Archive for January, 2009

let’s play favorites

Why Scott and Amanda Bowen are 2 of my favorite people in South Alabama:

1. They pay me to play with their kids.

2. They gave me a ticket to see Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile and even let me sit with them for what could have been a date. Also, they joined me in laughter over the Opelika crowd that Thile called “sweet” in his closing salutations. It is important to note that this salutation came before an encore that half+ people left  before or during. And he called them out. Of course he did, its Chris Thile. “Oh…. bye.” But he played on, which we appreciated. The kind of laughter that this kind of behavior calls for is similar to the way that you laugh at your {my} grandmother, who is inherently embarrassing and rude, but you just have to love her. And it’s okay to laugh because she cannot hear you and will not notice.

3. They moved from Nashville to Boston to Opelika because they believe that there is joy in obedience. Joy in Opelika. I could learn a lesson two. It’s not that I don’t love where I am now, but ask me to move to Opelika when I’m thirty and I will surely laugh in your face and show you an obscene gesture with my hand. We have less than 9 years until that day. Let us hope that I will have grown to be more trusting {and less sarcastic, kinder and not taller} by that day.


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yoga in our bedroom, on a hard wooden floor
is the best way to strengthen your mind and your core
light a candle, grab your mat, tomorrow you’ll be sore
so turn down the lights for flexibility galore

sun salutations in the morning time of day
chaturanga tones the arms for tank tops in May
downward dog, the staple pose, find your center here and stay
but instead of huming Om, use the silent times to pray 


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finding your favorite chap stick that has been discontinued by victoria’s secret. Today, my dreams are reality. I literally said “OHmygosh,” out loud with shock as if I had been closely bypassed by an inconsiderate campus biker. There is no telling how loud my outburst was because Bon Iver’s Skinny Love was playing ear-damagingly loud in my headphones that actually magically appeared in my backpack today in Cambridge.  I KNOW they weren’t last week when I thought I lost them. It has been a day of retrieval.

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seasonal porn

I know I solemnly swore to embrace all the seasons in 2009 because they are all so good. Winter Spring Summer Fall. But this morning it was 18 degrees and that makes winter tragically impossible to embrace.

I have no doubt that my expectations for winter are the result of an always promising, never delivering Hollywood seasonal porn. Somewhere in the past 21 years I developed expectations for winter to be a cozily wonderful snow globe where everyone is wearing mittens and earmuffs and has perfectly rosed noses, but can function with summer fluidity.  The wind doesn’t make their shoulders buck up to touch their ears (a posture that is not only unflattering but also horrible for one’s back) and everyone holds hands and wears boots. One might think that I would remember year-to-year, nay day-to-day how miserable it is to walk outside to a wind chill of 5 degrees (or to get out of bed if you live at 524 wrights mill road where the gas heat only works in 3 out of 8 rooms, none of which is my bedroom), but I don’t remember. Even as I sit inside on my couch in one of the three rooms where the heat does work, I romanticize the idea of a winter like this, forgetting that about 30 minutes ago, I thought I was going to take my final steps down Samford Avenue having died of suffocation because it was far too cold and uncomfortable to breathe in through my nose. 

The snow globe winter of my imagination is an image reflecting no original. To steal the idea of Baudrillard via Dr. McKelly, my winter is a map that references no territory. It has been romanticized so far away from the true that any real experience will never compare to my contrived real. It’s why we want Bigmacs instead of our mom’s homemade hamburgers. The chemicals taste better. It’s why we would rather watch Friends than engage in the life and times of real people. Simulations of relationships feel better than real ones. The winters I see in The Holiday and It’s a Wonderful Life are the winters I want to live in. But I don’t really want any of these things and loving the reality of my life is a discipline. Good food and real people and winter; I want to love them because they are God-given and good even when its 18 degrees and loving my friends is the hardest thing I can think to do and the first 16 days of 2009 are not all kind. 

I want to take my mitten down from our mantle art, if you will, that is adding to our attempt at a wintry ambience in our living room where the heat works, but I can’t. It’s a very important element of my map referencing no territory I’m not ready to release the image so my stubbornness will leave me with one cold hand, for now at least. However, to make up for my lack of wintry embrace, I will as eat as much pure, unprocessed chocolate as I can because what is more real than pure chocolate? Nothing.

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a run in with the law, etc.

Matt Delaney: Let’s go to Starbucks.
Holly: Let’s go to Steak and Shake in Columbus!!
<The other 7 people in the car (that’s right, seven) not really paying attention>
<10 minutes later>
Monica: Anna, you missed your turn…. wait why are we getting on the interstate?
Wilson: We are really going to Steak and Shake.
Anna: <silence>
Monica: Noooo, I have homework.
Anna: <silence>
<1 hour later>
I didn’t think it took this long to get to Columbus, GA. Let’s look it up on the iphone. Yep, we went totally out of our way. And we still have 40 miles to go.
Anna:  My gas light just came on. Should I stop?
duh. We pull over into a gas station in an unknown location. boys go inside to play some slot machines or something.>
Monica: Let’s leave them! Go, Anna!!
girls pull away and go hide in a school parking lot down the road with their lights off. Police lights come on behind us.>
Officer: What are ya’ll doin’?
directionsshehasaniphonedoyouknowhowtogetthere? <not suspicious at all.>
Just take the hiway…..
Anna: okthankyou.
meanwhile, Wilson, Matt and Scott are in the gas station and the clerk lady says
hey those girls left ya’ll running across the street with their shirts off because they thought that would be a good idea like we thought leaving them at the gas station was a good idea. I don’t know the dialogue for this part because I wasn’t there but a crazy man thought they were going to fight someone and wanted to come. They are like no, but they see us getting pulled over even though we are already pulled over so they can’t come to us and they can’t go back to the gas station because the crazy man is there and the gas station clerk lady didn’t want them there in the first place. They put their shirts back on and go to waffle house next door. The cop comes and questions them. They tell the police man the truth, that we left them, so now he knows that we lied and that we have 8 people in a car with 5 seat belts and we have to go back to pick up the boys from waffle house where the cop is waiting.>
So you girls made it to Columbus alright?
Anna: We really are going to Columbus, I promise!!
Officer: Well, you’ve got some goofy boys with you <wink>.

close call. 

First day of half-marathon pretraining: Success. Emily, you can do it. Running until you think you are going to throw up or die is terrible, but the sweaty taste of victory, a metal around your neck and a beer in your hand is going to be beautiful (I hear they give you beer after races….).

Our forks: Someone might be casting spells on them. We had about 1,000 normal size forks and they are disappearing. However, baby sized forks along with giant sized forks are appearing. Wtf.

Cait Haygood: 21 today and smokin’ hot.

Birkenstocks: Cool if you read lots of literature and smoke cigarettes. Lame if you wear them with pipes jeans and hang out at the roller skating rink. Am I right? What if I brought my hypothetical size 39’s from home and wanted to wear them because they are warm and really comfortable, but was feeling slightly nervous about the public’s reaction………..

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If you are looking for a way to win my heart today, a bouquet of sharpened pencils would do the trick. School supplies are crack cocaine. Do I need all new notebooks for every class even though there is plenty of paper from last semester’s notebooks? No. Do I need new pencils with fresh erasers and pens with matching tops? No. Three ring binders? No.  Lisa Frank folders? No. But I want it all. Tom Hanks too, nay the charmingly dreaded Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail.

Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.

I know January isn’t fall and Auburn isn’t New York, but despite the browning trees, today’s mid 50’s sun stirred the same ardor as, say, a September 1st at P.S. 22 might. I wish I could make bouquets for you all, made of macaroni yellow pencils with perfect erasers and tiny #2’s pressed into their microscopically octagonal necks.

Nonetheless, for those of you who returned to the classroom this week, I hope you love your classes because college is too expensive not to. And I hope you have teachers like Dr. Jim McKelly who simultaneously make you feel feebleminded in comparison and significant for wanting to learn. And I hope they are the kind of professors that curse on the first day of  class and make someone feel uncomfortably noticed in hopes of making them feel comfortable… like today during roll call for Dr. McKelly’s film class (mind you, roll call took almost 40 minutes because Jim McKelly is a poet of a storyteller with a fire in his belly).

McKelly: Katie Knight? <katie is sitting in front of me and we have never met>
Katie: Here.
McK: Katie, my roster says you are a sophomore.
Katie: Yes, sir. <she’s looking nervous.>
McK: Ah, you are a minnow among sharks. But you have Holly <this is my 3rd semester in his classroom> behind you. She will take care of you. Holly, give Katie a pat on the back every now and then and tell her it’s going to be okay. <playing me, he squats down like he is sitting in a desk and pats the invisible minnow to his front on the shoulder. In a whisper,> Don’t worry, he’s a bastard. He’s just a jackass.

Of course, most of the class doesn’t laugh at first because no one wants to be the first person to make any kind of noise. Everyone feels slightly uncomfortable in a new room with these new people who they either think they are smarter than and are waiting for an opportunity to prove it or who they think they are less smart than and are hoping to not be called on. Or because they don’t want to say the wrong thing in front of that person that they picked out on the first day of class. You know, the most attractive member of the opposite sex in the room that you want to strategically and discreetly sit by next time. The person doesn’t even have to be that attractive, maybe just wearing something cool or carrying an interesting book or an obscure newspaper.  You know you do it. It’s why there is a little pressure to look slightly better than normal for the first day of class. Why did I wear funky earrings to my 8:00am today? We all want to be that person.

It’s science. Like fall and pencil bouquets.

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this morning i went into the freezer to grab a handful of frozen blueberries. i reached into the bag, put one in my mouth and realized i had grabbed a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips. i could have put them back, but i didn’t. they were a lot better than blueberries.

that’s why i don’t make new years resolutions.

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