24 December 2012

Scene from a Wal-Mart

My little brother and I braved the Wal-Mart crowds this morning. Dave decided he would do some Christmas shopping (with my money - a typical tween) while we were out. We wandered throughout the store, negotiating via text what gifts would be bought and for whom. Dave's on the autistic spectrum and while his ability to read and comprehend is high, he chooses not to use his verbal skills. Hence, the texting.

He managed to find a book for Craig, a set of board books and some toy cars for Steven, and another small set of cars for his cousin before arriving in the toy aisle and focusing in on Spiderman action figure sets. He quickly shoved two of them in the cart.

Who are these for? I typed into my phone. Dave read and quickly typed back, People.

Which people? I volleyed back.

It's a gift for me. GIFT FOR ME.

Emphasis in original.

Happiest of holiday wishes, peeps.

21 December 2012

A Love Letter to the Library


My local library saved my life. In the midst of the tsunami that was my parents' divorce, it was a safe haven. I would walk to the library after school, commandeer a table, and work on my homework until the library closed at seven, after which I would make the hour walk home. At the time, my mom had decided to move in with my now stepfather (who I adore nowadays) and we shared his small house, four kids sharing one room. With no room to move in our personal things, the house never felt like home. The library was where I healed, where I wrote college entrance essays, where I lost myself in the words of Cheever and Ferber and Fitzgerald. 


It seems fortuitous, then, that STL's Central Library made its' debut just as I arrived here. And by debut, I mean how it looks after quite a bit of cosmetic surgery. At one hundred years old, the building was apparently showing its' age. Nearly two years of renovations and it's now open to the public as of the 9th of December. I only had time to run in, return a book and an audio book, snap a few pictures, and leave, but man. It's a beautiful building. There were goosebumps. I think there would be goosebumps even if you weren't a book nerd. The attention to detail is amazing - the people of this city obviously love their library to finance such an undertaking. Now if only I could convince them to send out emails two days before my books are due... so many late fees. Let's not talk about it, shall we? 

I may have, out of habit, found my way to the poetry section where I located Edna. There's something about Edna being wherever I am that is... I don't know... settling, even in the strangest of new contexts. See? Book nerd. 

So, yeah. New old library. This is a good town. 

18 December 2012

At the Close


I've survived my first semester. Grades are in, my classes are wrapped up, and my first semester as an assistant prof is done. It was far from perfect, but not a complete mess either. It was, as they say, what it was. Next semester, it will be better.


I'm normally a flurry of activity at the close of the semester, shuffling off to guest rooms of my friends and family for the holidays, but I've lingered a bit longer this year. It's been really lovely, a chance to breath, decompress, take in the city at Christmastime. And St. Louis loves Christmas. On the way home last night, I wandered through City Garden, all lit up for the season. It's an impressive collection of art, though I honestly cared less about the art than the lights. Short attention span, sparkly things. You know the drill. 


See? Lights. Lots of them. People can say a lot of things about this city, but they put on a good show. After four months here, I'm not surprised, quite honestly. It's proven itself to be a good place to live, despite all the bad press it gets. 


Still lots of things left to do before I head home for the holidays. Papers to be written, things to be organized, but it's nice to have the time and space to do just that. Not that I don't wish I were sitting at Clara's table, drinking peppermint tea; in fact, I'd like to take permanent residence there. Rather, I know I will be there soon enough. 

Also: I've been underwhelmed with new holiday music this season, though this song has lodged itself inside my head. Given the events of recent days, it takes on new meaning. 

Oh! And a GIF! Globes from the Garden, by far the most awesome thing there.


04 December 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Seventy degrees? Seriously, St. Louis? In December? I'm going to kindly request that you stop. It's silly. 

It's the last week of classes! I have, in other words, almost survived! There's a lot of grading and a final to give next week, but LAST WEEK OF CLASSES. (So excited.) 

In celebration, I spent a good deal of my evening yesterday at the mall, attempting to holiday shop... three hours later, I had enjoyed a cup fo TeaVana youthberry-orange somethingorother, a baked good from Panera, and had looped the mall twice. On all three levels. Without a single gift purchased. 

I've forgotten how to holiday shop. 

And I'm strangely okay with it. 

It is, however, problematic and the holiday is coming. The goose is getting fat. Yadda, yadda, yadda. 

