In my day, we used a Sears Roebuck catalogue in the outhouse…

Once upon a time, when the guy I was dating moved into his first apartment, I bought him groceries as a house-warming gift. I found a little card that said something like, “Congratulations on your new place! Have fun paying money for things like toilet paper.” I propped the card up on a 4-pack of toilet paper and left it on his bed before I went to work.

I think it’s still the best description of adult life I’ve ever heard: have fun paying for things like toilet paper. When you’re seven, and people ask you what you want your life to be when you grow up, you talk about the palace or the Italian villa or the underwater spy headquarters you’ll have – not how often you’ll need to buy fabric softener or your brilliant plan to turn Ramen noodles into a healthy meal. Adult life is messy, and it’s meticulous, and most of the time it feels very far away from anything resembling progress.

I have finally managed to craft and shape my first Erdrich paper into something I’m proud to put my name on (though, at 16 pages, it has managed to stretch to twice its assigned length); it’s typed and ready to go for Wednesday. Now I’ve got exactly a week till the next one’s due. Alas, fall break, I hardly knew ye.

A week after that second paper, I have to give a presentation on a poem I’ve not yet chosen demonstrating a literary critical approach of my choosing – that I’ve also not yet chosen. I really want to do New Historicism – I feel compelled to champion it, since the rest of the class (professor included) seems to find it lazy and somewhat irrelevant – but then I’d have to choose a co-text in addition to the poem and I’m not sure I want the extra hassle. Somehow, October became absurdly assignment-heavy.

November brings a short, informal talk on Indian reservation life and a longer presentation on Victorian spiritualism and a story I have (again) not yet chosen. Hear ye, anyone more familiar with 19th century lit than I: I’m open to suggestions for really good short ghost stories of that era. Bonus points if written by a woman. (Think along the lines of Since I Died, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.) After all that, I will likely seclude myself to churn out the ~40 pages’ worth of papers that are due the first week of December; with luck I’ll emerge with brain and hands intact.

I’ll settle for getting through till the end of this month, though; a break in assignments, a first annverisay (Eee! I’ve been married for a year! Eeeee!), and, with any luck, some answers in a currently troubling situation that could determine the next few years. Waaait and see, I guess.

So, there it is. I’m tired, but I’m happy. When I come home after 8 or 12 hour days spent teaching and learning, my mind and body are exhausted, but my soul has wings. This twelvemonth has given me a lot of very precious things.

Life is sweet – so am I. Damn mosquitos.

 

So, I have this really amazing fiancee. He’s an engineer. He’s also a toy collector. Lately we’ve been house-hunting together.** We’ve sat on his floor and, over dinner, talked about mortgage payments, monthly bills, finances…about cell phone calling plans and wedding budgeting and good public school systems for future kids. We’ve also sat on that same floor and, after dinner, played with Zoids and this really awesome Romulan warbird replica with lights and sound effects that I didn’t even know they ever made. He gets up early for his really long commute to Bowling Green and I get up slightly less early to drive my office assistant job in Nashville, and in the evenings we collapse on his couch and talk/vent/gush about our days…and then make dinner and watch anime, or Law and Order. Recently we made our way through every M. Night Shyamalan movie. Unbreakable is my new favourite.

I love the dichotomy of our lives. I love this man.

I’m home sick today; relentless sinus-y ick and bug-bite torture from Labour Day activities. Crawling around the woods is all fun and games till later when you’re sneezing, blowing your nose, and using every ounce of your self-control not to flay the skin from your itchy legs and back.

Heather found and charmed a turtle; even got it to come out of its shell. Trust AMbera to be there with the appropriate movie reference:  “We …haven’t…had..visitors……in..fooooouurthoooousnd yeeears.”

ready, set…

A while back, I ran into a person I hadn’t seen in quite some time – and then proceeded to run into that person in no less than three completely random places in pretty quick sucession after that. A string of random coincidences, yes, but one has to wonder sometimes – ok, lots of times if you’re me- if the randomness of life really isn’t.

Well meaningless or meaningful, it’s been nice either way.

