Sunday, May 27, 2012

Meet Toby!

Snugglin' with daddy 

We welcomed baby Tobias on May 16 at 1:07 a.m.! He weighed 8 lbs. 7 oz. and was 20.5 inches long at birth. He's absolutely darling :). 

After a very stressful birthing experience (docs thought mommy had a rare infection and did an emergency c-section), baby was breathing fast and spent 3 days being monitored in the nursery, but thankfully he had no infection and is doing great. Now mommy, baby, and daddy are home and plugging away! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today's (probably not) the BIG Day!

That's right, our little babe is due today! Which doesn't mean a whole lot, I guess - since babies tend to do what they want to do when they want to do it - beyond the fact that he obviously wasn't early. (And knowing my husband and me, I could've predicted that.) But May 14, 2012 sure would be a nice birthday. And, hey, there are still 18 hours left in the day! 

Anyway, as for him being on time: unlikely since only 3% of women deliver on their due date and he's a first baby, but even more unlikely given that at my last OB appt. on Tuesday I was absolutely nowhere near going into labor. A 12-hr day spent at the hospital Wednesday getting a procedure done (Cervidil, sort of like a slower-acting Pitocin) to hopefully move me in the direction of "ready" was a big (painful) whopping failure. As in, still not dilated. At all. Grrrrr. 

When's this guy flying into town?! 
Of course, there's always a chance that things will have changed by my 12:45 p.m. appt. today . . . .

The upside to a baby-who's-in-no-hurry-to-get-here is that it gives Brad and me more much needed time to get things in order around here. We've been busting our humps unbelievably these past few weeks, and I haven't had the luxury of slacking off and relaxing despite the whole 9-months-pregnant thing. Starting Wednesday, he'll be off for the summer, so if we're still waiting, we can really get some stuff accomplished. 

The downside to a baby-who's-in-no-hurry-to-get-here is that I get increasingly swollen, achy, miserable, and fat as every hour progresses. At this point, I'm retaining like 7 lbs of fluid . . . everything hurts! In other words I can't wait to be not pregnant! Now if only I didn't have to do all the work to get to that point . . . ;).

So, we're just waitin' on baby. Oh, and on the OB, who will decide (probably today) when to induce. If things go as usual at my doctor's office, these arms of mine should be holding a sweet baby sometime within the next 7 or 8 days. And I guess Brad can hold him a little, too :).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Countdown to the Babe: 7 Days

Oh yes, that's right - our little sweet-face is due in one week! Next Monday, May 14th. Not that he's likely to be on time (his parents rarely are . . . ), but the countdown is on. Well, it's been on for a while, but now it's really on :). 

I'm alternately insanely antsy ("get this baby out of me!") and insanely stressed ("oh my gosh we have so much to do before he gets here!"). Sometimes I'm even like, "Well, when it happens, it'll happen." But that sort of calm reasonableness is pretty rare. Brad's feeling the same way - except for the whole "get this baby out of me" thing. Which would be weird. On a bunch of levels. And would almost definitely motivate a story from The Enquirer.

But anyway. 

First babies are notoriously late arrivers (and, boy, do people love to remind you of that), but one happy fact is that my OB's office only lets mamas-to-be go till they're 41 weeks along. At lots of doctors' offices, that wait is stretched out by a looooooong 7 days - 42 weeks is pretty much the longest anyone (at least in the U.S.) is allowed to go before being induced.

At any rate, we'll see if this little dude makes his grand debut sooner rather than later. Brad's last day of work for the summer is, as usual, May 15, meaning we had rather impeccable timing though we certainly weren't planning it that way. He's got the next two days off so we can continue to bust our humps on the (still-not-done) nursery; clean and organize the house (which, as usual, went to heck during the last month of the semester); buy some last-minute nursery and baby stuff; and get some food cooked and frozen for those first few chaotic weeks. (Let's be honest though: he's doing all the cooking. And he'll be tagging along to my hopefully last-of-this-pregnancy OB appt. Tuesday a.m. 

We're nervous. We're excited. We're exhausted. We're about to be . . . parents?!?! Eeks, that's big!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What does that even mean?

Today's puzzle: the side of the can of Orange Crush (oh so delish and on sale at Target this week for $3.00 for a 12-pack) reads, "orange soda naturally flavored with other natural flavors." 

I don't even know what that means. Since "orange soda" is not, itself, a naturally occurring flavor - at least not to my knowledge? - the "other natural flavors" doesn't quite seem to make sense . . . . 

It's almost definite that I'm being dense, but if there's one area of my life where I feel justified in demanding simplicity and clarity, it's with my sugary beverages. 

On Chronic Pain

This is a disheartening post to write, and even more disheartening to write at 2:27 in the morning when I am exhausted yet unable to sleep - but were I not exhausted yet unable to sleep at 2:27 in the morning, I likely wouldn't be reflecting on chronic pain. 

Nine years and one month ago to the day (you remember things like this, believe me), I tripped, while jogging, on an extra-wide crack in a sidewalk in North Oakland. My body went uuuuup into the air and, instinctively, to avoid breaking the MP3 player I was carrying, I twisted to the side and came down not on my hands/wrists, but on my left hip. 115 pounds off the ground, then down on that hip with a splat

The rest is history. Except it's not. B/c every day for the past 9 years and 1 month (that's 109 months for anyone doing the math) I have endured hip and/or back pain as a result of this fall. 

Some days it's not so bad. I can go entire weeks without thinking much about it, not b/c I don't hurt but b/c after years and years a person learns to tolerate quite a bit. 

But sometimes, like these days, it's tremendous pain; pain that keeps me from sleeping even though I am so far beyond tired I feel nauseated; pain that makes it difficult or impossible to work out, to ride in the car for long periods, to sit in the same position for more than 5 minutes at a time; pain that has me pacing the floors at 3:00 a.m., stretching 2, 3, 4 times a day to get a bit of relief; pain that has me waking Brad up in the wee hours so he can rub my hip again.  

Yeah, it ain't fun. And it's only gotten worse with the pressure of a little human who's getting bigger day by day and weighing me down in the most off-kilter sort of way. Not to mention the only thing that offers relief when things are really bad is sleeping on my belly . . . obviously not at option here at 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant. 

And b/c I did the medical whole circuit years ago - 3 orthopedists, a rheumatologist, physical therapists, chiropractors, two UPMC sports medicine specialists - I know that this pain isn't going away. Ever. Misdiagnosis, failed diagnosis, an almost major surgery - the list of what I've gone through with this hip just goes on and on. 

A beloved former professor of mine died recently, a man who suffered from a painful illness for years and years. I remember him telling me, as a sophomore in college, what it was like: how the meds he needed for the pain dulled his ability to work, to be sharp, put him in a fog, but how the pain he felt without the meds made life just as awful. 

It was a sh*t situation anyway you cut it, and I've never forgotten my conversation with this wonderful man and teacher outside of our class building on a sunny afternoon long ago. I was only, what, 19? and had no personal concept of the kind of pain that can plague a person for way too long, the kind that weighs not only on your body but on your mind. It wears you out, takes a big-time toll. Even when it's not 2:52 a.m. 

