Saturday, December 31, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXXI

Murph moved back to the fishbowl three days later. He didn't move well - or fast - and he looked much the same as he had when he was lying in a bed on the second floor of Geneva General. Pale. Borderline paper-white even days after emergency surgery. He spent a lot of his spare time sleeping, a phase I remembered well because it took almost all my energy to go to class and focus that first week back almost a year ago.

Murph had left the fishbowl unlocked so I could swing by and see him in the afternoon. The major perk of having morning classes was being done by one-thirty, except on lab days.

The room was as dark as it could be at two in the afternoon. There were some Get Well Soon cards on the desk, including one from my parents and one from Izzy and her family. El had made some scribbles on the inside in blue crayon, which had made him smile.

He lay on his back, Smokey and Edgar propped on the inside pillow and keeping a careful plastic eye on the sleeping college student. I pulled the desk chair over and curled in it.

The months peeled away.

"You're gonna be here when I wake up?"

Mama pushed my hair from my face. "I will be here when you wake up."

The nurse - a twenty-something Russian by the sound of it - wheeled me, bed and all, toward the OR. He gave me roughly half of what was gonna knock me flat and I spaced out for a minute.

One moment there was a gurney under me, the next there was a metal table and it was cold. The surgeon - maybe it was him, maybe it wasn't - leaned in. Matchbox Twenty filtered through from somewhere.


"Hi." He smiled, pushing something into my IV port.

"I like Matchbox Twenty."

Everything went dark.

Mama had been there when I woke the first time and then promptly went back to sleep. Woke up sometime a little later and tried to stay conscious.

Though knocked out completely is a little less fun than being consciously sedated - eyes open but definitely not all there.

"Thinkin' kinda loud, Ol."

I clutched at the chair, almost slipping out of it. How long had he been awake and looking?

"Sorry." Got settled again and smiled. "Hi."

"Hey. Whatcha thinkin' about?"

"Surgery." No point in beating around the proverbial bush. "Mine, that is." I'd had plenty of time to think about Murph's in the ER. Think. Freak. Repeat. "I - I missed the first El went tubing. I'd been out of surgery about a week and going up and down the stairs was about it. I sat in the kitchen and drank tea." And absolutely hated it. But it was beyond my control.

"This winter, then."

"Yeah." It just needed to snow first. "Yeah. How you holdin' up?"

"I spend a lot of time in this bed. Sleeping."

Yeah. Knew all about that, too. The only time I'd been "up" had been to be fed a pain pill and then it was Goodnight, Gracie.

Murph made an aborted move to roll over and settled back with his eyebrows drawn together. "I hate sleeping on my back."

Which made two of us. It would be another two or three days before his heels got sore enough to add to his problems.

"My heels hurt, too."

Or not. Make that sooner. "Yeah. I know about that, too." I curled in the chair and balanced well enough to rest my cheek on Murph's pillow and blinked. "You hungry or anything?"

"Not really."


"Not right now."

He reached up and tangled his fingers with mine, the digits rather cool. Gently touched my forehead to his, relieved when it wasn't overly warm.

"At least you're not feverish." Which was honestly a good thing. Fevers were usually bad.

"I'm just bored." He looked at me, blinking and breathing. "I'm not gonna break."

It took me a few seconds to figure out what he meant, and my first instinct was to panic. What if he accidentally tore something? What if I accidentally made him accidentally tear something?

"Ollie." He waited until he had my attention. "Please."

Good Lord, when did he get Anime eyes?

This was going to take some strategizing to make this as painless as possible - relatively speaking.

Ultimately what we wound up doing was Murph sitting up long enough for me to slide behind him to put my back against the wall he used as a headboard. There was a pillow shoved in the small of my back and another under my shoulders, and then I had roughly two hundred pounds of football player against my chest, lower body wedged between my thighs. Thank God for my wide hips.

Most of Murph's weight was still on the mattress, though his upper body was supported by mine. I carded my fingers through his hair, softly rubbing the tips of his ears and asking him at least fifty more times if his belly was still alright.

"Yes, Ol," he said, a big palm on my thigh, the warmth easily felt through denim. "My stitches are fine."

"Don't want you to die or anything." It was oddly reminiscent, in that moment, of the first night spent in this bed following the first ER trip.

"When are you going home for Thanksgiving?" he asked, turning his head to press his nose into my neck.

"Oh, shit, that's tomorrow, isn't it?" I'd completely spaced on that fact. Tomorrow was Thanksgiving. No wonder Mama had called to ask when the hell I was coming home. Also no wonder she'd been suitably confused when I'd said no idea.

Murph snorted. "Yeah, Ol, that's tomorrow."

"Then either tonight or tomorrow morning. I haven't started packing." Because a major holiday had totally, utterly slipped my mind. Who does that? Me, apparently. "When are you going?"

"Colby, Liam, and I are heading out tomorrow morning. We're driving separately because Liam wants me to be able to stretch out. Colby's car's gonna be the pack wagon." He snuggled closer. "And Liam likes to drive in the daylight more than the night."

Which was understandable. Most of my family - myself included - was shit at driving after dark.

I snuck my hand down the back of his shirt to rub his shoulder.

"I still have to give you your birthday present."

Took almost everything in me not to freeze. "Oh. You didn't have to."

"I know." His fingers tightened briefly on my thigh. "I wanted to, though. I even wrapped it."

I pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "Thank you." All I could say, really.

He lay there, simply breathing, and still enough to make me wonder if he'd fallen asleep.

"What are you excited to eat tomorrow?" he asked.

"Stuffing." It was a no-brainer. Stuffing was awesome. "And broccoli." Broccoli smothered in cheese. Fantastic. "You?"

"Sweet potatoes and sliced cranberry."

Hopefully not together.

"But we shouldn't talk about food right now," he said, making an abortive move to lay on his side.

"Can do." Went back to running my fingers through his hair. "I'll go home sometime tonight. I'm not overly worried."

"'Kay." His head got a little heavier.

I'd stay here until he got up - figuratively speaking - from his nap. Then maybe go pack some of my corner single into Fred and start the forty-something miles home. But for now, this was the definition of contentment to lay there and be Murphy's pillow. Not like it was a hardship.

Lugging shit down four floors of stairs sucked. Didn't care that it was dirty clothes - most of my closet - but it still sucked.

What was going to suck even worse was hauling the mini fridge down at the end of the year. But that was in the future, not now. Now was piles of dirty clothes, textbooks with homework that probably wouldn't get done anyway, and the laptop, phone charger, and cord to the mp3 player. That should have been sufficient to survive at home for three or four days.

I packed Fred and then went back to the third floor fishbowl to say one last goodbye before heading home. There were quite a few voices in the fishbowl - more than just Murph and Dev - and I almost decided to forgo knocking. Almost. But not quite.

It was quite the off-key, not totally in unison "Come in" in response, and pushing open the door revealed all my boys. With the amount of bodies - and luggage present - the room did feel a bit crowded.

Murph sat on his bed in the much same position I had earlier, still much too pale. Colby was leaning against the windowsill and Liam hovered by Murph's dresser. Dev was haphazardly throwing a multitude of things on his bed and into a duffel bag, computer already packed out of sight.

"Hey, guys." I hopped onto the foot of Murph's bed. "Gettin' ready to get outta here?"

"Dev is," Liam said, jerking his head to his left. "Where you goin' again?"

"Rockland, Maine." Dev muscled the duffel closed and leaned against the bed frame. "We decided to go to Aunt Sarah's for Thanksgiving, and Pop and Papa decided to wait until after Pop got home to leave. So we can all take turns driving through New England at two in the morning." He seemed incredibly thrilled with this idea.

"So, you and your dad and grandpa?" I ventured.

The room went oddly still. Cue wanting to shrink through the floor. How off the mark was I?

"Chill, guys," Dev said, reaching for a photo taped to the wall. "She doesn't know." He handed me the picture. Dev resembled neither of the men in it, and it had nothing to do with the fact that the one on the right was African-American. "Papa's on the left and Pop's on the right."

"Cool. And you have siblings, don't you? Sisters?"

"Yup. And we're all adopted."

I handed the picture back and the tension bled from the room. "I have one sister. I can't imagine how you deal with multiple."

Dev shrugged. "It's a gift. We're swinging by Logan in Boston to pick up Claire and Mackenzie. They're flying in from California. University of San Francisco." He re-taped it to the wall. "When are you heading out?"

"When I say goodbye to you guys. Car's packed."

"Yeah. We watched," Colby mentioned casually.

I stared. "You watched?" Didn't know whether to snark at the creepiness or the fairly ungentlemanly behavior. Settled on appropriately scandalized, instead.

"You were doin' great," he said, fighting a smile.

"Asshat." It rolled out before my brain could say otherwise. I turned to Murph. "How you doin'?"

"Ready to go home." He rubbed his eyes.

"You need another pill?" Liam asked.

"No." He reached for Edgar, wincing. "Here. Smokey's going to Lake Placid."

Moved closer to get Edgar. "He probably needs to go back to Townsend." Sat back, the stuffed animal in my lap. "I should probably get going before it gets later."

I left Murph for last, starting with Dev and doling out hugs. Murph got a little more than a hug, along with the suggestion to actually rest this time, and I picked up Edgar on my way to the door.

"Hey, Ol?"

"Yeah, Murph?"

"Text me when you get home?"

"Will do." Waved one last time, swallowed those damn three words, and managed a relatively normal, "See you in three days." I'd probably worry about him until he, Liam, and Colby got back to Lake Placid and didn't bother to fight the feeling. Not this go 'round, anyway.

Fred started first time and with both Henry and Edgar in the front seat, we pulled out of the mostly empty parking lot and started for home. The radio was one - as was the heat - and there was hardly anybody on 14 with the exception of the truck traffic. Got lucky enough to get behind one of those and we ran 70 all the way to the village limits.

It was going on eight when I backed into the family parking lot. Computer, Edgar, Henry, probably just locked the keys in the car and didn't give a damn.

Home. Sweet, sweet home. Nothing else at this point mattered.

Doors were a bit tricky with full hands, but once in they could be kicked shut easily enough. Fired off a text to Murph once inside the kitchen and had set everything down without breaking it or myself. There were giggles from the stairs. El sat on the second step, face pressed between the slats as much as possible without getting her head stuck, grinning madly. She had a few more teeth, too.

"Hey, kidlet."


I picked her up on th way up the stairs. She wrapped her arms around my neck, still giggling in between asking me how long I was home for and if I knew tomorrow was "Thanksgibbing."

Damn it was good to be home.

Murphy and Me Insert: Registration

[So, back when I was first doing the beginning of November scenes for Murphy and Me, back around when they were playing for Liberty Leagues and the right to go to the NCAA tournament, that's also when HWS does registration for the next semester. It's fairly important, more than slightly frustrating, and does deserve its own scene. Here it is.]

I'm not a fan of tedius things and my ability to keep a schedule is...lacking at best and nonexistent at worst. Schedule meaning keeping track of important dates that don't have exams and/or labs due.

