Pop quiz: Just prior to the photo being snapped, I was...

a) auditioning for Blue Man Group
b) feasting on Smurfs
c) painting the bedroom furniture
d) both b and c, but not a
e) both a and b, but not c
f) both a and c, but not b
g) g
h) all of the above


The hardest job you'll ever love.

Conversation in the car today:

Mog: "When I grow up, I be a farmer. Drive tractor and give hay to cows, like Pa Pa."

Me: "Yeees. Or. You could be a nurse, like Daddy. And work at the hospital?"

Mog: "Nurse?"

Me: "Yep. Or, you could be a teacher like Mommy!"

Mog: "NO! I wanna be a BOY!"

Me: *sigh, shaking of head* "Where did I go wrong with you, son? Where did I go wrong?"


Putting my life in his hands.

The mandate to “do one thing every day that scares you” has often been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. I don’t know whether it’s true that she ever said this, and I’m not so sure it’s even advice I’d want to live by, but I do know that yesterday I did something that scared me. Yesterday afternoon I donned a helmet, threw my leg up and over the back of an especially snazzy looking Honda Shadow, and let Eli take me for a motorcycle ride.

I wrapped my arms around him and held on tightly as we motored down the gravel lane from our house to the highway. As he pulled out onto the highway and gunned the bike up to 60 mph, I felt fragile, precarious. Without a windshield or a backrest on the bike, it felt as though the wind could knock me off the back of my seat in an instant. In the rush of the wind, I could not hear Eli speak to me, though I saw the corner of his mouth move. I saw him smile in the rearview mirror.

It’s not as though I’m a total stranger to the motorcycle. My first rides took place when I was small, a child on my father’s bike, riding up front while my sister rode on the back, Dad in between us. I don’t recall ever being afraid. After all, Dad was God, infallible. I had known him to dump the bike, skinning his arms hideously, but with us aboard I knew that it would never happen. Calamity couldn’t touch us; he wouldn’t let it. He hugged me to his chest with one bear arm as he steered with the other, and I relished the feel of the breeze through my hair and on my skin. I loved the drivers of cars and pedestrians turning to watch us as we motored through town and the rush of green fields passing in a blur as we left them behind.

In my earliest cycling sojourns with Dad, I remember the helmet as incidental. In the days before car seats, when we rode all the way to Florida lying in the back of the nine passenger station wagon, thrusting our bare toes up to push round patterns into the padded roof of the car, we weren’t required to wear such a thing as a motorcycle helmet. We might wear it because it was utterly cool—my Dad’s sparkling turquoise helmet, but we wore it more often as a costume piece during our circus performances, playing the human cannonball, and not so much during motorcycle rides.

After those frequent childhood rides, motorcycles faded from my radar. I wasn’t all that interested, probably because I had entered an angry and standoffish period in my relationship with my dad, and didn’t know anyone else who rode. There was one clandestine ride during high school, on the back of the bike of a boy much older than me, but that was only to impress and scandalize the group of girls I was with at the time. And then I was a teenager, and thus invincible. ;)

So when recently I rode with my dad again, this time on a Harley-Davidson, a gorgeous machine the likes of which was never in our reach during my childhood, it was after at least a twelve year hiatus from riding. And still, I was not afraid. I still trust my dad implicitly, respect him, and know in my bones that my well-being is at the heart of much of what he does. I do not worry that he will showboat, or hesitate, or falter. With me as his passenger, he is cautious and strong. I trust his balance, his timing, and coordination. With him in control, I am comfortable as a rider.

With Eli, it’s another story entirely.

With Eli I know that I am getting on the back of a bike driven by someone whose motorcycle experience is severely limited. He didn’t tool around on them as a boy, or as a teenager. Only as an adult has he taken up the pastime of motorcycle riding, purchasing his first bike mere months ago, logging mere hours of riding time in stark contrast to the lifetime my dad has spent manipulating these machines. He is inexperienced and lacks confidence. His body is lanky and tall, and I worry about his balance. I worry that I weigh nearly as much as he does, that the addition of my weight to the bike will be too much for him to handle.

I am 30. I am no longer the unquestioningly trusting child, riding with her father. I am no longer the brazen teenager, driven by hormones. I am a woman with responsibilities, with a young son to care for. And yet, yesterday, I found myself swinging my leg up and over that bike, planting my butt firmly on the seat, and throwing caution to the winds that rushed past us as we flew down the highway.

I do not yet trust him with my heart, but yesterday I found that trusting Eli with my body felt like a step in the right direction.

Of course, I wore a helmet.


Second guessing.

What I love most about my job is that it allows me to reinvent myself over and over. Every semester, I get a clean slate, a fresh chance to make a first impression (if we ignore ratemyprofessor.com, that is). Being a consummate pessimist and perfectionist, however, I also find that with this opportunity for reinvention comes an enormous margin for doubt and my good friend, self-hatred.