Unfortunately, it would only be another year or so until my blissful ignorance went splat on the sidewalk. I'm sorry, but Bob Seger's all too appropriate here: wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My husband, the proselytizer

Recently, my in-laws moved from the Dark Ages to 2012 with the purchase of their very first computer, an apparently snazzy 17" Toshiba laptop, and today, when Brad visited his 'rents while I slaved ever so slowly away on my final paper, he served as computer tutor for his mother.

He downloaded iTunes, Open Office, protection software, etc., helped her personalize her Windows experienced, instructed her in Gmail sending, and, apparently, got in a bit of proselytizing. 

"I tried to push the Bible on my parents a little," he said. When I inquired about what, precisely, this meant, my beloved provided the following explanation:

"I said, There's this really great site where you can read the Bible, and it has really great reading plans where you can read the Bible in a year or the New Testament in a year - and the New Testament in a year would only be like 10 or 15 minutes a day." 

Let it be noted that although Brad was raised in the Presbyterian church, it was more of the he-went-to-services-with-his-grandma or his-parents-dropped-him-off-at-and-picked-him-up-from-Sunday-school as opposed to the whole-family-went-to-church-together kind of thing. In 11 years I've never known either of his parents to talk about God, religion, or faith, go to church, read the Bible, or anything along those lines. Brad, on the other hand, reads the Bible daily (and has for several years) and though we don't attend church to the extent either of us wish we did (we've got plenty of excuses, none particularly compelling), he very much has an active faith. 

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that he added a bookmark for a Bible website on his parents' computer - you know, just in case ;). 

(A cute aside: Brad sent his parents a few e-mails last week after learning about the computer and when he asked them today why they didn't respond, they said, "We didn't know how!")

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big Day Tomorrow: the Big 3-0

It's almost like the Huffington Post reprinted Glamour's 1997 list of "30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30" (by Pamela Redmond Satran) today in honor of my turning thirty tomorrow . . . .

The whole list is awesome and on the money - and here are some faves.

Things you should have by the time you're 30

7.  The realization that you are actually going to have an old age - and some money set aside to help fund it. 

9.  A resume that is not even the slightest bit padded.

11.  A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra. 

15.  A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better [after 30]. 

Things you should know by the time you're 30

10.  That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it's over. 

11.  What you would and wouldn't do for money or love. 

12.  That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.  

14.  Not to apologize for something that isn't your fault.

Here's hoping for a heck of a birthday and a heck of a decade - and many more - to come!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Decorating the Nursery: If It Can Go Wrong, It Has (or Probably Will)

After months of working on our babe's nursery, I would have expected to be posting pictures at this point. If not "After" pictures then at least "Pretty Close to After" pictures. 

Were I to climb the dozen or so steps to the room at the top left of the staircase and snap my digital camera a few times, however, all I could show you is this: white walls

That's right. No baseboards, even though we nailed them up a month and a half ago. No brown paint on the upper 1/3 of the wall, even though Brad painted three coats in January. No crib. No semi-organized closet. No dresser. No chest of drawers. No hoard of pillows. No stacks of baby clothes. Nothing nothing nothing. 


B/c we had to take it all down/out/apart and paint over it all. B/c all the clothes/pillows/pieces of furniture are sitting variously in my hallway, office, Brad's office, our bedroom.


I could recount this renovation nightmare in its painful entirity a 12th time. I could cry hysterically for a 4th time. I could become infuriated for the who-knows-how-many-eth time. But I won't, b/c I'm sick and my shower's tomorrow and I want to try to sleep for one night this week. 

So instead, I'll give the barest bones acount. In January, I spent nearly 5 hours researching VOC-free paint - the supposedly healthy, low-odor choice. We made our pick, spent a bunch o' money buying the stuff, tons of time painting, and all was well. No smell, looked pretty good. Great. As expected. 

Yeah, it's great - in theory 
Until we got back from my parents' house over spring break (a month ago) and the room reeked. Like, chemical smelling. Like bad. Except VOC-free paint ain't supposed to have those horrible chemicals. And especially not a month and a half after painting. 

Nothing worked to get rid of it - heat, air circulation, Citrus Magic. Nothing. It didn't get better. In fact, the warm weather made it worse. The customer service rep at the company was nice, but he pretty much thought I was nuts. Then the smell started going into the hallway. Then down the stairs. 

This stuff is no joke - and it ain't cheap 
That was it. We couldn't wait any longer. Last weekend Brad and I spent a nightmare day and a half clearing all the stuff out of the room and taking down every board and every batten we'd spent hours nailing up. (I pounded out EIGHTY nails.) Then his dad, my mom, and the two of us spent a nightmarish Sunday covering everything - every wall, every bit of window and door trim, every side of every piece of board and batten - with $40 a gallon Zinsser Bin odor blocking primer. 

And now, with a baby coming in 6 weeks, all the work we've done for the past three months has been undone - and we've got to do it all again. 

Any guesses as to why I got sick? The stress, as you might imagine, has been unreal. When I think about all the time, effort, money, and sheer exhaustion that went into the nursery the first time around - well, I can't really bear to think about it. Which is why I'm going to bed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Dragging that garbage can with all that cat litter in it was like dragging a dead body"

In walks husband from taking out garbage, panting. Seriously panting. 

Me:  What's wrong? 
Him:  (Huff) Dragging that (huff) garbage can (huff) with all that cat litter (huff huff) in it was like (huff) dragging a dead body. 
Me:  I see. 
Him:  I had to like (huff) do it in shifts. (goes to kitchen) 

[a (huffing) moment passes] 

Me:  What do you know about dragging a dead body? 
Him:  Nothing. 
Me:  I see. 
Him:  I think I hurt my back. 
Me:  You've got to be sh*tting me. 
Him:  Not seriously hurt it, just irritated it. 

[a moment passes; still huffing, he enters the room with ice pack] 

Him:  Don't judge me. Better safe than sorry. 
Me:  I'm very much judging. 

[Still huffing as I post this] 


That's exactly how I feel. Sore throat, stuffed and runny nose, sinus drainage, pressure in my head, coughing. Oh, and even more exhausted than usual. 

But what really makes it crap-tastic is the fact that my baby shower is Saturday, and I've got virtually no hope of feeling even 75% by then. I know this b/c this miserable cold comes courtesy of my wonderful husband who's been sick since March 18th - that's 11 days. (Thanks, Brad.) And since I didn't get sick till Tuesday afternoon, I can only assume I'm not going to be feeling magically well by Saturday. Grrrrrrrrrrr. 

It's especially frustrating b/c I've been so healthy this pregnancy. Like, uncharacteristically not having sore throats and sinus issues for months and months. So of allllllllllllllllllll the times to get sick, this isn't when I would have picked. Ain't timing a great thing? 

For all of you non-pregnant people out there who are suffering with a spring cold: relish your Advil. Right now I miss it like my mom's probably missing the junk food she gave up for Lent. Tylenol is useless and Sudafed's taking a close second. Oh, for 2 liqui-gels right now . . . . 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"They're always pushing the alphabet"

I've been buying a lot of baby toys lately - from the likes of Goodwill, Salvation Army, a baby and children's consignment sale my mom and I went to - and one thing you quickly notice about today's children's toys is all the bells and whistles they've got. 
Seeing him again all these years 
later, he's kind of scary-looking . . . 