Like registration.

The first reminder it was that time was the course catalogue that appared in my mailbox. Next sign was the advising week sign-up sheet on Montrose's office door.

Yep. Time to sit down and figure shit out.

So, while procrastinating on physics homework yet again, I sat on my bed and tried to make a cohesive schedule. Mostly, I tried to figure out what to use as a fourth course that would entertain me.

Putting it together was like a puzzle. A rather annoying puzzle, but still. A puzzle.

There was some shuffling in the hallway - Jo was by the partially open door. She stepped around it when I motioned her in. "You got yours done yet?"

She smiled. "Yeah. Can I borrow your orgo book?"

"Yeah." She was already borrowing my intro book, so it made sense. And was fine by me because I didn't have any intention of selling it back. It was going in my "reference" library. "I don't have a fourth yet." And it was bugging the shit out of me.

"Anthro, maybe?" she suggested, climbing up onto the foot of the bed.

"Eh." Anthropology was no entirely my style. "Maybe I should do a Bi-Dis. Izzy says those are good."


"Bidisciplinary. Two subjects, two professors." Probably twice the work and twice the fun. Most likely not in that order. "This Two Cities idea sounds pretty cool."

"Sociology and economics." Neither of which I had any experience with except for ACE Economics back in high school. Hadn't gone too badly, either. From what I chose to remember.

"Go for it." Jo glanced at some of my attempts at scheduling. "Who teaches 280?"

"Krugen." I scrubbed a hand across my face. "Physics two might be the death of me. Bensen."

"I've heard he's good." Jo put the paper down. "What classes do you have with Murphy?"

I leaned back against the pillows. "No idea." We hadn't talked about classes, mostly because he had his own degree to fulfill and I had mine. If we overlapped that was great, but we weren't going to be one of those couples who had classes together by design. There were times I didn't want to see Murph, despite how much I lo - liked him.

Where the hell was my head lately?

"No classes together?" Jo fiddled with the hem of her pants.

"Not by design." Just wasn't us.


"Yeah. I think I'll go with this." Handed her the schdeule with Two Cities in it. "Physics, the second half of intro, Two Cities, and Craft of Fiction." Oh, the life of an unofficial creative writing minor and chemistry major. Positively joyful. "When do we register, again?"

"Wednesday. Seven."

Great. Had to be up early anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. Could register and then head to breakfast and have plenty of time.

"Okay." I fumbled for my phone. New messages. Two from Izzy. Two from Murphy. Ironically, he was reminding me about registration. Bless that boy.

"Wanna do dinner tomorrow?" she asked.

"Sure." Glanced around at the array of papers on the bed with us - none of them physics related. "I think I might actually need to do homework now." Also might pop in a movie. Maybe The Princess Bride. "You're more than welcome to stay."

"I need to go call my aunt. She leaves for Turkey later this week." She slid off the bed. "Maybe some other night."

"No problem." Or maybe it was a Ghostbusters II kind of night.

Jo left and I looked at my physics book. Better yet, let's just go with the first season of Leverage. That should work.

These were the mornings I desperately wished for a coffee pot. The Fire Marshal would probably take it, but it would be worth it. So worth it.

At five minutes to seven I - and the rest of the sophomore class - booted up the computer and logged into PeopleSoft. Registration was done online and two minutes before go time, and waiting at the last stage before actual registration, I clicked open another tab to, predictably, Facebook.


Murphy McRiley: hey
Olivia Karizslowski: Mornin' sunshine!
Murphy McRiley: devs already swearin

Checked the time and clicked back to PeopleSoft. The trick was to be neither too early nor too late. The clock in the bottom right of the screen hit seven and sophomores clicked almost as one. The page gave me the loading symbol and I sat there, staring stupidly at it.

It froze.


Clicked out of the tab. Tried to, anyway. The entire browser had frozen. Double shit. Mozilla popped up with a happy fail message to which - like most others in the building and across campus - shrieked, "Shit!"

Firefox finally closed and I clicked open a new session, going first for PeopleSoft and secondly for Facebook.

Murphy McRiley: ol?
Olivia Karizslowski: got closed out by firefox
Murphy McRiley: shit
Olivia Karizslowski: no kidding

The system was a sad combination of every synonym for slow ever created. It took forever to keep back to my academic shopping cart in the program, two which I got bumped again from the last stage and literally growled at the screen. Damn it.

Third time must have been the charm because it went through with all green checkmarks, despire the fact none of the prerequisites for Two Cities were there at all.

Olivia Karizslowski: Bumped twice, still got everything. You?
Murphy McRiley: 2 for 4 gonna need to sign as overload. friggin juniors
Olivia Karizslowski: Backups?
Murphy McRiley: make that 1 overload
Olivia Karizslowski: That sounds better.
Olivia Karizslowski: I gotta go. Breakfast. Bye.

At least that was over for another semester. And I did need to go since I was currently roughly ten minutes behind getting my ass out the door for breakfast. And nothing was ready to go. Damn it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Escapades and Shenanigans

Last night (this morning, really) I set my alarm and accidentally set it for 8pm. Shortly after that, in my haste to unplug my computer cord from a barely reachable power strip wedged between the fridge, dresser, and movie crate, I accidentally switched it off and have yet to fix the damn blinking time that currently reads 1:30 in the afternoon. Needless to say this was the type of morning where liberal amounts of Kahlua wound up in my coffee, which, thankfully, I remembered to grab on my way out the door.

My analytical lab is under the impression I'm probably going to drop dead from caffeine ingestion very shortly, due to the amount of coffee I ingest on a regular basis. The only saving grace is that, according to our most recent analysis by HPLC, there less of a caffeine concentration in dark roast coffee than light roast (mostly due, we think, to the roasting process in that you literally bake the caffeine out of the bean). Also, I usually only drink after that first cup of coffee unless it's going to be a seriously hellish night, and then all bets are off. Usually by that point I've been to Timmy Horton's and am probably contemplating a Dunkin run.

The highlight of my day came this afternoon - closer to dinnertime - when my housemate found she had locked herself out of her room. Naturally, she called campo (campus police) to come open her door. So we sat there in the living room for a further five minutes, when I calmly remarked, "Don't you have a bottle of vodka sitting on your dresser?" She looked at me, muttered, "Shit," and we immediately began planning how exactly we could get in that room to hide the so-called evidence. Campo had already taken a bottle of booze from us earlier in the week (it was left out, they came to let somebody in, we got an email from Res Ed and all found it slightly hysterical), and, well, long story short, we remembered there's a fire escape going up the back side of the house, conveniently stopping at the window of our house manager who happens to share a bathroom with my locked out roommate. House manager was not at the house. There wasn't enough time to get shoes on, so, out the door we go - her in socks, me barefoot - and around to the back of the house.

K: I can't do this. I don't like ladders.

Me: Okay.

Keep in mind it's pitch black outside. With no lights on to light this damn fire escape.

You guessed it - barefoot up the metal ladder in the middle of December, move the screen out of the open window (bless you, B & G, for having the heat so damn high), foot in the waste basket after sliding off the chair in front of the window, stagger across the room, open door, go through shared bathroom, hide vodka, fix everything like you'd never been there, and wind up in the living room with semi-frozen feet. The guy showed up about three minutes later to let her in.

Mission accomplished; crisis averted.

Even better was the conversation we had while randomly watching an episode of 30 Rock we found on Comedy Central.

T: So, gin and tonic is just gin and tonic, right?

Pretty sure my housemates have made my senior year so far. I couldn't ask to live with a better group of girls (and three guys) than I currently do. They keep me smiling through the week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For All This Life

I've been on this earth twenty-two years. In those subsequent years, the toughest things I've had to do have been walking away from a great relationship with a wonderful person because I was going away to college, getting stuck in an airport for a single night due to a sudden monsoon in Philadelphia, having unexplained belly pain resulting in surgery my first semester of college, leaving my mother in an airport twice, only this time it was her that was leaving and me that was staying (not that it helped), calling my mother a few weeks later to tell her I wasn't coming home and didn't know when I could even think about getting on a plane and getting across the Atlantic, and the following five days of living in the Virgin Atlantic terminal at Heathrow Airport.

It's a toss up of whether all of the previous - collectively - trumps the past four months.

It's been difficult. That could be the understatement of 2011, truthfully, if sitting in my professor's office and, after going over the last exam and talking about where to go from there, fighting on three separate occasions not to cry is any indication. I've done really well since the first month of the semester to not let the center of my brain hijack the rest of it, which is the sort of scientific way of saying I haven't let myself panic as badly as I used to. It's probably not good for my heart, either, the amount of caffeine I ingest on a regular basis.

I don't want to use the word overwhelmed but that's really what it boils down to. Between what's going on up here - no need to insert the laundry list of stuff as that's already been done - and what's going on at home, it's difficult to get the distance required. 45 miles doesn't feel like 45 miles. Even if it were 3,000 I don't think it would work. Sometimes there's just not enough space on the planet to get the distance that feel necessary.

It's also difficult to not let the distance you need hurt the people who need you.

Yeah, that's one I'm still trying to wrap my head around and there are days when I'm successful and days when, well, I'm a giant fail at it. Lately, it seems that my failure days outnumber my non-failure days. It's a struggle, more often than not, to find my motivation and my Focus (slippery little bastard), and to do all I need to do when the only thing I really want to do is curl up in my amazingly comfortable dorm bed and block out the outside world and sleep for a solid eight hours. My beloved sister insists I can sleep when I'm dead, which I think has taken root in the back of my head because it's ten past midnight and I'm working on homework. I'm hoping - more or less planning, actually - to be in bed by three. Which means I have some things to get done right the hell now.

The bright side is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There's the fact that spring semester is going to be glorious. There's also the fact that I will be returning to Wales two weeks after graduation for three weeks. Yup, I was accepted into the summer program, and will be returning to a place that grew to be a second (third, maybe?) home.

But there's a lot to do between now and then. A lot to do. Still, there are days when you sit there, think, get a little lost in your head and wonder can I do this? Am I good enough to do this? Have I gotten in over my head? The next thought you think is the true kicker.

Is it really worth it?

There are days when I go cross-eyed looking at my own reflection in the mirror really wondering if the ends justify the means. I've been assured by numerous people they do indeed, but here, right here in this hot as hell corner room, you wonder. You really, really wonder.

Sitting here introspecting isn't getting my lesson plans done. And you know how much I love those damn things.

Monday, November 28, 2011

15 Reasons to Love Knitting

(These are in no particular order.)

1. It's like a reset button for my head.

2. Imaging poking vital areas of the body with a bluntly sharp object - especially someone you're not quite fond of - produces a rather shark-like smile.

