, am freaking insane.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Grown up at last

Corey and I had dinner with married people on Sunday. It was very strange for me. Like we were two committed couples just eating Thai food together on Easter. We talked about grownup things like dogs and houses and graduate school and then tried to do the most grown up social activity in the world: go grocery shopping. (We were thwarted by the Easter holiday, but I incorrectly assumed some stores in Squirrel Hill would be open to cater to Jewish folks like Corky and our married friends)

I think it made me feel nervous. Like I wanted to run away screaming about cooties or something. Does being married mean I have to act grown up and married around other married people? Is Corey still allowed to fool me into pulling his finger and am I still allowed to call him a doofus when he does?

Or, instead, does being both grown up and married mean that I can now choose things. Do I want to act silly or sophisticated? Should we leave the house together to do adult things or just sit at home in our underpants and drink milk straight from the carton? Maybe I can have the best of both worlds, pass uninhibited between negotiating mortgage rates and playing DDR in my 4th grade dance costume and nobody would mind at all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Corey and I received a magic scale as a gift. It's this clear platform with foot pads that makes you fill out a tax return and then climb aboard and it reveals your weight, percentage of body fat, percentage of water, daily caloric intake, and metabolic age.

Last night I was stunned to discover that I have 30% body fat. I know I eat a lot of ice cream and cake, but I also work out a lot. I'm playing rugby and taking boxing lessons and most of the food I eat is really healthy. The scale suggested I should take in 2700 calories a day. But then it slapped me in the face and said "Bwahahahahahaha Mwahahahaha you are made of one third fat and your metabolic age is 30! THIRTY!!!!!" Then it beeped and shut off.

Corey's body fat is something like 10% and his metabolic age is like 12. And he eats at Qdoba every day! What is going on here?

Apart from the humor, I am very concerned that one out of every three parts of my body is fat. This is no good for my heart or longevity or rugby game. I think, somewhere, in the 2700 calories I can ingest in a day that I might find a way to eat more fiber and less Bryers. And step up my water drinking and do more squats. I have to move that fat into muscle!

Now that we have the nasty scale, I am obviously going to obsess and check eat day. So I'll have a celebration when the fat goes down to 25%.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stupid mistake

Today I was a bit grumpy. I have 7 weeks until my wedding, no hairstylists, Corey has no wedding band, we don't have the ceremony music sorted out, I have no vows, need I go on?

So anyway I was really grumpy and not paying attention to much. I got on the bus and settled into my seat. As I always do, I read some of my homework on the bus. I was totally engrossed in the vivid and continuous fictional dream of the piece I was reading. I felt the bus turn right and assumed we were on our way to Oakland. When I looked up, we were barreling through Friendship. I assumed there was a construction detour. I kept reading.

Eventually, I really felt we were in the wrong place and had to ask a neighbor what bus I was on. Not the 71A at all but the 77D!!!

I scampered out, had to hoof it six or so blocks to a street where I could catch the right bus. I was late for my boxing lesson and everything, had no time shadow boxing at the end even. What lesson did I learn? I have to pay attention to things that matter, like is this the correct bus or do I have a groom who loves me, rather than ridiculous details that just seem to cloud my judgment.

Everything will be ok. Although perhaps not my sparring skills.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Juice Box

I love rugby weekends! I am suddenly very sad that this is my first rugby weekend of the spring season because I feel like I've been desperately missing the scene since November. We lost pretty badly yesterday to a division one team, the Maryland Stingers but I really didn't mid so much. Three Stingers are also former PSU ladies and we had an awesome sleepover the night before. What I love most about rugby is how much nothing changes. The second we were back together at my apartment it was like we were still on the same team, packing our duffel bags and sandwiches as always. The weirdest part was arriving to the field in the same car and having to go our separate ways to play for opposite teams. (Though I suppose it was a bit weird for me to have to tackle Rosebud and totally whiff as she ran through my fingertips)

But my own game isn't even what was most interesting for me this weekend. What I loved was the men's game. It was their hooker's birthday and his girlfriend, a prop on my team, brought the men cookies and juice boxes. Just like in kindergarten. As soon as the game was over they all scurried over to the sidelines and started sucking down Capri Sun. Even when it was time to warm up for their b-side match and practice scrums, they weren't letting go of those juicy delights. They all reminded me of my little nephew, toddling around the backyard with a pretzel rod in a death grip in his little fist.

I just sat on the bench beside the field laughing hysterically at these enormous men, ears taped, ribs bandaged, sucking on tiny little straws of juice as they prepared to go get in a big, 80-minute fight. It made me remember that rugby is, after all, just a game. And games are youthful, joyous endeavors. Maybe we should all drink juice boxes to remind us not to take ourselves to seriously.