I can't remember having one electronic toy growing up, though I'm sure I did (I do, however, very specifically recall not having the Teddy Ruxpin that my cousin had [grumbling]). But I swear if a toy doesn't take batteries these days, I have been unable to locate it. 

Anyway, these fancy-shmancy toys are, as one might expect, geared not just toward play but also toward learning. And, of course, one of the first things a toy's going to try to teach a kid is the ABC's. 

Which led Brad to announce the other day, in a somewhat skeptical voice, "They're always pushing the alphabet." 

And this is a bad thing . . . ? 

I'm fairly sure that the Toy Powers that Be aren't out to take over our children's minds with the alphabet of all things, but I promise to keep on the lookout while baby plays with things such as the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn ToolBench (retails on Amazon for $52; I paid $2) 
or the VTech Smartville Alphabet Train Station (no longer available, but I think retailed for around $70; I paid $5). 

Maybe it's good to be slightly distrustful of all that plastic and those bright primary colors :). 

Besides, the "o" animal is missing from the VTech toy . . . so our kid's gonna be learning a slightly truncated version of the alphabet - that'll show those toy companies and their plans for world domination!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Calling all you waistlines

Once upon a time, I actually had a relatively little waistline. That time was about 7.5 months ago. Being a woman raised in the U.S. in the latter part of the 20th century, however, I did not think it was small enough. I was convinced that I had a "thick" wasit, that being able to see 5 ab muscles was insufficient ("Why don't I have a six-pack after 14 years of ab work?!"), that I had love handles. 

Wow, how one's perspective can change :). 

I saw a pre-pregnancy pic of my belly the other day and gasped, "Did my stomach ever really look like that?!" Apparently it did. And while I've finally made peace with the pregnancy weight gain (me and baby are tipping the scales with an additional 27.5 lbs here in the middle of week 33) and this huge (kicking and punching) melon protruding from the front of me, I've got to say that picture made me wince more than a little bit. 

I have faith that I will, in time, get my waistline back. The question is, Just how much time are we talking about? 

Amanda and Laura, the prof who's directing my independent study this semester, have warned me about the post-delivery flabbiness and the need to wear maternity clothes for several months after giving birth. And they have prepped me for this from the beginning. 

But then there are people like the PA at my OB's office (who's 4 days younger than me and has a little boy of her own) who asserts, "I bet you'll be one of those women who leaves the hospital in her regular jeans and I'll have to hate you!" And I'm like, Wait, do those people exist? If so, how do I become one?! 

Let's just say that my regular jeans are pret-ty tight, and I'm not that delusional. (Plus, I haven't done a crunch or a plank since the onset of morning sickness at 7 weeks.) 

But, man, it sure would be nice to head back to school in the fall comfortably wearing the clothes I haven't worn since the middle of December (and even then, I sure wasn't comfortable!). It's not like I'm begging to wear a bikini by June or anything. In fact, I hate bathing suits with a passion, so I basically hide from my bikinis whenever possible. Even so, I miss my flat belly - and I even miss those dastardly crunches - and I hope I don't have to miss it alllllllll summer long . . . . 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where Have All the Kudos Gone?!

Would somebody please just tell me what happened to those delicious chocolate-and-candy-covered granola bars? PLEASE?! 

I've searched the supermarket aisles high and low, for about a year now, to no avail. They've up and vanished without a word. And don't you even try to recommend Chewy's Dips as a replacement - those poor excuses for a poor-excuse-for-a-"healthy"-snack can't touch an M&M's Kudo bar with an 811 foot pole. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Losing the Las Vegas Seat Lottery

See those smiling faces? Those weren't ours Tuesday night 
We're here in Vegas, chillin' out in our executive suite (free upgrade, Vegas-style!) at Harrah's hotel, where the International Conference on Narrative started today. I'm giving a paper on a panel I organized at the conference - and Brad and I are seein' the sights and playin' the slots. Hopefully we'll have better luck in the casinos (after a day of slot play yesterday, we're up $20 - better than nothing!) than we did with our seat assignments for the trip out . . . . 

The second leg of our flight was a nearly 5 hr. ride from Reagan International in D.C. to the main Vegas airport, McCarren. B/c we booked our seats separately for purposes of reimbursement (that is, my university will reimburse my flight if I turn over receipts), Brad and I didn’t get seated together. Which stinks regardless, but really stinks b/c of where we ended up: in the middle seats. 

I lucked out, comparatively speaking, b/c although I got stuck in 18E, only the aisle seat was taken. So I scootched over to the window and spread my quite-a-bit-heavier-and-rounder-than-usual self out a little bit.  

Seated one row back and on the left side of the plane, however, Brad wasn’t so lucky. In 19B, he was stuck between an older guy and a woman in her thirties¾three full-sized people in three seats. The man sitting in front of him, by contrast, had all three seats to himself. My husband, as I have mentioned on a number of occasions, is quite tall, and I imagine it’s not his idea of a good time to sit squished between two people for a 4 hr. and 40 min. flight, especially when there are two perfectly good seats free in front of him. 

And I don’t think he should have to. Am I wrong? 

Well, the gentleman in front of him seemed to think I was.  

This guy started out in the aisle seat (lucky for him), but before take-off, when it was apparent no one else had been assigned the adjacent seats, he moved to the middle seat, leaving a seat open on either side of him. Which is fine and dandy, if no one wants those seats. 

When the seat belt light went off, Brad moved out of 19B¾at my urging¾only to find the spot a bunch of rows back that we thought was open had a person laying/sleeping across it. So, again at my urging, Brad asked the man in front of him if he could have one of the empty seats in his row. B/c I was sitting some feet away and the conversation was quiet, I couldn’t hear what exactly was being said; what I could see, though, told me enough: this man wouldn’t let Brad sit in his row. 

Now wait just a minute here. We all paid for our tickets back here in good ol’ coach, didn’t we? And I am nearly certain this guy didn’t pay for the three seats that compose the left half of row 18. Which means my husband has just as much of a right to sit there as he does¾and if not in the aisle seat (which was this man’s assigned seat), then in one of the other two seats. 

Brad, being too-nice as he often is, starts to turn around and move the 2 feet back to his row, when I’m like, “What? What’s the problem?” He’s shooting me the look of death, the one that says, Oh, please don’t! You’re embarrassing me! and I’m ignoring said look, thinking, There is no way we paid more than $300 for a ticket for you to be unnecessarily miserable for the next 5 hours. 

“What’s the problem?” I say again and look at the seat hog gentleman in 18B. And when I say look I mean stare. And he’s staring back at me. And I’m thinking, I’m sorry, buddy, but you obviously don’t know me and how I get when 

1.      I want something, and 
2.      I know I’m right. 

“Sit there,” I say, loud enough to be heard by a specific individual. “Why aren’t you going to sit there? Those seats are empty!” 

Well, Brad and this specific individual discuss a little more, and next thing you know, this guy is moving out, Brad’s moving into the window seat, and this guy’s taking up his original seat along the aisle. 

And now, instead of one 3-person row and one 1-person row, we’ve got two 2-people rows. I just love symmetry, don’t you? It feels so lovely :). 

