Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toilin' Trouble- The Job Search

I’ve been looking for summer work. Oh, how I hate looking for work. I hate commuting from Woodward to Des Moines, but that’s where most of the jobs are. Also challenging? Finding a job that pays enough to make it worth commuting from Woodward to Des Moines. It’s about thirty miles, and about 45 minutes depending on traffic. If the car gets 20 mpg, that’s three gallons of gas a day, or nearly $12. For some jobs that’s two hours of work. For other jobs it’s just one hour. Ugh. I’ll probably end up working for some temp agency like I did during summer vacation of my junior year at BVU.

My friend Kelly filled me in on one job possibility that is as improbable as it is awesome. You see, her news station is looking for a new reporter. If the person they pick isn’t immediately available, they may need someone to fill the gap. As a result, I spent a few days putting together a resume, cover letter and work sample. I also took a trip to the mall.

The dressy outfits I brought with me all involve dresses or skirts, and my legs are BRUISED. Some of the bruises are from hauling my 50-lb. suitcase around New York, some are from choring, but the biggest, grossest one is from when I was trying to disassemble farrowing pens -- left from the old farrowing house, which blew away in the tornado. (For my city readers, a farrowing house is where a pig gives birth.) The pens are rusty and surrounded by debris. I was balancing on some bent steel to loosen a bolt, and the metal slid, so I slammed my shin into the raised foundation. I managed not to cry and even kept working until a rusty bolt got jammed in the socket wrench. Oh, but back to topic, whatever job I interview for, I need something professional-looking to cover my legs.

I went to the mall trying to make choices that would work for the reporting position (on the long-shot that it might actually work out) but that would work for my everyday life, too. I found one pair of black pants that looked good and worked with my price range and two pairs of shoes at Payless. The shoe thing is actually a miracle. I found a pair of black dress shoes with a closed-toe and low heels that actually STAY ON MY FEET! They’re rather plain, but my other dress shoes are either knee-high boots (which aren’t right with skirts) or strappy sandals (which aren’t right for the workplace). I also found a pair of brown wedges which, though peep-toed, seem work-appropriate. Yay!

I then went bra shopping. (Karen, I know you love it when I give bra updates!) I actually had a slight underwire injury (a wee bruise under each arm) from wearing the wrong size. The love you, wireless Ipex!

And, most excitingly, I chopped my hair off! I was loving my uber-long hair, but it had its drawbacks. It was getting a bit split-endy (It hadn’t been professionally cut since December), so I had to trim it myself every now and then. It was getting HEAVY, and it took forever to dry. In Iowa in August, it may well have been unbearably hot to ever wear down, and with 99% humidity it would never have dried. My hair would have developed mildew. Heh! And ew. Also, if the long-shot reporting job came about, long hair just would not do.

My hairstylist put my hair in three ponytails, one on each side and one in the back, measured each to ten inches, and chop-chop-chopped! All for you, Locks of Love. My hair is now just down to my shoulders. I can wear it straight or naturally wavy, the stylist claims, though we’ll see once I let it dry naturally. My hair looks very smooth and healthy now.

That’s been the fun part of the job search. The not-fun part? Looking through job ads and not seeing anything that looks fun and challenging (or at least nearby) for the summer.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life in Iowa

In my last entry, I mentioned that upon returning to Iowa, I’ve stopped to smell the flowers. I’ve also been playing with my pets, watching birds, observing the tempestuous weather and getting lots of sleep. Sigh. I’ve been staying up a bit late and sleeping a bit late. You see, I have to take antihistamines here, which get me a bit wired. Also, my dad stays up a bit late watching TV, and I tend to stay up until he goes to bed. (Of course he naps off and on while we watch…) Sunday I even took a long lap! I’ll have to fix my sleep patterns once I get a summer job.

It hasn’t all been sleeping in until 8 and smelling lilacs. I’ve also been helping Mom with the house chores and helping Dad with the farm chores.