So. Yesterday, the first day of classes, began with a lot of clothes wrangling, the trying on and inevitably flinging in the floor of various shirts and pants, off, on, off, on. The tugging, the adjusting, the fidgeting in front of the full-length mirror.

Finally, after a whirlwind of searching in vain for Eliot's tennis shoes, we are whisked out the door amid kisses from Eli, I with my mug of coffee in hand, Mog with his bulldozer clutched in his.

The screen door catches my shirt as it shuts behind me and for a moment I am stuck. I pull my shirt free and examine it quickly for any sign of a tear. I see none. *whew* Crisis barely averted.

And so the day begins. My first class goes well. During my second class I lean absent-mindedly against the new SmartBoard, popping the pen tray off with my butt. Smooth. Very smooth. Then I can't get the computer to work, so I turn it off and then turn it back on and let it reboot, waiting for the longest minutes of the world, turned towards my class babbling to fill the silence. And then sort of tapping my foot and dancing back and forth through the room, going, "Sooo. How are you guys? Good? You good? Great. Me too." Nervous giggling from the freshmen. Much hand wringing from me.

In the moments before class, after class, and during long self-conscious intervals like waiting for the computer to reboot, I second guess myself. All of the life-changing decisions made during the heat of the summer, luxurious days stretching out before me, seem suddenly wrong. I feel students' eyes on my tattoos, my piercing. I stand in front of them on display, and can't help feeling that through their eyes I look like someone too old to be trying so hard. My calves are fat and my blue jeans undermine my authority.

But the day diligently heads toward the afternoon, and at last I am home again, comfortably watching Bob the Builder with Mog. Eli comes in from work and grabs me in an embrace. He lets go, steps back. "Did you know you have a hole in the back of your shirt?"



A little too much bling.

I've been on a mini-book spree lately. This is the one I made for my soon-to-be niece, who should be arriving on or around September 12. I started out by grabbing a bunch of pink papers, but the whole thing just kept getting glitzier and glitzier, and by the time I was finished it really looked more like a pre-teen bling-fest than a new baby girl album. No matter. I think once there are photos in it it will be toned down substantially.

I did something very similar for Libby's 15th birthday--15!

It has a lot of vintage papers, pages from dictionaries, encyclopedias, and so forth. I spread a bit of gesso on most of them to make them suitable for journaling.

And I could have sworn I took pictures of it before I gave it to her, but I can't find them on my harddrive for anything. So maybe I didn't? Who knows. My brain is mush just now. In any case, it was quite a lovely little book and I hope she does use it. We shall see.

Back tomorrow with tales of woe and mirth from the brand spanking new semester! ;)


It's Friday night.

Are those clouds funky looking or what?

Also, we have a babysitter for tonight--woot! Who knows what could happen when the adults are unleashed? I predict some beer drinking and some bowling. We are W-I-L-D, I tell you. Wild!

I'll be back on Monday with photos of a couple of recent mini-bookish projects and tales from the first day of classes. Sharpen your pencils, everyone!



Please excuse the warped looking edges of my pages. They don't look that way in person; I just haven't mastered the art of photographing and properly cropping my pages. As Dad would say, "It's good enough for who it's for." Ha ha.

I didn't prepare anything to work on for the crop--it was sort of a last minute whim, so I just grabbed a stack of recent photos and went for it. Not surprisingly, I ended up with many pages focused on the Mog.

I think this one was my favorite. I liked the way my hand accidentally smudged the ink around the title. It gives the page a very comic book feel, I think. (Notice the paint--pink paint CAN work on a boy page! Me likey! You?)

My only non-Mog page was of my grandma's flip flops, a story I've been wanting to tell for awhile now, so it felt good to get that down.

And...I'm spent. *sigh* Actually, there is one more that isn't quite finished yet, one that I fussed and fussed with (characteristically) until I just couldn't stand it and banished it to the scrap bag out of my sight. Might finish it later; might not.

But for now--on to the syllabus planning! Today is my last Monday of summer vacation.
Do you hear the chorus of tiny violins playing for me? Do you?

Next week it's back off to work (real work!) for me. Stay tuned for adventures in freshman composition! ;)

I'm totally going to kick Monday's ass.

I may need a vat of coffee to do so, but I am SO gonna get there!


Just like family.

Lookie! I'm going to a crop tonight, so I'm hoping to be super-productive and have lots of loveliness to share on Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend, all. :)


Hello there.

Because yesterday evening Mog wanted to "lay down in the gass." This is the picture I'll be carrying in my head all day today. I hope it gets me through.


Guitar hero.

Playing with my Studio Calico kit and some old Stampin' Up stamps.

I'm finally getting all of my stuff back in the house where it belongs and setting up areas for crafting and scrapping. I was working on putting this page together last night and Eliot was coloring with markers next to me. He showed me his page and said, "Look: a girl!" I asked him if it was Z, and he said, yes, it was. Then I showed him my page and said, "Look: it's you and Daddy!" And he said, "Aw, Mom. I'm so powd (proud) of you!" :)


The post where I talk about my ringworm.

I have ringworm.

I think that pretty much solidifies the sad fact that I will say anything, broadcast any little embarrassing tidbit of my life, to the entire Internet. Internet, I have ringworm. Ringworm!

I'm not particularly proud of this fact (that I overshare, not that I have ringworm, although I'm not terribly proud of that either.), but I like to think of it as a charming rather than annoying feature of my personality. Charming. Right. We're going to stick with that.

I went to see Julie & Julia last night and it wasn't a good movie at all, but the part where Julie and her husband get into an argument about her blogging did feel shamefully familiar. I do pity my loved ones. They have to put up with my narcissistic, often childish behavior, and my incessant preening. My constant need for validation. I feel like I'm seeing myself more clearly lately, and not liking a lot of what I see. I know that I can be a burden on the people whom I love most. *sigh* Like Sally, in When Harry Met Sally, I'm the worst kind: the kind who thinks she's low maintenance, when really she's high maintenance.

Anyway, enough seriousness, now back to my ringworm.

So I noticed this little patch of dry skin on my right shoulder, which wasn't all that alarming because I have ridiculously dry skin all the time, but this little patch was sort of flaky looking and then the next day it started to itch. And then by yesterday there was a raised reddish circle and I had a falling feeling that it might be ringworm. Which is gross. Because it just sounds gross, right? Ringworm! It's like something that mangy dogs get from licking each other's butts.

So I dug around in the medicine cabinet (That's a lie, because we don't have a "cabinet" per se, but that part isn't important.) and found a little tube of athlete's foot cream, which, don't ask me why, I know is supposed to cure ringworm as well. Because it isn't actually a worm; it's a fungus. Which is grosser: an actual worm or a fungus? It's a toss up. I applied the cream, slapped a band-aid over it and then went on my merry way...

...to a family reunion yesterday afternoon, to which I stupidly wore a sleeveless shirt, and I swear to you every single member of my family asked what happened to my shoulder. And I had to keep saying, "Ringworm. Ringworm. It's ringworm. Yep, ringworm." And really, I know I suck, but family, you guys are freaking nosy, okay? Nosy! Stop asking about my ringworm! I licked a dog's ass, okay? That is how I got it.

So my Uncle Frank insisted upon a tried and true home remedy whereby diesel fuel is applied to the ringworm to kill it. And Elecia seconded that oh yes, she had definitely heard of this and it would totally work. It's difficult to tell with Frank. I'm 50 percent sure it was legit, but then 50 percent sure he just wanted to see if I would actually let him dip my arm in diesel fuel.

I did. Let him dip my arm in diesel fuel. Actually, he dipped a Q-tip attached to the end of a fly swapper with electrical tape in diesel fuel and then applied it to my arm. (Is my family freaking bonkers or what? Is it really any wonder I'm such a lunatic? I can't really be expected to take full responsibility for my neuroses, can I?)

This morning the ringworm still looks like ringworm. Frank told me to leave the diesel fuel on there "for a while" and not wash it off. When I asked how long "a while" would be, he said at least a couple of weeks. I'm at least 80% sure he was kidding...

Don't worry. I'll let you know how it turns out. Why wouldn't I?


Country mouse visits the city.

5 lessons I learned during my ramblings today: 1) It takes forever and forever and forever to get anywhere on the CTA. 2) The CTA smells of BO. 3) Also, the CTA smells like old people. 4) I'm a fat girl now, but due to my thyroid dysfunction, I still don't sweat. I just redden and get splotchy looking after walking blocks and blocks and blocks in the sun. 5) Even very old men will stare blatantly at a young woman's breasts, even if that young woman is fat, red, and splotchy.

I braved the city on my own today, after explicit lessons from Seth on how to take the CTA down to the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. Giving me directions must have been not unlike explaining the Internet to someone who's never turned on a computer before. "Okay, you see this thingy on your right? With the cord? That's called a 'mouse.' You see that arrow on your screen? That's your cursor. Repeat after me: "cur-sor."

I think he was half afraid that I'd get confused and just end up riding the bus to the end of the line, crawling under the seats and hiding there until I cried myself to sleep. Oh no, wait. That was me who thought that.

Anyway, I made it to the bus stop, got on the correct bus going the correct direction, exited the bus when I intended, and all was well. I browsed a bit and treated myself to a new pair of earrings. Behold:

I also stopped for a blueberry pineapple smoothie and consumed ridiculous quantities of coffee over the course of the afternoon. Seriously. Ridiculous.

And tonight: Tori! :)