What can I say? I’m nothing if not my loved ones’ zealous (if mildly embarrassing) advocate. Happily, on the flight back, I’ve got an aisle seat and my hubby is seated next to me. Phew. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Adorable Addition

I'm not talking about the baby, though I bet he's gonna be pretty cute :); I'm talking about the Madison 4-Shelf Bookrack for the baby's room that my oldest sister ordered this weekend as my shower gift! 

I showed her a different bookcase on Land of Nod's website, which was on sale for about $150, just to see what she thought, but then it turned out you could no longer get it in white even though it said you could - blah! So then I showed her the Madison Bookrack from the Pottery Barn Kids website and she thought it was great and said she wanted to get it for me. I was like, Heck yes! 

This one is back-ordered until May 3 (booooo!), but worth the wait, in my humble opinion. And in this case, it's my humble opinion that counts! (It doesn't hurt that she and Brad love it, too.) 

We're getting it in white to go with the rest of the furniture, and it should be super fun to fill it up with books to read to and with baby. (Any suggestions of favorites?!) Strangely enough, two people who write fiction have managed to buy not one book for their little guy just yet . . . we'll get there though. And with this awesome bookrack, we'll have even more inspiration. 

I'm so glad I held off on getting the ladder bookshelf I was thinking of. I'm not a super huge fan of the style (though I do think the ones in the Pottery Barn catalog look great - like most of what's in that catalog), but I liked the open-ness of it since the nursery's not the biggest space in the world. 

I was this close to ordering the one pictured above from Amazon when I thought, Hmmmmmm, something this open and not-so-sturdy isn't going to hold small and/or floppy children's books so well and it might not be the best idea for a baby's room where a little guy will be toddling around and shaking things in the not-so-distant months to come . . . . 

So I gave some websites a look, laid off my super cheapness for a minute :), and found the PB Kids for the not-so-steep price of $129 + shipping. Not half bad, given the fact that the Amazon one wasn't super high quality and cost $70 anyway - and especially since we didn't end up paying for it! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What goes through their minds?!

I've skipped my share of classes in my day, under-studied for more than a few tests, b.s.-ed my way through innumerable class discussions, and certainly passed on reading a whole lot of the books assigned for my courses. 

And once I even turned in a 23-page essay for a graduate seminar whose final requirement was a 25-page minimum essay. (Because I just couldn't. think. of. one. more. thing. to. say. Not one.) That essay is being published in nearly it's original form, though, so I couldn't have gone too wrong. (And, actually, I've shortened it from its original length by about a page or so.) 

Despite all of the above things, I simply cannot understand how a student turns in a story that is 1 and 1/3 pages long when the minimum requirement is 8 pages. Eight! 

This piece is set to be workshopped by the whole class on Thursday, and that portion of the workshop is to account for about half of the class period. This draft is also 10% of the student's final grade. 

What is going through a student's head when he decides to turn something like this in? Does he expect to earn a passing grade? Does he just not care? 

We're certainly not going to workshop this story - it's barely started, let alone finished. I can't even imagine what we would say, and I'm not going to put the rest of the class through the trouble of reading, writing about, and talking about a story that so blatantly disregards the basics of the assignment. 

I just really wish I knew the motivation/thinking behind turning something like this in. He might as well have turned in nothing at all. It truly, truly baffles me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Methodological Issue

I suspect that the ideal way of developing one's field exam list for one's doctoral comprehensive exams does not include the following Google search: 

Who are the best female British poets 

Nonetheless, I sadly just conducted said search. 

And I'm sure you can guess how much success I had since I am busy typing this post instead of adding, well, the works of the best female British poets to my list of post-1945 British texts. 

You see, it's only that I don't really read poetry. Or British writing in general. So you can see why female British poets are giving me a bit of a problem here. 

I just hope that come dissertation-writing time, I've sharpened my methodological practices. Though on the up-side, it would be hard for them to get much worse. (That's not super comforting.)

My house will never be ready to sell, will it? Will it?!

No, we're not crazy - we're not about to have our first baby and putting our house on the market. In fact, I have no desire to sell my house, buy a new one, or move anywhere else. Yet. 

But in time, as we outgrow the space and I graduate and, hopefully, find a job, we're going to be looking for a new abode. And when that time comes, is my house going to be in sellable condition? I worry it won't be, despite all the time, effort, and money we put into it on a rather regular basis. 

Perhaps I'm just being paranoid. But things seem to move at a snail's pace here - even when we're spending hours and hours a week on a project (or 3). For instance, we've been working on the nursery for-ev-ever (forever-ever? Forever-ever) and still the projects continue and pile up. I've been joking recently that we should have the room done by the time the kid's five. But as my due date approaches, I'm finding that less and less and less humorous . . . . 

There are just soooooo many projects on our to-do list. And sometimes I think of it as a to-do-before-we-could-ever-reasonably-try-to-sell-this-house-for-a-good-price list. (See? That's a really stressful list title, isn't it?) 

Brad, the babe, the kitties, and I (and any other babes and kitties that come along in the next few years) will be staying put for oh, I don't know, the next 3, 4, 5+ years. Which is a lot of time, I realize. But it's also not a lot when you consider how busy we are and how much busier we'll be with a tot on the premises. 

I really do love working on our house though (and Brad at least loves the results of working on our house) and I'm proud of everything we've accomplished so far, from installing a new sink/plumbing to refinishing floors to even just painting all kinds of walls that used to be pink or boring old white. 

So for now I'm just going to try to enjoy the projects as we do them, work to improve my renovating/DIY skills, and appreciate the upgrades and changes we make to our space. Because, ultimately, we're not making these changes for someone else to enjoy when we sell our home - we're making them so we can better enjoy the space while it is our home

Though, hopefully, when that "For Sale" sign goes up in the yard in years to come, all our work will have paid off in that sense, too. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

3/4 of the way there!

If pregnancy were 

--a marathon, I'd be at 19.65 miles 

--a cross-country drive from Pittsburgh to L.A., I'd be just shy of the 27.5 hour mark 

--the MCAT, I'd have gotten through 108 multiple choice questions and 1.5 writing samples 

Yep, that's right: tomorrow marks 30 weeks in this loooooooooooooooong process! That means baby's most likely weighing in at 3+ lbs. and stretching to as many as 17 inches! It also means my already problematic hips are killing me and making it nearly impossible to sleep which, in turn, makes my hips hurt even worse. 

I'm now at the point of every-two-week OB appts. and what I'm guessing are Braxton Hicks contractions every now and again. Plus, I felt a little foot (or was it a hand?) stuck in my ribs the other day. Ow! That was not a pleasant feeling. 

I mean, my belly doesn't look that big, right?! 
From the looks of that belly, I don't think I'll be running a marathon any time soon . . . or sitting in a car for a drive across the U.S. of A. (and trust me, I'm not planning on medical school either) . . . . though we are flying to Vegas later this month. Maybe baby will give us some luck at the slot machines :).  

7 Generations of Stink

Don't get me wrong, I think that the availability of natural, earth-friendly household products is wonderful, and I applaud companies that make it their mission to make such items. And, generally, I've been impressed with Seventh Generation products, such as their Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner and Fresh Citrus Hand Wash. Once baby comes, Brad and I will switch to even more of these types of products which are, naturally, pricier than your average brands, but also safer for sensitive little people and their sensitive systems and skin. 