I actually like helping with farm work. It’s smelly and sometimes gross (especially when manure is involved), but I like being outside; having a concrete, immediately achievable task; doing physical work; and just helping my dad. Also, when we chore we go to Unkie and Helen’s house so I occasionally get to see them or Karla, Karen, Connor and Hannah. I haven’t seen Lynn yet, but the vacation is young.

So far, I’ve picked up buckets full of rocks, helped dad take down pens, scooped manure, built new pens, and helped with daily chores. For the daily chores, I mainly fill five-gallon buckets with water or grain and deliver them to various sheep. I occasionally move a bale of hay from one place to another. My parents’ eating habits are more decadent than mine, but through the magic of farm work, I’ve lost three pounds!

I’ve also been spending time with family and friends of the family. Saturday, a little boy named Bryce had his birthday. Brice and his siblings, Jordan, Jenna and Jayden, have adopted Mom and Dad as extra grandparents (much as I did with Unkie and Helen). Those kids are ten pounds of cute in an eight-pound bag. Brice’s party featured a clown, which…wow, I…yeah. That is a tough job. Before we knew it, it was time to go, because we were going to Newton to see J.B., Erika, Brooke and Courtney. I’d really missed my brother and sister-in-law, and I love getting play with my smart, cute nieces.

The visit started with crying, as Brooke had just finished her nap and Courtney’s nap had been shorter than usual. Also, Courtney is shy with people she doesn’t remember (me) and guys (Dad). I used my usual strategy. Basically, I sit on the floor and start playing with toys. Brooke started giggling at my antics and eventually joined me on the floor. Then I read her a story. A bit later, Mom and Brooke and Courtney were in the playroom. Mom and Brooke were lions, and Courtney was using her kitchen set to cook lion chow. I joined in as a lion, and we had a good time. Mom had to go take a Tylenol, as all the crawling was hard on her knees.

Then we went out for dinner at pizza ranch. Brooke wanted me to ride in the van with her, and I was honored to be invited. Courtney is very independent, and climbed into her seat on her own. I buckled her in, but it looked like she wanted to do that on her own, too. We all sang along to the Mr. Stinkyfeet CD, which is quite catchy. At the pizza ranch, Courtney spent most of the dinner turned around in her seat, watching people fill their glasses with soda…I mean pop. “Wow, she’s a people watcher! Is she always like this in public?” I asked. J.B. laughed and admitted that he didn’t know because they don’t take the girls out often. Heh. Well, the girls were very well-behaved. Then we went back to their house, played a little bit longer and then helped get the girls ready for bed. I was helping Brooke put on her pjs, but she got all giggly and wiggly. I had to have her stop and take a deep breath. My nieces are too cute!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Part Five: Departing again

The next morning, there was no time to mope. I was rushing around doing last-minute packing. I decided to take a cab to Newark Airport. What I didn’t realize was that it would take so long and cost so much. How much? $70. Yowza. I’ll remember to figure that in next time I’m booking a flight.

Anyway, traffic was slow. Then the line at Northwest Airlines was so long! I finally used the machine to check in, and it didn’t recognize me. The woman at the counter informed me that I wasn’t booked. I showed her my itinerary, and she replied that my Northwest flight by Alliant was flown by Continental, which was in a different terminal. I sprinted to the AirTrain, made it to the next terminal, then (near tears) asked for help at the Continental desk. They called the plane to tell them I was coming. I sprinted over to security, which I got through in record time. I managed to get on the flight just before the attendant closed the door. I flew to Memphis, then to Iowa. Yay! I made it home safely, but (Surprise!) my luggage didn’t. That’s three times in a row that my luggage hasn’t made it from New York to Iowa.

Mom picked me up and took my for ice cream. Then we met up in town and Dad took me home so Mom could donate blood. I was so happy to see my parents. I’d really missed them. Back on the farm, I played fetch with the dogs and petted the cat. It was a gorgeous day, the sky achingly blue. My favorite flowers, lilacs, were in full bloom. Their scent was so heavy on the breeze you could get drunk off of it.

In honor of the headiness of spring, enjoy this poem by Hayden Carruth:

Lilac Time

The winter was fierce, my dear,
Snowy and blowy and cold,
A heart-breaker and record-breaker,
And I am feeble and old.

