Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Today I rode the 500 into campus. I don't usually do that because it comes infrequently, but I looked at the schedule and one was due. The driver was the crankiest person I have ever encountered. And I've seen some curmudgeons in my day.

First, he refused to answer a woman's question about how to find the Carnegie museum. She asked if the bus went there and he said no. She looked startled and confused and was about to get off the bus when I shouted "Just get off at 5th and Bellefield and walk one block to your left!!!" She seemed relieved and sat back down. So I already didn't like him.

Then, when we got to 5th and Morewood, he skidded to a sudden stop and cracked the doors open. He told the people at the stop there was no room on the bus and they had to wait for the next one. The bus was crowded, but not packed. I was angry! Then he started to pull away and people in the aisle started yelling "Hold up! Woah! Wait! Comin' up!"

I kid you not, 19 people filed past me and tried to get off the bus. He was trying to pull away without letting them off. Where's the fire, buddy? Then, I totally assumed their vacated space left ample room for the waiting riders. But no, he slammed the doors shut abruptly behind the last passenger to exit, nearly slicing off her Vera Bradley bag from her back, and zoomed down the road.

For the first time in my bus rider experience, I did not thank the driver when I exited the bus. I always thank all of them, even if they are a little grumpy. This guy did not make me feel grateful and I really wish he would not drive the bus anymore. He just made me upset. I took the 71A home so I would have no chance of seeing him again today.

Monday, February 26, 2007

King of Spades

Corey had to work all day yesterday because his bike shop was having some sort of huge warehouse sale. He came home totally wasted at 10pm after enjoying pitchers of tequila beverages with his co-workers to celebrate their big day. He stumbled all around and kept bumping into stuff. I have never seen him so drunk! Ever!

He flopped down on the couch and asked if I noticed he got a haircut and a beard trim while I was away for the weekend. I looked at him closely, inspecting his bright red beard which grows inexplicably beneath his dark, dark brown head hair. The barber had taken some creative license and carved a little notch in his chin area.

He looks like the king of spades on a playing card. Or any of the other kings without knives in their heads. Although last night he looked more like the court jester failing at gymnastics stunts. When I told him this he started to laugh and laugh until he fell asleep for a minute. This morning he looks even more like the king of spades because his hair wasn't sticking up all over the place and he didn't smell like booze. I might make him a paper crown today and dub him ruler of Highland Park.

Friday, February 23, 2007

High on Education

Every now and then, I have a day in the classroom where I can't imagine myself anywhere else. I can't even believe that other things exist, in fact, or that other joys are possible. Today was one of those days.

My morning started out at 850am, when my hungry student was waiting for me when I got to the writing lab. I had a note the night before saying he was lifting weights at 630am and would probably be napping. I fully expected to have to wake him up, but there he was, ready to write his philosophy paper. The assignment was five pages on his personal values and belief system. He was stuck. He had no idea what he could possibly write about.

I asked him why he thought he got out of bed to come work with me that morning, what made him come in here. He started talking, telling me how he knows he needs to work hard or he will never reach his goals. How if a person doesn't have goals they won't go anywhere in life. How nobody needs to ever motivate him because the thought of his family's and his own pride in his accomplishments keeps him moving, keeps him pushing harder and harder each day. How as soon as he reaches one goal, he gets right started on the next one.

I started writing down his words, verbatim, copying them in all his colorful vernacular. When he was done talking, I showed him what he had said, essentially over half his paper about his values of discipline and goal-driven motivation. He was so excited he almost spit out his orange juice. He said "Aw, heck! I was just talkin! I had no idea you could make a paper out of stuff I just think about."

I told him I hoped he knew how exciting and unique he was and how wonderful it was to have such a work ethic. His attitude was so natural to him he assumed everyone operated that way. He makes me feel good inside.

Then I had my final session with the gifted high school students I teach on Fridays. For our last class, I arranged a reading for them to share their work at a local coffee shop. I sat in the front row, alternating tears and hysteria listening to them read their polished work before a captivated audience of college and graduate students. They were brilliant. Their revisions were stunning. Their final projects were publishable. I could barely wait to kick them out of there so I could read what they wrote in their course evaluations.

It turns out they love to write. Not knowing what to do otherwise, I gave them readings that made me laugh and gave them writing exercises that stimulated my own creativity. It turns out this was a great tactic. They wrote about how freed they felt from structure of their regular classrooms, how comfortable they felt with a teacher who let them write about whatever they were feeling, even if that involved death or atheism or curse words.