The new plan: books. I'm going to head to my local independent and buy some of my favorite reads from the past year and that will comprise my gift giving this year. What that list is, I'm unsure. Thinking, thinking, thinking. 

And off to work. 

In sixty degree weather. Seriously? 

25 November 2012

At the Close (of Thanksgiving)

Note to self: when there are only two of you, chances are you don't need to cook an entire bird. However, while we are on the subject, the bird was pretty freaking amazing. Just saying.

It's the first Thanksgiving I've done on my own and while it was a ton of work, it was workable. Granted, no one is knocking down my door to take photos of my feast, but the food was tasty, the conversation lovely, and my mother's stuffing recipe, pictured above, put to good use.

The tree, it is up. The mantle, it is bestockinged. (If that isn't a word, I totally want it to be.) I have two weeks of classes before finals begin and then on to the holidays. My first semester as a prof - it's almost a wrap. Crazy.

A few of my favorite moments this weekend:

St. Louis loves a parade. This is my favorite float, put forth by the German Musical Society (or something along those lines). There was a tuba, a stuffed deer, and a red nose on said deer. Brillz.



And that last one? On the observation deck of the Gateway Arch. I've been up the blasted thing twice now and each time I find myself in a bit of awe at the crazy, amazing things people can do.  

I will survive the next two weeks. There will be a little crazy, a little amazing, but dang, this weekend has been good. Hope life was good on your end. 

20 November 2012

A Bit More Vegas

While the city of Las Vegas is not my favorite place in the world, it was so good to see my academic siblings, those people who I went studied with in graduate school. Given I began graduate school six years ago, I was struck by the ways in which our work has changed over time. The research questions that brought us to graduate school have changed and morphed in really fascinating and interesting ways. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by interesting and curious people, people who push me to do better and be better.

While not my favorite city in the world, Vegas is filled with pretty amazing stuff. Take, for instance, the Fremont Street Experience. Located downtown, the Experience links several of the casinos downtown beneath a lit canopy that bursts into color and sound every hour on the hour. We were there for a Doors medley and it was really quite awesome. The Experience is downtown's answer to the Strip and it was a markedly different feel: this is the Vegas of the Rat Pack. A little gritty, less polished, and, overall, much more enjoyable. Too much polish is bothersome, particularly as I am not a very polished person. 

Another attraction I didn't know about but really enjoyed was the aquarium at the Mandalay Bay hotel. It is, apparently, 1.6 million gallons of water culminating in a pretty amazing shark habitat. Being in a hotel/casino, it was less educational than I would have liked but the staging was amazing. 


Congrats, Christina.

All in all, I'm glad to be home, though there is a to-do list that is so, so, so long as I attempt to get caught up and prepare for my bestie to arrive for turkey day. There will be stuffing, there will be turkey, there will be pumpkin cheesecake. But first: email. Lots of it.

18 November 2012

Leaving Las Vegas


Fake Eiffel Tower. 
Fake New York City. 
While not a fake shark, definitely a fake habitat. 
Fake huge Coca Cola bottle. 
Meh. Lots of fun stuff, but I doubt Las Vegas and I will ever move beyond careless flirting.

12 November 2012

 There has been knitting. Some knitting. In stops and starts. Mostly things for babies as I have given up the idea of a Ho-Ho-Homemade Holiday this year. Careful shopping, here I come. 

Regardless, a good friend is welcoming his fourth sometime after the New Year and I recently wrapped up this sweet little sweater, the In Threes cardigan. super quick knit and it seriously doesn't get any cuter than this.

Less than a skein of yarn. I kid you not. I made this out of Malabrigo Rios (superwash!) in Archangel. I bought this lovely stuff back in September at Windy Knitty, a great yarn store in the Andersonville area of Chicago. Brilliant selection of colors and fibers - definitely jealous of peeps for whom this is their LYS. 

Regardless, an easy knit and one I'm looking forward to casting on again. Having used so little yarn for the first sweater, I'll be able to cast on another for my new niece for the holidays. 

So maybe there's a few homemade presents in the works. 

But just a few. 

11 November 2012

Thrifty Finds: BOSTONS!

Every thrifter has a wishlist, a collection of items they are always on the lookout for when they embark on their adventures in thrifting. Over the course of my thrifting career, there have been some pretty standard items on my personal wishlist: vintage pieces of Fiesta, green swirl Owens-Illinois depression canisters, and McCoy pottery. Then I happened upon this image in 2008:

A freaking wall of dog paint-by-numbers. A wall of them. I tend to be in general awe of gallery walls, but was particularly infatuated with the portrait in the right hand corner, a paint-by-number Boston Terrier. And thus began my obsession. 

So, yeah. Nearly four years of searching. I scoured eBay, repeatedly checked my local thrift stores, and set all my thifting family and friends on high alert. The closest I ever came was on eBay, where the paintings - there are two of them - would go for upwards of sixty dollars or more. I finally decided, after having lost out on one of the paintings earlier this fall, that I was going to take the next auction seriously. A paint-by-number Boston would be mine. 

And there hasn't been a single one listed. Not on eBay, not on etsy, not anywhere. 

And then! And then! I was in TFA The Future Antiques this weekend and THERE. THEY. WHERE.  Two of them, in beautiful condition, for not exactly cheap but not anywhere near the upper limits of what I was willing to pay. In fact, they were asking for both what I was willing to pay for one. I would like to say I handled the find like an adult, gracefully picking them up and placing them beneath my arm. Rather there may have been the flapping of hands, perhaps a bit of a happy dance, and perhaps even some whooping. And so goes it when a thrifter finds an item from their wishlist. 

Now to find frames and figure out where they will live. I think I was so convinced I would never ever find them that I haven't considered where they will live in my house.  Also: Excuse the funky iPhone photo. I need to get my DSLR back in regular rotation. 

Oh, and blog more. Hm.

02 October 2012

Oh my.

This pretty much sums up my class this evening:

"I don't know why I have to think about this - all teachers just work from the manual anyway."

I have to go to bed now. For a very long time.

11 September 2012

Intermission: Chicago, Cupcake Edition


I ran away for the weekend, seeking refuge at Anne's apartment in Chicago. Part escape from an unrelenting schedule, part desire to partake in the Renegade Craft Fair, it was a full weekend. Reminds me how much I miss that woman and how much I love the city of Chicago. 

Don't get me wrong, St. Louis: I love the ability to commute across you in less than twenty minutes, the resources you offer, and your amazing green space. I feel like you and I will be dating for a good long while. 

I left Renegade without purchase - though there were so many pretty things to be had - but Anne and I did stop at the Alliance Bakery, where I may have had the best chocolate-peanut butter cupcake in the world. 

So much goodness. 


I will write something of substance soon. Swearsies. 

23 August 2012

500 Miles


It's Thursday, which is kind of crazy to think about. I've survived my first week of teaching, my first day of faculty/staff meetings, and am ready for a weekend of equal parts work and recreation. Life is settling, slowly but surely, though I've not yet reached that point where anything seems quotidian; rather, it seems as though I'm living someone else's life right now, trying it on as it were. It's a turn of phrase that is appropriate, I guess, as a metaphor. I'm trying on life here in St. Louis, experimenting with who I'll become over time. 

I'm approaching this as something of a luxury, a spoil of moving to a new city in which one knows nary a soul. I'm pondering whether such a move is an act of bravery (as described by students earlier in the week as they contemplated the notion of a cold move) or as an act of selfishness, to allow oneself to be so untethered to drift from place to place to place. I'm just pondering, really, and am unsure I'll arrive to any kind of conclusion, particularly because it's a moot question. I'm here. Becoming. 

19 August 2012

There. Here. Somewhere.

The new place

The list: 

Dissertation: defended (successfuly!) 
Apartment: found and (mostly) unpacked
Job: started

So, yeah. That happened quickly. I'm still a bit overwhelmed, but life is settling down. The city has been amazing, the people as well, and I think I'm going to be pretty happy here for a while. 

And teaching? Starts tomorrow. I have the dreaded 8 AM Monday class. It's going to be awesome. 

11 July 2012

Lasts: A List

* Dinner with my amazing students. They will be amazing teachers and I am so proud to have been a part of their education.

* Meeting with my diss committee before the defense. Their guidance has been invaluable. My work is good because they have been honest and thoughtful in their feedback.

* Tutoring session with my tutoring kiddo. I've been with him for two years. I've already cried about this.

* Loaf of bread baked in my Columbus apartment. Crazy to think my next loaf will be elsewhere. I know this is a weird metric. Don't judge.

09 July 2012

Words I Wish I'd Written...

Today, I'm sending in a completed draft of my dissertation, which means my actual defense is a little under a month away. Insane.

So: to celebrate the hundreds of pages of jumbled words I just sent out, some lovely ones I recently read:

"There's an intimacy in listening to somebody's lies, I've always thought-- you learn more about someone from the things they wish were true than from the things that actually really are."

(p.26, from the beautiful A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois. If you are in the search of a phenomenal read, here it is.)

06 July 2012

I lived amongst giants


A friend and I spent the morning of the Fourth wandering around the town I currently live in, actually looking at the architecture that exists here. Even though I've lived here for a year, I'd never actually taken the time to really look at the buildings I lived amongst and am unsure I will ever again live amongst such a high density of mid-century architecture again. 

I'd share more pics, but due to the craposity that is Yahoo, I'm unable to access my Flickr account on my laptop. I'm half tempted to drag my iMac to the Starbucks so I can edit photos. Anyway, more of that morning at some point. 

Also: a full draft of my dissertation will be sent into my committee on Monday. Not THE final copy, but close. Crazy. This is happening. Insane.

Happy weekend! 

From YouTube: 

05 July 2012



I can't help but find this hilarious. I doubt their methodology.

03 July 2012

July 4th Eve

There's nothing more American than watching the symphony on a 90-degree night. Every moment I thought about complaining, I remembered the peeps in costume, all wool and discomfort. Plus, I was with pretty amazing people. The high temperatures really don't seem all that horrible when in good company.

Also: living without Internet at home is slowly killing me. Slowly. Killing. Me. 

Also: it highlights how spoiled I am. Really. 

30 June 2012

Exactly Where You Need To Be


Last night, around 11:00 at night, a firetruck appeared in the parking lot of my apartment building. I was working on the latest batch of edits from my diss committee and, upon realizing it was a firetruck, proceeded to pack up my iMac with such efficiency I imagine I would be an Olympic contender were it an event. 

The firetruck at the wrong address. 

This dissertation has done weird things to me.

In other news, Wrench appears to have been adopted! I stopped at the shelter yesterday and was informed he didn't last long, being snatched up by a little girl and her family as a birthday present. Happy birthday, indeed. 

19 June 2012


This is Wrench. 

I found him wandering through my apartment building yesterday, no collar, no identification. Thinking someone in my locked building would claim him, I poster fliers throughout the building but, sadly, here we sit thirty-six hours later. Wrench is in the kitchen, tossing a paper ball around. 

Tomorrow, he's heading to the no-kill animal shelter. I can't keep him; in between preparing for the move and my dissertation defense, I have no patience for a kitten and this is a kitten who deserves someone with patience, someone who won't threaten him with an oven roasting when they are writing against a deadline and all he wants to do is play. 

There is guilt about it, dropping him off like this, but that I've done my best to do right by this cat (I went door to door, with the meowing feline - finally met all the neighbors; there are bags of kitty litter and food beneath my sink - these are huge things for someone who is not a cat person) will have to be a salve. 

Ugh. Wrench indeed. 

13 June 2012

Landmarks, Deadlines, and Other Scary Things



I'm still around, I swear.

There hasn't been any misconduct. These dissertation things are intense, leaving little time or space for anything else. Throw in a new move, preparations for a new job, trying to send out just one more article...

It's been bananas.


But: things are moving. 30-day notice given at my apartment, movers scheduled to pick my things up and store them while I finish writing in Michigan, and a defense date set.

All in the last twelve hours.

Did I mention: bananas?

13 May 2012


Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward: just be yourself. 

I've never wanted anything so bad(ly). 

02 March 2012


IMG_0031 IMG_0029 IMG_0027 IMG_0018 IMG_0035 

 I was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last weekend for a conference and overnighted in Nashville on my drive down. My first time in the city, it was lovely, although it definitely gave Chicago a run for the title of The Windy City. A little less than twelve hours in the city wasn't enough, though. I'll definitely be back, perhaps this summer. I bet it's a kick ass city in the summer.

18 February 2012


This is a pretty accurate representation of my week: I've spent an inordinate amount of time in front of my computer, working on a dissertation chapter, and have been sneaking in a bit of knitting in the down times. Entrelac is perfect for this: eight stitches at a time, one small section at a time. So easy to pick up and put back down. There has been a lot of this type of activity over the course of the week. 

Also: saddle shoes. I'm all about them. 

The unfortunate part about the insane work week is my total exhaustion right now. I'm written out, despite stringing these words together here, and find that I've neglected a pile of grading. That is what the rest of the day needs to be: getting caught up because tomorrow? Tomorrow, there is a dissertation chapter to finish putting together. 

Oh, and a presentation. Presentation next weekend in Tuscaloosa. Hm. Tuscaloosa. 

Also: I'm enjoying these portraits on the stairs. More than I would like to admit. 

11 February 2012

Oh, Links.

I collect links like some people collect coffee mugs, until they clog up my browser and make it impossible to focus. So, I'll dump them here. Some more Linky Love. 

"Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around." Oh gosh, yes. Also: This

I already love Kristin Nicholas for her color sense, but I love her even more for showing off the not-so-pretty side of knitting. Cross reference: This

This book is on my bedside table, waiting to be read. The fact that Curtis Sittenfeld loved it makes me excited to dig into it. 

This resonates so, especially as I think back on my time in the elementary classroom. And then I read about crap like Miramonte Elementary School and want to vomit. 

Ashley at Film in the Fridge may have just given me the inspiration for my bed quilt. Now, if only there is the time... 

And back to writing. 

10 February 2012

On My Own Loose Ends and Developing Plot

I've been writing all morning. Well, analyzing data, more to the point. Sarah Jaffe has been my soundtrack: melancholy yet not overpoweringly so. 

That's been my mindset lately. Sad along the edges. This too shall pass. 

I've been filling the time normally filled with a Manfriend with books and have been fortunate to find several really amazing YA novels as of late. Have you read anything by Gary D. Schmidt? If not, run (don't walk - his books are that good!) to your local library or book store and pick up any of his books. I read Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy over the holidays and loved his careful, honest treatment of the subject matter. I finished Okay for Now, his newest tome last week and was blown away by his beautiful and sparse words weaving together themes of art, love, and redemption. I just finished listening The Wednesday Wars, which introduces the character Doug from Okay for Now and was blown away. The man has a knack for packing a ridiculous amount of meaning into a sentence, for writing middle schoolers who are smart and vulnerable and maybe, perhaps, just a little bit devious. I loved all three of these books, though, reader be warned, they don't end happily ever after. 

Perhaps that is why they have been the perfect before-bed reading: by the end of the novel, there are still loose ends, still stories to be told. 

08 February 2012

What I Wore


I will admit: I didn't get What I Wore posts. In my head, they seemed a bit self-indulgent, a little too... I don't know... look at me. I am normally not the look at me kind of guy. 

And then I went shopping. In anticipation for job interviews, I enlisted the help of my friend Willie, who has amazing taste in clothing, and we spent an entire day (I'm talking arriving at the mall when it opens and not getting home to my apartment until almost nine that evening) buying clothes on a somewhat tight budget. I ended up buying some pieces I never would have thought - pieces I never thought I would look good in. And yet they work. 

I'm still not convinced that clothes make the man or woman or even dog, but the day does seem a bit better when you feel like you look good. 

31 January 2012

Things I Would Like You To Know:


I stayed in it as long as I could, perhaps longer than I should have. By staying, I realize, I reified the idea I would always be there, by your side, through whatever. I stayed past my breaking point, almost to the point of resentment. I got out before resentment had a chance to ferment. I didn't want to hate you and fear that is where I was heading. 

Two and a half days, in the course of fifteen months, is nothing. It's seeing the trees despite of the forest. Our forest was not in good shape. We weren't in good shape. For us to be healthy together, we needed to be healthy apart, individually. You weren't able to keep up your end of the bargain. I needed to give you the space to regoup, refocus, center, find your bliss. I cannot be your bliss. I know you don't see it this way. 

I'm not running away. I'm still here, albeit not in the same capacity. I did not select my dissertation over you. I chose my happiness over you. Somewhere along the line, they stopped being the same thing. They hadn't been for a while. I understand that friendships with exes don't work for every relationship. I see that now. I'm struggling with the thought of not having you in my life in any way, shape, or form, but realize that is not my right. 

I don't have the right to know how your story goes. I will be okay with this some day, but not today. 

21 January 2012