But now it is lilac time.
Come out in the sweet warm air,
Come and I'll gather flowers
To put in your beautiful hair.

Let's make a bouquet of lilac
For our old bedside table.
Then the fragrance in the night
Will make me form-i-dable.

--Hayden Carruth (b. 1921)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Part Four: Brunching and Hanging with the Ex

Tom was still a bit out of it when I called him Saturday morning, so I suggested he have some breakfast and I would meet him in Brooklyn. Then we could go for brunch. We ended up going to Trout (formerly known as Gravy) for biscuits and gravy with Bloody Marys and mimosas. Tom actually ate eggs, which he NEVER does.

I teased Tom that he didn’t call me early. He laughed, “Did I say I would?” He didn’t remember saying anything of the kind. “Yes," I replied, "You said you woke up yesterday at 5, and you might call me at five today.” He shook his head and admitted he was not up at 5 yesterday. “You lied?” I asked, incredulous. “Oh, no,” Tom replied, “I’m sure I believed it at the time.” I about fell over laughing.

We decided to walk off our ginormous brunch. Besides, the weather was glorious--sunny and warm. We ran into some of Tom’s friends, who I’ve met several times. One of them looked VERY curious. After we parted ways, I told him, “You know she’s going to grill you about us the next time you see her, right?” “Oh, I know,” he replied. (For the record, still not together, because Tom doesn’t do long-distance: “When you lived in Harlem, that was already long-distance. That was pushing it.” Heh. Well, it did take me an hour and a half to get to his place by subway.)

We went back to his apartment to go to the bathroom, apply sunscreen and have some water. Then we decided to visit the historic Greenwood Cemetery just a few blocks away. It was built in the early 1800s, a time when people were fascinated with death. As a result, their graves are incredibly elaborate, and some of them are emotionally moving works of sculpture.

It was just nice to be out in the sun, walking around. I suggested that Tom might start jogging there, as many people do. He replied that it would seem a bit like bragging. “I’m so alive. See me running as you lay there, dead!” Hee. I really don't think they would mind.

That night, I was tired, so I bought some chocolate, went back to Jenny’s apartment and watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade while petting Zach and Greg. I was so tired, in fact, that I went to sleep with just ten minutes left in the movie. I realized that I had watched the movie so many times with J.B. as a kid (it was his favorite for a while) that I had the ending memorized, word-for-word. I turned of the TV, watched the ending quickly in my head and went to sleep.

Sunday I was psyched to meet up with Laura and Carolina for brunch. Unfortunately, Carolina had a family emergency. Noooo! I miss you, Carolina. Laura and I had brunch anyway. Brunch came with mimosas or screwdrivers. The mimosas I had the day before were rather strong, and I wanted the taste of OJ, so I went with the screwdriver. Big mistake! It was practically clear. It was like orange-flavored vodka. The waiter laughed when I drank half and asked for more juice.

After breakfast, Laura and I wandered the street fair outside, which stretched block after block. It was there that I finally found the perfect hostess gift for Jenny: a pair of green earrings that will look great with her red hair, and some pearly discs painted with cherries. (Jenny flipped over them when I gave them to her that night.)

Then I went back to Brooklyn, where Tom made me linguine with clam sauce for supper. Because of the long train ride, by the time I made it back to Jenny’s apartment it was late and she was sleeping, so I was sneaking around in the dark. When I first came to New York, I couldn’t wait for Iowa, but suddenly I realized I didn’t quite want to leave.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Part Three: Out on the town.

Friday I slept in a bit, and when I woke up it was raining AGAIN. Sigh. So I read for a while, showered and blew my hair dry and styled it. When I dried my body, I was grossed out to find that my towel had smeared me with cat fur. In fact, I gagged a little. I grew up with cats in my house, but I never experienced anything like this. It took me a while to get all the fur off, but I managed it somehow. (The next time I needed to shower, I used Jenny's lint roller and rolled both sides of each towel.)