I probably broke a million rules in doing so, but I treated them like I treat my own classmates and often forgot they were in high school. I just got so excited by their wonderful writing I forgot I was supposed to be in charge of them. I feel like I should be paying them because they make me so happy.

I enter into a hellish deadline week for my own writing. I find myself so inspired by the writing of students who make me happy that I don't even begin to know how to thank them. I will have to remember to dedicate my work to them, the only way I can think of to thank them for sharing their day with me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Tonight I spent five hours working with a football player I haven't seen in awhile. He's been falling behind and had a lot of papers to make up. At one point, we took a small break to rest our brains and he asked whether I knew a third teammate had moved into his dorm room.

I had no idea, obviously, who lived in his room and asked him where the heck they fit three beds in a college dorm room. He told me they bunked two of the beds and put them on risers and slid a third mattress on the floor underneath the bunkbeds. They are sleeping three deep. Like in a submarine.

Apparently, this new roommate couldn't stand his current living situation and is bunking up unofficially. They stuffed all his clothes in their desk drawers and shoved him under the bed. Like a dog.

Imagine how that smells in there. Three football players in a dorm room meant for two average sized people.These aren't regular college boys. These are enormous football players who are so tall that their legs dangle off the edge of the bed.

I asked my student where he sleeps in the sandwich and he said he was the meat. He said "I wake up in the morning and I see feet dangling in my face. Then, I roll over and I see a huge arm and leg sticking out and I always think there is a monster under my bed."

I would give ANYTHING to spend a day just following these kids around and watching them operate. Because they are so much funnier than anything on television.


My professor told me yesterday to always take note when something bothers me and write about it. Well obviously she hasn't known me very long, because everything bothers me and I talk or write about everything, dwelling long and hard until even small things are blown out of proportion. Like when the bratty undergrad made FUN of me on Monday for saying "pardon me" when he was in my way. I guess he thought I was out of earshot when he started making fun of what I said, so I turned around and said "Well next time, I won't say anything and I'll just push you into the wall." His eye got really big and he said "Damn, bitch, you need to calm down." I hope I get him in class one day so I can fail him for being an asshole. Karma will harm him. I just know it.

But the main thing I've been thinking about today that bothers me is Nike. Nike's men's clothing line did away with the size small. I was working at the Penn State bookstore when I discovered this. I was folding the "our drinking team has a football problem" shirts and noticed we had no more smalls. My manager told me this was because Nike was expanding their women's clothing line and had stopped making things in size small.

I knew what this meant. And I was right! Instead of having interesting t-shirt options, like USA Judo shirts or slogan shirts about soccer or maybe even a nice Penn State Fencing shirt to wear when I run, I was siphoned into the Nike Women's section, where my choices were fitted babydoll tees or tennis shirts with darts to accentuate the breasts and slim waist I'm supposed to show off. Who can pump iron in a babydoll tee? Can you just see me dangling upside down doing hyperextensions in a babydoll tee? I would get fungus on my stomach from the sweaty machines. And the whole world would see a part of my stomach that should not hang out.

This decision made me really angry because it assumes that women don't wear Nike's interesting and practical clothes for exercising. It assumes women want the fitted clothes or pink little outfits. That women don't get down and dirty. This isn't a slight against tennis. I tutor some of those athletes. They are beasts! But I don't think even they wear the Nike stuff without a base layer.

Now all my t-shirts are either scuzzy and 8 years old or certainly not made by Nike. I'm small! I need a size small garment. Why would Nike do this to me? Do they want women to purchase their workout clothes from Adidas? I think all the Nike base layer stuff is great and their running clothes seem pretty good. But what about people who just want a t-shirt to sweat in? I boil to think that only men (or people who can fit in the medium) get the options for all the cool shirts and I'm supposed to squeeze into a sausage skin.

I'm about to take a magic marker and write a hip slogan on my Hanes Beefy T (size small) so I feel clothed AND cool when I work out today.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Core-man Bats 1000

Corey finally booked our honeymoon. I know I said I would do it without him if he missed his January 31 deadline, but my threats are pretty much always empty. I just yelled at him for a long time and nagged until my throat hurt and just like that he got to work!

