Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Contest

"I have an idea for a contest," he said to me last week, that true love of mine. He slithered into the bedroom looking nixy* and said one of those words that always make me explode: contest, competition, winner.

"What is this contest and how can I win?" I threw down my book, alert and ready to dominate.

"Let's try to make the other person not be able to get any toothpaste out of the tube." He lay next to me with his hands behind his head, dreaming up new squeeze strategies, envisioning ways to cheat. Corey's philosophy is always to say if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying.

"Oh yes. I will win this. We must play." I put my hands behind my head, envisioning the same cheats.

Now, oral hygiene is much more fun. I used to spring from bed and brush my teeth immediately, before cereal even. But Corey always waits until he is about to leave for work. So I try to make him brush first even if it means languishing in my own onion breath for close to two hours. When it finally is my turn, I squeeze that tube until my fingers ache, trying to find new corners of untapped paste. I unroll it and roll it up again, hoping for residue along the creases.

We use Tom's of Maine toothpaste, with the aluminum, recyclable tubes, so they aren't kind to the fingers like a Crest or an Aquafresh might be. This is serious. I might dig out some gloves to avoid the sharp edges. When I brushed my teeth today, I realized there was a store of toothpaste hiding in the lid that I dug out with my brush, fearing another shove at that tube. But mark my words! I will win this contest. I will outlast my husband and he will throw the empty tube to the floor in rage, shaking his fist toward the sky and reacting explosively at the lack of any possible paste remaining.

How do I know this? Because I am leaving tomorrow morning to go out of town and I get to take the travel-sized tube of Tom's for on the road.

*Nixy is a word my grandmother uses for when a child is being devilish. Like if someone sprays baby powder all over the room, she is being nixy.*

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Heart Filled With Sadness

I was lamenting to my sister yesterday about my travel-filled August. All my trips will be fun, yes, but being gone every single weekend takes away opportunities for things like laundry, dusting, sweeping the floor, watering the plants. Anyway, my sister and I had just completed a lengthy discussion of how we are both super busy right now with our self-employment work. I said, "There is just no way I can do all these chore-type things during the week with work and all."

She said, "I don't understand. What work? I know you're tutoring a little and writing a few articles..."

I was so taken aback. I agonize over articles. I lose sleep. I wake up at three am with a phrase in my head and turn on the lights to write it down in a notebook I keep beside my bed. I have a 20 word assignment to write something about Jeep and it takes up just as much of my time as the 1,000 word investigation of bicycle polo.

Writing is work. Writing is the hardest work I've ever done--so much harder than working in the factory or even harder than Cross Fit. This job I picked? There is not one thing easy about it. But I have to write. There is just nothing else I can do and still feel alive. That's what makes it wonderful. But please don't assume it isn't time consuming.

I know this is a long road I have ahead of me in terms of people not fully understanding my job. Heck, all the neighbors think I'm a housewife. I just want to put a big sign in my yard that says I WORK REALLY HARD EVEN WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE I AM STARING OUT MY WINDOW. I DON'T SLEEP AT NIGHT.

I just want to type it one more time to make myself feel better. I work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I like to sit in the living room to write. I keep the front door open so I can look out at Frank's roses. Even when the heat of July is oppressive, there's a little breeze from the ceiling fan and it's just nice.

This morning, I got up early enough to eat breakfast on the back porch with the newspaper. My garden attracts robins and cardinals and bluejays, so I watch them fight over the worms helping my plants grow. I hope they poop out there. Just above our property line, wild rose of Sharon is blooming in the woods. It's like I live in a forest in a cabin, only I'm in the city.

During the day when everyone else leaves the house for work, it's so quiet that all I hear are birds and squirrels. I like it here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Holy Land

Big Perm and I went to the Pittsburgh Blues Fest Friday night. It was fantastic in terms of people watching. I texted Corey to say I was watching a woman share an ice cream with her dog. I thought I would win until Corey wrote back to say our neighbors were moving a 6 foot tall Jesus statue out of their front door, into a waiting pickup truck, and then driving it down the street.

Clearly he won. He emailed me a photo of the event. I can just see him stopping mowing the lawn, scampering inside to find the digital camera, and rushing back out to make sure he didn't miss anything. In the picture, "Jesus" is in the back of a truck, standing tall with his thigh thrust forward in a green, slitted gown. He looks ripped and also very similar to a Miss America contestant. When I related this story to my other neighbors, they felt the statue sounded a bit like "Super Gay Jesus." Until I mentioned that Jesus had a little dog.