Then it was time to meet up with Madrid for her b-day celebration at Fat Black Pussycat. You know, recently I’d been feeling a bit guilty for leaving my students at I.S. 318, but hearing Laura, Madrid and Madrid’s co-workers talk about their troubles at work cured me instantly. That night I ended up playing two games of darts (the second and third times I’ve ever played). I lost both times, but it was fairly close. Only the bullseye eluded me. I gave Madrid her present, a pair of earrings. I think she really liked them, and Laura liked them so much that she requested a pair. I take that as quite a compliment, since she is a jewelry artiste extraordinaire.

We then went for Thai food a block away. We had duck soup spiced with cinnamon and star anise. It was incredible. We talked Madrid into staying out a little while longer for beer at Vol d’ Nuit.

Then she baled, so Laura and I went to Union Square for Chocolates by the Bald Man. It was raining again, but the line was long. While waiting, we gazed into vats of churning chocolate (see photos at left), and sipped samples of hot chocolate, sweet and dark and rich as a melted candy bar. While we were waiting, who should appear but Riza and her boyfriend Aki! New York is amazing that way. There are millions of people in the city and the city is huge, but you run into people all the time in random places. They thought they would join us, but they had to take off for a show they were seeing (Fuerza Bruta) before the table was ready.

I don’t remember what Laura got, but I got Mexican hot chocolate in “the signature hug mug.” It was satiny-rich hot chocolate with a tingle of hot pepper.

The hug mug is oblong and must be cupped in your hands, hugged, to be drunk. We got a text from Riza: “Most of the guys here are gay. They’re hitting on Aki.” Well, he is adorable. Later Ryan texted, assuming we were out dancing: “Are you grinding with some guy?” I told her to reply, “Where are you standing that you can see me?” That gave her the giggles. Ryan and Carolina were hosting their school’s senior class cruise. We wanted to meet up with them, but we were tired and afraid it would take them a long time to get together with us, so we gave up and went home. Sigh. Then I realized I was scheduled to meet up with Tom the next day, but we hadn’t set up when or where.

I texted him: “Any ideas for tomorrow?” His reply: “Not really. Life’s weird right now.” Since I pay by the text, but had plenty of minutes left, I called him to get the scoop. Voice mail? Grr. I left a message asking him to call me to set up our get-together. Then a thought occurred to me: “Life’s weird right now.” I’d heard that exact line before…Blake Wilner, London, 2001. We first met in NYC in 1999, but since then had been pen pals with flirtation. When I got to London, we stopped by a bar where we met a girl named Lou. Then, once we were at Blake’s apartment (where he had offered me a place to stay) he informed me that he and Lou were living together. Say what? That’s shady behavior. Who moves in with girl, but doesn’t tell his friends he’s moved in with a girl? Shady. I didn't think Tom was being shady, but it was possible he didn't want to hurt my feelings.

With this in mind, I texted him: “The last time a guy said that to me, he had a girlfriend, but didn’t know how to tell me.” Brrring!

Tom called instantly to inform me of what was actually going on. Basically, one of his friends got drunk and wanted to drive, so Tom and all of his friends had their hand full trying to talk him out of his keys when I first texted. Tom sounded pretty with-it when the conversation began, but then…I think he called me a nun? “What did you say?” Tom replied, “I have no idea.” I realized that he was drunk. “Yeah, I’m drunk. You didn’t notice before now?” We decided to make our plans the next day.

“I may call you very early,” Tom said.

“How early are we talking?”

“Obscenely early. Earlier than a person would get up if they didn’t have to. Today I was up by 5.”

“Oh,” I replied, “Well, I might sleep through that. If I do, just leave a message and I’ll call you when I get up.”

The next morning, I woke up, had some yogurt and took a shower, did my hair and makeup and got dressed, then called Tom at 9. I woke him up. Hee.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Part Two: Arrival

I decided not to splurge on a cab ride and dragged my fifty-pound bag about ten blocks to the 6 subway line. On the subway, I saw six beers rolling around on the seat across from me, one upright and open. At 7 a.m., this was mysterious…until a drunk guy appeared out of nowhere and began drinking the open beer. He tried to hit on the nurses sitting next to me, who responded by asking him which mental hospital he’d escaped from. A guy across the way hid the remaining beers, but the drunk guy was too out of it to notice. Then the nurses exited the train, so he sat next to me. Great. I forcefully ignored him. He kept dozing off, occasionally falling toward me. Each time he did, I leaned away and managed to make it off the train without any creepy drunk guy contact.