I felt sickly satisfied when he kept finding places fully booked for our desired dates. I loved looking at his face when he discovered that yes, in fact, some people do plan in advance for important trips. Ha! I'm such an asshole. Why am I so happy that he was wrong? It doesn't matter. We have a lovely trip.

We are going to St. Lucia to stay in a hut in the jungle for a few days and then will join all the other newlyweds at a Sandals. I'm ok with that vacation even if it isn't a rafting trip in Belize or a volcano/canopy hike in Costa Rica. We have our whole lives to do adventure vacationing. On our honeymoon, we're going to snorkel. And lounge. And drink complementary alcohol because it's included in our room rate along with one massage and a sunset cruise.

The craziest thing about having the honeymoon planned and paid for is that it makes the whole thing real. I am going to be a wife. He is going to be a husband. All this batting practice is going to lead up to a real game, an away game in the Caribbean. I'm so excited that we made it this far. I think our team will win.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I have to miss my rowing class tonight. For numerous reasons, including treacherous road conditions and a meeting with my professor, I am unable to drive down to the boat house. I question whether anyone has even plowed the path leading to the Millvale facility, but either way I can't go.

I keep weighing the options in my head and trying to work out a way to get there. Which is silly because it makes my day eons easier not to go. I can do the same workout on campus by myself. There is just something about having a room full of people to beat that makes me row harder in class. Or maybe it's Sonja yelling at me to pull harder.

I hate how I get myself really worked up on a routine. I feel like Rainman, repeating to myself that I have to miss rowing. Like I can't accept it as fact unless I say it internally 7,642 times. How I get stuck like that? Some little person inside me keeps yanking on my esophagus telling me that I'm missing the last class and what if they do something fun or worry where I am or hold up the whole boat waiting for me just in case and then think I'm a quitter if they ever see me again.

I just know this is going to ruin my whole day.

But I also know I made the right decision. It's bad out there. They delayed schools and it's 8 degrees and I know the bridges will be slick.

In a few hours, I'm going to be sitting with the stapler student and not paying attention to his worry stories because I'll be stuck with my own. Can it really be productive when two people with OCD are in a room together? Me dwelling on missed rowing and him stuck on whether he will get a fellowship for grad school 6 years from now...we'll probably both have heart attacks this evening.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Never A Dull Moment at My House!

After my boxing lesson today, I found out that work was canceled because the University closed classes. Because we're having a blizzard. Hurrah! On the bus home, I spent a good twenty minutes worrying about my hungry student, who has a paper due Thursday, and the stapler kid, because he has a revision due tomorrow morning and was freaking out again last I heard.

As soon as I stepped inside, all my work troubles melted away because the neighbors banged on the door and told me to look out the window. There, on the little rooflet between my apartment and theirs, was a smoking, sparking live wire. Hurrah! They called our landlord's emergency number and I got to work dialing 911. This was my first emergency call. And I didn't even have time to practice.

I worked very hard to describe the situation without exaggerating. I said that a large area of snow was melted around the obviously hot wire, which was split, sputtering, smelled bad, and streamed black smoke into the snowy air. My calm facade was shot to dust when a spark zapped my hand on the window ledge and I started freaking out. The firemen were here in under 5 minutes! Hurrah!

These firemen were really friendly and hot. They were all young and spent a very long time banging snow off their boots before coming into the apartment. They even threw some snowballs at each other on the unshoveled and unsalted porch. They pretty quickly controlled the live wire, turned off the electricity to the kitchen and office, and gave the building owner (who arrived on the scene just in time) a tongue lashing for leaving an exposed wire on a rooftop running between two apartments.

Who knew there would be a better way to provide power to two apartments at once? I would have just run a string through the windows and put a tin-can on each end. Or is that for providing phone service? Anyway, the landlord promises to have an electrician come and fix the wire, maybe even wrap it up in some duct tape.

My firemen friends lingered in the kitchen a bit, complimented my pink Kitchenaid, and told me they were reluctant to return to shoveling snow, which was their task before we called to save their day. I think they were a little sad to leave when they saw the case of Yuengling by the radiator. I felt like inviting them to stay and hang out for the afternoon geyser show.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Getting lip from the lip cleaner

I went to get my face waxed today in preparation for the rugby banquet. Once a year, the gang of us puts on dress clothes and tries to be presentable, at least for the first half hour or so. I'm going to wear my new red dress and my fancy leg warmers to keep out the chill. I thought I would get my eyebrows nicely shaped and do away with the fuzz above my lip. Sometimes girls need to groom. Even rugby girls.