3. Something has to bring me out of my coffee induced delirium for me to actually get some decent sleep.

4. Repetitive motion I don't really have to think about does wonders for my blood pressure.

5. Revisiting #2 is also quite good for my blood pressure.

6. It's a fairly productive way to procrastinate.

7. Knitting is soothing.

8. When you finish a product, people look at you like you've actually accomplished something worth talking about.

9. Two very important concepts: Pretty colors and something shiny.

10. It's not a miracle cure by any means, but it works.

11. Teach someone to knit and you've possible taught them to clothe themselves for the rest of their life.

12. Revising #11: Or until their attention span runs out.

13. I'm really a 94-year-old woman at heart.

14. It's fun. (Yes, that's all there is to this one.)

15. If you're really good at it, you can do it both sober and drunk.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I dunno whether it's because I'm in that kind of mood or because it's quarter after midnight, but I found this to be more than slightly hysterical. The only reason I went looking for this particular song? It's been stuck in my head since I heard it this afternoon after taking my grandmother to get her car from the repair place.

It's okay to headbang a little. You know you want to.

This is when I think I should probably get out of this chair and crawl into bed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Double Double Digits

It's the only way I could figure to describe the fact that today I'm 22. Double double digits. Two twos.

As for what I'm going to do on my birthday, well, I've got my copy of The Strategic Teacher open and a curriculum unit to pretty much finish. That's my plans for the day. My plans for the next year? To continue to wander, live, love, laugh, and enjoy every day on this earth, even if getting up at 7:30 and ending that day well into the next is the order of business.

I figured my next milestone was 30, whereas my mother has assured me it's 25. How about we just shoot for tomorrow, first.

Appropriately, this video - this song rather - has been one that's been stuck in my head. Here's to living uncharted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Looking in All Directions

A little while ago I sat at my mother's good oak table in the kitchen (for future reference - and general FYI - we have two tables: one is a tile-top we use generally, when it's just us [my sister, niece, and our parents] or us and our aunt and uncle, and the other is the Amish-made oak table with four leaves that we only use at holidays or other occasions when absolutely necessary) and thought back through the various Thanksgivings I've experienced over the past few years.

Most of them were held at the house I used to live in; I was 11 turning 12 at the tail end of our week at Disney World, so we ate Thanksgiving dinner at Port Orleans; there was the year we ate at my sister's house (in which my uncle pegged me in the jugular with a roll from across the kitchen because I said "chuck me a roll"); one year I decided not to go to Rhode Island and was the only one in the house and spent the weekend painting the room I was going to move into when we moved; I spent on Thanksgiving in Rhode Island, having been picked up at college on the way through the Thruway; and last year I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my English and Welsh flat-mates, who then surprised me with a cake because Thanksgiving was also my 21st birthday.

Of course, interspersed with that, have been the holidays I've spent puking my guts out because it's fairly well-known tradition in this family that for one of the three holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year - someone is going to be sick. There are years when I'm only down for the count at one, and the memorable year where I accidentally had two birthdays in the same year because I didn't have my party until February, due to illness.

Tomorrow, of course, is Thanksgiving. For as much as the last six months have been rather interesting - and at times more than difficult - there's still a lot to be thankful for. The family is healthy, we're happy (for the most part, there are some things that just....just can't be easily fixed right now or that are flat-out going to take time) and we're all going to be gathered in the kitchen and generally just being us.

I'm good with that.

Not to mention I have the biggest craving for stuffing that I can't seem to explain. Seriously. Big bowl of stuffing. Gravy. That's all I want.

And then the day after I'm really hankering for some burgers, chips, and birthday cake. But I have a feast to get through first. A feast by the name of Earl. Yes, we're the type of family to name the turkey we're going to be eating. It's been a tradition ever since I can remember, and we've gone through George, Igor, Edgar, Oliver, and many, many more. It took roughly 20 minutes to decide on Earl.

We're a little quirky. But I wouldn't have us any other way.

Have a fantastic day with your family (both chosen and the ones you have no choice in the matter) and your friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Focus Meets Train

I made a Facebook status sometime last week that detailed the fact that my Focus, my beloved Murfee, had more or less eaten too many cookies, rolled down the back hill, and was subsequently hit by a train as it passed by the house.

That should give you an accurate picture of how my semester has been going. Between two education seminars, four classes, a minimum of 20 hours community service (which, honestly, is actually 45, due to where I'm living), and three labs a week, I'm impressed that I'm still upright, mildly functioning, and haven't given myself a massive heart attack due to my caffeine consumption. I am, however, out of my meals provided by the Colleges courtesy of my meal plan, which isn't a big deal as I have a house with a kitchen, and thank sweet baby J that I have a coffee maker otherwise life would be more difficult than it already is on some days.

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is next semester's schedule - which I've already registered for - and it is glorious. No class on Mondays and I'm done on Fridays by 10:00 am. Essentially a four-day weekend my senior spring. Which brings me back to this happy fact:

I registered for my last semester of undergraduate classes.

Which prompted a whole string of thoughts, most of them involving four-letter words and something that sounded very similar to I don't give a shit what this semester turns out like as long as I pass everything with the minimum grade required to have it count for my major.

It's kind of sad, really, as I started off the semester really hoping that I'd be able to pull of a solid 3.0. At this point in my life, the more realistic goal, however hard it is to swallow, is that I'll be very lucky if the hard work that I'm putting in this semester results in the minimum grade required to have all this shit count for my degree. It's not like I'm slacking, but having three chemistry courses all over 300 level is, well, not only time-consuming but soul-sucking in a way that you haven't really got a concept of until you actually get there.

I'll be amazed if I have any sanity left at the end of the semester. That's when I'm assuring myself that I'll be able to sleep, while my sister assures me that I can sleep when I'm dead. That's true, too, but I'm hoping to hold out on that for another couple of years, at the very least.

In other news, I was at a Ben Folds concert this past weekend and it was absolutely epic. Truly one of the highlights of my senior year and I'm really glad that I went. He's an amazing musician - and a piano player that words can't adequately describe - and it was an awesome experience.

The fact that my 22nd birthday is coming up in 11 days hasn't really registered, either, because it's not like I'm going to spend it relaxing. I'm most likely going to spend all of Black Friday - my birthday - working on my curriculum project: lesson plans, assessment criteria, rubrics, the whole nine yards and whatnot. It's going to be painful on multiple levels, but it absolutely has to get done because there's only so many weeks of class left.

It's not supposed to go this fast.

So, now that I need to prepare myself for my analytical class (don't get me started), I'm going to spend the next few hours of my life trying not to freak out about the fact that I flat-out forgot I have a lab write-up (thankfully not a formal) due today and the mother of all formal labs due tomorrow. (But maybe we can convince her to change that to Wednesday.) Couple that with an exam tomorrow evening, auditions for the winter and spring shows on Wednesday (with a prepared monologue, too) and this week is going to be fairly busy, culminating in another exam next Sunday and a project for Econ on the Tuesday before break. With all of that is who-knows-what coming down the pipes in the education courses and, really, people are wondering why I drink the amount of caffeine that I do? How else do you expect me to get through a week where my hours of work have bypassed the hours in a week?

But that's more or less what I've been dealing with for three months.

So damn difficult to think through that it's almost over. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here's hoping it's not an oncoming train.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Things to Know XXII

- It's possible to lock yourself out of your room four times in one day.

- The first time is due to operator error and the last three are due to a malfunctioning doorknob.

- At least, that's the story I'm telling.

- My room is a damn hotbox.

- For some reason, Mother Nature has decided to have a hot flash, and she's taking it out on the rest of us.

- I sleep better in cold than hot.

- There's a spider bite the size of a fifty-cent piece on my left calf.

- I might, for the first time since high school, get an A on a chemistry exam tomorrow night.

- Having your shit together academically is actually quite nice.

- My calf itches. For obvious reasons.

- No, I'm not really sure where I picked that thing up and I'm hoping it's gone by tomorrow night. It's damn annoying.

- I haven't checked my campus mailbox in days. There shouldn't be anything in there, as Netflix hasn't had time to go and come yet.

- I brushed my teeth and then cracked open a beer. Yes, I know this doesn't make sense.

- Mondays are a little rough.

- From the amount of flashcards for my analytical exam on Friday, you'd think it was a history exam instead.

- I color-code things.

- Most of my classmates and I marvel at the soccer player who shaved his mustache because they finally lost.

- It was a little startling to see him without facial hair, honestly.

- Not that we didn't take the mick out of him about it in the first place, but hey.

- I wonder if I can stick this back in the fridge for later.

- Considering my day starts tomorrow at 6:40, I'm crawling into bed now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Since When?

Hi. It's been a while, hasn't it?

At this point I hope there's nothing swimming in my coffee mug that's been sitting on the floor since I left for soccer roughly six hours and twenty minutes ago. The coffee mug that takes all four cups from my coffee maker in one go with room to spare. It's the equivalent of heaven for this chick.

One assumption you could make as to my absence from my lovely blog - and my lovely blog reader, which keeps up me to date on what the rest of you happy people are doing - is that I've been busy with my last first semester of undergrad. Yeah, you read that right. I'm a senior. Believe me, it's still terrifying to me, and it's been a month since I've moved back to campus, and we're going to be starting week five already, which is another jaw-dropper. As a result there hasn't been much Murphy, and I apologize for that. However, trying to keep Murfee (my Focus) occupied and on task has been an uphill battle some days. Specifically the ones where I get out of lab and all I want to do is crawl into my dorm bed (which, if you haven't seen my Twitter, I BIG PUFFY HEART) and sleep for at least six hours. But I can't do that. It would be unproductive and one thing that I've managed to be is productive.

With some extra incentive, too.

I started playing soccer again.

The above statement gets it's own line because, for any of you that don't know, I had to stop playing soccer little over two years ago because of my health issues. I wasn't able to keep the fitness level required to be an official Heron, and it was a big step to realize that, and an even bigger step to realize that wasn't a path I could easily follow anymore. A path that was more hassle than it was worth, despite my love for the game. Two years later this feels like a second chance at doing what has been my first true love. I get to put my spandex on for a reason other than wearing it to bed, strap on some shin guards, and buy new goalkeeping gloves because my other ones have literally been shredded.

Soccer is keeping me sane. It's relaxing. Not as relaxing as knitting, which my dad brought my knitting needles to me today, so I'll spend some time unwinding with that before I go to bed. I have a second chance to do what I love.

And it's my senior year. There are a finite number of "tomorrows" for me.

Now, I could take another post to do one of my favorite "features" but that would take a little more time and, frankly, two posts directly after one another is a little odd. So, think of this as a shortened Things to Know. Kind of like an unexpected present.

- "Holy F--k that's a big spider!" (While in a car in the middle of campus)

- "Are you inebriated?" "No, I'm a chemistry major."

- I apparently can't communicate in written form to save my life. Or my lab report grade in analytical.

- To the professor that said students spend less than 10 hours per week on their work outside of class - I spend 10 1/2 hours a week in lab.

- I make a trip to Coldstone once a week. This seems to be an okay arrangement with my brain and my hips.

- I finally put up all my posters, cork-board, and Vera photo thingy last week.

- It's the beginning of week five, if you need a reference for the previous.

- I found my bedroom floor Wednesday, because I thought my mother was going to actually come in the house when she came up.

