Friday, June 25, 2010

sunny with a chance of a late-day shower

We mark our age in so many ways. Our skirts get a touch longer. We drive a little slower. Maybe we swear a little less than we used to. And our age marks us in so many other ways. Our crow’s feet get a little deeper. Our glasses become a hair thicker. And in my case, well, I start checking the weather.

I used to shamelessly mock my grandfather for asking about the weather every time we spoke. I used to laugh with my friend Damon about his father’s slightly unhealthy obsession with the forecast in places where he wasn’t. All this asking after the clouds seemed hopeless—painfully—old.

But that was before. Now you might say that I’m a weather fanatic. I turn on the radio right when I wake up so that I can catch the 6:40 weather report. I sign on to when I get to the office. I’m especially partial to long-range forecasts. I like thinking 10 days out, and I like knowing that it might just rain a week from Wednesday. I might as well have a HAM radio and a doppler feed at my bedside.

I can’t say that I get it. I don’t know where it’s come from, but I find myself asking after the weather when I get an old pal on the phone: “so how’s it lookin’ in Omaha?” I might ask. As the words tumble out, I kinda giggle at myself and I kinda just want to know about the weather.

I don’t know if I’m becoming a simpleton or what. Without a “rain plan” for the wedding, I do know that I’m a bit obsessed with the chance for rain in 49686 in 22 days. I’ll be keeping an eye on my storm tracker. You should keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, June 18, 2010


We’ve had a lot to celebrate of late. I use that pronoun very intentionally. I mean I haven’t been celebrating. I’ve been scrambling. Scrambling to move from 550 feet in apartment 2C to 550 feet in apartment 2D. Scrambling to finish my history of bryn mawr (300 pages done and another 70 to go). Scrambling to find time to sew and to read and to exercise. Scrambling to figure out what I’m going to say in one month when I stand up in front of my friends and family and tell J why I’ve chosen him. So I’ve just been hurrying.

But we, well, we have a lot to celebrate.

Like the Lakers winning it all.
Like the end of J’s semester and his summer stay in Philly.
Like the fact that J got a book contract from UNC press.
Like the fact that J got a surprise “bonus” from his college.

So you see, J has a lot to celebrate.

I couldn’t care less about the Lakers.
I didn’t have an end to the semester because I have to finish this book.
I don’t have a hope in hell of UNC ever publishing my book because they published its doppelganger in April.
My promised cost of living increase turns out to be an extra $12.32 a month.

But wait, this isn’t self-pity, though it may look a lot like it. No, this is about feeling—I mean really actually feeling—what it means to be a “we.”

I sat at the bar last night until the wee hours with my fists clenched actually cheering for Kobe.
I made room in my 550 square feet—clearing drawers and closets—for the arrival of J and I greeted him with tremendous good cheer.
I imagine his book with its sexy new title and I think, yeah, I sorta kinda helped make it happen.
That bonus of his and those $12.32 will make plane tickets next year a teeny-tiny bit better.

I think probably the best part of choosing this “we-ness” is about allowing his good fortunes to feel like my own. I feel fortunate that he’s willing to share.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

much too much

When things get busy, I get forgetful. Really forgetful. Stupidly forgetful. When I was studying for my Ph.D. exams—the lowest point of my existence—I let the exams dominate my consciousness to the point at which I couldn’t keep anything else straight. I’d show up to teach the class I’d been teaching all semester an hour late.
I’d forget dentist appointments and I’d forget to return calls, for months on end. It
was ugly.

So as I walked home from the gym yesterday—all sweaty and gross because for some reason I decided it would be faster to shower at home—I fished around in my backpack for my keys. I checked every pocket. Scrounged around in bowels of the bag (where I did manage to turn up the watch I’ve been looking for since February). They weren’t there. I knew they weren’t there. I knew I’d forgotten them. The tears started welling up as I walked a little faster home. By the time I got to door, I was inconsolable and irate. Where were my damn keys? Or what about the spares? The building manager was gone and the ever-inebriated maintenance guy said it would take him an hour to come back to town and he’d charge me $50. My doorman—who in a year has never uttered more than four words to me—kept saying “oh baby, don’t worry. Don’t you worry a thing.” I probably should have been indignant that he was calling me “baby,” but really, I just sort of liked the way it sounded. J would tell you that the only reason I was upset was because I was going to have to shell out fifty bucks for being an idiot. But really I was upset about what this little episode suggested: that’s it’s all gotten to be just way too much.

There’s the wedding, sure, but the real stress right now is getting through this enormous book project for the college. It’s big, like 350 pages big. And there are a thousand things left to be done, not to mention 30 more years of content to uncover, transcribe, edit, arrange. And here’s the rub: I was supposed to be done before I left for the wedding. But as each day passes and more work rather than less appears, I have a feeling it’s not going to be done on time. The schedule was too ambitious from the start, especially as I was expected to teach a new class--and teach it well--this semester. I was also formulating an enormous conference for September and trying in the early hours to actually get out my own work. It’s just been too much, way too much.

When Stephen, the surprisingly sober maintenance guy, showed up to let me last night, I told him that in writing that check for $50, I was handing over a little piece of my soul. He wasn’t amused. After I shut the door and forced myself to breathe, I remembered in a flash: my damned spare keys are with the damned doorman. I left them there on Friday when I thought a friend was coming to town. So I just paid fifty bucks not because I locked myself out, but because I forgot to mention to the “baby”-calling doorman that my keys were in his little drawer, 3 feet away from me as I cried on the bench.

I sprinted downstairs and nearly out of breath, bellowed to the doorman, “you have my keys. My keys are in your drawer.” At that moment he looked upon me with a mixture of pity and amusement, “oh baby, you workin' too hard.”

This baby is certainly working too hard.