The one product I cannot recommend, however - and which I will never buy again - is Seventh Generation Multi-Purpose Spray

We bought this after finding out I was pregnant b/c although I don't use cleaning products much beyond the ocassional spray of Windex on a mirror or Fantastik on a spot of cleaned-up cat puke, we figured it was best to have something sans chemicals around. 

Well, it reeks. Just plain reeks. It makes whatever you've cleaned smell so bad you're not sure you've actually cleaned anything. We tried to use it to get the old smell out of a breadbox we bought from Goodwill a few weeks ago and the stink of the spray was 10x worse - so bad that we ended up pitching the bread box. (Happily, I found a better - non-smelling one - just this past week.) 

I wanted to love this spray, I really did. It had all the promise of Fantastik without the poison. But this cleaner is just nas-tay smellin'. Once we use this bottle up (it ain't cheap, after all), we'll be giving some other natural brand's general cleaner a try. Most likely Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose Cleaner in Lemon Verbena. The scent sounds yum-tastic (and this coming from someone who generally hates scented stuff) and Mrs. Meyer's products (like Seventh Generation's) are available at good ol' Target. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ahhh, motherly support

After arriving at my parents' house yesterday, I removed my coat and my mother hung it in the hall closet. "How cute!" she said, looking at my ever-growing belly. "You're really moving up in the world!" Well, moving out might be more accurate. 

Anyway, I responded that, yes, this bump is a-growin' and my shirts are getting too short. Moments later, she took another look at my stomach and said, "I hate to say this, but - " 

"Don't even say this baby is going to be big." 

". . . he might not be such a little guy after all . . . . " The "little guy" assumption comes from my 20-week ultrasound when his weight put him in the 29th percentile. 

A few hours later, when Brad arrived after putting the first coat of stain on our newly sanded hallway floor (yes, we are once again displaced, roaming around the 'burbs of Pittsburgh, transient-like), I reported my mother's comments to him. He chuckled.

"Well, it's just that it's all in front," she said in defense. "It's not anywhere else."

I made a face at her. 

"You're just such a small person, so maybe it's not actually that big, it just looks big on you." 

Another face. 

"I'm just saying." 

It's too late, Mom. It's way too late: you've already put the terror of a 9 lb. baby into my head. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Somebody teach me!

In addition to learning how to garden, I really want to learn how to make rag rugs. And how to fold origami. And how to quilt. (And how to do the wiring for a new lighting fixture where one does not currently exist, but it seems wise to leave that up to my brother-in-law who once worked more or less as an electrician during the summers.) 

I think I could probably handle the quilting - if only I had a sewing machine (and $150 to buy said sewing machine). But the rag rugs mystify me - even after reading several different explanations/tutorials - and I have a feeling origami would do the same. Imagine the crafting I could get involved with if only I had these skills! The crafting could go on for hours! 

Oh, it's beautiful! 
I know you experts are out there . . . give me some pointers, tips, secrets, tricks of the trade please

Friday, February 17, 2012

Take that (!), Craigslist

Well, I finally did it: I found my chest of drawers for the nursery! And with no help from Craigslist whatsoever. 

As a matter of fact, I am officially sick of CL b.s. and glad to no longer be relying on it for my secondhand furnishing needs at this moment. (Though I must say I snagged a beautiful second-hand convertible stationary crib - Storkcraft in a sort of honey oak color - for my mom's house this weekend in a snap - and it came with a Sealy mattress, all for $75.) 

After a month and a half of searching for a chest multiple times a day, with approx. 18 e-mails sent and 3 phones calls made, I got a grand total of 5 e-mail responses and 1 return call. One of those e-mails was to say "sold"; another to say "selling as a whole set"; another to repeat what was written on the ad and not answer my questions; another to which I responded with a when-can-I-come-see-it and then never heard back; and another to say he wouldn't send me pictures. 

Wow, great. Thanks so much, everyone. 

So basically, I'm ticked at the Craigslist culture that says it's okay to treat potential buyers like idiots if you feel like it. 

But there's happy news . . . the chest! Found it at the ReStore last Friday (my 6th trip there in a month and a half), tried all the drawers (they work), imagined it with white paint and knobs (looks great in my mind!), paid my $55, and was on my merry way. 

Honestly, I thought the price was a little steep, about $15 too much, but for that measly amount I couldn't pass it up or think twice about it given all the looking I have done and all the hours I have spent on said looking. The principle didn't matter one iota in comparison with the joy I knew I would feel once Brad hauled this baby upstairs. And oh yes, I did feel (and am still feeling) joy. 

This chest meets all the necessary size requirements, required no driving to distant lands (okay, distant towns) to see/pick it up/possibly pass on it, and I was already in the Blazer, allowing for immediate transport. 

Basically it's about chest height and narrow-ish - which is just what we need for the space under the slanting of the ceiling - the style is simple and therefore versatile, and it will clean up nicely with a few coats of paint. SOLD! 

Finding this gal made for a much less stressed-out weekend last week, though this weekend I'm stressing about the need to get it and the dresser painted . . . but first we've got finish the whole board and batten thing. And right quick, too, since the 3rd trimester started Monday! Yikes - where has the time gone?! 

Take 'em for what they're worth: Student Evaluations

As a beginning teacher, receiving student evaluations from the previous semester is a nerve-wracking thing. When you're first starting out, you have very few ways to gauge your effectiveness, and that first set of evals is often (but not always) the first sign you have of whether or not you're bombing out. That's not to say it's a particularly accurate sign, but it's a sign no less. 

As time goes on (and stacks of evaluations pile up in your drawer/your hard-drive), your attitude toward these responses changes a bit, if only because experience teaches you what to look for, what to expect - and, perhaps most importantly, what not to get (too) worked up about. 

Though some people posture, saying they don't care what their scores/comments are, I've found that to be universally untrue, at least of the graduate student teaching population. Still, there does come a point when you care less, which, in the world of uber fragile grad student egos, is a pretty good place to be. I think I've almost reached that point (almost), and along the way I've gathered a few lessons. 

The number #1 lesson I've learned from student evals. is something I knew anyway: students care more about their grades than anything else. And, a corollary - they don't conceive of a "C" as average/satisfactory, even if you do. And even if you say this every. other. class. period. for. a. semester. 

Caring about one's grade first and foremost isn't, in and of itself, a bad thing (to my mind), but it does explain why year after year, students gripe about how difficult the grading in my class is - even when I feel like their end-of-the-semester grades are decidedly inflated and not a true reflection of many students' work and abilities. (Though, it should be noted that their grades at the time of evals are almost always lower than they are at the end of the semester because things like participation, homework, and revisions - generally factored in only at the end of the semester - raise student grades a lot. And this is something you eventually learn to live with, even if you do so with a grimmace.) 

True, my grade spread is typically lower than most other teachers' that I've talked to, but not by so much that it makes a shocking difference. It's simply a fact that all students want an A, most think they deserve at least a B, and only a couple will be satisfied with the C that they earn. If you're not willing to change your grading so that your class average is a B+ (I'm not), then the best thing to do is accept the fact that your students will think your grading is too difficult - and move on. 

The #2 lesson I've learned from student evaluations is that after a while (a few semesters?), they start to look pretty much the same from year to year

See #1 for an example of this. 