- It's five weeks in my senior year of college.

- Where the hell did the time go?

- I have a houseplant named Henry, and have named the majority of his babies after the subsequent English monarchs.

- Not one of the posters hanging on my walls is hung straight.

- My Focus is a slippery little bugger that likes to play on the train tracks out behind the house.

- Speaking of which, one of these days, when the damn train goes through, the hill and the house are going to slide into the freakin' lake.

- The prospect of graduating and going on to grad schools scares the shit out of me.

- While the previous is true, I think I'm ready for it.

- Why do men feel the need to sit with their hand in their pants? Or is this something only collegiate-age men do, because it's kind of awkward.

- My biochem partner for the first week fidgeted more than my niece when she has to potty.

- I carry on conversations with my houseplant like he should be answering me back. But you're supposed to talk to your plants, right? It helps them grow, right?

- I feel like I've been given a second chance at soccer, and I'm going to take it. Every minute of it.

- My mother and sister have been canning fiends lately. The result is that I have a jars of raspberry jam, applesauce, spaghetti sauce, and salsa currently in my possession.

- You'd have thought I was asking for the universe on a silver platter when I asked if I could have a jar of sauce.

- But yes, it's that damn good.

- I bought new colored pens from the bookstore on Friday and thought I'd died and gone to heaven during biochem.

- I have a love of office supplies.

- I finally hooked up the cable on Wednesday, just so I could watch Harry's Law.

- The fire marshal catches a glimpse of the tangled mess of wires that's everything on the one side of the room in a power strip, he'll probably have a heart attack.

- I could care less. Mostly because I'm a senior.

- And hell hath no fury like a Louise without her automated coffee pot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Late-Night Coffee Dregs

I'm well aware of what time it is and also aware of the fact that it's probably not a good idea to be consuming coffee at this hour, but I'm not about to let a good cup go to waste. Also, most of you know I do my best ruminations at roughly this time of night, usually when I'm trying to do something else that requires more focus and attention than I particularly want to give it. (It's lab reports this time, not education seminars, for once.)

The last you heard from me was a few weeks ago. I posted this pretty cool video about a flash mob - that I was part of - and said that I'd be back to talk about life in general.

First thing you should know is that I'm not living in a closet this year. I have enough space to have my moon chair and enough sunlight that Henry actually gets to live with me this year, rather than have to relocate back to the kitchen table at home because he's slowly dying of sun deprivation. As it is, he's continually growing and making my fellow floormates with their own plants rather jealous of the fact that he's huge.

Actually, they're really rather impressed that he's still alive. Most of them apparently don't make it past first semester of first year.

Of course Practical Magic is playing in the background and the most pressing thing I have left to do is my analytical chemistry lab report which involves the use of Excel, and we all know that I'm positively Excel stupid. I'll freely and readily admit that I am absolute shit when it comes to using that program.

The long and short of it right now is that the front of my week is more loaded than the back of my week. Monday and Tuesday see me going from very early in the morning until roughly five in the afternoon, and Wednesday is much the same, only with a later start. My saving grace is that I have only one class on Thursday, and Friday just has three. I'm lucky in that regard. That's the way I planned it.

It's not easy. But it's college. It's not supposed to be. However, the homework is getting done, turned in on time, and I'm doing really well with things. I was able to explain a physical chemistry problem to one of my friends (who's also in my class) and was really proud of myself that I could do it. I'm actually looking forward to that first exam in that class, because I think it will be the first time I get a B or higher on a chemistry exam. If that happens, I'm sending it home to mom and dad to be put on the fridge because, well, I'll be that proud of it. And they'll be proud of me for getting it.

But that's later this month. There's quite a few things between then and now. Including lab reports. I'm not getting any younger, and it's not getting an earlier (technically, it is, but that's really semantics at this point) so I'm going to go sit on my bed and work on my carbon-copy sheets and hope for the best when it comes to Excel. I think I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Where the hell have I been the past month and a half, right? Finishing up the summer, working, being an Orientation Mentor (helping new students arrive, orient themselves, and generally get the lay of the land before things kicked off officially yesterday).

There's a bit that's happened between then and now, and as it's the start of my senior year of college (WTF did that happen?) and I'm currently using my biochemistry textbook as a booster seat in my desk chair (yeah, I'm good like that), there's probably a lot you've been wondering about your crazy Sagittarius. Rest assured, you'll get some introspection into my ever-scary mind before too long. At this moment, however, I need to pack up my lovely laptop and head to lab (who has lab the first week? Seriously...) but I'll leave you with this. This being the flashmob I was a part of during Orientation. Yes, the words I and flashmob were in the same sentence by design. Scary, huh?

Anyway, check it out, have a laugh, and generally get ready to crash your way through the first half of my collegiate undergrad experience.

Note: This song has a Pavlovian effect on all Orientation staff, myself included. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXX

[Quadruple X....Must be really good porn. Or Louise is having fun with Roman Numerals. Which, FYI, I had to look at the wikipedia page on them to know where the hell I have to go next. Methinks we might not have that many sections left. It's hard to believe there's been forty.

Anyway. Happy Thursday, Heather Ann. Hope this brightens your week.]

Don't ask me how, but instead of perpetually behind in four out of five classes (education seminar included; physics decided as a lost cause) I was now two weeks ahead in my education seminar and crawling (tooth and nail) from under the pile of history reading I'd heaped on myself. The easy thing would be to ask Murph, as he'd already taken the class. But that would be the easy way out and maybe against academic policy. Not that I'd bothered to read the eighty-something page packet the Committee on Standards stuffs in our campus boxes every year.

This was my own damn fault and I was going to get through it. Even if it killed me. Might not kill me, but would make me more batshit crazy than I already was.

So, on a Saturday night (in much the same fashion as Friday night had been spent) that's why I was slogging through page after page of Early Modern Europe with a heaping helping of The Restoration for dessert. Practical Magic was in the DVD player; as books and papers were spread all over my bed, I'd taken up residence in the moon chair, shivering. The heater, which wasn't doing a hell of a lot to begin with, seemed to have died completely. Buildings and Grounds hadn't gotten up here yet and Jo had already confirmed it was warmer in the hall than my corner single.

One answer was to curl in the same bed as my porta-furnace, but Murph hadn't looked too good earlier. However, there was always his closet and I know the boy owned flannel. Could check up on him while I was down there, too.

Check on boyfriend first, raid closet second, and take a mental health study break from the very screwed-up early days of the English monarchy.

That was my plan.

Since the weather had turned nasty wandering around in socks wasn't a bright idea. Once slippers were on, it was down to the third floor. It was warmer immediately outside my freezer of a room. Didn't wait long for Dev to open the door.

"Hey, Ol." Dev looked rather startled, truthfully.

"Hi. Can I come in?"

He looked behind him, at Murph. "He's not feelin' so hot."

I blinked.

"He's thrown up, like, four times."

And this was supposed to deter me how? "Okay."

Dev looked at me, cocked his head to the side and said, "Yeah, right, must not have been in my right mind to think you wouldn't want to see him after he's hurled multiple times."

"I'm not a sympathy puker." He let me in the room.

"Thank God neither am I." Dev shut the door quietly and peeked into the trashcan. "Murph? Murph, Ollie's here."

Murph had his comforter all the way to his chin, hair sticking up in every direction, face roughly the same color as paper. Long story short: he looked like utter shit. Adorable shit, but still. Shit.

I dragged his desk chair over to curl up in it so we were close to being eye to eye. "Hi."

He blinked. It was a look very similar to what I had worn while trying not to hurl. Carefully, one of my hands snuck under the blankets to find his and tangle our fingers together. "Think you got whatever I had?"

Murph's thumb spelled no on the back of my hand.

"Just general crappiness?"

He blinked at me again.

"You feel okay, Dev?"

Dev popped an earbud out. "What?"

"You feel okay?"

He gave a half shrug. "Yeah. Tired. But pages of econ spreadsheets do that. Liam and Colby were fine today and yesterday."


"When I got back yesterday in the afternoon, Murph was already in bed with the trashcan." He leaned forward, elbows on his knees.

"Cheatin' on me with the trashcan?" I pushed Murph's bangs off his sweaty forehead, smiling when he snorted. "I mean, it's an attractive trashcan." He chuckled.

"Why are your hands so cold?" It was the first Murph had spoken and he sounded like he'd been gnawing gravel.

"I don't really have any heat in my room, which is why I'm going to raid your closet for a flannel before I go back upstairs." When stated matter-of-factly it didn't sound quite so bad.

"You have no heat?" Murph croaked, shifting uncomfortably.

"It's not that I don't have any, it's just that I don't have a lot..."

"Have you called B and G?" Dev asked, giving the hold on gesture to the computer. He must have been video chatting with someone.

"Yeah. They said maybe tomorrow." Which they said on Thursday. Not that the boys needed to know. They were already a bit outraged. "It's fine, it's just a little chilly." More like freeze your ass off, but, again, they didn't need to know.

Murph looked ready to suggest I stay with him, winced, and squeezed my fingers.


"My belly hurts."

I leaned forward and kissed his forehead, apprehensive about the head coming off him. Usually the only way for me to sleep in the same bed as Murph was, basically, for us to spoon. Either him around me or him with his head on my chest. That worked best. Unfortunately, neither of those put him in the right spot if he needed the trashcan in a hurry. Which, from the bleary look of understanding in his hazel eyes, he knew.

"I'm sorry." Firsthand experience speaking - belly pain sucked. "I've got pills to take care of that."

Murph snorted again. "Might skip that, thanks."

Yeah, might not be the best idea out there. Not that I'd do it - I just wanted to make him smile. Mission accomplished on that front.

His eyelids were drooping.

"I'll stop by before I go to bed." He nodded; I kissed his forehead, then his nose before extracting my hand from his. He was half asleep when I put the desk chair back and gently snoring by the time I'd rummaged through the closet to find a flannel shirt. It was almost the size of a tarp, heavy, no doubt warm, and smelled of Murph.

"I'll be back in half an hour," I said to Dev. He gave me a thumbs up and went back to the man on the screen.

My corner single was positively frigid. Murph's flannel shirt went on over a cami and some leggings, the tails hanging halfway down my thighs. With the bed cleaned off in record time, I grabbed Edgar and headed back downstairs. Dev opened the fishbowl; only his desk lamp was on. Murph was out. It took some reaching, but Edgar soon sat next to Smokey, unblinking eyes on Murph.

"'Night, Dev."

"'Night, Ol."

Despite the fact that I sleep better when I'm cold and have to burrow, it took a long time for me to fall asleep. A very long time.

One minute sound asleep, the next moment wide awake and wondering what the hell had woke me up.

Bang, bang "Olivia! Ollie, wake up!" Thump thump bang.

Sounded an awful lot like Dev. A panicked Devan beating on my door. I scrambled out of bed and jerked the door open, almost mowing over my own toes. Dev stood in the hall looking four-kinds of panicked and wearing just a pair of a boxers.

"Wha - "

"Murphy won't wake up."