There is only one nail/wax place known to me in my neighborhood. I don't like going there because the wax artist makes fun of me. Seriously. She mocks me in front of the other customers. This place doesn't have a back room where they wax you. You park yourself on the massage chairs inside the entrance and they yank the hair off your face where everyone is picking out nail polish.

Today I was waiting my turn and a flustered woman blew in the door and said "Let me go in front of you! I'm on house arrest and I have to be home in twenty minutes." Touched as I was by her story, I knew my procedure would only take 3 minutes. They might be mean here, but they are swift. I did, however, grill this woman to see if she knew of another nail place.

"They make fun of me here. Just wait and see. Where else can I go??"

The wax lady came over, saw it was me, and started in on her usual routine. "Oh!! It you! You soooooo hairy. Teeeheee." She smeared the wax and ripped out my barely visible blond unibrow. "Just cause you hair white don't mean there not a lot of it! You very hairy! Teehee!"

Inside my head, I thought "No shit. That's why I'm paying you to help me out." What woman wants her face hairs brought to attention? We all pretend they aren't there. Even at the place of removal, we don't talk about the face hairs. We slink into the salons and get our problems taken care of with a nod and a nice tip. We don't laugh at the customers!

She kept going, dripped wax on my lip skin. "This better for you. Not so hairy anymore. See? Not hairy!"

I wanted to kick her, to tell her to just shut the hell up and wrench the hairs from the root so I would never have to see her again. I clenched my teeth and muttered "Just wax me, bitch." Only she didn't hear me because she was giggling at my face hairs.

The house arrest lady nodded in sympathy and told me I should go to the place on Penn Circle, where they do a damn good job. Now I have to decide which is worse: the humiliation of the first place or the parallel parking involved in the new option.

At least I look nice in my dress.

I feel good

I feel good about myself today. I decided a long time ago that I didn't want to make or buy or deal with wedding favors. What do people want with picture frames or baggies of chocolate or tulle flowers? Nothing, that's what.

So I decided I wanted to take whatever money I would have spent on favors and donate it to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. I helped paint Allegheny County pink today! And I feel darn good about it. (I selected Allegheny County because that's where I live and it seemed to need more help than other counties. I want my county to be the pinkest one so we can win!)

Sometimes I was feeling so consumery and elitist and frou-frou during this whole wedding planning process. The fanciness of it all was making my armpits sweat at times and all the work to be done was certainly making my chin break out in zits. (You try getting Corey to participate in an administrative task and see how stress-free your life is!)

But when I made that donation, I felt good inside. I felt good about myself and the wedding. It's like now everyone is coming together to celebrate Core-man and Katy AND helping to find a cure for breast cancer.

I'm very pastoral and idealistic this morning. Weddings are beautiful.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Rugby on TV!

There is a rugby player on Wheel of Fortune right now! How amazing is that? I want her to win so bad. I am sitting here helping her guess the puzzles and wishing I could sit in the audience and yell the answers to her. But she doesn't seem to need my help.

I feel like I also want her school (University of Charleston) to go to Nationals this year because she said she wants it to happen. Rugby is so great! Pat Sayjack even talks about it. Ah, what a better way to spend a Friday evening than with a beer, Vanna, and a rugby player?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Snow Pants?

It is negative degrees outside, meaning that exposed skin can freeze and rot and fall off. While this would be a good thing for my chin skin, which is covered in pimples, I kind of want to keep my thighs and maybe even my calves. My big drama today is whether to wear snow pants or just double up the tights under my trousers when I leave for campus. This is a major decision when you are a bus rider who works in a small room with few coat hooks.

Here are the facts: I am boxing for 2 hours before work and then need to shower. So I already have to tote a towel and shower slides and all the materials required for showering PLUS my boxing gloves and handwraps, which are bulky. I also have to pack my dinner, so I have a grocery bag full of leftover Mediterranean food that doesn't fit in my gym bag.

So, do I climb into my snow pants and snugly ride the 71A before I have to pull a second-grade coat room act and remove all my crap in front of my students? Or do I wear tights and spandex pants under my clothes and walk around all night with bulky legs, sweating like an aged cheese?