"Ooooooooooooooh!" My neighbor exclaimed. "That's not Jesus! That's St. Rocco!" Apparently St. Rocco is the patron saint of pestilence. His little dog used to come bring him food while he was in prison and the Italian Catholics in my neighborhood celebrate his glory with food and also by carrying this statue up and down the streets while people attach money. There is a scene like it in The Godfather. The party ends with whopping huge fireworks, visible from our porch apparently. Morningside has also, for many years, been in a bit of a war with another neighborhood for the best celebration and also best website for the event. There is so much to gossip about with neighbors!

Unfortunately, I will be away for the to-do, which makes me sad. But, I can always look at this photo and feel smugly happy that my biggest lawn ornament is a gazing ball:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh man

I did a Saturday morning Cross Fit today. I think it was harder than during the week because I'm not used to making my body do such things on weekends. I finished the following in 28:06. Not last, not first, but pretty darn good:
--800m run
--35 box jumps
--35 sit-ups
--3 rope climbs (I did the kind where you lower your body to the floor and then, stiff as a board, raise yourself back up with just your arms)
--35 ring dips (talk about your stabilizer muscles!)
--35 medicine ball chops (as if you were a dwarf mining for coal, only with a medicine ball)
--400m run with a medicine ball (awkward with short arms!)
--200m farmer's walk, in which you walk carrying kettle bells of varying weights
--400m run

Then we did two ab circuits that made me want to barf. I didn't even say goodbye to anyone. When Jen said, "Annnnnnnnd stop!" I just ran out the front door, covered in chalk and gasping for breath.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Team Love

I reclaimed my husband after the 8th inning last night. As promised, he enjoyed drinks with us before the game and I actually felt a little bad for him because his fake tooth fell out again while we were eating spring rolls. I think it was the carrots I grew--so crisp and fresh!

When we got home, his first duty was to help me pick an outfit for my teaching interview that happened this morning (Corey is obviously the best choice for fashion advice). I tried on a lot of clothes last night, and none of them fit. This made me terribly upset. I had flashbacks to the awful morning this February when I realized I had gained 18 pounds of cheese weight over the winter. But, despite really heavy societal pressure and thanks to my Cross Fit trainer, I am trying not to focus on weight as a number. Much more important is the amount of harmful fat I have clogging my insides.

I reluctantly climbed aboard our magic scale and discovered that I have 30.6% body fat. One third of me is fat. One third. As in only two-thirds of me are bones and muscle and organ tissue all combined. (Corey is, of course, under 12% body fat.)

This is not good for my heart, it's not good for my rugby game, and it made me really, really sad. I've been working so hard this summer on our team fitness challenge PLUS I've been killing myself with Cross Fit. I know I make a lot of jokes about being a great big forward, but when you come from a family inclined toward weight gain and then you marry a tall, lanky string bean, it can get upsetting. Particularly late at night when none of your dress clothes fit and you are faced with the plus-sized racks. I had this vision of my future children begging me to come chase them somewhere and being unable to run after them, weighed down by my fat.

We talked about it for awhile and Corey is going to help me follow the advice of the food books I've been reading all summer. We're going to continue to eat healthy foods (we don't really do fried and I can't remember the last time I ate something chemically and preservative-laden) but I'm not going to eat them at night anymore and I'm going to eat less of them. Plus we'll use his Lance-style food scale and keep track of our consumption.

This will be a real challenge for me, because I am used to eating mass quantities of food. I feel such aching hunger after working out, but as I get older it takes less and less food to satiate these well-earned gorges. Corey can continue to do so, because he has the metabolism of an 8-year-old boy (according to our magic scale). But his big team love effort to help me is that he will eat these mass quantities of food in his basement cubby and not in front of me where I get tempted.

We want to be healthy adults and continue to be healthy old people. We want to hike and climb things for many decades to come, and I'm not going to be able to do that if I keep adding fat stores to my short, stubby body. I want to be 23% fat. This is, perhaps, a more difficult goal than graduate school. I just feel really thankful that I have Corey with me to help me get there again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Responsible Dave is pirating my husband from me. I think he wants to steal Corey's love. An example:

Wednesday evening:
Katy--Corey, will you come to the Pirates game with me tomorrow? A bunch of rugby folks are going and it will be super fun!
Katy--Why not?
Corey--grunts. Mumbles something about a meeting discussing bikes and buses.