Oh, dear God, what?

"Murph - His phone - And he didn't when he does - And Liam kept calling - "

Dev's panic was not helping my skyrocketing blood pressure. Not at all. No clue what I was supposed to be doing at the moment, but putting on pants seemed like the right kind of start. I was listening to Dev babble, almost hyperventilate, and generally freak out, and was trying to breathe while putting on jeans.

Something wasn't right with this picture.

Murphy won't wake up.

I grabbed my Vera, stuffed my feet into my sneakers, and sprinted after Dev trying to understand what exactly was going on. We burst into the fishbowl to see Liam slapping at Murph's pale cheeks. "Murphy! Murphy!" There was a pleading in Liam's voice that I'd never heard before.

I leaned against Dev's bed as he pulled jeans and a t-shirt on. Murph wasn't moving - didn't even look like he was breathing. "Did somebody call an ambulance?" Rubbed a hand over my chest, feeling like I was going to have a heart attack and concentrated on breathing.

"They're on their way. I'm gonna go meet 'em at the door downstairs." Dev was gone, the door closing slowly behind him.

Liam ran a hand through his hair. "Maybe - Maybe you can - "

He didn't have to get it all out before I was staggering across the room and behind to hold Murph's face in my hands. The heat coming off him was unbelievable. Almost frightening.

"Murphy," I said, lightly tapping his nose. "Mur - " My voice broke. "Murphy. Murphy wake up."


The paramedics barged in then; I stepped back until the desk rammed into my kidneys, grabbing at Liam's wrist with epileptic fingers.

"What's his name?" One of the paramedics - Toby - asked.

"Murphy. Murphy McRiley." Liam was surprisingly calm at this point. Jittery, but more calm than me or Dev who stood by his wardrobe chewing his fingernails.

"You look like family," Toby said while his partner pushed aside comforter and sheets to get to Murph. God, he was so pale. "How old is he? Allergies?"

"We're twenty and he's allergic to penicillin." Liam shuddered, trying to tune out the other paramedic giving stats into his radio. They didn't sound good. Not that I would know what the hell good or bad stats would be no matter how many episodes of ER I'd watched when I was thirteen.

"When did Murphy start to feel sick?"

Liam looked at me and I stuttered out, "He - He was fine Wednesday night. Said he was a little tired after our date." Pushed hair out of my face with trembling fingers. "It's getting to be the end of the semester. We're all tired."

"Did anything hurt? Was it just a head cold?"

The questions were almost overwhelming, especially when Toby's partner did something to make Murph jerk in pain, even unconscious. There was some talking amongst them, the phrase "Really needs a hospital" surfaced and they manhandled Murph - in his boxers - onto a backboard and then onto the stretcher waiting in the hall.

Liam threw on his coat and pressed a set of keys into my hand. "Have Dev drive. I'm going with my brother." He jogged after the paramedics and I practically threw the keys at Dev. There was no way in hell I was with it enough to drive. Not that Dev looked much better, but he wasn't shaking half as bad.

Couldn't tell you if we turned out all the lights in the fishbowl, or if it was snowing or raining, or how many red lights we hit between St. Claire and the hospital. It was cold, mostly because my peacoat was in Jackson and partly because I had no idea what was wrong with my boyfriend but we were headed back to the freakin' ER.

Dev got us there in one piece, somehow, and we entered the ER waiting room to a pacing Liam.

"What's - Did he wake up?"

Liam shook his head. "They're doing X-Rays or a scan or something to figure out what the hell's goin' on." He blew out a loud breath. "I called Colby and Ma and Dad are on their way. They were my next call after the ambulance." He sat heavily in a hard leather and wood chair. The kind that seemed to be in every ER on the face of the earth.

I fell into the chair next to him. "How did you know? That something was wrong, I mean."

He shrugged. "I dunno. Call it that mystical twin thing - I couldn't sleep. Knew Murph wasn't feelin' well and needed to talk to him."

Dev leaned against the soda machine on the other side of the room. "The phone kept ringing. And ringing. Murph always picks up. Even if he's passed out drunk he answers the damn phone." He swallowed. "I got up. Tried to wake him up and he wouldn't. I called Liam, told him I couldn't get Murph up. He came over, we dialed Campus Safety - I did - and he called an ambulance. We weren't waiting for Campus EMS to show up."

"Then you got me up?" Pulled my legs up and rested my cheek on my knee. "I thought he had what I had."

Liam put an arm around my shoulders. The three of us were the only ones there, muted CNN on the TV, and so quiet you could practically hear the gears in the damn wall clock.

Well, it was quiet until Colby came tearing through the halls like his ass was on fire.

"Colby?" Liam rose to his feet only to be caught up in the manliest hug I'd ever seen. When he got a hold of me it was like he was trying to break ribs. Dev didn't escape, either.

"Any word?"

"They're doin' tests."

I alternated between pushing up the sleeves on my borrowed shirt and pulling them over my knuckles. My hair was still a just-asleep mess and somehow - some-friggin'-how - I hadn't devolved into tears over the fact that my boyfriend hadn't woken up.

Maybe I should be thankful my stomach hadn't tried to make an escape.

ER's suck. Majorly.

"Ollie?" Colby was crouched in front of me. "Is there anybody you need to call?"

"Uh..." Where was my mind? Definitely not here.


Yeah. Sasha probably. I checked my pockets for my phone. "Uh...Can I...?"

"Here. Use mine." Dev handed me his BlackBerry. Sasha's number was already ringing.

"How do you - " The line picked up on the other end.

"Hello?" Cara. A very sleepy Cara.

"Hey - It's, it's Ollie."

"Ollie? What's wrong, Ol? Why aren't you callin' from your phone?"

I was having a harder time keeping it together talking to Cara than being in the waiting room with the boys. "I'm at the ER. Murph's - Murphy's sick. Really sick."

"Oh, honey." There was some shuffling. "We'll be right there."

"Oh, no, you don't - " God, everything was just spiraling.

"Olivia. We'll be right there. And tell Devan I wanna know why his phone number is on my girlfriend's cell." With that she hung up.

Dear God, could this night get any worse?


The four of us looked toward the desk to see a man in scrubs and a hair net. Liam stood, wiped his palms on his jeans and said, "Yeah?"

The doc did a double take.

"Murphy's my twin," he said with a small smile. "What's wrong with him?"

"It seems to be Murphy's appendix that's giving him problems. At the very least it's painfully inflamed, at the worst, it's exploded. This is a fairly routine surgery we're talking and we need you to sign some paperwork."

He'd gotten steadily paler but nodded, "Of course." Liam followed the doc to the counter to sign away.

"His appendix," Dev breathed.

Abdominal surgery. Deja vu.

Liam came back and sat wearily, rubbing at his face. "My brother's having emergency surgery to remove his appendix."

"You need to call your parents?"

"They're on the way." He chuckled dryly. "Da's probably doin' ninety on the thruway."

"Oh, God," I murmured, realizing that tonight, in the ER waiting room, I was going to meet my boyfriend's parents for the first time. Sleep-rumpled and in their son's flannel shirt, too.

Now I was really going to puke.


Sasha came through the doors like a force of nature to hug me, Cara not far behind her. This time I wiped at my eyes when we parted, me stretched awkwardly in the chair.

"Hey, you guys didn't have to come - "

"Olivia." Cara squeezed herself onto the chair with me and threw her arms around my shoulders. "You, my dear, are my girlfriend's best friend. Her sister. When you hurt, she hurts. When you're stressed, she's stressed. So, damn straight, hun, we're going to be waiting with you until that boy wakes up." She leaned close to my ear. "And he's gonna look at you and think damn, I worried that beautiful girl, but she's still here. It don't matter that you haven't said those words yet. You bein' here says it all." She kissed my temple and stood, hands on her hips and staring hard at Dev, all Southern business. "Devan."

"Miz Cara," he said, pocketing his BlackBerry.

Sasha had once called Cara her sweet-tea drinkin', peach-lovin' Southern shrew (even though the girl was only from Virginia) and as she was staring at Dev she was every inch of a strong-willed Southern woman.

Hell, I wasn't in the receiving end of that look and I was a little worried.

"Playing a go-between between best friend and boyfriend of the birthday girl is a bit hectic." He shrugged. "That's why we swapped numbers."

If I had a desk, I'd have whacked my head off the damn thing. "So, my boyfriend and my best friend were conspiring for my birthday?"

"And we're really good at it, too." Sasha grinned. While Cara had at least put on sweats, Sasha was rocking shorts and Uggs. I think I was too fried to really comprehend, otherwise she wouldn't have heard the end of it.

"Okay." Drew my legs up again, wrapping my arms around my shins. "I don't wanna know until Murph is well enough to enjoy it with us."

"Duh," Sasha muttered. "You had any coffee today?"

"A long time ago." A really long time ago, truthfully. My head thunked back against the wall. "Could really use another cup. Or four."

"Last thing you need is coffee," Colby muttered.

"Yeah, but she's not the one who parked in the wrong parking lot and ran through the friggin' hospital like he was a track star," Liam shot back.

We chuckled. Colby turned a fascinating shade of red.

"Anybody know what time it is?" Simple question, really.

Sasha grinned.

How an inquiry as innocent as the time turned into an off-key chorus of Happy Birthday, I've no idea. It happened anyway. It was my turn to be a funny shade of red, smiling tiredly.

"Thanks, guys." I'd been twenty for almost an hour. Twenty's not that much different than nineteen. Didn't feel any different, anyway.

We settled in, talking and glancing at CNN and that's maybe when I dozed off for a bit. I jerked awake and rubbed at my eyes. Liam was in the chair next to me, elbows on his thighs and fixated on the screen.

"Where'd everybody go?" There was one hell of a crick in my neck.

"Wandered down to find some coffee. I think." He took a deep breath. "My parents should be here soon."

Oh, shit. This was far from the ideal situation to meet the boyfriend's parents. We all knew it. Which was why it was just me and Liam waiting for Mr. and Mrs. McRiley.

"This wasn't how I imagined meeting them." Really, it was anything but ideal. "Middle of the night, in the hospital." Overwhelming. Just, overwhelming. "I don't even know their names."

"Dermott and Maggie."


He chuckled. "Very."


"Margaret." Liam smiled. "You'll be fine."

Great. Another McRiley that could read me like a freakin' book. And he didn't even have to look at me to do it.

"Do you know we're named after our grandfathers?"

Where the hell had that come from? "No."

He settled back, sprawling as best he could. "Yeah. Ma was an O'Hare before she married Da and her father's name was Allen. Ma took the Roarke that was his middle name for Murphy's. Grandpa McRiley's middle was Connor."

"That's cool." And nothing like that had happened in my family. Izzy shared a middle name with our mother - Marie - and there was rumor that one of my mom's ancestors, a Boyd, was named Mae. Which trickled down through the years to be my middle name. "Someone on my mother's side was Mae."

"Your middle name?"

"Yeah. Olivia Mae."

"You haven't told Murph that, have you?"