I only have ten more minutes to decide. I'm leaning toward the cheesey bulk.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Writing Exercise to Stimulate Creativity

Write a love letter to your favorite food. I found this in a book to help with writers' block. Here goes:

Dear Double Chocolate Cupcake:

I know you saw me notice you in the window, pressed against the glass along Murray with my mouth watering at the sight of your curves. You wore that chocolate ganache topping like a second skin as you flirted on your pedestal. It worked. I'm interested.

Nearly two weeks ago now I entered your shop and took you home with me, only to be continuously reacquainted with all your cousins in buttercream. I love how you crumble in my fingers and melt on my tongue, sliding around my mouth and filling me with joy.

When can I see you again? I know you might be a little upset with me since I took home your neighbor Key Lime on Friday. He meant nothing to me, I swear. A fleeting moment of barely-fun chewing and all I could think about was that he wasn't you, Double Chocolate. He wasn't you at all.

Or are you irritated about the vanilla incident? Trust me. Vanilla-vanilla isn't even in your league. That little sucker isn't even very moist! It's you, double chocolate, who fills my heart with passion. Your white little wrapper, the very heft of you in my hand while I wait for the bus. All of it. You are my true love and I miss you.

Hopefully you will be waiting for me this week when I stop by to pick you up. I know we have something special. I'll be there, wearing a green hat and a black pea coat. You don't have to tell me. I know you'll be wearing chocolate shavings and a puff of delicious frosting. We are meant for each other. I'll see you on Wednesday.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Star Struck

Holy crap! The Wrecking Dolls read my blog!!! Scary Schiavo said she would provide me with a shirt. I really don't think life can get any better than this. Several rugby friends and I have decided that if there were ever a thing to closely rival rugby for fun-ness and kick-ass-ability, roller derby would surely be it.

I feel like I felt when I was 12 and Luke Perry sent me an autographed picture in response to my stupid fan letter. Except that the Wrecking Dolls have much better hair than he did and they are tough in real life rather than playing a tough person on television.

It's very strange to be 25 years old and star struck by people in my own age group who are most likely very fun and nice. Hopefully, I haven't delved too deep into obsession and can actually think of something articulate to say if I ever meet them in person. (Something like "Hey! Where do you get your roller skates? How can I get a leopard helmet?")

Cross Training

I haven't been talking that much about rowing this winter. This is mostly because I've had a crop of really thought-consuming student athletes to work with. But now I feel the urge to talk a little about my erg.

The past few weeks we've been doing timed rows in a group. The indoor rowing class has people ranging in age from me to an old dude who smells like bengay. There are 2 other young ladies and one young guy who wears as much Ohio State gear as I wear Penn State stuff. Also, I had signed up for the advanced rowing class because I felt cocky and wanted a better workout than they give you in the beginning ones.

So I have no idea what I'm doing and each week, Sonja the Russian coxswain and Devon the dancer spend a long time molding my body, pressing on my shoulders while I row, holding my butt still so I won't "shoot the slide." But I have endurance! And speed! Last week, in fact, Sonja said "Penn State! Please sit in the front row next to Adam." (Ohio State)

I literally said "MEEE???" because why on earth would they put a clunker like me in the front row for the other rowers to model.

"Yes, please. You have a good pace and we need to row fast today."

I started to get the edge. I was going to win at something. Beat someone. Ha!

I wanted to beat Ohio State. I wanted to beat him even more when Devon told the whole class he was certain that guy would finish first. Apparently, even if everyone is rowing the same stroke rate per minute, the people who drive harder with their legs cover more meters per stroke. I only realized this when he was finishing up and I still had 100 meters to go. But I could still be the first woman finished.

It was insane and crazy. I had to row my brains out and I just wouldn't let myself not be the first one done. I have never felt competitive with things that involve speed before. I just tend to let myself be a tight five player. Everyone understands that the tight five isn't supposed to finish first. Except in the boat house they have no idea what that means and I wasn't letting those women beat me.

And I won! Then, this week, I beat my time by 3 seconds.

After our hard workouts, we go into the tanks and work on technique with actual oars in actual water. There, I am still the delinquent rower who feathers too early and conks the person behind me with my seat and handle. And I don't care because I've only been doing this a few months.

But upstairs, where speed and fitness matters, I am kicking butt. Which foreshadows great things on the rugby field this spring. Look out Albany. The Pittsburgh tight five is coming your way.