This week has flown by and now it’s Friday. I get paid today! And tonight is offically the start of the weekend and I woke up this morning holding my breathe in anticipation, not of bad but of good. Maybe I’ll have more to say on Monday.

happy things

I just spoke with the most delighfully pleasant lady. Her name was Mrs. Musick.

I started off my morning with a completely random hug from Billie the Secretary, we’re ordering Chinese for lunch, the phones are rather slow and full of uncomplicated calls, and I got to wear my Grammar Goddess hat today.

I like Thursdays.

while you were sleeping…

Friday: Finally got around to sampling the fare of the oddly-named Garden Wang, the new Chinese buffet in Hendersonville, with John. We figured even if the food wasn’t good, it would still be entertaining to tell people about the awful food at a place with the name of Garden Wang. Verdict? Fortunately, not awful. Pretty good food, huge selection, but Asia Buffet is still my favourite. 

Saturday:

My first airsoft game! After watching and getting some one-on-one time with a gun or two, I finally got comfortable (and confident…) enough to play myself. It was absolutely perfect weather for playing: overcast, not too hot. For having poured down rain the evening before, there was surprisingly little mud. Our group was small, only five or so people, but still lots of (stealthy) fun. Won’t go into all the details, but I fired three shots during game play the whole day…which also happens to be the # of kills I made. Not bad, for a first-timer.  (tho who knows how I’ll do in a bigger group. Meep.)

Also went down to the pub Saturday night. Sorely needed. Lots of good food and music, plus I got to play crash test dummy and stand in for the band to do some test-photos for their new website shot. Larry is going to Lithuania for a month to visit some distant family. He asked if I needed anything; I asked for a llama. 

On Sunday…I was a slug. Well, mostly. It’s funny how profound grocery shopping can seem, given the right circumstances.

balance

Yesterday I made plans to go a funeral.
Today I was asked to attend a baby shower.
The balance of life makes me happy to be living it.

In other news…

“So, Ashley, what are you doing now that you’ve graduated?”

Practice patience.

travelling

I was driving home tonight in the beautiul, beautiful weather with my windows down, listening to a retro 90’s radio show – their words, not mine, and oh, how it made me laugh to think that music from the 90’s is retro now – and the EMF song Unbelievable came on. I love driving to that song. Made me smile. And made me remember Heather, and how we both saw the movie Coyote Ugly – probably at Misty’s house – and came up with the brilliant if facetious idea that we should dig out some old pairs of Heather’s vinyl pants and go find ourselves a bar top to dance on. I loved – and still love – to think about that idea, because Heather’s the kind of girl who would do it in a heartbeat – and I’m the kind of girl who would seceretly want to do it, love do it, but never would…unless I were with someone like Heather. We never did go dancing, and certainly not on bar tops, but I still entertain the idea sometimes.

Stupid Girl up next, a song a learned to like courtesy of S, who introduced me to the band in highschool.  S was a lovely and insanely cool red-haired goddess, and my biggest high school crush. There were prettier girls. I didn’t want a pretty girl. I wanted S, who played volleyball and watched Buffy, and shared my love of good books, buttered popcorn, and Molly Ringwald movies. She had pale, freckled skin, pretty blue eyes, and bucketloads of nerdy rebel-girl cool. About the time I decided that I was firmly in crush territory, she decided to accidentally break my heart. And so it goes.

The music and the weather and the driving were the just the icing on the cake of a wonderful week. Details? Why, sure.

Monday: I went fabric shopping. No, stop laughing, I’m serious. I went to a fabric store on my vacation. Of course I also went to the post office and several antique malls as well; spent mass amounts of quality time with John’s mom, who is a pretty nifty lady. Also, there were Girl Scout cookies. (To whom it concerns, I have my very own box of Samoas now. I am eating one at the this very moment. Mmmm.

Tuesday:
Teh shopping! My grandmother loves two things: shopping and me. Not necessarily in that order.  (And she loves other stuff too, but it’s not relevant to the story.) So, we went shopping. It was…terribly liberating. My grandmother is always after me to look nice and dress professional, and now that I’m a few scant months from entering a work environment that might require that, I’ve begun fine-tuning my wardrobe. I can work around dresscodes, but I can’t stand uniforms; I’m very attached to my clothes and what I can say with them. So, with the help of Kohl’s sale/clearance racks, I found three really nice outfits that are smart, office-appropriate…and terribly, terribly me. I love them all.  It was very heartening to do something fun and proactive, something to celebrate both my impending graduation and the fact that I will soon be free to seek tolerable employment. Also got the chance to talk to my grandmother a lot, which we don’t really have time for these days.

Wednesday:
Greenways! Lots and lots o’ walking. It was such a great day for it. And later, friends and Chinese buffet.

Thursday:
I believe there was some sleeping in this day. And, um, some other stuff. Maybe? What the hell did I do Thursday?

Friday:
Toured the Belle Meade Mansion for the first time since I was 9 or so. Still a beautiful place. And again with the warm, gorgeous weather. I broke out the bathing suit for a bit, to assist in the delicate and slightly damp process that is washing a Covette convertible. There was dinner and couch-lounging.

And then it was back to work for the weekend. Bleeeeh to the work. But it wasn’t so bad really. Tomorrow I take Lilly to get stitches removed, then it’s back to class for me, for a few more nose-to-the-grindstone weeks. I’m more than ready for it. My energy is amazingly renewed, and most of that has to do with all I have to look forward to, once I jump this these hurdles.

The Tire’s Tale

 

When we last left out little tire, it was sitting in a parking lot, awaiting the morning when it would be driven to WalMart and replaced. That’s where I picked up at around 12:30 this morning. I had just come from lunch (I was paranoid about something else going wrong, didn’t want to spend all day dealing with a rogue tire on an empty stomach) and headed toward the parking lot where my car was. Got in, started the car…and again could not get it to move. What it felt like was that the tire wasn’t even rotating – maybe it was on too tight? Maybe something else? It didn’t look flat. But I coulnd’t move the car and watch the tire for rotation at the same time. So I pulled the jack out again – thought if I could get the tire off the ground, I could physically try to rotate it and see if that was the problem.

Over the course of the last two days, I have learned two facts. These are they:

Fact 1: I know perfectly well how to change a tire.
Fact 2: Regardless of said knowledge, I cannot physically change a tire all by myself – at least, not without a great deal of struggle and potentially strained muscles.

So I’m struggling to get the tire up off the ground, in my pretty paisley skirt, probably looking just this side of helpless, when someone (I guessed he was a fellow student) asked if I needed help. I have little to no feminist pride even on a good day, and it just didn’t seem good common sense to refuse.  So no sooner had I said yes,  I could sure use some help than someone else pulls up. (This is, like, the friendliest town on earth. I would never have ever guessed.) And this guy? An APSU maintanence worker, driving a quite lovely restored Camaro with a stunning paintjob (which I later learned he’d done himself). It looked circa 1980 or so, and lovingly taken care of. “Yeah,” I thought. “Here is a guy who can help me.”

So I explain the situation to both of them, and the maintanence guy takes a look at the tire. The lack of movement and awful sound it made were caused by the side of the tire rubbing hard against a part of the brake. No way I could drive that way without doing some serious and costly damage. So Student Guy – whom I have now learned is actually Visiting Professor Guy, and also named Pat – says the following to me and APSU Maintanence Guy: “So, it looks like our only option is to just take her tire somewhere, ask them to replace it and put it on the wheel, and then bring it back here ourselves and put it on, since we can’t get the car to them. Where would be a good place to do that?”

Maintanence Guy gives us the name of a tire place about a mile away that does a lot of work with APSU – and gives a pretty good discount to faculty and students. Rock on. He then goes off on his merry way, telling us to flag him or any of his blue-shirted colleagues down, should we need any help. So Pat and I decide to go back to his office, call this place, and then head out there to get my tire. On the way back to his office, I learn that Pat is not only a visiting professor, but a visiting music professor. Percussion, to be exact; he’s filling in for Dr Steinquest for a semester. So here I am, cute, semi-helpless student being rescued by a young (music!) professor-type guy in wire-rim glasses and bright red Converse sneakers — I swear I think I ruptured my spleen in a valiant effort to not just sit down and die laughing. (“Young teacher…the subject..of schoolgirl…” yeah, you know the rest.)

Anyhoo, we get to his office, he calls this tire place, directions and price quotes are given (much less than I thought, which is great!) and we head off. Unfortunately, there are snags. The exact tire that is on my car is out of stock, but they have something similar – with a different tread pattern. Will that cause a problem? Not if it’s on a back tire. On the front, however, the difference in tread pattern and wear might possibly cause the car to pull to one side. The solution? Take the good tire from the back of the car, move it to the front, and put the new tire on the back. Egad.

Also, the price he gives me is about $40 higher than what I was given on the phone. So after a few minutes of the politest haggling I’ve ever seen, Pat somehow convinces this guy to give me the price I was quoted, without ever directly asking that he do so. Wow.

We get the tire, get it back to school, I assist in what has become an on-going car surgery, and eventually all is well. And it only took two days, seven people, and four tires to do it!!

So, all in all, I got a good new tire for a pretty good price, my faith in humanity was somewhat restored, and I made a cool (and hot) new friend. Not a bad ending to the story, eh?

car trauma

So, after I got all that work done today, I decided to reward myself with a trip to WalMart; the plan was to get some much-craved chocolate chip cookies. I got to my car and drove half a block before I came to a realization that I really really didn’t want to prove correct. Unforunately, when I pulled into a parking lot and examined the situation, I was right: my tire was flat. I’ve never actually changed a tire alone before, let alone at 10 o’clock at night lit only by street lamps, but hey, I do know how it’s done. So I’m dealing with that and I have the tire off when this woman and what I’m guessing is her daughter stop and ask if I need help. Sure, why not! Only, they had less of an idea what they were doing than I did. Very helpful. So then someone else – male this time – asks if we need help, and stops too. So I stand back and let him wrangle with the tire. (The ladies offered to stay so I wouldn’t be alone with this strange but hopefully helpful guy. Nice of them.) While he’s doing that, I’m simultaneously trying to help and trying not to get in his way, while being proselytised by this girl who’s apparnetly just come from a youth group meeting.  I dodged her questions as politely as possible — I’m touched by your concern and the show of faith, really, it’s great, now could you please pick a moment when I am not sick, standing out in the cold night air, and trying to salvage my only means of transportation?

Eventually a fifth member joins our party (at this point I’m ready to say forget the tire, let’s go hunt dragon treasure), and he just happens to be a member of Studen Campus Patrol. So between the five of us (ok, the three who are actually doing anything) we get the tire off, the spare tire, and…find that it doesn’t fit. The tires on my car are the factory tires; spare tire obviously isn’t. It really. Won’t. Fit.

So we’ve determined that I’m just going to have to leave the car up on the jack and go see if the flat tire will hold air/can be patched at all/whatever. We can’t find the hole. So, about this time, the first three members of my little entourage leave, the student patrol guy stays, and a campus police officer stops by. He insists in attempting to put my non-fitting spare tire on – just wouldn’t believe his own student patrol sidekick – and, when that doesn’t work, he actually does something incredibly wonderful. His own partol car – which is due to be scrapped in a few months, as it has been in a bad wreck – is, in fact, a Ford Taurus. As is my own. So he gives me his spare tire. How cool is that? We get it put on, I get in the car to make sure it will drive…and it won’t. Because it’s flat too. (Seriously? Seriously.) Luckily, the police guy had hung around. So we take that tire back off, leave the car up on the jack, pile all the tires and all the people into his car and go ’round to the gas station with free air to try to help both tires. During this process, I stay in the car and try to thaw. Have I mentioned I’m sick? And this has taken nearly an hour, up to this point? Yeah. My throat’s a little raw.

So we fill my tire up with air – finding the gaping hole in the side wall in the process – fill up the spare, and head back to my car. Get the spare back on – it works this time! – get me all driven back to my dorm, and here I am. Cold, tired, and cookie-less.