Now, don't get me wrong - these evaluations can offer meanginful feedback that helps you adapt your teaching style, and I have found them useful over the past 6 years. And I certainly always emphasize their importance to my students. But by and large, the "kind" of teacher you will become is set after the first, I don't know, maybe two or three years of teaching. And after that, not a whole lot will change in how you do things (for better or worse), and, therefore, not a whole lot of going to change in how the students respond. 

For example, if you're the kind of teacher who provides extensive feedback on essays, it's probably because you find that to be really important. This is unlikely to change from semester to semester (though I bet you'll scale back a teensy bit after a while :), and students are, by and large, unlikely to respond to it any differently from semester to semester. If, by contrast, you think that large amounts of teacher commentary on student writing stifles the student's individual writing process (or you don't want to spend the time writing such commentary), you're unlikely to start offering pages of feedback after five years in the classroom. 

This is, of course, a generalization, and I'm sure many people have made huge changes in their teaching practice after 10 years in a classroom. I just haven't seen it, and I haven't experienced it in my own teaching. Maybe I'll say something different 4 years from now. Anyway, the point is, you're going to see a lot of comments and numbers on these evals that look, well, a lot like what you saw last semester (and the semester before that, etc.). 

And, directly in contrast to #2, the #3 lesson I've learned is to never be surprised by any comment or score you receive

An example: a few years ago, I got the best scores I've ever gotten from the worst class I've ever taught. They misbehaved, didn't do their work, never participated, could have cared less about our class, and generally made my life miserable for a semester. And they knew I felt that way. (B/c I more or less told them.) And yet, when I received my scores, I was floored by how high they were. 

While it's tempting to say, "They probably just didn't care enough to put anything but the highest number," once you understand students in general (they always care enough to complain - from freshmen on up through doctoral students, myself included) and this class specifically, it becomes apparent that wasn't the case. The explanation? Who knows. Seriously, I have no idea. The only thing I've been able to think up is that they somehow managed to appreciate the fact that I struggled day in and day out to get them to learn/care/participate when day in and day out they showed me they weren't interested in doing so. Even this is probably wrong. 

But it works the other way, too - sometimes you're blind-sided by a nasty comment or two or by a whole set of not-that-wonderful scores. Sometimes, it's impossible for you to imagine who in your class could have written such an undeserving criticism ("But we had such a great atmosphere!" you exclaim) or how half the class could possibly think your (fill in the blank with teaching quality) was "about the same as other classes." 

The key is to take it in stride. Spend a few minutes pondering the evaluation "surprise," see if there's anything useful to be gleaned from it, and if there is, great, and if not, that's fine, too. 

Basically, while they can be important/useful/helpful, don't give the evals you receive after any given 15- or 16-week period the power to make you feel like Professor Idiot - or like Queen Teacher of the World.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Friday 4: Traits I hope baby gets from daddy

This week: some praisin' of the hubby.

4.  His height 

Yeah, that's right, one of the four traits I picked is Brad's height, a superficial thing perhaps, but an important one nonetheless. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and tall guys, you know it's true, have it easier than short ones. 

Brad is 6' 2.5", and his dad (before he started shrinking a little with age, haha) is 6' 4". I hope the little one grows nice and tall like his papa and grandpa, but maybe not so quickly that he grows out of the clothes I buy him before he's had a chance to wear them at least a handful of times :). 

3.  His likeability 

In the 11+ years I've known him, I've only ever known of ONE person who didn't like my husband.* Seriously. People just like him a lot. And it makes sense - Brad's sincere, kind, easy to joke with, fun to be around - you know, likeable. 

*This was a former boss of his who disliked him upon learning of his existence b/c her coworker (and his co-boss) had hired Brad without her knowledge. There was a lot of politics going on at that workplace, to say the least, and this person doesn't even seem fair to count. 

2.  His family-centered-ness 

Brad puts me and "us" before everything else pretty much all of the time. I wouldn't want to be with someone who did any differently. His fiction-writing is important to him, but not nearly as important as our family; he takes his job seriously, but not nearly as seriously as he does our family; and so on and so on. 

I hope my child learns from his father that a "real" man puts his family first, looks out for those he loves, and values the people who care about him. 

1.  His generosity 

There are a lot of stingy people out there, but my husband isn't one of them. He's openly loving to me every day, which is perhaps the best form of generosity I can imagine. Beyon that, he's never stingy with money, always making sure I have something before he does. And he frequently goes out of his way to help me. If that's not worth passing on to your child, then I don't know what is. 

Though, now that I think of it, my hubby can be a little stingy with his time . . . but's that's actually something we have in common :) - and he's not stingy with it with me, so we'll give him a pass. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

$8.50, 10 minutes, and a Salvation Army near you (well, me)

You know that expensive Salvation Army (haha) I complained about in the past? Well, they didn't come through for me on the chest of drawers (but that's okay since the ReStore did - more on that soon), but they do have some pretty stinkin' cute baby clothes for some pretty stinkin' good prices. And today I picked some up.

$8.50 got me these 7 onesies - originally from Target (Circo brand), Gymboree, Gerber, and Carter's - and a Steelers bib. I'm pretty sure that bib will be completely useless as a bib, but it's so darn cute and was only $1.99 and, the main reason I got it, it will put a smile on Brad's face. 

Second from the left, front row says, "If mom says no,
ask grandma" - how cute is that?! 
Those are little brown buttons on 
the wheels and propeller! 
Considering a 3-pack of Circo onesies from Target goes for $8.99, I'd say I did pretty well. This sweet little airplane one alone would cost $14.95 if I bought it new at Gymboree. $14.95! For a onesie that a baby will fit in for maybe three months! Ha! I much prefer the $.99 I spent. Hopefully the baby will appreciate my frugality, haha. 

Oh, and while we're talking today's deals from the Salvation Army, how about this gorgeous goldy yellow cashmere throw I got for just $8! I know a nursery, master bedroom, and living room that would love to have that draped over the back of a chair. Let's hope they don't fight it out. 

And instead of paying $8 more to have it dry-cleaned and doused in toxic chemicals, I'm going to get some baby shampoo (which we'll be needing soon enough anyway!) and follow Luci's directions for how to wash cashmere in the washing machine. Done and done!

Lay vs. Lie

I just can't keep it straight. No matter having a language arts teacher for a mother, no matter having looked it up online 10 times, no matter having asked this or that person over and over again. I cannot remember when to use "lay" or "lie" or "lays" or "laid" or "lain." Can't do it. 

A language is an infinitely vast and flexible thing - why then must we use the same words to mean multiple things?! Ahhhhhhhh! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The S(t)uper Bowl

It's hard to root for anyone when one team is the absolutely gag-a-licious New England Patriots and the other is led by boo-hoo-I-refuse-to-play-for-the-team-that-drafted-me-b/c-they-aren't-very-good Eli Manning. 

In this instance, the only thing to do, as I see it, is root against the team that you hate the most. 

And that's easy. B/c there's no team in the National Football League that I (or Brad) hates more than the Patriots. Not the Ravens (who are like thugs, in my mind - no doubt b/c of Ray Lewis), not the Browns (who I have a hard time taking seriously), not the Bengals. The Patriots are the absolute awfulest, even if that's not a real word. 