Thursday morning:
(See above, inserting "tonight" for "tomorrow")

Five minutes ago:
The phone rings.
Corey--Dave just called and said he won free tickets to the game.
Katy--That's nice!
Corey--Will you care if I go to the baseball game with Dave? The tickets are free
Katy--Yes. Yes I care. I want you to go with me.
Corey--But Dave's tickets are free.
Katy--You have to hang out with me before the game and come visit me for at least 2 innings.
Corey--I have no problem with that.

So, for four hours, Corey will be sitting with Dave watching the sun set on the river as the Pirates stink it up on the field while I eat kettle corn with my teammates.

Morning Harvest

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nagging Yen

Lately, I've been completely consumed with Clay. This is a man I met while researching a motorcycle story, due to come out next year. Clay works as an HVAC dude at UPMC during the day and, every evening, he scrounges around for motorcycle parts. He takes his treasure back home to his house, where the walls are lined with sheet metal, and uses his spare bedrooms as an autobody shop. He welds in one room, constructs in another, and builds custom choppers into the wee hours.

Clay has tattoos and long hair and a pink Razr cell phone with a heavy metal ring tone. He makes one bike each year. Just one, and he doesn't even keep it. He auctions it off and sends all the raffle ticket proceeds to Operation Troop Appreciation, a group that mails care packages to US troops stationed abroad. They mail over things like books and shaving cream and hand sanitizer. Sometimes beef jerky. All Clay wants to do is help out.

When you talk to him about his gorgeous creations, he repeatedly says, "I don't do this for a living! I'm not a professional!" But I have never seen such a beautiful motorcycle in my life as the one he built this year. For someone to create a working machine out of nothing is just short of miraculous to me, and to look at the care Cay takes in his work...well I think professional is of course the wrong word. Clay is an artist.

He leaves no detail unfinished when incorporating the themes on his bikes. Some dood with a one syllable nickname helped Clay get permission from the military to use their custom camouflage print for this year's chopper. The only civilian vehicle in the world with this pattern.

To top off the military-themed bike, Clay obtained an actual combat jacket from his buddy, who was in Iraq and used it to upholster the seat. The underside of the seat has the jacket pocket, which Clay thought riders could use to store an ID or some cash while out for a cruise.

I want to write about Clay, to let this man shine on the page with all his swear words and beautiful, honest, passionate parts included. I want to hang out in his dining room while he carves drive chains for his motors. This is a dude who hosts a huge biker party every year with free beer and heavy metal bands, and who loves motorcycles with all his soul. This is a man who cares about something, and I want to write about it.

But I just can't seem to find a venue other than this one.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July in Photos

So much has happened this month that I struggle to find words to describe it all. What with all the hiking and the seafood eating and other discoveries, I thought I would try to learn to use the embed slideshow feature and let my camera do the talking. Still to come are photos of my very horny garden, which has been having tons and tons of fruitful sex! In the meantime:

The Better to Eat you With, My Dear

Corey is having some teeth trouble. Many years ago, he had a bike accident and lost his front tooth. He had a crown put in that recently starting chipping off and coming apart. Last week, our new favorite dentist put in a temporary crown while we wait for the new snazzy tooth to come from the tooth fairy and allow him to eat apples again.

In the mean time, the temporary one (which looks rather like a Chiclet) came loose. All weekend long, he made weird sucking sounds as he jiggled it with his tongue and told me he couldn't bite into anything firm, or it might come out. Last night, we sat down to eat some zucchinis I harvested from my thankfully-copulating garden, and he said, "I have to take it out. It's too wiggly." I stared with my mouth half full as he removed his front tooth and tried to put it on a napkin on the table. Where I could SEE it.

I freaked out and made him move it to another room, which he did. I then finished my food first and started cleaning up. I saw what I assumed to be a big piece of brown rice sitting on the counter and swept it into the trash can with the rest of the food garbage. Happily washing the dishes, I shuddered when Corey said, "Katy, did you see my tooth anywhere? I can't find my tooth." I had thrown it away! In the TRASH!

He dug it out, cleaned if off, and shoved it back into his mouth and promised to call the dentist.

Before he got a chance to do so, he was brushing his teeth this morning and said, calmly as only Corey could do, "Well, that's great."

"Did your tooth fall out again?"


"Into the sink?"


"Did it go down the drain?????????"

I heard clinking sounds as he said, "Mmm hmmm."