Then came the hard part: dragging my bag up two flights of stairs at rush hour. I nice man in a suit offered to carry my bag up the stairs: “You don’t have to—it’s very heavy.” Guy, slightly offended: “I can lift it!” Me (apologetically): “Oh, well, thank you!” See, I was being all Midwestern and by not wanting to burden a stranger and he was being all New Yorkery by thinking I was insulting his manhood. Heh. It was sprinkling on my seven-block walk to Jenny’s apartment, although the worst part was dragging my bag up to the fourth floor.

Finally, I made it and took a nap with Jenny’s kitties. Jenny is so sweet to let me stay on her couch. The price of admission is feeding them and scooping the kitty litter if Jenny’s not around and fawning over them when she is around. Hee. You people know I love pets, but I’m a pet enthusiast. Jenny is a pet mommy. Her cats are giant and sweet and very pretty, but their hobbies include prodigious shedding and clawing things (like the wall or my suitcase). Heh.

I woke up after 11 and went grocery shopping, then had lunch. I was a little stir-crazy, but felt no desire to tromp around New York I met up with Laura for a bit of shopping at, of all places, Forever 21. Normally I avoid that place like the plague, but it wasn’t too crowded and I managed to find a cute dress and top in my wee price range. Then we got to meet up with her fiancĂ© Ryan for a few minutes. He’s loving the teaching fellows and his new band. Then Laura and I went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, La A’nnam, where we enjoyed scallion pancakes and talked ourselves into splitting a bottle of wine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Part One: Departure

Oh, New York…

How I love you. Even when my job was terrible and my love life barren, my enduring love for you made me so happy. I shall tell the story of my New York visit in five parts, beginning with my departure for the city.

My last few days in Virginia passed quickly in a frenzy of laundry and packing. Then I decided to renew my driver’s license. I already told you of my carding trouble. (Who knew I was such a baby face? Seriously, my wrinkles must be more obvious to me than to others.) Anyhoo…I was a bit nervous about having trouble getting into the bars or dance clubs my New York friends might want to go to. I was REALLY nervous about trying to fly with an expired license.

My roommate Alex was nice enough to drive me to the DMV and wait…and wait…and wait. When I got to the front of the line and informed the woman what I wanted to do, she winced, then asked, “Do you have your current license?” I did. “An additional form of government-issued ID?” I set down my passport, social security card and birth certificate. With each item I provided, she looked astonished. Then, her face tense with anxiety, she asked for proof of residency. I gave her a pay stub, and she beamed. “Did you check the web site?” I replied that I had. “Oh, I’m glad. People don’t check and they stand in that long line and when they find out they need documents they don’t have, they get so mad.” She’d spent the whole transaction dreading me screaming at her. Heh. Poor woman! Maybe they should post a sign on the front door listing the required documents. I’m glad I could cheer her up a bit, and the picture on my license is pretty good!

Wednesday night Alex was nice enough to take me to the bus station. My parents gave me an inflatable travel neck pillow for Christmas, and it made a big difference in the eight-hour trip. Last time I ended up with a terrible kink in my neck. This time I popped in my earplugs, hunkered down with my dorky neck pillow and woke up feeling fine.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finals Are Finally Over!

Hooray! I finally completed and turned in all of my finals, my grades and my teaching portfolio. Yay, yay, yay! Monday I turned in grades, Tuesday was my Harlem Renaissance final and Wednesday I had to turn in both a poetry portfolio (showing how my work changed from draft to draft) and a chapbook (an introduction and a collection of poems arranged like a real book). The chapbook was challenging, because I'm not that well-read in poetry, and before joining this program, most of the poetry books I owned were anthologies. As such, I didn't really understand how one made poems fit together to create a whole.

