Halloween Spirit

October 31st, 2006

In a show of Halloween spirit, Stevel has taken the plastic pumpkin full of peanut M&Ms to work. He has been opening and reading his Halloween cards. I think this is also spirited on his part.

This morning, I saw a “parade” of about 50 school children in costumes in Long Beach. Although I was driving by quickly, I was able to isolate a few outstanding costumes, including a petite ladybug and a very tall princess. I wish we could have trick-or-treaters at the Villa Monica, but we are gated. I’ve been sharing our pumpkins with our neighbors, though. I hope they enjoy my rudimentary smiley pumpkin and Steve’s non-representational pumpkin-of-shapes.

Carwash Fare

October 30th, 2006

At the carwash today, I noticed that the ENTIRELY FULL vending machine contained ONLY bags of Cheetos. Must have been a hundred bags of Cheetos in there. Apparently there is big demand among car wash clientele for Cheetos

There is a line. And he has crossed it.

October 28th, 2006

Just when you think it can’t get any grosser with Linus, we wake up this morning with a pile of vomit on the bed between our two pillows. Stevel said, “This is the end.” I think Linus will sleep not-in-our-room. At least for a night or two. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to blog about these things. I apologize.

Job Opening

October 26th, 2006

I’m surfing job postings online. Here’s something I clicked on that made me realize I was on the wrong Web site:


Under general supervision of the principal investigator, perform rodent neuroanatomic experiments by cutting brain sections on cryostat and microtome; perform histological staining, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Employee will work closely with the Neuroanatomist and Principal Investigator, develop, perform, and troubleshoot the laboratory procedures, techniques and protocols. Additional responsibilities include ordering; lab maintenance; toxic waste management and other routine laboratory activities.

Not Much Happening This Week

October 26th, 2006

I got a haircut. Mia puked up a hairball the size and shape of a small animal. We went to a friend’s wedding reception, and stevel dressed up.

My Husband Could Make a Mural

October 20th, 2006

Give Me Your Stress for My Art

Like Old Times

October 20th, 2006

I’m having Halloween candy and Diet Pepsi for breakfast.

Diet Pepsi was a staple in our household when I was growing up. We are a Diet Pepsi people. My stepfather, Mike, has a sister, Jill, who works for Coke, and Pauline, my stepmother, worked for Coke for a short time as well. I wish I liked Coke! I would love to support the family, and I would love to be able to get my favorite beverage in more than one percent of restaurants. But alas, Coke makes me a little queasy.

DP, meanwhile, is some kind of life elixir. Mmm.

Places where you can get DP in my area:

[1] Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
[2] Koo Koo Roo (like Kenny Rogers Roasters)
[3] The gross popcorn-cafe at Target
[4] The so-so Indian buffet in Long Beach
[5] A lot of Mexican restaurants, but not Holy Guacamole dammit

Sometimes I just have to have it, and poor stevel has to eat in a yucky restaurant like El Torito. Why do only second-rate joints subscribe to DP? I don’t like the Coke-opoly. I wish there were choices of both beverages in every restaurant. I’m sure Coke would still achieve its same major success, don’t you think?

Wow, while typing this, I have eaten WAY too much of the Halloween candy Cindy sent us. Hey, Mom, remember how you kept our Halloween candy bags on top of the fridge, and we weren’t supposed to get into them without permission? Confession time. We were into those bags constantly. But as you know, we never touched the one-pound Hershey bar you kept up there for your own sanity. Respect. Or at the very least a recognition that our team effort to destroy all of the property you possessed in the name of “making things” was perhaps a little stressful at times. (You might have wanted to administer tighter inventory control over the boxes of cake-mix in the pantry, though. I think I am a lifetime addict.)

The Two Reasons I Didn’t Get Any Sleep Last Night

October 19th, 2006


Yesterday morning I was running late and having a bad-outifts day. In my hasty removal of one shirt, I pinched a nerve or something in my neck. Since then I have been able neither to parallel park nor to sleep for very long. Ow.


Linus, AKA cat-whose-20-pounds-of-paw-pressure-have-no-respect-for-my-organs-or-eyeballs, LaVietes. BAD Linus.