Tom Brady makes me want to smack my head off the wall (and the question "Is he the greatest QB ever?" makes me want to do a double smack. NO, OF COURSE HE IS NOT. There. Settled). And would somebody please get Belichick a sweatshirt with FULL SLEEVES?! How difficult is it to not-cut your sleeves off?! Or to push them up when you get hot?! Oh goodness I hate them with a fury one reserves for arch enemies and the guy who takes the last bag of plain Lays off the shelf two seconds before you reach for it. 

Oh, whew. Just needed to get that out. 

Now, back to the game. Let's go, gulp, Giants. Let's go. Sigh.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Friday 4: Traits I Hope We Don't Pass On

So, I've decided this is going to be my little theme for the next few weeks, traits I hope Brad and I do - and don't - pass on to our little guy. We'll start with the don'ts first to get 'em out of the way. 

4.  Brad's money-sense 

Even though Brad does all the banking (I'm not confident I could even write a check without at least minor assistance : / ), I'm the money mind in our family. When he got his first credit card at, I think, age 23, he joked, "Free money!" and while that's humorous as a joke, were I not there to insist that the balance be paid every month in full, he might have just spent the next year (till we got married) treating that plastic like an orange tree sprouting dollar bills. 

It's not that my husband is wasteful or self-indulgent - he's not. He doesn't buy cd's or clothes or movies, he doesn't spend money at the bar, etc., nor does he complain about not doing so. But when he goes to the grocery store, for example, he puts the things he/I/we want into the cart without checking the price (while I'm like, "$4 for a bag of chips?! No way!") and if I said, "Let's go on vacation," he'd give the thumbs up without thinking twice. And when we first met, I had thousands of dollars in the bank at age 18, while at age 20 he had a "Spend it the second you get it" philosophy. 

Also, he's not really a planner, so he doesn't create big picture plans with our money. It's just not how he operates. Happily, he very much appreciates my ability to do so. Which means I formulate most of our money goals and ideas, which works out well since I'm a bit of a, er, well, control freak. 

3.  My impatience 

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I can't wait two seconds for anything. I'm easily agitated when things aren't going snap snap snap, and as soon as things seem not to be working out right away, I'm convinced they're going all awry. In fact, I'm too impatient to even write more about this topic :). 

2.  Our collective eating habits 

My husband's idea of "dinner" is a plate of Tyson chicken tenders/fingers: honey, southern style, crispy, original, honey bbq - if you can name the flavor, on any given day, there's a 50% chance you'll find a bag of it in our freezer. And if I didn't constantly have an aneurysm over the price, he'd go through a bag of Hershey's Kisses all by his lonesome every week. 

Yes, this looks gross - but it's this close
to looking good 
And believe me, I'm not much better. I'm a drink-a-holic (sans alcohol of course), and I would pick a Starbucks, Mt. Dew, IBC Black Cherry, or any number of juices over food most days of the week. I swear half my calories come in liquid form. Like, I got have my drinks. And until I was pregnant and getting sick if I didn't eat early in the day, I usually had my first bite of food circa 3 p.m., sometimes later. And that food was usually pizza or something nutritionally similar. 

So, we're not exactly health gurus in this household. And that's going to have to change, I know, once baby gets big enough to model his eating on ours. But that's gonna be a huge endeavor - you know, undoing just about 30 years of attitudes, preferences, and habits toward one of life's most enjoyable staples . . . . 

1.  My critical-ness/judgmentalness 

I can admit it - I'm too critical of everything. The brash color of the news anchor's lipstick is just as likely to get a comment from me as is the ridiculously unkempt house/yard/driveway down the block. And I'm equally critical of myself, sometimes too much so. 

I haven't been doing a stellar job of this, but I have lately been making little efforts to just button my lips whenever possible. This isn't to say that I don't think a lot of not-that-nice things, but the first step toward being less critical seems, to me, not saying all of them out loud. Which is, I must say, difficult in the environment of grad school where pretty much all everyone does is gossip (it helps to keep you sane, as Jo says). 

Regardless, it seems like the attempt to not pass on the judgmental gene to my little guy begins with him not hearing me cast aspersions left and right 24/7.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hitting the Wall

Well, it's official: with one and a half weeks of the 2nd trimester to go, I've reached the point where I can no longer carry on my day as I normally would were I not pregnant. I'm. just. so. freaking. tired. 

The 2nd trimester (well, since about week 15) has been relatively good to me. The first trimester stomach issues disappeared; my headaches became very infrequent and more a result of a tight neck rather than hormones; and for someone who's only been able to sleep from 5-6 hours a night in 2.5 or 3 hours increments (which is torture) since week 6, I've had a decent amount of energy. Until this week. 

I feel it, lady, I feel it 
After going about a normal day yesterday (chiropractor, schoolwork, the store, going walking, shower, etc.), I was pretty much exhausted by 6:30. At this point, however, Brad and I began measuring and cutting the first of the baseboards for the nursery. It took us an hour to do two boards (and they're still a little too long), and my patience had worn thinner than thin and every muscle in my body was yelling, "Too tired!" 

That was it: all I could do was collapse on the couch till it was time for bed at 10:00. 

Tonight, after a long day at school, I didn't even try to do any cleaning, crafting, base-boarding, whatever. I just sat my rear down on the couch. 

I've tried to climb back on the horse with cardio this week - nothing too strenuous, just walking for 25 minutes - and maybe that's adding to the fatigue. (Although, isn't the big thing about exercise how much energy it supposedly gives you? I call bullsh*t!) But really, I think I've just gotten to that point where I need to slow down, where a long day at school is enough for one day, where I need to know when to take it easy. 

So, I'm trying to take it at least easier, if not truly easy. I can't say I'm thrilled at the prospect of the next 14.5 weeks in the slow lane, but once there's a sweet (read: crying, pooping, hungry) baby in the house, life will jump into high gear right quick, so I guess I should just embrace it, eh?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This is how you know you're living way out yonder:

When you search Craigslist for the name of your township and the fifth result is a lamb for sale. Like, a real live lamb. On a farm. Yep, that's how you know. 

Bah! I want to come live with you! 

Scoping Today's Sales: Home Decor Sites

Urban Outfitters 

--If you're on the hunt for curtains (or maybe a new duvet cover), head on over to Urban Outfitters and check out their sale in the "Apartment" department. In addition to like 15 different curtains, there's a ton of cool stuff on sale - like an adorable whale toothbrush holder that would be perfect for a kid's bathroom (for $1.99!) - so it's worth spending 10 minutes if you're looking for home-y stuff with a bit of a contemporary kick. And, there's free shipping on orders over $50 - a major plus. 


--While Anthro always has a ton of really lovely and cool stuff, everyone knows their prices are atrocious. Sometimes silly, actually. Their home sale can sometimes - sometimes - turn up pretty decent deals, and I've really liked some of their sale hardware in the past (doorknobs, cabinet knobs, etc.) 

Currently, though, the sale stuff stinks, and it's a little hard for me to take this "sale" section seriously when, flanked by two little knobs on sale for $2.95 each is this (ugly, in my opinion) mirror 

Venus Mirror from Anthropologie 
for $1999.95. ON. SALE. What?! The original price tag is $2898, so I guess they think they're doing us a favor. 