I had planned to complete my teaching portfolio Thursday, but I was so exhausted that I spent that day in a coma. Seriously, I don't remember Thursday. Friday I finished the book. Then I went for groceries and attempted to make mini pudding pies with graham cracker crust. You see, I'm trying to eat all of my leftovers without opening anything new, and I had five graham cracker sheets. I tossed them in the cute little food processor Mom gave me. Then I added some sugar and melted butter...too much melted butter. I pressed the mixture into muffin papers in my muffin tin. After baking, I actually had to drain out the excess butter. It's kind of a bad sign when you have to drain your baked goods. I even blotted the graham cracker crusts a bit. Then I filled each one with vanilla pudding, topped with a fresh strawberry. They were messy (hard to pry out of the muffin papers), but the mini pies were scrumptious.

Saturday was spent making jewelry for various friends' birthdays (not to mention two necklaces I promised Riza and Carolina way back for Christmas 2006. Then I did some cooking. My newly-invented chicken dish was awesome. I had three huge Tyson boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer. The package said I could bake them without thawing, which made life easier.

I preheated the oven to 350, rinsed the breasts and arranged them in a baking pan. Then I brushed them with olive oil. I realized I had several cloves of garlic, so I peeled them and minced them in the food processor, then sprinkled the garlic on the chicken. I was then inspired to use some white cooking wine that I had in the fridge, and poured a layer in the bottom of the pan. Then I thought I remembered Mr. B saying that garlic can burn easily, so I scraped all the garlic into the wine. I shook a little bit of mustard powder and fresh black pepper on the chicken and baked it for 40-50 minutes (try 35 to 45 minutes if you thaw the chicken first).

When I was done, I decided to make a sauce, like the dill sauce I made for my salmon in the winter. I took the chicken out of the pan and set it on the cutting board. I put 4 tbsp. of flour in a saucepan, then poured in the wine and garlic from the baking dish (leaving behind any fat globs). I stirred briskly to eliminate lumps. I cut into each chicken breast to make sure they were done; they all were, so I poured the juice that ran out of them from the (clean) cutting board into the sauce pan with more wine, a little salt, pepper, thyme and garlic powder and simmered until I got the right consistency. Next time I'd either include a little less flour or use some chicken broth in place of a little of the wine, because the wine flavor was a tad strong. That said, it was scrumptious, and more than I'd hoped for from finishing off my leftovers! I'm also proud of myself, because (besides my raspberry fudge) this is my first real invented recipe.

Sunday was spent on cleaning and other housework, not to mention calling my mommy to wish her a happy mother's day. I wish I could have been there with Mom for her special day. I miss her. Well, next Monday, I'll be safe at home with my family. Today I've been preparing for my trip, doing laundry and attempting to pack. I'm so tired!

Thursday I take the bus to New York. My friend Jenny has offered me a place to stay, thought we're still arranging the details. Two weeks ago, by back cramped up terribly, so I'm not looking forward to hauling a big suitcase all around the city and up and down MANY flights of stairs (into and out of the subway, up to and down from Jenny's fourth-floor apartment). I tried for a small suitcase and realized I have room for most of my clothes if I don't take any shoes or my shoes, pants and skirts if I don't pack shirts and toiletries. Either way, it would be a problem.

I'm trying to pack for NYC and Iowa, from cool May weather to hot August weather, and events from hanging out on the farm to my friend Emily's wedding. I don't know what summer job I'll get, either, so I may need business-like clothes. Sigh. I'm going to end up hauling a 50-lb bag all over the place. I'm temped to mail my clothes home...but I'd have to carry the box blocks and blocks to the post office, so it's kind of a wash. If only I could really afford taxis and hotels with bellman to carry my bags. Where is a sugar daddy when you need one?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Let's Pretend it's May 4! (Happy Birthday?)

This week was...not the greatest, let me just say that. I had a huge paper due on Tuesday, April 29, my birthday. I'd planned to get it all done over the weekend, but that was not in the cards. Basically, I did some exercise on Saturday, got a little too vigorous and my back seized up so badly that all I could do for the rest of the weekend was take Motrin, use heat packs, take baths and stretch. I couldn't sit up to type or read or write. Normally, I'll all for baths and stretching and vegging out, but it this case it was not fun. Not fun at all. When I finally got by back relaxed, I had a bunch of grading to complete for my students, so I only got one hour of sleep.