I shook my head. "I'm not too wild about my middle name, honestly." Partly because it was so damn short and partly because people said it no problem and then butchered my last name because they weren't paying attention.

The joy of being Polish.

"Karizslowski is Polish, right?" He was then on the receiving end of a ya think? look. "Are your parents immigrants?"

That's where he was going. "Oh, no. No, my mother's family has been here for a couple generations. My father's parents came from Poland between the wars and he was the second child born here. His older sisters were born in Poland."

"Big family?"

I shrugged. "Lots of cousins. Cousins with siblings." My family was, more or less, frickin' huge. "There's a lot of us here in central New York, but some in New England and a few in West Virginia, Minnesota, and Michigan."

"Most of our family is still in Ireland." His head thumped lightly against the wall. "Has Murph told you about our parents?"

"A little." Wadded myself in the chair sideways to look at Liam. "Your dad's a glassblower - and you haven't been allowed in the studio since you were twelve."

His head snapped around to look at me, eyes wide. "He told you that?"

"Yeah. And your mom works in insurance." Butterflies started in my belly. "What - What do...What are they going to think of me?"

Liam straightened, turning toward me. Blinked. "They are....They've been wanting to meet you since Murph told them he had a girlfriend. He emailed Ma some pictures of you from Halloween."

Which, okay, I'd done the same to my mother in our weekly, bi-weekly emails.

"Honestly, they can't wait to meet you." He swallowed. "It shouldn't be me introducing you. It should be Murphy."

"We can't control that." Not right now at least.

"I know."

Yeah. Not the ideal situation. From the borrowed shirt to the ER to the elephant in the room of not having Murphy here - this was crazy to a whole new level.

We lapsed into silence, uncomfortable and stretched, content to wait. Or, rather, wait and fidget in my case.

The doors to the parking lot slid open.

"William? Oh, William - "

Liam stood, automatically moving to hug his mother while I tried to continue to breathe. Wobbling upright, I hovered in the background, content to watch. Both boys looked like their father, only Dermott wasn't as filled out - probably because he wasn't a football player - and, unlike his boys, Dermott had red hair. Or what used to red, as he was slanting toward gray in places. Maggie was thin and not a whole lot taller than me. She had the dark hair her boys did and Murph's hazel eyes.

Hazel eyes that looked around her son to me. Through me.

"Liam..." Dermott said quietly.

"Sorry, Da," he said, reaching back and snagging my borrowed shirt sleeve. "This is Olivia - Ollie - Murphy's girlfriend."

Maggie smiled. "Hi, Ollie. I've seen pictures..." She trailed off. "Nice to finally meet you, only I wish the circumstances were better." There was a lilt to her voice that two decades in the States couldn't wipe completely. "I'm Maggie."

There was such a kindness in her eyes, such an understanding....Between physics, orgo, Murph in the ER, and turning twenty, everything was suddenly too much.

I burst into quiet tears right then and there.

"Oh, love," Maggie said, gathering me into her arms. "It's a bit overwhelmin'."

Didn't matter it wasn't my own mother, Maggie was still a mom and I needed a mom's shoulder to cry on right now. Which I did. Soaking up the warmth Maggie provided. This would be damn mortifying if it didn't feel so good. And if I didn't need it so badly.

"Sorry," I mumbled, pulling back and wiping my cheeks.

"There's nothing to be sorry for, Ollie." She rubbed my arms lightly. "And you made a very pretty pirate on Halloween."

Cue flaming cheeks. "Thank you." Gathering what composure I had left, I turned to Dermott. "Hi, Mr. McRiley." He shook my hand, looking closely at my tear-red eyes and then, much to my horror, my shirt. If he recognized it, he didn't say. Which was one of the better things to happen tonight.

"Nice to meet you." Dermott's accent was thicker than Maggie's. He smiled slyly, and that's when I really saw Murph in his father. "Cold down here lately?"

Not what I was expecting and, honestly, a hell of a lot better. "Yeah. It hasn't been too bad, but, um, I don't have any heat."

We sat, Liam and I, between Dermott and Maggie. The rest of our motley crew returned, and Maggie hugged Dev and Colby; I introduced Cara and Sasha. And then we sat. And looked at each other.

In silence.

Oh, Lord.

The drunks and mishaps started rolling in around three. Girls who had been out partying, frat boys worried about their passed-out brothers, and city kids who didn't have enough sense to read the warnings on the Jackass DVD's. We made small talk - or rather, Cara, Liam, and Maggie did as Dev, Colby, Dermott, and I kind of sucked at it - and around four-thirty a doc came out.


Maggie, Dermott, and Liam went to speak with him. Sasha sat next to me, holding my hand tightly in hers. Dermott and Maggie followed the doctor through the door and Liam came back to us, hands in his pockets.

"His appendix had exploded." There was a collective flinch. "Yeah. They removed what was left of it and cleaned out the infection. He's on antibiotics, painkillers, and should come out of anesthesia sometime soon. Might not come out of it for long, and he might just go right back to sleep. He's gonna feel like shit when he does wake up." He took a deep breath. "They've moved him to a room on the second floor. He, uh, he's gonna be just fine. Eventually."

I uncurled and hugged a shaking Liam. Now that he knew his brother was going to be fine he was more or less losing it. All the control he'd had since the whole fiasco had started - in the fishbowl and then waiting until his parents arrived, then with his parents - he didn't have to be calm and composed anymore. Now he could worry.

"They have visiting hours tomorrow, right?" Cara asked, prodding a half-asleep Sasha. "We should come back tomorrow."

Colby rubbed his eyes. "That sounds like a plan."

"You want a ride to your car?"


They gave one last round of hugs and paraded out the ER doors while Liam led Dev and I through the hospital to an elevator. We passed the time waiting outside Murph's room (once we found it - we had to circle the floor twice until a passing nurse took pity on us) by playing the Movie Game - Start with a movie or an actor and then get another film or actor from the first one. So, start with George Clooney and get Ocean's 11, then say Brad Pitt, who was also in Fight Club. Edward Norton then gets you to The Italian Job. Donald Sutherland gets you to Pride and Prejudice and Kiera Knightley leads to Pirates of the Caribbean. That sort of thing.

Liam was a little scared at how long Dev and I could go without needing to start again.

Maggie poked her head out the door. "He's awake. A little disoriented and tired, but awake."

Dev shoved Liam into the room first then we waited a little more until Dermott waved us in.

Murph was still too pale to be healthy and hooked to both a heart monitor and an IV. Liam pulled gently by my sleeve all the way to the side of the bed and I slipped my hand under Murph's. He was definitely more drugged than our previous ER trip. Still, he gave me a ghost of his regular smile and whispered, "Hi."

"Hi, Murph."

He swallowed hard, like his throat was dry. "Ha - Happy Birthday, Ol."

And then, right there in front of his parents, I leaned over and kissed his nose. Just to see him smile.

Happy Birthday indeed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXIX

[I get to change symbols at fifty. And yes, I had to look at wikipedia for that tidbit of information. Short section, but I didn't want to combine this with what's coming next. Happy Thursday.]

Maybe it was a good thing we didn't make it too far into the tournament. Playing soccer in a snow storm doesn't bother me (had to dig the peacoat out of the closet, finally) but we were more or less starting the downside slide of the semester. Couple more weeks until Thanksgiving, and after that it was a short foray into December and then finals would come up hard and fast.

Also between now and then would be my twentieth birthday.

So, considering all of that, it was probably a damn good thing we were knocked out by penalty kicks by Ithaca the following weekend. It freed up a lot more time. Time I should have spent doing back physics work and orgo practice problems. Time I spent doing anything but.

Except maybe driving myself absolutely batshit crazy with back homework.

Like I was trying to do on a Tuesday night. Finally had to say screw it and move onto T-S Britain from chem. Then again, having at least two hundred pages to read in one book alone (reading that was due three weeks ago) made the task rather daunting. Not to mention we were supposed to get a few inches of snow overnight.

Damn it.

My phone vibrated against the bed frame. Text from Izzy. Moulin rouge is on vh1. *squeeee*

Squee I did. Almost went headfirst off the bed trying to get the remote and was very grateful to find it had really only just started. Score.

Needless to say whatever focus I had left took a swan dive from the fourth floor to the sounds of beauty, truth, and love. And the sight of a green fairy shaking her ass.

I have up on anything academic two verses into One Day I'll Fly Away. The knock on the door came shortly thereafter. "Yeah?"

Murph poked his head in. "Hi."

"Hi." Motioned him in. My favorite part was coming up. "Whatcha doin'?"

He propped a hip against the bed, looking between me and the screen. "Wonderin' why my girlfriend hadn't answered when I saw her light was on."

"Oh." Checked my phone. Four new messages. "Sorry." I uncurled enough to sit up and drop a leg on either side of him. "I tried doing work, got a text from Izzy that Moulin Rouge was on - love this movie - and said to hell with it about an hour ago. Sorry."

"No, not it's fine." He turned to look at me straight on. "I just...Wanted to see if we were still on for dinner tomorrow at the Pub. And how you feel about last Saturday."

Or rather, how being knocked out of the NCAA tournament so early was sitting.

He bent to kiss my nose. "And - "

"And again? How many more are you gonna pull out?" I giggled.

"Funny," he grinned. "And - " He drew it out for effect, "You have a birthday coming up."

I did. November 22, actually. Five days from now. "You're planning something, aren't you?"

Murph smiled coyly; butterflies erupted low in my belly. "Maybe." He planted his hands on either side of my hips, leaning in and brushing his cheek against mine. He hadn't shaved this morning. "Can't tell you all my secrets." He pulled back to look at me. "Just some."

"Uh huh." My brain was goo. And there was a new sensation in my gut that was downright terrifying.

"I actually need to go do homework, so I will leave you to your movie." He kissed me gently. "See you tomorrow."

I squeezed his sides with my knees. "Yup. Seven?"

"Definitely." He hesitated on his way to the door, almost like he was going to say something. It was on the edge of my tongue, and after an awkward silence, he cracked a smile and said, very softly, "Bye, Ol."

Did that make us both cowards, that we couldn't say two words that were almost right there? Or maybe...Maybe it wasn't time yet. I lay on my belly, eyes on the screen and mouthing the words with Christian: like I've never seen the sky before/Want to vanish inside your kiss/Every day I love you more and more.

Come what may indeed.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

That Song, You Know...

Where have I been, right? I've been a little all over the place. Or, rather, I haven't. My beloved Oldsmobile failed to pass inspection (rust in the subframe) and he's bound more or less for the scrap heap, sadly.

Anyway, I've heard a couple of songs this summer that I really like and that like to get stuck in my head. I thought I'd share them with you.

Don't worry - There'll be an actual post from me sometime soon. Soon as I can figure it all out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXVIII

[I think I'm reaching the end of my Roman numeral knowledge. Might have to start looking stuff up. Anyway - Here's a new segment for those of you who regularly read here, and those transplanted IP users, welcome to The Wandering Sagittarius. This might be a little easier on your eyes than what HarperCollins has decided to do to our beloved (sometimes infuriating) site. Enjoy.]