My verdict:  if you've got an Anthropologie nearby, shop their in-store sale which is, like many in-store sales, much better than what you'll find online, though of course you won't find the big ticket items in the store. And if you don't have one, save yourself the irritation and skip this site's sale (at least at the moment). 

Pottery Barn 

Tons of Christmas stuff in the Clearance section - a lot of it is still very pricey, but the ornaments and stockings are pretty reasonable. 

They're also having a limited-time 20% off sale on baskets. While the sale prices are nothing to write home about, Pottery Barn does have some lovely baskets (and, as Brad says, I loooooove containers - baskets are no exception), so if you've been eyeing up any in particular, now's a good time to pounce. I especially love this Jacquelyne Recycling Bin Basket (on sale for a not-at-all-cheap $71), though I would certainly use it for something other than recycling! 

PB Jacquelyne Recycling Bin Basket 
The whole Jacquelyne line looks great, and the Beachcomber baskets are also really cool - their name makes me think of summer! I won't be snagging any of these because they cost as much as I'm willing to pay for certain pieces of furniture, but that doesn't mean I can't look for look-alikes in brick-and-mortars around here!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Southland is ba-ack

That's right, folks: the nitty-gritty L.A. cop drama has regained its footing with two excellent episodes to open season four. 

To recap, last spring I lamented the nose-dive in quality taken by the series during its third season. By the end of last year's run, Brad and I had had enough of the show, and we thought we likely wouldn't be tuning in again. 

This is saying a lot, given that Brad and I are nothing if not loyal to ours shows. We've been watching Law & Order seasons on DVD, in order, straight through for months; for years we've been devoted to Burn Notice, The Closer, Psych, NCIS (our fave.), and even House, which had me gagging nearly every episode last season b/c of the never-ending melodrama. 

In fact, the only show I can remember us being fans of and then giving up is In Plain Sight on USA, and we less "gave up" on it than we just sort of lost track of it mid-season and haven't found our way back yet - though I assume we will in time. 

So it is with great relief and no small amount of joy that we welcome Southland back into our TV fold. 

Why the furrowing, John? Things are looking up! 
And I've got high hopes for this season. The story lines have been action-packed and compelling, and the episodes even had moments of artistry. Sammy was funny and reasonable - instead of inanely irritating. John actually smiled on a semi-regular basis. Ben remained cute as can be, though he was a bit less goody-two-shoes, and Lydia got a new partner that Brad and I liked - thank goodness b/c Ochoa was hard to bear. Dewey was still Dewey, but what are you gonna do? I wish Sal would come back, but that's not gonna happen, and I'm on my way to accepting that fact. 

If you're looking for something to watch on Tuesday night at 10:00, tune into TNT and give Southland a shot. Don't let things get as desperate as they have at Amanda's house where they've started watching Dead Zone . . . :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just call me the friendly local realtor

Yeah, I'm doing what it takes to get it done in the good ol' neighborhood. 

Today, when I went outside to go walking (my first workout in, oh, 4 months? That's a whole other story), I noticed a minivan in the driveway next door and a man and woman in the front yard, and I immediately thought, "Opportunity!" 

You see, this 3-br, 1.5 bath house has been on the market since April, and the price has dropped more than $25,000 in this time. Today's perusers were only the fourth group of people I've seen looking at this place in 9 months - not such a great record. From what neighbors have said and what Brad and I were able to tell online, the house has decent bones but the kitchen hasn't been updated in 40+ years, there's paneling on some of the walls (eeks!), and the whole place looks out-freaking-dated. Needless to say, this-not-selling situation is going to kill nearby property values, including ours, and as Brad and I will be looking to sell likely within the next 5 years, this simply won't do. 

So I smiled and said hello, and when the man - in his fifties, same as the woman - looked to be talking to me, I removed my earphones and happily answered their questions. Never mind my green Nike shorts and wintry pink hat (I prefer the term raspberry as a descriptor). 

"Is this a good neighborhood?" he wanted to know. Yes, certainly, we've lived here two and a half years and love it. 

"Are there lots of kids?" Not knowing whether kids were a plus or a minus, I was careful:  "Oh, yes - but most of them are on the lower streets." 

"We're looking for our daughter, she has three." Indeed! I'm expecting a little boy, and on the other side of us they've got a one-and-a-half year old little boy and a little girl who will be five in May. 

"Oh! Ava's four." (And apparently their daughter's youngest, a little boy, is 5 months old.) "So it's a nice area?" Yes, yes, it is. Many of the people in the neighborhood have lived here for years - that house, he's been here since the 70s; they've been there forever, there across the street; down there, she grew up next door where her mother still lives, then she bought that house and raised her kids there. 

"Great! This is what we needed to know. Thanks!" I smiled, I made a joke here and there, I talked this plan of houses up. And now my fingers are crossed so tightly that they're losing circulation. Or wait, that might be all the water I've recently begun retaining . . . . 

Anyway, here's what I want to know:  if this couple's daughter buys the place, who do I see about my commission? 


In standard American English, that is, why is there not ONE panel of interest to me at the 2013 Modern Language Association convention?! 

MLA is the "it" conference in literature, and so I've been scouring the calls for papers page for the past month or so, but with next to no success thus far. There have got to be 80 cfps listed, and yet not a single thing I am genuinely interested in. Even more than that, there have got to be 15 on authors I've never even heard of! 

A friend of mine from a school I attended previously applied last year to seven panels. Of course, he hadn't written these papers in advance; he waited to get accepted to something (which he did) and then wrote the paper for that one. But still: seven?! 

I submitted a single abstract last year (also for an unwritten paper; it did not get accepted), and I'm not convinced I'll even submit that many this year. I've found only one thing that looks like a semi-maybe-possible possibility. And that's a lot of hedging. 

Arggggggggggggh. This is beyond frustrating. I mean, it's not like getting into MLA is easy - because it definitely is not. At all. But as far as I can tell, it's impossible to get accepted to a conference that you don't apply to . . . .

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Friday 4: Best Craigslist Funnies

You see some strange stuff on Craigslist. No doubt about it. Some of the strangest is in the "Free" section - which, of course, I am always checking :) - but there's also a lot of hilarious spellings out there. 

I can't claim these are the funniest I've ever seen - but they are the funniest I've seen recently. 

4.  "vintage linoleum flooring pieces" described by the owner as "creepy nursery" (free) 

I believe the picture shows such a description to be accurate. 

 3.  ottoman spelled autumn or automan  


beveled spelled bevold 

dining room spelled dinningroom 

wrought iron spelled (of course) rod iron 

armoire spelled, variously, armire, amoir, or armore 

2.  "Vintage JESUS bead curtain" 

This thing costs a whopping $75, but what the seller posted before the pictures almost makes it worth it: 

"Walk into Jesus anytime you want!" 

1.  "FROZEN MEAT" (free) 

Unfortunately, there was no picture with this one. But, as if the title isn't delicious enough, the description will have you rushing to your local deli: 

"I have about 3 pounds of frozen salami, sliced. Been in the freezer for about a year.
Not sure if this is something that your animals can eat or not." 

Yeah, that's real. I did not make it up. If only I had, my friends. If only I had.