I immediately called the dentist, who said he could come with or without the tooth in 20 minutes. Corey did not find the tooth, I did not calm down, and he rode calmly into the sunrise to get his mouth fixed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dear Major Magazine

Thank you for the fabulously wonderful seeming online writing opportunity. Write for MAJOR MAGAZINE, you said, and I fell in love with the idea. A sports and fitness magazine for women! Hiring bloggers! It seemed too good to be true.

I received your contributor guidelines in my inbox this morning. Thank you for sending that 8-page set of guidelines. Those are, as you said, most thorough. You were most detailed in your explanation of compensation. My goodness! Almost $25 per week for only 10 "promotional postings," one detailed, researched, well-written article, and three posts to a community forum. That very nearly seems like minimum India. I can see how you might have gotten confused into thinking I could take such a job. I do, after all, spend most days wondering how I might fill the spare ten hours I would instead waste sleeping or eating ice pops after working out.

Major Magazine, I must say I am no longer interested in this position or really in reading or approving of your magazine. Please know that I am also a bit miffed at your parent company, who until this moment held a very esteemed place in my life. Perhaps sixty years from now, in my retirement, I will reconsider accepting this position and slaving for such low wages. Until then, I am afraid the compensation you offer does not match my needs for survival...or even cover my monthly internet bill at this time.


Thursday, July 17, 2008


I was surprised to find myself reacting very strongly to something while in Rhode Island for my family reunion: no recycling. A house full of thirty+ people drinking can after can, bottle after bottle of alcohol, and there was not a blue bin to be found. We had to throw them all away in the garbage. And the newspapers, too.

This practice actually made me physically uncomfortable. I was very surprised (and happy!) to see how my body responded to the idea of overflowing the landfills. I never quite gave up hope and trolled the house looking for potentially missed recycling supplies. I even left a wine bottle in the sink to rinse, hoping that I would sober up and it would all be a bad dream and the cans would all get recycled in the morning. (This was after I nearly swallowed a fly that got into my merlot)

As a girl who just took a composting class and has her own Earth Machine, I was equally horrified at our being forced to throw out gallons of coffee grounds and vegetable scraps. I even briefly considered sticking all the food waste in a Tupperware container to bring home on the plane and compost, but my bathing suit already smelled like a pot of miso soup and I thought better of myself in the end.

This did not stop me from twitching like a Tourette's patient every time a relative walked over to the garbage with a crinkled Beast Light can. When I got home I googled the area and discovered that there are drop-off locations for recycling, but these are several towns over and there is no curb-side pickup. How can this be?

I think I have gotten spoiled by my recycling services here. We manage to have only one small bag of garbage every two weeks because everything else gets either recycled or stuffed into the Earth Machine. We don't even have to sort! It all just gets stuffed into the blue bags I bought at Home Depot.

If I'm really honest, though, most people aren't as zealous as Corey and I about being tree huggers. People still look at me like I'm crazy when I carry my purchases out of stores without bags or whip out my pocket-sized market bag to tote things home. Family members have shaken their heads at me when I take public transportation to bring home my ample meat subscription. Students at work are a little scared of me when they forget to print documents two-sided and I leap from my chair and scold them for being wasteful.

I figure there is so much stuff I do wrong for the earth, like use bleach sometimes in my laundry or get my toenails painted, that I need to do everything I can to make up for it. I did, after all, grow up watching Captain Planet. If anyone is to blame for my recycling fervor it is my mother, who didn't let us watch Nickelodeon. Nothing else on tv was any good apart from Captain Planet, so my mother thusly indoctrinated us with environmental fatalism from a young age. What child, inundated with those images of the smogged-out Grand Canyon, could sleep at night after throwing beer cans in the trash can? Not this one!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I am reading Bonk by Mary Roach. I am already biased because I love her and have done since Stiff, but I think this is one of the best books of 2008. This woman is so damn funny! I learned so many things about penises and vaginas and I learned them in a way that was just scatological enough to make me laugh but not feel like a hick. The book is not about what I thought it would be...though I'm not so certain I can describe what I thought it would be about. Instead, she explores the science of sex.

This means she sometimes talks about the ways pigs and monkeys have orgasms. I couldn't wait to deplane Monday night from family reunion and tell Corey all about pigs having cork-screwed penises and girl pigs having clitorises inside their vaginas. Who knew? I also read a whole chapter detailing the artificial insemination practices for swine, baffling at the ways farmers use their fists as pretend pig snouts and really rough up the lady pigs before sticking the turkey baster in the pigs' vaginas.