Johnny Pasta

October 17th, 2006

Here’s our newest dorky thing (OK, it’s actually a “me” thing with Stevel trying to make me understand that it’s gotten old):

This weekend’s hotel was next to an abandoned Italian restaurant (there’s a lot of abandoned stuff—mostly from the 60s—in Palm Springs; land is plentiful and cheap, so there’s no need to demolish, I guess). It looked like it had been a ritzy place, and we determined that in its hey-day, it had been a likely gangster joint. Stevel decided the head gangster was named “Johnny Pasta.” From there, we named the entire crime-family. Joey Marinara. Penne Ramone. Noodles, the muscle. Noodles’ brother, Capers. Etc.

And here’s where Stevel thinks it’s getting old (but he’s wrong). I am compelled frequently since our return to use my two gangster voices. This first one, you must say in a high-pitched tone, thick New York accent:

“You ain’t never heard o’ Johnny Pasta?! You better not cross Johnny!”

Then, you say this one, which is the voice of Johnny—the boss—himself:

“Noodles. Show these gentlemen the door.”

Tell me you don’t find this irresistible.

Joshua Tree

October 16th, 2006

This weekend, Stevel and I drove out to Palm Springs. We had a lovely overnight stay at the Comfort Inn, where we had the pool and large hot tub all to ourselves for a long time as the sun set over the mountain, and the sky remained dim but not dark. We shopped, walked, partook of delicious food and wine, and then decided we were thoroughly bored with Palm Springs. So we went back to our hotel room and played “Word Balloon,” a game like Hangman, on our Nintendos for a very long time. This morning we got up and went to Joshua Tree, where I took some photos (click on “Start Slideshow” on the right). We climbed rocks and watched more serious climbers scale rock-faces. On the way home, Stevel grumblingly allowed himself to be dragged to an outlet mall, where everyone was rude but I got a cute watch that was a super deal. We also had Godiva hot chocolate, which is crazy delicious. Now Stevel is finishing “Book the 13th” in the Lemony Snicket series while I “do homework” at my desk.

Right Now

October 12th, 2006

I am in the TMAC (Teaching Associate) office, where 13 people and I share six desks. The TMAC office is in a random corner of a random wing of a random building. This is standard at universities for teaching associates, whose pay is also so criminally low we make our lunches out of pilfered office supplies. (“More paper-and-WiteOut sandwich, Dan?” “Don’t mind if I do.”) The best part of this scenario is, we compete to BE teaching associates, and we consider ourselves lucky. (“Please. Use me. I have been thoroughly brainwashed by the coded messages in my Norton Anthology.”) But these conditions comprise the standard hazing/dues-paying of one in the beginnings of her career as an academic. I’m grateful to those in the English department who fought—and, I’m sure, have to fight every year—to get a line in the university budget for “TMAC” funding at all.

So the random building in which the TMAC office is situated is actually not a building at all, but a part of the library with a separate entrance, as in, there is an impenetrable wall between us and the rest of the library. Or, there WAS, until they started the library renovations this summer.

The first step in renovating the library was to find temporary offices elsewhere on campus for anyone in this random wing of the building who mattered. This did not include teaching associates. OUR office remains intact. The “environment” in which this office is situated has changed somewhat, however. Instead of other cubicles being across from ours, we now have giant stacks of desks and other furniture from the former offices of those relocated people-who-matter. Behind the stacks of furniture, there is a giant wall of translucent plastic-tarp taped from ceiling to floor. From behind this tarp come many sounds (and sometimes little arrows of spark from welding projects). The sounds include the following:

“This won’t work. There’s no fucking way this is going to work.”

“Look at this. I keep tellin’ them about this shit. This is just shit.” “Whose fucking shit is this?” “I don’t know, I don’t fuckin’ know.” “Shit.”

[Large chunks of debris falling and hitting the ground, for hours]

[Jackhammer noise, for hours]

[Cell phone ringing to a hip-hop tune I recognize but can't identify] “Yeah? Uh huh. I fuckin’ told her. I gotta go.”

[Two guys coming through slit in the tarp-curtain to exit the building via our wing and spotting us at our desks] “Oh my God, there’s still PEOPLE over here? I didn’t know there were any people still over here!”

Just try conferencing in this office with a student—who mind you, has had to follow the directions you’ve given her to GET to your office that include the instruction, “Turn left at the crane”—at whatever desk is free in the TMAC cubicle while all of this sound is coming from behind the tarp. It’s difficult to do. Doing it and appearing to that student to be a “legitimate” faculty member: Impossible.