Rain spattered against the window, louder and softer depending on the wind gusts. It was shaping up to be one of those lazy Sundays only found in romance novels. Lazy Sundays that meant not getting out of bed until noon and with Murphy probably still sleeping downstairs. We hadn't stayed together last night courtesy of my monthly visit from Mother Nature. Sleeping sprawled face-down in the middle of a twin bed doesn't leave much room for anybody else. And, bless him, Murph hadn't taken more than a couple seconds to figure it out.

I crawled outta bed around twelve-thirty. Felt good to sleep in, truthfully. Brunch didn't appeal to me, mostly because it meant walking in the rain, so on went the computer, some Dave Matthews Band, and hello inbox full of Facebook notifications and tagged photos. Since yesterday was Halloween, it was practically a given.

And, oh, were some of these priceless. But what do you expect when a pirate shows up to a costume party at Robin Hood's house with the Blues Brothers and a grown up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? There was a photo of all of us. Then of Murph and Liam in matching suits and sunglasses; Colby looking dapper and Old English-y (tights included, the brave man); Murphy and me; me after having stolen Murph's sunglasses; Murphy and me when he picked me up in an attempt to get his glasses back, one of my arms around his neck and the sunglasses hanging off my nose. Hell, the knee-high hooker boots were even in that one.

Couple clicks later and that was my new profile picture. Yes, I was hopelessly romantic.

Besides - Robin Hood doing a fantastic Captain Morgan impression? Made me giggle when it happened and laugh outright in retrospect.

Lazy Sundays were made for curling up in a pullover, putting a movie on, and settled in with a book (textbooks included). Maybe some chips and salsa, too. Which, I had the chips, but as Jo and I traded off when we jointly went to Wegman's, the salsa was in her room. I grabbed a bowl and trucked across the hallway.

Jo took one look at me and grinned when she opened the door. "Good night last night?"

"It had its moments." Leaned against the door frame. "Do we have salsa left?"

"Yeah." She went to her mini fridge. "Dinner tonight?"

"Five-thirty?" Medium salsa went into the bowl. "Hopefully I can get something accomplished."

Jo snorted. "Right. Good luck."

It'd be needed. Sundays were an enemy. And with the mountain of physics reading that had been piling up it was going to be a battle. Then there was chem and T-S Britain and, of all things, a dog and vampire scene for acting.

Great. Just great.

The bottom dropped out of the temperature midweek, enough to start layering footless tights under my jeans and long-sleeves under tees. As there was no going back when the peacoat left the closet, it was the goal to leave that as long as possible. Winter hats, however, popped up all across campus as the north wind started to blow hard and cold.

Practices got interesting. Namely we broke out the spandex. Nobody wants hexagons on their thighs in this weather unless absolutely necessary. Mostly 'cause the ball felt like it was inflated with ice instead of air.

I spent one late night swearing my way through my T-S Britain paper that gratefully received a B and dropped five points out of ten on an orgo quiz. Physics stayed out of the equation completely, mostly for my sanity, and we slogged through the first full week of November to the weekend.

And, consequently, Liberty Leagues.

The weather forecast going into Saturday sucked. Rain, low temps, and tough competition. We squeaked out a win on Saturday to put us in the championship Sunday. Don't know how we did it, but we did.

It was my first Liberty League tournament. Last year saw me as a sort of flux player between JV and varsity, practicing with both teams in almost equal measure. Sasha was the veteran, and as we stood on the sideline for the national anthem, I squeezed the hell out of her hand and felt Gilly's nervous energy on my right. My family was here - mom, dad, Izzy, El, Dean - and parked on the hill not far from them were my boys: Dev, Liam, Colby, and Murph. Tanya, who said hi to me every time we crossed paths, spread out a blanket on the ground to sit between Colby and Noah.

Dear God, I was going to throw up. All over the sideline and my Puma cleats.

There was a moment, after stepping onto the field and before kickoff, when I looked around, took in the crowd, and temporarily forgot that I knew how to play soccer. Just completely blanked out.

When the ref blew the whistle, it was all muscle memory after that.

We stood poised on the sideline, silent and tense, squeezing the blood out of each other's fingers as we watched Ally place the ball on the penalty stripe. If she made this, we were champions. If she didn't, we went another round of penalty kicks.

Don't think my nerves could handle another round.

It was drizzling. Ally stood at the top of the box, waiting for the whistle. Cozzens Field was eerily silent, so much so that the whistle seemed extra loud when it went. Ally took a deep breath, got her approach, and the entire sideline seemed to stop breathing. We started running before the ball hit the net.

The hill went nuts; we screamed and dog-piled Ally and Gilly and for the first time in my life I was going to the NCAA Women's College Soccer Tournament as a player, not a spectator.

Holy shit. We we were on the road to Greensboro. Granted, we needed to win more than a few to order the charter bus, but damn. It was a start.

Friday, June 3, 2011

File 404 (Among Other Things)

It's been a bit of a long week. Between working twenty hours as a waitress (which, I know, isn't that much) and substituting (I was a music teacher today, and no, I didn't sing - but I did have a flashback to my band geek days by conducting them this morning) and a soccer game tonight, it's been a little hectic. And kind of tiring. However, speaking of soccer games, I've got great news that makes me want to split my face with a grin every time I even think about it.

Heather, myself, and our mother will be attending the 2011 MLS All-Star game as they take on Manchester United, the reigning European champions next month in New York City!

So. Freakin'. Excited. If I didn't think it would completely screw up the rest of this post, I'd try to find a way to make that font bigger. Like, size of this screen bigger, as that's how flippin' excited we all are. Even mom. There are other plans around that date that are still up in the air, but we have tickets, I've put in for time off (which basically means I've written in the book that I'm not available that day - or three) and I think if I went squeeee as long and loud as I wanted, I'd frighten half the neighborhood.

Which isn't to say that the sight of my neighbor - my male neighbor - in uber-short shorts and cowboy boots cleaning his cement driveway off with a garden hose earlier this week didn't make me want to scrub my retinas. It did. Then I remembered what I wear when I mow the lawn and figured I shouldn't be that hypocritical, though my thighs are quite a bit bigger than his. Anyway....

So, when it comes to HTML coding other than the normal
stuff, I'm a bit stupid. I'm thinking about changing up the look of the blog again, as I'm still trying to find something that makes it feel a little more like me. I like darker colors (I think they look a little classier) but people find it difficult to read. I'm kind of wondering what my 39 followers think - Should I scrap this whole borrowed layout thing I've currently got going on and start tweaking colors and whatnot, or do I keep looking for something that makes me go yes, this is what I want this representation of me to look like.

If anybody has any ideas or suggestions, drop me an email or a comment. Until then, I'll just amuse myself and see how many File 404 screens I can get to pop up while I do it. Or that long string of red HTML code that pops up with a Warning which basically means you fail.

But I'm a scientists - Naturally, I like experiments.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


For the most part I'm settled into my own skin. Even if it's currently sunburnt on my shoulders and tender enough that I've got no problems wearing a tube top bought years ago out in public. I've accepted the fact that I work during the summer. I pick up shifts here or there, and got three calls yesterday for sub jobs (one of which I denied because I needed to take my mom for a medical test - routine, nothing serious, and she's fine) and I have a waitressing shift - my primary job - tonight.

Possibly the only vacation I'm going to get is if we get tickets to see the MLS All-Star game against Manchester United. They're playing at Redbulls Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and considering all the places we've driven mom's tan Buick, it really wouldn't be an issue to get down there.

Which makes me sort of wonder if I'm missing something.

I've had a bit of time to sit in my own headspace lately, which has provided a lot of introspection. It would help, on another level, if I started (kept up with) journaling on a regular basis. And some of the stuff I'm comfortable enough sharing with you fine folks.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not missing out on something that makes summer....summer. Aren't there supposed to be fleeting, fling-y summer romances? Vacations and plane-rides (or, in our case, car rides as dad refuses to fly). Dates to be had with friends that haven't been seen in a while, including my best friend whom I haven't seen in a year, due to different semesters abroad (and dear sweet Baby J, I needed her last semester when shit hit the fan) and other stuff that girls are supposed to do when they're this age? Should I be spending some nights actually getting ready, dressed up, and going out to meet people?

Is the fact that I work so much the reason I haven't had a date in three years?

It's not that I don't like my job - I love it, actually. Even Monday nights when all I'm doing is playing babysitter to over a hundred teenagers, most of whom show more skin than I do in the summertime and it just, at times, doesn't seem fair. Still. I get in my car, get to work, do my job (do it well, too, considering what I make in tips that I then have to split) and drive home.

Maybe the payoff comes during the year. How I take the opportunities presented to me by the Colleges and do different things. Like going to Toronto and New York City for class sophomore year (which, kind of seems like ages ago even if it was just over two years) or going abroad for three months and getting stuck in London on the way back. Or going to Virginia and spending my Spring Break doing community service in a State Park down there. Which I'm planning to do again this year because it was so much fun. Or maybe it comes when I get to go to dinner or the movies with the girls, or buy my own groceries and spend the afternoon baking for my housemates. Maybe that's the summertime living I'm supposed to be doing that I'm transplanting into the school year.

Maybe that's the missing piece that's actually not so missing. I don't know. Even days like today, when I'm content, happy, and comfortable in my skin (and looking forward to going to work tonight because, in a way, it's fun) it still feels like something's a Like puzzle pieces that don't quite fit because one of them is warped.

Guess this is one of those things I'll figure out as I go. Kind of like if mom and I can make one of those layered cookie cakes that you buy in the store.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Working Girl Returns

I've been kind of absent lately. I know. There's a reason behind it. Three, actually.

Waitressing, subbing, and refereeing. Not necessarily in that order, either.

However, due to the amount of time I spend in either my car or my mother's (depends on which is in the driveway for me to drive wherever I need to go to get someplace to do one of those three previous things) I've had the chance to sort of preview this summer's music. I'm more of a country fan (I'm a country child, so it makes sense) and these are two songs that I've heard and I've, honestly, fallen quite a bit in love with.

So, in the hopes that I can fan my blogger spark into something larger again, I share with you Dirt Road Anthem by Jason Aldean and Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXVII

[Happy Tuesday, Heather Ann.]

It was the Tuesday after our Saturday rain game against Hamilton that I started to feel like shit. First it was the sniffles, followed by a cough that had me sounding more like a sick seal than a human. I fired off an email to my placement teaching telling her I was ill (and therefore not coming, no matter how many hours in the hole I was) and barely dragged my ass to my seminar. It was a one absence only seminar and therefore my ass needed to be there.

And being there physically? Sure as shit not the same as being present and accounted for mentally.

As my ass - and the rest of the body it was attached to - was having a difficult time staying upright, there was no way acting class was feasible. It was difficult to breathe through clogged nostrils standing still, let along acting as a squirrel. Yeah, our professor was a little out there.