Another fun fact that I learned not from the book but right now during spell check is that the plural of vagina is vaginae. As in human vaginae come in all shapes and sizes, the details of which are lavishly explained by Mary Roach.

So far my favorite fact of the book is that women who have had clitorectomies (female genital mutilation) can still reach orgasm. I get very upset about this practice, particularly after I talk to my teammate and doctor friend Linda, who does a lot of operations on Somali refugees to open up their vaginae after some village dude sewed it shut. I feel so sad thinking about these women destined to lives with no joy down there. Anyway, Mary Roach taught me that the clitoris actually descends kind of deep into the body and the mutilated women can still find sexual pleasure by rubbing on their scars, stimulating the inside bits. I am just so happy they can still have a little fun that it's enough to allow me to stop dwelling on the practice itself.

On a lighter note, the section I am currently enjoying details the hydrolic penis pump, developed to help impotent men achieve erection. Imagine telling people that's what you study? Asking for grant money to solve this problem? I think it must have been very similar to Mary Roach's experience telling her publisher, "I am going to write a book about monkey vaginae."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Fought the Wave

This past weekend was my family reunion in Charlestown, RI. My mom's side of the family is from New England, so everyone trucked up there for some steamed clams. At least that's why I went. I also was excited to see an American-style beach for the first time since I moved to Pittsburgh in 2005. I felt drawn to the ocean and spent most of the three days standing in the surf like a moon beam, my glowing white legs disappearing into the clear water.

There is some sort of hurricane out in the ocean somewhere causing terrific swells and awful rip tides and just the most ferocious waves I've ever seen. We even watched a beach rescue on Monday! On two occasions I tried going out to frolic in the waves and twice, the ocean spit me back out. The first time, I splashed in and hesitated right at the breakers, so the wave dumped me on my ass and filled my bathing suit with pebbles. All my cousins stood in the safety of dry stand laughing and pointing.

The next day, I did the same thing and emerged with one giant boob out in the open for all the families and lifeguards to enjoy, as seaweed dangled from my teeth and more pebbles lodged in my labia. My young cousin Zack started laughing at me again and said, "you fought the wave and the wave won." I later drained the battery in his iPod playing solitaire, so I showed him. The two of us did eventually make it out to bob on the water until a tsunami squashed us both, snapped his boogie board, and sent us sprinting for shore.

I told my mom that I like being reminded how we can't control nature, that no matter how type A I get and no matter how many schedules or lists I concoct, I am powerless against the raging tides and if nature wants to toss me around, she will. I watched the tide come in and destroy people's beach picnics. I watched it go out and come back in again, not caring that humans were in the way. And I know the tide will still be doing that long after I'm gone. There is a force greater than me, stronger than me, with better decorating skills and sound effects, and even though I have brush burn on my legs and am still sneezing out salt water, I like it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Maggots, Again

A few years ago, when Corey and I lived in our lovely little apartment, we had maggots in our kitchen when I neglected a bag of potatoes in the summer heat. I thought I would die of horror and shame or both, but I did not. I scrubbed the suckers and moved on with my life, incorporating much more vinegar and bleach into my cleaning routine and making sure to keep after my rotting food a little more robustly.

I thought all those problems were gone when we moved into a house. I have room, after all, inside my fridge to store potatoes so they don't rot on the floor. And I have a mighty Earth Machine composting most rottables in the backyard. Plus our trash comes every week right to our curb, so we can get rid of things easily and quickly when they turn a bit sour.

Last night, Corey and I were watching a delightful documentary about crime in Sao Paulo, a film which kept making artistic allusions to Brazilian criminals as a bunch of frogs on a frog farm. A frog farmer explained that the easiest and cheapest way to feed a farm full of frogs is to have a decaying ox lung and let flies lay eggs in it to mass produce maggots. Yum! So Corey and I sat on our couch eating ice pops and learning about maggot breeding--fun facts all around. "Maggots," I told Corey. "How interesting!"

"Yes," he said, "I like how they mix the maggots with dry food to fatten up the frogs and save money." We became experts, I'll tell you what.

This morning, I dragged the trash can to the back yard after the garbage men took away our trash. I happened to open the lid of the can and there, swarming around the bottom of the barrel, were more maggots than a Brazilian frog farmer could ever wish for. Unlike last time, equipped with my new maggot knowledge, I observe the critters scientifically and did not scream like a baby. I thought briefly of the abject poverty in South America, at the dear cost of a decaying ox lung and how much this maggot den might mean to a struggling from farmer there. But I couldn't very well donate my maggots to that frog farmer, who was sort of corrupt anyway, so I decided to dispose of my maggots.

I poured bleach into the trash barrel and left it in the driveway, where the maggots will hopefully die a slow and painful death before I throw in any more garbage.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pull Me

I feel yanked in a million different directions and I don't know what to do about it. I knew it would be difficult moving far away from my family, but I had no idea my life would feel like such a whirlwind. Every single weekend from now until Christmas is booked and accounted for--six months of scheduled time--and I hate that. I feel like there is no room in my life for spontaneity.

I might be getting burnt out from rugby. Perhaps this is why I feel such yanking. I know that every weekend from September through mid-November (when we win Nationals!) will be taken up by this sport I love. But I forgot how the rest of the year gets filled up quickly trying to visit the people I neglect while I am trotting all over the place scoring tries. On the other hand, rugby is the only thing that keeps me sane. It is my source of power and my teammates are my inspiration to do things and succeed at tricky things like being a self-employed writer. So I need rugby and all its time-crunching.

I also just want to sit on my porch or be the kind of person who decides at the last minute to go to a baseball game. I can't decide anything at the last minute, because my whole life is metered out into little chunks of specified activity. No wonder I can't relax. I'm always thinking about where I have to be in ten minutes, and when I get there my attention is thwarted wondering if I have everything I need for my NEXT appointment.

How did I get here? How did I become the person who has to write "do dishes" on her to-do list for endless days broken into 30-minute appointments? A better question might be how do I recover from this lifestyle?

I don't want to drive all over the place every weekend to hurriedly greet people and then jump back in the car to drive four hours back to a home I don't relax in. But I also hate to miss the really important moments that are going on with my family back in these places I don't get to see.

I feel like my constant travel between places prevents me from truly fostering a sense of community anywhere. I am forever an outsider, missing out on the bonding moments of the rugby team when they spontaneously decide to go camping in the summer or else missing trips to the beach with my cousins, laughing with them about impersonations of my grandmother. I don't know how to build intimate relationships anymore and it all makes me feel like a bad friend.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Corey had me convinced I had meningitis today. I have been very sick--bundled in warm clothes despite the heat and still shivering with fever and some aches. I have a headache in my right eye as well. When he got home from work we typed my symptoms into WebMd: West Nile Virus or meningitis.

West Nile Virus I dismissed immediately. Even I am not that silly to think I contracted such a thing. I might have brushed off this fear of meningitis only I never got the vaccine because I am terrified of needles and I've been working in awfully close quarters with young students inhabiting those dens of disease, the college dorm room. Plus Corey was teasing and my back started aching harder. I started panicking and crying a little bit and then the tears made my face cold and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to go to the ER for fear I'd end up like this lady.

Lucky for me, I have over twelve current or former teammates currently in the medical profession. A quick text messaging session brought doctors and nurses from all coasts rushing to my cyber-office and they have all assured me I am being a big baby and that my neck would hurt if I had meningitis. I think just talking to them and saying hello helped me feel a little better.

Now all that remains is for the fever to pass and for me to start actually enjoying being propped up on the couch with pillows, demanding AirBorne and brownies from my husband. Because right now I just feel sick and I couldn't eat a brownie if Corey were willing to bring me one.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Trouble on the Garden Love Front

My zucchini is still struggling. For some reason, only one flower blooms at a time, so I can't force the plants to have sex with one another. Instead, I have to sneak into my neighbor's yard in the morning before their German Shepherd is outside and steal pollen from their plants. Again, since I don't know which flowers are boys or girls, I have to rub pollen from all their flowers all over myself and trot back across the yard to smear my plunder on my plants.

My neighbor tells me that she has investigated my problem and thinks I should have planted multiple vines so they would have sex with one another. Since I bought heirloom seeds, I have a monster vine with each leaf nearly the size of my ample buttocks. I don't think there is room on the earth for two of them.

A new flower has opened this morning in my garden, only one. I am waiting, biding my time for when I'll sneak across the fence with a Q-tip and steal pollen (sexually violate?) from their dainty trio of productive squash plants.

The whole ordeal has me very nervous about my pumpkin vines. Also grown from heirloom seeds, these vines are growing long and wild. I wonder if I'll have to go out there and force sex upon them, too. But where will I steal the pollen????

Sunday, July 06, 2008


This year, we celebrated our nation's birthday with Snacky D by enjoying our nation's wilderness via a backpacking trip through Quebec Run Wild Area. This was my first extended trip using the fabulous stuff we got for our wedding, and I can't imagine enjoying it more. I don't know why it's so enjoyable to load 30 pounds of stuff on your back and teeter through the woods, trailing your stubby legs miles behind your lanky husband and his equally lanky pal, but it just is.

After several hours, my body just couldn't go on any further. The humidity was such that a low fog hung in the air, the wetness clinging to everything and making even the insides of my ears damp and gross. I needed to stop. Snacky spotted an amazing camp site right by the creek, with a fire ring and lots of trees for hammocks. I threw down my purple monster pack, unlaced my boots, and scampered into the freezing water.

The euphoria I felt when I resurfaced was like no other I've ever experienced. My body was so tired that even my skin ached, but the water numbed my feet and aching muscles and the cold woke up each pore. The water was so crisp and clear and I was so hot and tired I just sort of gave in and submerged myself. The relief of not moving anymore combined with the mist hanging over the water made a really magical image. I stood knee deep in the current, shivering in cold and some other sort of wonder. That moment with just the three of us in the water, miles away from industry or even the sounds of motors or idling computers--that was one of the most fortunate moments of my life so far.

This morning, I had quite the opposite experience when we finished our excursion at a place called Ed's Diner. Even the ceiling tiles drooped in despair in this joint, where a man seated behind me chewed the end of a cigar and I worried every second that he would light it and make my head explode. The food at Ed's was pretty good (meatloaf and mashed potatoes for me!) but the atmosphere in there, from the aged television blaring bad country videos to the fat man with gross, homemade tattoos smoking a cigarette with his meal three stools away from me, just reminded me of the depressed region and the obesity crisis.

So I want to forget about Ed's and remember instead the red lizards that scuttled in front of us all weekend, or the way the water glugged over the big stones in the creek and lulled me to sleep last night. Or even Corey telling me my hat was embarrassing when I tried to hug him in Get-Go. I feel like I understand why Hemingway's Nick Adams would take to the woods immediately upon returning from war. Like Adams, when I went out there I "felt [I] had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of [me]," and instead there were just the three of us and nothing but more path in front of our feet, and the sense that when you got somewhere, you really accomplished something wonderful.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Lately, I've been feeling really smug and happy about it. The other night, Corey and I had a smug married dinner with our married neighbors. We smugly played cards and ate pastured beef on the deck. It was smashing.

Also, now that Harry is doing work on our house, if I'm doing a phone interview for a story, I get to smugly say, "Pardon that noise in the background. We're having work done on the office." It's not even a lie since Harry was actually in my office today varnishing things.

Sometimes it's nice to just be smug about being grown up, as if to say, "I am a big deal and very important, so take me seriously, please." It helps me feel better about myself when I stop work for the afternoon to eat cold ham with my fingers and watch the new American Gladiator like a small child, wishing for a Crush action figure.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I have ugly feet. I have talked about this before at length. They are just ugly to start with--long, fingery toes that can tie shoelaces and misshapen big toes that look like thumbs pushed through one of those penny smooshers. Then, I play rugby wearing cleats with improper cushioning and I develop rhino-like hide on the bottoms and sides of the feet. To top this off, I make hangnails for myself and those are usually ripped off until I have barely any toenails left. Basically, I have hobbit feet without the hair. Heinous.

We are having some work done on our house. All the little things we wanted to do before we moved in, we hired Harry to do since he did such a great job helping us fix our roof and floors. He is mid-project transitioning between all the tile and hardwood floors and has just installed the transition wood. He warned me I'd need to "step lively" for awhile until my body gets used to lifting my foot a little higher as I leave rooms. I just figured my rhino hobbit feet could take it and ignored him.

Today, I ripped most of the skin off my toes stubbing them on those damn transitions. I scream horrible swear words every time I leave the bathroom and mutilate my feet even more. It's gotten to the point where I'm scared to walk through the house, not certain where there are new floor obstacles. I almost think I liked the house better when it was all white trash with gappy tiles.

Of course I could solve all of this by wearing shoes, but who can wear shoes in July? I fear I'll have to, because my horrible feet will be in such bad shape I'll be ashamed to display them in my flip-flops.