But I don’t mean to just complain. It’s nice not having the other offices over there anymore. They were always having meetings that started with the agenda item, “Recognitions and Kudos” (“Oh, I have one! Sandy helped me carry my slide projector to the presentation last week. Thanks, Sandy!”). I’m not sure why, but I prefer these construction guys. I AM starting to get a little worried about the library project, though. Here’s the one I heard this morning:

“No, this isn’t a wall.”
“Yes, it is. This is a wall.”
“There’s no wall here.”
“Yes, there is. It’s right here. THIS is a wall.”
“I don’t think this is a wall.”

Yes. A little worried …

Makin’ Somethin’

October 11th, 2006

The other day a box came in the mail for me, and when Biggie found it, he investigated. The investigation was comprised of a lot of noisy removal of some brown packing paper, and a tipping-over of the box. Biggie quickly learned he could not fit in the box (nor could he situate himself, as he does with any pizza box, on top of it). More noisy paper rearranging ensued, in which he used his paws to form a nest of paper and plopped down in it. He tried various positions until one allowed him to prop his head on a folded-over section of the paper. Being that I was studying while this was going on, I complained of the noise. Stevel defended Linus, however, explaining, “He’s makin’ somethin’.” So the nest remains. Linus can always count on his beloved Stevel to come to his defense, especially when his endeavors are “artistic.”


October 11th, 2006

A few weeks back, I sent some packages to my sister’s house. In them were books for Cheri as well as random items meant for my nieces. A few of these items were leftover trinkets or purchases from my trip to Mexico. A very special baby doll was among them. This was a baby doll I had purchased at a dime store in Puebla for use in a skit in which I played a mother-with-baby (mama-con-bebe). This baby doll smelled like moth-balls. He was also a boy. He was anatomically correct.

So, naturally, I sent it to my four-year-old niece. She named it Madison. Madison wasn’t supposed to leave the house, and Madison’s diaper was supposed to stay on when friends came over (am I getting these rules right, Cheri?).

Sadly, Madison met the fate of so many of my niece’s babies who are NOT complete inside the diaper. A bath or somesuch soaked him hopelessly; he was hung outside to dry (and, I’m sure, to confound the neighbors); and he ultimately disappeared. But I think he leaves behind a valuable lesson for all of us. He must, he was a toy, after all, and if Barney teaches us anything, it’s that all play has a moral, so I’m sure there’s a moral to Madison. Something about what’s inside being what counts, I’m sure.

Our House Stinks, and I Need a Pinky Specialist

October 11th, 2006

I love when people don’t blog for a long time, and then say, “Oh sorry, it was a busy time!” (I mean, people like me do this.) (I mean, I do this.) See, what really happens with ME and the blogging is, if I’m NOT busy, I don’t blog, because there’s just no reason to, and I’m watching a TiVo full of crime shows, anyway. It’s times like now, when I have a long Whitman paper due tomorrow that yet requires hours and hours of work before I lay me down to sleep, when I feel I must—yes, it’s urgent I do it—blog.

Stevel says my Whitman paper should say, “Whitman is a pompous blowhard. The end.” But I don’t think Whitman is a blowhard, and the paper has to be seven pages long. So instead it’s about tension between celebration of the individual and of the whole in Whitman’s Song of Myself.

Speaking of tension, Mia’s new diet of canned food makes our entire house so stinky I am ashamed to have friends over. It’s a very distinct stink. Like mushy worm-brains baking in the sun. We know when the stealth Mia is coming up the stairs, too, because if she has just eaten, she carries the stink with her.

And speaking of arthritis, ever since Stevel gave me that Nintendo DS, I’ve been experiencing aches and pains in my fingers. Sometimes my right middle finger goes to sleep for a couple of days. But the newest is this biting pain in my left pinky when I type anything. (Like. NOW.) Dude, it’s so painful.

But I deserve this pain. Yesterday I laundered Stevel’s Razr phone. Washer. And. Dryer. It is dead, of course. Why didn’t I check the pockets?! WHY!!!! Was it because you need pinkies to do that? Or was I woozy from the cat-food stink?

I gave my students their next essay assignment. It’s the most complicated assignment I’ve ever SEEN. I’m not trying to be cruel, just challenging. They’re such wonderful good sports this semester, they were right there with me as we went over it. I hope they have FUN working on it, because I really want it to be fun. Have I mentioned how terrific my class is this semester? Smarties, all.