After a conversation (or parts of it, as I tried to hack up a lung shortly after 'hello') with my coach, I was looking at a free Tuesday and was going to spend it passed out and snuggling in my lovely dorm bed. Preferably wrapped around Edgar.

Couldn't be wrapped around Murph as he didn't need to get sick. Didn't need to risk getting Dev, Liam, and Colby sick, either. But as Murph would want to check on me later - and he still flinched at the idea of my unlocked door on a trip to the bathroom - he would need my keys to actually get in the room.

Oblivious to the fact it was nine in the morning, I knocked on the door to the fishbowl. Dev didn't even crawl outta bed to answer it.

"Ollie?" he blinked sleepily at me.

I hacked up my kidney into the crook of my arm. We both flinched. "Can you get Murph?"

"How 'bout I get you a doctor first?" he mumbled, sliding off the bed. I held the door open with one hand, utterly miserable.

"Ol?" Murph was there in an instant, rubbing at his jaw. If my head hadn't been so damn fuzzy, the sight of my boyfriend with no shirt would have made me stare and drool. His hand touched my forehead and then recoiled. "Damn, you're hot."

"Such a sweet talker." I really needed to lay down. "Will you come check on me later?"

"Absolutely." He was offended I asked - like it was a given. "Leave your...Nope. I'll come with you now."

Barefoot and bare chested, Murph followed me up the stairs. Opened my door. Tucked me into bed after turning his back so I could change at a snail's pace.

Don't remember him leaving, but remember the sound of the lock going. A nap seemed like the right thing to shoot for.

Bushes lined the path. Green bushes. And all through the bushes little Amish people would pop up, almost like Whack-a-Mole.

Then there was clear blue sky above me as I lay on the August-warmed asphalt, having just walked into the side mirror of a truck.

Purple fireworks went off and everything started to spin, blending together.

Down and down fell the bed, the stamps, Amish hats, and side mirrors...

My feet were against something that moved every now and then and a warm, heavy weight on my calf. Opened my eyes, blinked a couple of times, and the wall came into focus. So did Edgar and what looked like Smokey. But what was Smokey doing up here?

I shifted, craning around to look at the other end of the bed and found Murph sitting with one elbow on the dresser and his nose in a European history textbook. He looked at me when I pushed my toes against his hard thigh.

"Hey," he said, laying the book down on his other leg. "How do you feel?"

Pulled the comforter up to my nose and blinked, trying to convince my stomach there was need to evacuate. Hopefully it would listen.

Murph squeezed my calf and then went back to rubbing it. "You want another blanket?"

Nope. Just...This was fine. I shook my head and rolled over. The trashcan was between the desk and the closet, like normal. Only it really needed to be by the bed as, while I only paid twenty bucks for my indoor/outdoor carpet, I didn't want to buy another one.

"I think Liam's coming up shortly," he said, hand now on my knee, thumb rubbing hypnotically over my kneecap. The bubbling in my gut settled marginally. "He's bringing some cold meds. Nothing with ibuprofen in it since your system doesn't like."

Well remembered from Lord knows when, Murph. Well remembered.

If Liam also had anything resembling food, things were going to go south in a hurry. Or was it north? Either way, it wasn't going to be pretty.

As my boyfriend is freakin' fabulous in general, I smiled at him, settling again.

Until Liam opened the door and the scent of soup wafted through the room.

I somehow stumbled out from under the covers without breaking myself, shoved past Liam and sprinted down the hall to the bathroom in bare feet. Normally I'd freak at that. As there were other important things - like puking - to worry about, I let it go and careened into the handicapped stall, barely making it to the bowl before heaving.

Couldn't remember the last time I'd upchucked but I did remember one very important thing - it sucked.

Murph barged into the stall seconds later, pushing a leg between mine and wrapping an arm around my clavicle to make sure I stayed upright while bringing up what felt like nineteen years worth of food, stomach included. The sound of the bathroom door closing seemed dim in comparison to the horrific sounds coming from the handicapped stall which made me realize Liam must have followed us in and was guarding the door.

Gasping for breath and swallowing frantically in hopes I wouldn't start dry heaving, the tiny part of my brain not focused on the immediate issue was screaming I'd wind up with some unnatural foot fungus from being barefoot so close to a communal toilet.

Which started another round of stomach spasms and dry heaves.

When it passed, Murph was kissing the top of my head and murmuring utter nonsense. Nonsense was good. Focusing on his voice was good. Relaxing was even better.

Liam must have entered the stall at some point as he was somewhere to my left and telling me to breathe. Which was useful information.

I stood, balanced mostly by over two hundred pounds of football player and wanting desperately to rinse. Liam, bless him, must have been a mind-reader in a past life and handed me a glass - one from my room - of water. I rinsed, spit, and leaned against Murph's broad chest, ready to sleep again.

"Sorry about that," Liam said quietly.

"Not your fault." It wasn't, either. He was trying to do something nice and it had sort of...backfired. Or maybe exploded grossly was more appropriate.

From the gurgle my belly just made, no more talk of exploding anything.

"You wanna rinse one more time?"

I shook my head mutely. Murph eased his leg out and then swung me up against his chest. I was so damn miserable I didn't protest to being carried like a child. Liam flushed and then held doors for us all the way back to my corner single. It was a little chilly - the window was open, presumably to get rid of the soup stench. Murph set me on the bed, practically force-fed me meds, and then tucked me back in. Liam, from the sound of it, had settled into my moon chair, grumbling at the wireless, or lack thereof. Murph repositioned the trashcan, shucked his shoes and crawled up with me. My body made room for him automatically and practically melted when he started rubbing my back.

"Dev doesn't even puke that much when he's drunk," Murph said conversationally after a few minutes.

"I'm special," I muttered, settling back against him when he wrapped an arm around me and my covers.

"Not a party trick I'd share at the President's house," Liam chimed in, typing away.

Thank you, peanut gallery.

"Least she has one."

Missed Liam's retort by getting sucked into that void of exhaustion, medication, and utter relaxation. Hope the dreams were better this go 'round.

Well, this was different. One moment I was in Jackson and the next I was on my old back porch next to Ronon Dex from Stargate: Atlantis. At least the sky was blue.

"What are we doing?"

"There's Wraith in the trees."

Which seemed perfectly normal when he said it like that. Until life-sucking space vampires came hurtling down from the treeline. I yelped like an idiot and all but fell off the porch, sprinting toward my own house.

And almost got hit by a classic Cadillac driven by a man in a leather kilt - who looked a lot like Colby - halfway across the road. Hands on the hood, I stared.

"Get in."


"Get in."

"I don't know who the hell you are!" Might look like Colby but probably wasn't. Could be Evil Colby.

In the end, the horde of space vampires tramping through the backyard made the choice fairly straightforward. I was in the passenger seat before really thinking about it and the Colby-Not Colby gunned it down the road.

"Might wanna sleep," he said, flipping on the radio. "It's a fairly long drive."

Which was code for close eyes for what felt like five minutes and open them somewhere completely different. A big different. A clearing, horses, and a Murph who looked like an extra from an episode of
Xena: Warrior Princess kind of different. Sword and leather shirt included, free of charge. I stared openly.

"We must ride," he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward a horse the size of a small shed. The Cadillac was nowhere in sight.

"But you don't know how to ride - "

Murph was already hoisting me up into the saddle. For a boy who didn't like heights, he was about to be surprised. He swung easily into the saddle and away we went, me protesting - loudly - that neither of us knew what the hell we were doing.

The tree branch came from nowhere.

I jerked awake, ramming my elbow back into something warm and relatively soft. Whatever it was gave a grunt and poked me hard in the ribcage. Murph. Only my boyfriend would poke me after first elbowing him in the diaphragm.

Meant to say "What time is it?" but something must have not totally computed because it came out a garbled mess that didn't resemble anything close to English.

There was some rooting around under the pillow, followed by a sigh. "One-thirty.

Really? Felt like I'd been down for the count for days. "Oh."

"How's your belly?"

No longer wanting to throw up everything it had ever ingested. "Better."

"Do you think it's up for some food?"

I shrugged, turning over and burying my nose in the warm juncture of Murph's neck and shoulder. Could so go back to sleep like this. The boy was a freaking furnace on legs, no doubt about that. He slung his arm around my waist, rubbing a broad hand up and down my spine.

"Liam left the soup."

Oh. God. Liam. Liam who had brought me the soup trying to be nice and had wound up in the handicapped stall with me and his twin when I did my drunk freshman impersonation. He wasn't a sympathy puker, thankfully, but it wasn't very nice of me. Would be the equivalent of me bring him a sandwich or something and Liam running for the nearest toilet.

Though....Maybe these were extenuating circumstances....

"And he understands you weren't feeling well earlier." Murph eased himself into a sitting position and slowly brought me with him while I tried to figure out if my boyfriend had recently developed ESP.

"Microwave's at the other end of the hallway." I leaned against the wall, blinking owlishly as Murph slid off the bed and knelt to open the mini fridge. Someone must have stuck the soup in there after my disappearance. "Is he offended?"

He sat up, cracking his head on the underside of the bed frame, soup container in hand. "What? No. No, Liam's not offended." He stood. "He's not offended that you blew chunks over the smell of food."

Well then. That settles that.

He tucked the comforter around my hips better, kissed me on the forehead, and went to reheat lunch. Smokey sat next to Edgar and eyed me. There was a very big significance in the fact that Smokey was out of the fishbowl. The only conclusion that came to mind was that I had the sweetest boyfriend not only in the known universe, but in all the ones unknown, too.

Murph came back in looking toward the shelf with my stolen Saga-ware, found a spoon, and gave the contents a stir. Handed it to me and climbed up next to me again. "It's chicken noodle but we'd figured you just wouldn't eat the noodles 'cause they're not wheat." His thigh was warm against mine, even through all the layers separating us.

"I have weird dreams when I'm sick," I said after a while and dear God, had I been gnawing on gravel in my sleep?

"How weird?"

"Amish and Stargate: Atlantis weird." Pause. "With some Xena thrown in for good measure."

He slipped an arm behind me, pulling me close. "Weird. I don't dream when I'm sick."

"Lucky duck." Sick dreams were either hysterical or terrifying. So far, I was two for two in the hysterical category. "Do you have class today?"

"At three." He held up his book from the dresser. How he'd found space to put it there to begin with was beyond me. "Brought my reading with me."

Today was a day where Ollie wasn't going to be productive at all. Also a day to refer to myself in the third person, too. Incidentally, it was probably also time for another nap.

I slid out of bed onto wooden legs to take care of my empty soup container, needing to get up and around the small room. Murph shifted, curling up behind me when I crawled back under the covers and got situated. Rolled over and stuffed myself against him. Something unknotted in my chest; my throat tightened for a different reason and I sniffed, covering it up with the fact that I already had a stuffy nose.

This, this right here, was new to me. New, exciting and so damn sweet it made my heart just to beat. Holding me while I hurled, staying with me, bringing me soup and meds and just caring...This made my eyes burn.

Because Bobby had never done this for me. Not. One. Time.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz