Saturday, December 31, 2011

The night before I left Munich I had a very vivid dream about my dad. We passed each other in time, like the rabbit hole where I was falling down and he was coming up. He was 30 or 40 years old, said living life backwards makes much more sense...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Practicing saying "Ich Liebe Dich" for my trip to Germany

Vanilla Sky

Somehow in the chaos of the semester, I have made vanilla extract ("I HAVE MADE FIIIIRE!").
It smells absolutely divine- I poured it into small bottles and gave it out for Christmas to a few friends. Actually didn't leave enough for myself, so that's on my to-do list once I get back from Germany.
Soaked vanilla beans in vodka for 2 months

Cut my own corks from my wine cork collection
Such a pretty bottle of vanilla! The champagne cork was my favorite cork.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crafty crap...

I am ITCHING to do craft stuff lately- maybe even start on etsy so I have an outlet for all these items I'm imagining producing.
I'm remembering the birthday where I got a little sewing machine. This was a long time ago, in the Graham Street house. This was before the bed was moved against the west wall, before Dad built a canvas divider so I could have my own "space" in the long attic room. So it must've been my 7th or 8th birthday because the bed was against the east wall- I can remember Carrie and me lying there and practicing our faux espanol, a treasured activity. I picture everyone in my bed in the morning: Dad, Mom, Carrie and Baby Erin. It seems strange that I was opening presents in bed, because birthdays were normally a fairly formal event ("formal" is used very loosely here), around the table, opening presents and eating my mom's chocolate cake with the white frosting and the words in scripted, unsweetened chocolate across the top...
So all of my family piled around me, and I open....THE SEWING MACHINE.  I'm not even sure it was real. I think it was plastic and worked by punching yarn through cardboard or something. Nevertheless, I've been crafty since then, though I'm really not great at crafts- I love making things!
I have been looking at tooth fairy pillows so I can make some pretty ones for my nieces, whose tiny teeth burrow deep into the sheets while their mother searches blindly in the dead of night.

And the semester is over.
And I have a pile of books.
And piles of yarn.
And ideas....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On my way up north/Up on the ventura/I pulled back the hood/and I was talking to you

Way up north I took my day
All in all was a pretty nice day
And I put the hood right back where
you could taste heaven perfectly
Feel out the summer breeze
Didn't know when we'd be back
And I don't- I didn't think -
we'd end up like this
-Tori Amos "A Sorta Fairytale"

Hitting the wall/Holidays

My sisters and Zack and me...1999

So far in my academic career, October seems to be the worst. But guess what- I made it through October this year almost without stopping. It passed me by and before I knew it November was here and I could see light at the end of the tunnel! But November has thrown me for a loop! I started the month with a swollen upper lip and a torn up mouth from the orthodontist office. It left me unable to talk and I had to walk around (and teach and go to class) with a giant wad of white silicone attached to one side of my upper braces. Once I finally (sort of) healed from that, I got the Mother of All Migraines which began with a light headache last Wednesday, and turned into a migraine the following Saturday behind
Thanksgiving 1995
my left eye. It disappeared with the help of Excedrin on Tuesday, then came back on Wednesday behind my other eye. I think it finally went away for good yesterday, though today I'm feeling twinges behind my right eye. During all this November stuff, I'm also unfortunately suffering some extremely negative side effects of switching up one of my meds. I'm exhausted, I feel like I have nothing left. I hate holidays- specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas. My dad and grandparents are dead, my sisters live far away.    I miss Zack and the holidays from a long time ago. The holidays will never hold the magic that they did when you were younger- so I kind of wish I could just fast forward through them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dreary, dreary November

Oh, November! As if I weren't already falling, you give me such a push! There are times I wish I could draw like this, or paint, or play guitar- anything to fill the emptiness that not writing has left. But there's no time, and more and more of my days are filled with academia--which I love, but isn't nearly as fulfilling as creative endeavors. I knit in my downtime to relax and to feel creative- even that, though, is fraught with my need for perfection. I find myself tearing out two days' worth of stitches. Starting over.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


What do I do with my old wedding rings? Two nights ago, I dreamed I looked down and my wedding ring was back on my finger- I was horrified and it woke me up. I think the rings are in an envelope upstairs in a closet. They aren't worth any money or I'd buy something I really wanted with them. I could save them for Zack but not even sure he'd want them. I'm not sure why I still have them. The older ring was my ex-mother-in-law's first wedding ring. I could be super nice and give it back to her- like I said, it's not worth any money. Maybe the newer one I'll go ahead and pawn and buy some books or a pair of shoes. Or should I melt them down and have something made for my nieces? Ever since the dream, those rings are really bothering me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sutton Wilderness

It's been pouring all afternoon, but I made a hike around the Sutton Wilderness Trail before the rain. I remember the abandoned homeless camp we found there one afternoon, hidden deep in the woods- the photographs we took in the dead of winter when the light hid from us, and again when summer had barely begun and we had to search for shadows. Today the weight of my betrayals has slowed my step; the October I can't ever begin to forgive. The hedge-apples are rolling down the hill, toward the lake, and each renegade sunflower-weed pretends it's still July.

A typical week

I'm trying to catch myself either coming or going and see how I'm doing... but then I just finished reading this article about a woman at OU with 11 children who was just accepted to Harvard for a master's degree...MY GAWD! and I think I have no time?

Here's my work week:
research assistant for political science: 10-15 hours weekly
teaching, office hours, prepping, grading: 10-15 hours weekly
regular coursework and attending classes: 10 hours weekly
directed readings work: 5-10 hours weekly
(if you're keeping track, on a rough week that's 50 hours SO FAR...)
I also have two papers I'm trying to get published that need revising....I'm also supposed to be exercising during the day and making time for things like eating.... I'll be happy when this semester is over.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lions and tigers and bears

OH MY! It has been weeks since I've posted. My schedule has gotten the best of me and I've been too tired and frustrated to blog. But I will...soon.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince


This is how it was that year, after four thousand

winters by the pond.  My brothers falling

from the Egyptian sky.  Bearing the blame
of skin disfigurations for a century.  Knees added
to witches’ broths with incantations.  The jelly
of our blood thickening lakewater.  I witness my misery
reflected in the mirrored eyes of a fly.

If you could have seen
my skin flashing celery-green in the
underwater of mornings, expertly
picking through the most delicate of mosquitoes
and minnows for my table. 

Four thousand and one winters. Surely
now you understand my coldness.

I’ve burrowed through the tangles
of your hair for the last time, dug
into that small frog-space, waited
to feel a breath of kindness from you.
Waited for you to take me under your
sheets, or warm me with your mouth. 

When you wake you’ll find I’ve
left like a thief, taking your precious
golden ball, your silk gloves, the claw-foot

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What I did over summer vacation

I worked at the Graduate College, I went to New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas (drove through the Mojave Desert from LA to Vegas),presented research at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting, I got an acceptance from ASA's Contexts magazine, I read approximately 10 books of fiction, I finished the antique buffet that had been sitting in the garage. I did *not* brush up on my Spanish (although I did take the baby step of putting one CD on my iPod, then promptly skipped the lessons whenever they popped up), nor did I make vanilla.

The Spanish will just have to wait. I need a class or something, most likely. Or I should start watching telenovellas obsessively. The vanilla I am starting on TODAY! I have the vodka, I'm going down to the new health food place to find vanilla beans. So hopefully I'll have several cute bottles of vanilla in time for Christmas.

I had hoped to get much more done, but I'm fairly happy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh Los Angeles, we leave you now
At the setting of your skies
As we leave the comfort of your ground
With your angels we will fly

And you held us in your city lights
When our eyes had lost the stars
And we made our peace with lonely nights
And you healed our broken hearts

Well they say the big one's gonna come
And you will fall into the sea
We will know that then your work is done

And your angels will go free...
And your angels will go free

{Peter Bradley Adams- "Los Angeles"}

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Legends

I visited my grandparents last weekend. Grandma says, "Remember when you stole the onion? Remember what happened?"
Why would a 5 year old whose mother forbade sweets steal an onion? I say, "Grandma, it was a sucker. I remember."
"No," she says. "It was an onion."

I know this legend and I've referred to it often. I've even told my students about my act of "deviance" in sociology class. I was wearing a dress with pockets in the grocery store. I knew better than to ask my mom for candy, so I slipped one sucker into the pocket of my dress. Clearly, I don't have a very good innocent face, so Mom caught me with the contraband and made me go back inside to confess. Here's where things went a little out of control. The cashier yelled at me about THIEVES and PRISON and THE POLICE. Even my mom apologized to me afterwards, I think she would have rather reprimanded me herself.

But here's my quandary. Do I trust my own memory? Was it a sucker, was it an onion...or did I shoplift on TWO different occasions?

August 1969

I love, love, LOVE these two pictures of my parents in the late 1960s. They were married in August of 1969. I see all four of us girls in their faces...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hair Color is just for fun!

Here's my myriad of hair colors from the past six months ....there are actually even MORE colors (the dryer lint/purple color and the bright yellow I did not record, probably because I was crying too hard). Sometimes I scare myself.

Lessons Learned

Leaving for home tomorrow!

Here are some things I have learned.

I pack too much.
But I never pack enough t-shirts.
New Yorkers are not any ruder than any other people.
Subways and busses are fast, efficient, safe and cheap.
Panhandlers who are passed out get more money than those who are not passed out.
I confused the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building the whole time I was here.
Confronting my own loneliness was THE most painful part of my whole experience.
I love love love weird, obscure research.
(the moon out my window 8-10-11)
The thrift stores here are especially filthy.
The churches are gorgeous.
I love riding the subway!
It's hard to find a V8.
It's easy to find Nutella.
There are bags of trash and the smell of trash everywhere.
I'm not sure I'm any better at yoga, even after doing it 2-5 times per week.
I HATE hot yoga, even lukewarm yoga.
My favorite thing about NYC is the normalization of walking everywhere.
I've not had one good night's sleep since I've been here, with the exception of when James and Zack and my sisters visited.
Nearly every eating spot has some sort of award or Food Network appearance poster in the window.
Filene's Basement is not actually in a basement.
I had brought books and knitting and the "good" camera....never had the time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tour of Grace Church

I'm obsessed with this beautiful church! So gorgeous!

I especially liked the sign showing Hymn numbers.

Manhattan Solstice

Twice a year, the sun aligns with the streets running east and west. This phenomenon only occurs because the city is aligned with true North. Sometimes it's called "Manhattanhenge."

I happened to be coming back from yoga around 8:30 or 9pm the first night I was in New York, and noticed people were stopping in the middle of the street to take a picture of the sunset (people do NOT normally stop in the middle of the street!). I pulled out my iPhone and shot this pic.

It wasn't until a week or two later that James sent me an article about "Manhattanhenge." Really cool, and a great memory!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


A little homesickness settling in- having a really hard time this week. Still so thankful for this experience, but everything has an expiration date, right? The after effects of sporadic, bad sleep are taking a toll on me. I dream about drowning. I have this weird, heart-shaped blood blister on one finger that I have no idea where it came from.

I haven't done the half-pigeon since last week. I'm going to do 3 minutes on each side, right now, just for Megan.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Bach at Noon"

I was walking by Grace Episcopal on Broadway/ 10th early this week and noticed their "Bach at Noon" poster, so I stopped in on Wednesday during my lunch hour to listen. The church is 200 years old but moved to its current location in 1843. Imagine! -that curve in Broadway dominated by the Gothic
building when nothing else much
stretched north.
The noon music was in the church's chantry (not exactly sure what that means) and offered a much welcomed
respite from the hot weather. The tiny tiles in the floor shook every 90 seconds when the R train rumbled below my feet like bass notes. On the pipe organ, the organist played "Allein Gott in der Hoh" and "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier" and "Vom Himmel hoch." If Mozart is the heart and Beethoven is the fingers, then Bach is the brain. I closed my eyes (when not surreptitiously taking pics) and let the music flow through me. I was already dizzy and nearly sick from spending the morning reading about graphic ancient abortion practices (yes, urgh) after my 20 block commute in 95 degree heat. I liked the chantry and the people who came in to sit, to listen, to rest- students, tourists, the homeless.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anger Yoga

Last night at yoga it was so incredibly unbelievably hot. There was a yoga instructor I hadn't had before and I didn't like her. She asked the impossible. People were falling over, passing out, dripping sweat onto the floors. My yoga mat swam in sweat. Gross gross gross! I HATE sweating! The towel I brought was damp. It was crowded. It's always crowded. 10 across and 7 deep in one room. No fans, no air conditioning. I kept stopping and sucking down water, pouring it over my neck. She KEPT asking the impossible. We're supposed to recognize our yoga anger when we feel it. I recognized it. I was tired and on fire. My hands and feet wouldn't stick to the sticky mat, no longer sticky. I kept thinking that I wouldn't give any money this time. She should pay ME! She kept lying about the number of chair poses left. She had us do core work at the very end. For some reason, I could not hold the boat pose. My only rest came in the half pigeon, believe it or not, while my hip sockets screamed. Then she had us do one last downward dog.
I noticed that, for the first time ever, my heels hit the floor.
"Nice form!" I thought. Anger began to dissipate.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Week: It's stinky but I like it!

I've made it one week, and the city hasn't devoured me yet. YET! People are in a hurry and keep to themselves, but people are also kind to one another, and relatively polite. It's exciting and smells awful and is beautiful and overwhelming and vibrant...
I've seen a naked woman standing at an intersection, beggars, dancers, singers, banjo players, kids playing in fountains... I've taken 5 yoga classes in one week, eaten Thai soup and NY garden vegetables and barley soup and lots of bread, peanut butter and cheese, I've walked miles daily, been amazed and dismayed within the same five second interval...seen the super rich and the super poor, been nearly run over by stretch limousines and duct-taped bicycles...seen people sleeping in the park and seen people chatting inside private locked parks.... It's been exhausting and invigorating. {picture above: sunset 16th Street/3rd Avenue, July 10, 2011}

{pictures below: "candlelight yoga" at Yoga To The People, July 10, 2011}

Saturdays 1980

On Saturdays, the unbearable heat of Arkansas summer. The entire neighborhood perfumed with smells of laundry soap and bacon. He is always the last of everyone to wake up. He has a "fashionably late entrance" routine--he stomps barefoot down the hall toward the kitchen, each footfall reverberating off the walls (still stained with soot from the 1978 fire)... "FEEEE FIIIII FOOOOO FUUUUMMM!" We scream- he's coming, he's coming! Or some days, he changes things up by singing at the top of his lungs as he stomps down the hall, "OOOOOOOOOOOO Sole MIIIIIII-OOOOOOOOOOO" (it's my own sun/that's against your face). More screams. He's in the kitchen now. He says, always, always, always, "Anybody get the number of that truck?" It's a one-man show just for us, a routine he perfects over and over every Saturday. A routine we wait in anticipation for from the moment of crawling out of bed. And then he stretches and yowls like Rip Van Winkle has woken from his exquisitely-long nap. We climb on him like he's a jungle gym, chanting "pancakes! pancakes! pancakes!" He speciality is Mickey Mouse ear-shaped pancakes, or the letter of our first name. I receive a hot buttered "A." The tiny air conditioning unit whines in the window. Butter melts in the heat, dripping onto the counter. It's the kind of morning you think will last forever.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chess matches at Union Square Park. Thrift store fun. Yoga show-offs. Herbal sorbet at the farmers' market.
All on a beautiful, sunny Saturday.

At the farmers' market, I bought a tomato (which I ate like an apple in the park) and a baguette of whole wheat sourdough, a zucchini, and a tub of goat cheese from a Pennsylvania goat farmer.