Monday I taught my final class and returned my students' papers. Then I went through my research texts, marking them with post-its. After lunch I was so tired that I had to grab a three-hour nap. Then I did some outlining and wrote my introduction. By that point, it was 10 p.m. and my head was doing that bobbing-thing. I did some math and realized I would have to get up at by 2 a.m. if I were to have sufficient time to type the rest of my 3000 word paper (on 18th Century kitchenmaid poet Mary Leapor) with sufficient time for revision and editing by 5 p.m.

I enlisted the help of my nocturnal roomies, asking them to check in and make sure I was up again by two. I was already awake when they knocked on my door. They wished me happy birthday. (I had forgotten it was my birthday.) I open and read my birthday card from Grandma Carol and Grandpa Kenny, the only one I'd received so far.

I then proceeded to write (grabbing breakfast while I worked) until it was time for my office hours, at which time I packed up all my books and articles and transfered all my work to campus. Mom called to wish me "Happy Birthday" and see if I could help her come up with a specific vocabulary word for her students. ("What was that old-fashioned thing where you got dressed up and there was singing and dancing and food?" The word was "Madrigal.") I then typed for the rest of the day, with just enough time to revise and edit...hooray!

Then I realized I promised to make posters for the poetry workshop's reading the next day, so I quickly drew one up on the computer and printed 50 on pretty blue paper...at which point I realized that I had neglected to include the time. I had to go back and add the time to each one by hand, then returned my books to the library and hung the signs up all over campus. (Only days later did I realize the signs had a typo, too. Sigh. Fatigue and perfection do not go hand in hand. On the other hand, they were very pretty and did increase our audience.)

At six I ran home (literally) and scarfed down supper while completing my reading for my Harlem Renaissance class. I then ran back to campus for class from seven to ten. I got home feeling tired, cranky and a bit depressed. It cheered me up a bit that I received a happy birthday call from Sandy and had a voice mail from J.B. and another with Grandma and Grandpa Staker singing the "Happy Birthday" song. That said, it was not a happy birthday.

I decided to put the day behind me and hit the hay. The next day I slept in so late that I barely had time to spiff up, choose and revise my poems before the reading. I was so nervous until I chose the right poems and had them revised and in my hands. I actually had to sprint to the coffee house. Everyone did such a good job. (See all photos at left)

Thursday I did some grading work, looking over online homework and transferring data from my paper gradebook to my electronic gradebook. Friday was my students' final. The the roomies and I had errands to run. That night, Rakel, Todd and I went to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and drinks. Unfortunately, they wouldn't give me a drink, because my birthday meant my drivers license is expired. The waiter totally didn't care that in Iowa you have a 30-day grace period after your birthday to renew. I was pretty grumpy about it, but got a virgin daiquiri instead. I also comforted myself with the knowledge that I may be spitting-distance from 30, but I still look young enough to card. Saturday was a potluck dinner for English department, so I whipped up yet another weight gain-inducing batch of chewy lemon cookies.

I got a ride from a swell couple of MFAers, who also bought my pony (a.k.a a cappuccino maker--I bought it back when I was dating Tom. He's a coffeeholic, so sometimes we'd be hanging out at my apartment and he'd start jonesing for a caffeine fix. When I announced that I'd bought him a present and it was coming in a mail, Tom asked what it was. "A pony!" The nickname stuck.) They gave me enough cash for a cab ride. Yay! It was fun chatting with people, and the food and drinks were lovely. The cookies were a hit, too.

Grades were due Monday, so I was grading, grading, grading the rest of the weekend. I'm exhausted, but with two more finals due in the coming week (not to mention my teaching portfolio), I'm not going to be able to rest until it's all done.

Sigh. I can't even comfort myself that next birthday will be better, because it'll be in the middle of finals, too. So will my 30th! Sigh. Well, at least a handful of my nearest and dearest took the time to tell me they're glad I was born. That's more than some people get.