Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shaken, Not Stirred

I'm writing this while more or less waiting for my pain pill to kick in and take me off to la-la land for the night as four classes tomorrow, plus lab, is probably going to be pushing it for a full day back after having oral surgery.

Anyway. I've got very good news.

All of my collective 37 followers and whoever else stumbles upon this happy collection of ramblings knows that I write for the Colleges' alternative student newspaper, martini. Since I don't go to school with most of you - or, rather, we're not even in the same geographical location (not even remotely, in some cases) I - and the email list usually only covers our alums, I've got really good news.

martini is now online. Including most of our paper archives, too. You can actually go all the way back to our first volume, issues 5, 7, and 8. (Note, though, that there some articles missing in some of our issues...this might be because the pre-printed copy is the one loaded, and we'll definitely try to get that fixed.)

However, for now, have at it and tell us what you think. Newest issues are at the top, and enjoy a crisp, clean, hard hitting martini with your morning coffee.


Kanye West wrote and sang a song titled Through the Wire because, well, his jaw was wired shut due to something that had happened to him to cause such a thing. Not only is my jaw not wired shut, I also can't sing for shit and my mouth won't open too far because it's so swollen.

I resemble a chipmunk who's been stuffing nuts in its mouth to prepare for winter. Only, it's the end of February, I'm a twenty-one-year-old human, and I've recently (Friday) had my wisdom teeth removed. After spending the first night in my college house with my Mama because the roads were too bad to get home, I've spent yesterday and today at my own house - most of today knocked on my ass due to Vicodin - and now that I'm actually with it this afternoon, I'm looking at eating more pudding for lunch, scarfing so ibuprofen, and cranking out this lab report that's due tomorrow. My calculations might not be correct, but I'm kind of okay with that. And it's only the first draft due, so I can go see him about what to add and what not to add, and what needs to be fixed. Same about the problem set.

What I'm actually kind of jumping for joy about is my theater class. We don't have class on Tuesday. At all. Because our professor is in Florida interviewing at a big university. Which, while we love him to death, his position at our institution isn't secure, and while he's interviewing here, he's also looking elsewhere. It's the nature of these things.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to let you guys know that I'm alright. Well, alright as anyone can be while on painkillers, eating non-solid foods, and looking like a furry woodland creature. Other than that, I'm still the same Wandering Sagittarius.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Short Form To-Do List

I need to get back in the habit of making my legit to-do list because it really helps me focus on what I need to get done, what I've gotten done, and what I have left to do.

So, while I get caught up on my missed Monday night TV (I don't watch much live TV, just about four shows, all in the beginning of the week, mostly on Monday) - The Chicago Code and Harry's Law - it's given me a little more time to think about what's coming up in a couple of days.

The wisdom teeth are being evicted Friday morning. I'll be in quantum for a little bit on that morning, then high-tailing it back to the house to meet my parents (or just one, I'm not sure if they're both coming) and then heading over to the oral surgeon and then the fun begins.

It is, however, not my first surgery that involves general anesthesia. I know the deal with that - they give you something and you go to sleep. What feels like five minutes later (but it's really not) you wake up, and the last time I was under completely I woke up, didn't even open my eyes, had someone doing something very interesting around the surgical area, and then, after mumbling in agreement that I was indeed feeling like I was going to throw up, gave me something that pretty much sent me back to sleep.

The moral of this story is that the more I sleep, the less I feel crummy. Considering I'm going to be on some pretty happy drugs post-surgery, sleeping is even better and probably all that I'm going to do for the rest of my Friday.

Until Friday morning, though, there's some things that need to be done. A draft of a formal lab report, a geoscience problem set, some research (to debunk an experiment) for mineralogy, putting my newest Shakespeare monologue on my mp3 player to listen to and help memorize, writing my piece for the open mic for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and remembering in all of that to attend lab, go to Wegman's so I can bake for the house tomorrow, and, you know, finding time to eat and whatnot. Maybe even knit.

And yes, I know you fine people are lacking a photograph of my first complete knitting project, I'll try to get one of those as soon as possible, as well as a photograph of the one that I've started because I'd like to give scarves - maybe hats, too - this year for Christmas to my college friends. Mama has already said she'll help me, and, I like to knit (I find it incredibly relaxing, too) so it's going to give me something to do throughout the summer in my downtime.

Also coming up is Spring Break. There will be lots of Tweets and photos - both on my Facebook, the blog, and PhotoBucket - because I'm going to be spending it in Virginia building bridges and doing maintenance in the Pocahontas State Park. I'm really excited. God only knows what I'm going to look like (I might still resemble a chipmunk and unable to eat a lot of solid food) but I'm really excited. I haven't gone on a road trip in a while (by road trip I mean in a car/van and somewhere in the continental United States) and this is just going to be a lot of fun. Hard work, but fun.

So, I've got a little more of The Chicago Code to watch, followed by Harry's Law and in the process I'll make my to-do list. Then I'll go about doing it because I've hit the point where if I'm not as productive as I like to be it bugs me.

Suddenly, with this prospect, I feel that this venti-sized Verona blend from Starbucks isn't going to be enough to accomplish what I need to. Then again, that's why there's a coffee pot in my kitchen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thank BLEEP!

Thank [Insert Appropriate Word Here] it's the freakin' weekend.

If you couldn't tell, it's been a long week in my neck of the woods. It really didn't start...well, yes, okay, maybe it did. Maybe it started to get long on Monday afternoon when our chemistry professor had to go get his son from daycare in the middle of the afternoon - twenty minutes into our lab time - and we got to hang out with an eighteen-month-old gnawing on a graham cracker while trying to get scientific data on dye. (The situation was totally understandable as the daycare provider had an emergency in her family, and therefore, the professor's small child needed to be picked up - we understood this, he asked for flexibility [providing some, too] and we were more than happy to try and get the Little One to smile, giggle, or actually speak to us, as he suddenly turned very shy.) Or maybe it got a little longer on Tuesday when I realized I'm going to have to fight tooth and nail to align whatever I decide to do for my curriculum project with the clusterfuck that is the New York State Education Standards for Physical Science Chemistry, followed by learning that afternoon that my performance of my Shakespeare monologue was on Thursday. Could possibly have happened on Wednesday, too, when, after my usual three classes and one-third lab (because my professor is awesome and broke up the lab into three pieces to follow class time on MWF) my Mama came up and we went to my wisdom teeth consultation. We both like the surgeon, looking at X-rays is always a twisted sort of fun, and we scheduled surgery for next Friday. All four. With a combination of pain, painkillers, and general whatnot - not to mention I think I've gotten steadily paler as the week has gone by - we decided to forgo dinner, and I was in bed and passed out before 11:30. Or maybe it was Thursday with the performance of the monologues after two and a half hours of intro geoscience lab that dealt with volcanic hazards.

The capstone on the week that was steadily going downhill had to be Friday. Four classes (we're counting that one-third lab as a class because, well, it pretty much is), followed by the first group session (Sheila recommended I try group, and, well, it's actually really nice - which I'll talk a little bit more on later), followed by me generally freaking out about my chemistry problem set, the professor understanding everyone has those weeks, followed by my first mineralogy oral exam.

And now, finally, a few hours later in the very, very quiet library, things have finally settled.

In retrospect, it's been a hell of a week. And this is with all four wisdom teeth in the mouth causing general mayhem. Well, what ones like to cause mayhem, at any rate.

The point is, it's been a long week. A really long week. And next week probably is going to be a bit better, but a bit not, as it's a different set of stuff to go wrong. Well, not go wrong, but not exactly go right, either.

Anyway. Right now, however, it's the weekend. All the way until Monday morning. Best make the most of it, eh?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things to Know XIX

[This is the first Things to Know post since I've returned from abroad. Just thought you should know that.]

- The president of HSG considers me the spawn of Satan over my article in the last issue.

- Mostly because he hasn't learned to separate the professional from the personal, but that's more his problem, not mine.

- I'm not really the spawn of Satan. I just write things that might not be all that popular for people in government to have talked about.

- I get all four wisdom teeth removed next Friday.

- Which is a good thing because I'm more of a druggy now than previously, and even then, the Tylenol isn't working sometimes.

- martini has a faculty adviser.

- She's meeting with us today, feeding us pizza, and talking to us.

- Mostly about whether or not we can really publish things anonymously.

- Which, well, that might change what we get and what we print. There are some things on this campus that you just don't want to put your name to out of fear of what people will say to you or try to do to you.

- Usually over athletics.

- Today is our performance for my Shakespeare class. I'm a bit nervous about that, truthfully.

- I broke my curse about getting a role in a HWS production - I landed the role of the Warder in our upcoming production.

- There's not much dialogue to learn there, thankfully, which is pretty cool.

- I get to be the villain with this role.

- When trying to decide what to make today for the house, I settled on chocolate whoopie pies with either cream cheese or buttercream frosting.

- I like variety.

- Henry the House Plant went home with Mama yesterday because she didn't like his color - he hasn't been feeling well, and we decided he should get some TLC at home.

- Hopefully the cat doesn't take this as invitation to gnaw on him.

- Tomorrow is Friday. Hallelujah.

- Have a Happy Thursday everyone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Care to Elaborate?

Well, at this moment, no, no really. What I will say is that I have, for this most romantic of nights, a crate full of movies to choose from and Ben and Jerry's cookie dough ice cream in the freezer.

And here's to us, the single ladies, this fine holiday evening.

Now put ya hands up!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I feel pretty.

Such a simple statement, but one I don't say as often as I probably should. The question of why I don't say it that often isn't something I really want to look at right now, so I'll just look at what prompted this simple, yet powerful statement.

It shouldn't be the way I'm dressed right now. Plaid pajama bottoms that sit low on the hips I'm starting to fall in love with; white tank top that might be a size too big, complete with bra straps and my tattoo hangin' out; my hair is down.

My curly, slightly tangled, getting-longer-by-the-day-if-really-slowly hair is down around my shoulders. Mostly for this reason do I feel pretty. Pretty enough to have it sort of pervade everything at the moment, make me slightly unreasonably happy (happy enough to look up music from roughly 10-15 years ago, and sing with it) and not give a damn who hears. That kind of happy.

It's been a bit of a rough week - academically and I, for the first time in my rather short journalistic career, had some backlash from an article of mine - and I'm not planning on really going out this weekend. Instead, right here right now, I feel happy. And pretty.

And I can't figure out, for me, which is the better of the two to be feeling.

Starbucks...Knitting...What more could a girl ask for?


I write for the alternative student newspaper at my campus. That's no secret. I'm also layout editor for it, and a general ear when someone needs to vent in a way that we can't necessarily print. That and I keep my editor from going completely batshit on our publishing weeks, and she returns the favor.

Believe it or not, I bring a lot of who I am as a person to that role. I can't not, in a way.

I am an honest (blunt, at times) person who strives to do the right thing, even if it hurts and thinks that people should know the truth, even if it's the unpopular opinion. For someone to call into question my abilities as a writer - as a journalist - though it's my chosen field, calling me out on my fact-checking, and denoting a lack of "interviewing and investigation" and flat-out accusing me of lies? You right there are not only criticizing my ability as a writer, but you're criticizing my integrity as a person.

I have not, did not, and never will print anything that is not the truth. Information can come from different sources, and the source I used, while it might not have been the one some people would have liked, it was reliable information and, as far as I can (I haven't sat down and run my number's against our fellow newspaper's), the damn information that was printed there.

If we had felt the source of the information was sketchy, we would have done more "digging." But we didn't. We trust our source, and I stand by the information I printed to be true. To have the audacity to call into question my integrity as a person - albeit indirectly through this - it's the same as walking up to me, and saying, "Molly Louise, you're a liar."

That my friends does not fly with me.

I'm not infallible. I know there are things in my article that were ambiguous. There were details about minor things I did not put in there, and I'm woman enough to know I'll eat my words next issue with a follow-up article. It happens. However, the main point of this weeks' article - asinine concerts, asking for a ridiculous amount of moment for said concerts when they have, in the past, not even broken even, and instead caused a significant deficit - will remain unchanged.

As with all of my writing, I'm not going to give you flowery bullshit. I'm going to tell you the point, and I'm going to be blunt about it. If people have any questions, they're more than welcome to actually come to me and talk about it. Talk about what they didn't like. A student government hoping to set standards on journalism? Well hell, why don't you just attempt to censor us.

I will not apologize for something that needed to be said. For something that was said. For information from a valid, reliable source that was used, and my decision to keep my integrity and allow that person, who came to me in confidence, to remain anonymous like he requested.

Questioning my writing questions my integrity. This is not something to take lightly. While some may choose to take the low road, sling a little mud and get a little dirty, I will remain classy. Again, you might not like the result, but you poke me like this, there's a good chance I'll punch ya. That you must always expect.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sundown Rundown


I know - Where have I been? I've been a little busy, truthfully. Nothing overly complicated, just the usual four classes, three labs, one seminar, and a student newspaper to print every two weeks. A student newspaper that kicked ass this issue - 24 pages, instead of our usual 20 - and our editor had a hard time defining which article would be the one to set campus on fire, as it was that packed. There's stuff in there on the Sexual Grievances Council (which I didn't even know existed); an article on how the excess fund has gone way down; how the Republicans tried to redefine rape (can they not figure out that no means no, and it really is as simple as that), as well as staff personal ads because Monday is Valentine's Day.

Which, by the way, I'm not looking forward to. We suggest slasher films, but I'm more of an action/adventure type of movie person, not to mention I have four classes and, technically speaking, two labs and while I'll be hoping the guys that have been eying me are going to actually do something about it, I'm not holding my breath. Otherwise I'd pass out and we'd have to call campus EMS.

On that note, I probably need more coffee and, as I ate lunch in our campus center today, I'll most likely be gnawing on a bagel and leftover mac and cheese for dinner tonight in my little room under the stairs.

Which leads me to the conclusion that if I'm here tomorrow when housekeeping comes through, I'm politely going to ask them if they could take it a little easy on the stairs as I can hear the little bits of ceiling and whatnot falling on the floor when they do whatever it is that they do. Also, a general note to my second-floor housemates might not be a bad idea because, while you don't think you're making too much noise in your boots, I beg to differ.

Pardon me now while I go start the coffee pot.

And since I've returned from starting said coffee pot, this sentence is the first I've written in about twenty minutes of sitting back down. I'm good, aren't I?

I'm not sure where to go with this, so I'll start at the top and work my way down.

Quantum Mechanics - It's an interesting concept with an even more interesting professor taught and a very interesting time in the morning (9:05-10:00) and directly follows the physics side of the same topic. We're interested in the chem side. We're interested in the stuff that's cool, but kind of wacky. Like, how one moment someone can be standing on one side of my doorway, and the next moment, they're in my room, and at no time in between have they ever actually gone through the door. (Only, do this with an electron in a vacuum, but I figured if I tried to explain that, I'd lose half my followers out of sheer boredom.) I see my professor in his office hours, I do my reading on a nightly basis, and it's all under control.

Solid Earth - Let me just say my professor painted his toenail today so that we can see (roughly) how long it takes tectonic plates to shift apart a year.

Mineralogy - A whole lotta complicated. Pretty to look at, but kind of complicated.

Shakespearean Performance - Well, when you piss off the professor, that's grounds for him to temporarily treat your THTR 386 course like THTR 178 and, it's been eighteen days, therefore you should have eighteen lines of your monologue memorized. Pick a number, number one now get up there and recite your monologue. Talk about a kick in the ass. (Me? I'm sitting at sixteen lines with a clear understanding of the reasoning behind my monologue because this English stuff? Fascinating.)

Curriculum and Instruction - Is going to drive me crazy. And that's all there is to it.

And, like usual, between moments of clarity, there are moments of a downright spastic nature. These usually involve martini, boys, hair days (good or bad, take your pick), and trying to keep my Adventuring Focus more or less on track. On rare occasions (okay, maybe not so rare), I talk to Henry, the giant spider plant. It's not so much communing with nature, but more like talking to the plant that's been with me since the Academic Opening dinner first year. I'm a bit worried, though, because he's got a lot of brown tips, and I think that's because his water basin isn't big enough for the pot he's now in. Which might require a trip to Wal-Mart.

What I'm going to do over Spring Break just became a valid question.

HWS is really cool in that they offer something called Alternative Spring Break - community service both in and outside of Geneva. We send a group to Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Nicaragua, respectively, and this year, because I don't need to worry about racking up teaching hours this semester, I applied for and was accepted into the Virginia program. My Spring Break will now consist of doing community service for a week in Pocahontas State Park in Virginia. I'm really excited because I like to volunteer, and I like to travel. This gives me both. I'm now going to have to figure out something to do with Henry for the week.

Then again, in true Louise fashion, I just might figure that out when I get there.

In terms of upcoming events and such - Monday is Valentine's Day and, like I said earlier, I'm not holding my breath that something will happen. I'm shit at reading signs (if the signs are even there at all) and, honestly, I'm not overly optimistic about this (which, if you know me, I'm an optimist to my core). What happens happens, that much I know and can't change.

Also coming up? The spring blood drive in which I can actually give, since it's been over a year since my touch ups. I'm very excited.

And I think that's all the rundown you guys needed to catch up on this slightly crazy, always Wandering Sagittarius.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXIV

[Happy Almost Friday.]

Four days, three practices, and one game later, it was finally Sunday and I was double-checking that, according to my planner, multiple syllabi and whatnot, that I was indeed ahead for once, instead of perpetually catching up.

Which proves miracles can - and sometimes do - happen.

There wasn't anything that needed to come with me, other than Murph, and we needed to get moving. It was roughly a fifty minute drive if I didn't cut over the hills and through the hollow. Going through town was a bit nicer, scenery wise, as it followed the lake from one end to the other, but it added about ten minutes.

Then again, driving no less than sixty got me home - through town - in forty-five minutes. And if my mom needed to get up here quick? She could tackle the distance in half an hour.

Keys in hand, I trotted down the back stairs and pushed open the door to the third floor. There was a cacophony of voices from the lounge, occasionally drowned out by a TV sports announcer. Sounded like Syracuse playin' someone. Murph was leaning against the lounge window, turning his head every now and then to see the screen.

Syracuse scored a touchdown and there were a few "damn it" and "oh, shit" grumbles amidst the cheering.

I twined my fingers with Murph's and watched the replay. A one-handed grab under double cornerback coverage. That was bound to makes SportsCenter later. "Nice."

Murph shrugged. "Everyone has a SportsCenter moment, D-one or D-three."

We were NCAA Division III in all of our sports except for lacrosse (which was Division I) but if you watched any game, meet, or competition, we went at it like every move was covered by ESPN. It doesn't matter what it's not, we still go hard.

He looked at me, oblivious of our audience - half the lounge was watching the TV, and other the half us. "We goin'?"

"Yup." We waved to the boys - Dev among them - and started for the other stairs. Once in the parking lot, standing by the driver side and looking at my boyfriend over the roof of my beat-up Oldsmobile, it hit me what we were about to do.

Murphy was going to meet my parents. The last boy to do this, three years ago, was Bobby.


Bless that boy. "Yeah, Murph?"

"You okay?"

And was that a loaded question or what? "Yup. Just...thinking." Unlocked the car, ignoring the slight shake in my hands, and hoped Fred started first try.

Hallelujah. Two miracles in one day.

Five minutes later we were going fifty-five down the state route with the lake on our left. Murph turned the radio on, navigating the seek button to find something between country and screamo. He found an easy listening station and I relaxed marginally, trying not to think about specifics or what was going to happen in roughly half an hour.

"There's a lot of vineyards out here," he said, looking out the window.

"Yup. There's twenty-eight wineries from one end of the lake to the other on this side." I'd been incredibly bored and tired on the drive one time and had counted. It'd kept me awake.

He looked at me, incredulous. "No."

"Yes." Grinned.

"You've counted?"

"Boredom and falling asleep at the wheel."

Murph chuckled. "You know, I don't think I've been this far south before." He held up his hands. "Before you flay me for that, I've been to New York City and further south, south, but not down into this part of New York."

"So you haven't been to the southern tip of the Finger Lakes?"

"No - And how do these people use metal wheels to farm?"

Central and Western New York - known also as the Finger Lakes Region - was wine country. The hillsides of the glacier-made lakes were lined with vineyards and dotted with farmland. Grapes and corn. In Yates and Ontario counties there were a number - quite a lot, actually - of Amish and Mennonite farms. There were more on the east side of the lake and the way to figure it out? Look at the wheels on the tractor.

"If the machinery has metal wheels, it's an Amish farm. Rubber wheels are Mennonites. If we're lucky, we'll pass a horse and buggy." Counted those one time, too. Eight of 'em.

Murphy was positively bug-eyed; this was normal for me.

"What's that out there?" He pointed to the lake.

"Naval station." Apparently Murph hadn't gotten out much. "Research station. The lake, at its deepest part, is about six hundred and eighty-five feet deep, which makes it a good place to do submarine research." I tapped the brakes, eyes on the car to the right at the blinking yellow light. "You can't get within five hundred feet of it without them wanting to know who you are and what you're doing. Or they threaten to shoot you." I grinned. "Looks like a pirate ship comin' from the other way after dark."

He snorted. Darius Rucker's Alright filled the lack of conversation. I 'bout jumped through the roof when he slid his big palm under the hand currently resting on the armrest between us. Yeah, I'm a bad person and don't drive at ten and two unless it's snowing or my niece is riding with me, so it's usually only the left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel.

Nobody really gives a shit about how your hands are after your test, anyway.

His thumb stroked up the side of mine, coaxing my blood pressure out of the stratosphere.

Darius made way for Rascal Flatts and Fred rolled on through the miles, the lake sometimes disappearing from view and other times a dark, shimmering blue between two hills awash with reds, golds, and oranges. I waited five miles for a passing zone to get around a Chevy driven by a senior citizen on a leaf-gazing, forty mile-per-hour Sunday drive coming up on the last major hill and the final, if curvy, stretch of road before we'd drop down into the village.

Yes, village. Not a town. A village. Population of three thousand. Except for my family because we live six miles in the country.

We hit the four lane on the way into Watkins and he took everything from the motels and bed and breakfasts to the Elks Club building and the old iron works building on the last curve and then onto main street. There were still a ton of tourists around - especially at the State Park - and once past that traffic thinned and we went through the skewed intersection and up the hill across from Pizza Hut.

"Hilly," Murph remarked.

"You've no idea," I grinned.

"I'm a suburbs kid, I guess," he said, slightly wide-eyed at the open farmland and the view across the hills. Sasha had called them "mountains" when she'd come with me for Easter last year. "Wow."

The closer and closer we got to my own driveway, the more and more butterflies began beating at my ribcage.

It occurred to me then I should've asked Murph if he was allergic to animals.



"Are you allergic to cats or dogs?"


"Oh, and just to warn you, Dex is a little...hyper."

He looked at me briefly before returning to presumably try to figure out which of the houses coming up was mine. "Dog?"

"Yeah." Pureblood, registered, long-legged border collie. He loved to wash ears, too.

There was a curious feeling in my belly as I flipped on the turn signal and backed into the driveway. It - well, when compared to other things, it wasn't much. An almost square house with white siding and a two-seat wooden glider by the door on the concrete pad. Murph squeezed my fingers and I had to really think about it to get my hand to release its death grip.

"This is it." Slid out of the driver's seat to stand on wooden legs.

"It's nice," he said. "Is that a store door?"

"Yeah. We're in the process of remodeling the downstairs from an old store into livable space. So it looks a little rough."

If I didn't get a handle soon it wasn't going to be pretty. Namely, most likely one of my mother's hanging flower pots would get a little extra fertilizer. Then I'd catch hell.

I led the way through the door and into what was starting to look like the mud room it was going to be. It wasn't in use yet, and we had to weeble through the downstairs to the kitchen door. There were voices behind the door and still feeling like I should be praying to the porcelain god, I opened the door and decided to just go with it.

Decent philosophy in theory, hell on the system in practice.

Mom was clipping coupons from the paper at the table, and she looked up when the door opened.

"Hi." She put down her scissors and hugged me halfway between the door and the tile-top table. Mama's a couple inches shorter than me, so when Murph stepped off the rug in his blue argyle socks, he dwarfed her.

"Mom, this is Murphy. Murphy, my mom, Anne." They shook hands; Dex pounded down the stairs and nearly ran into the side of the stove. He took the long way around the table and leaned his front paws into my midsection, trying to lick my ears.

Until he saw Murph, decided that was someone he didn't know, identified as friend, and attacked my boyfriend. In a friendly way, of course.

"Dexter!" Mom snapped, reaching for the neon green collar.

"Oh, he's fine," Murph said, laughing as the dog ravished his left ear. Dex eventually wandered away, back end wagging furiously.

I reached around Murph to hang my keys and Vera on my hook under the phone and then...didn't know what to do with myself. And the fact my boyfriend was in my kitchen.

Which apparently blew my mind.

"Where's Dad?"

"Store," she said, sitting down to clip coupons again.

Murph wandered further into the kitchen, taking in the light green walls and carpeted stairs. He followed me up to the pale yellow living room - complete with no curtains because, well, we just didn't. Not yet. He didn't say anything and it was turning the still-present butterflies to lead. From the plum-colored chairs to the right, the small, blue-plaid couch, and the pictures of Izzy and I on the wall behind the bigger couch Dex had claimed as his, he took in everything. Especially my senior photo on the wall.

"Your hair's shorter," he said.

"Yeah. I'm sort of growing it out again." And was almost there. "The bathroom's this way." It was on the right, before the closed door of my parents room and the left turn to the short hallway to my room, back guest room, and open computer room.

"Your room down there?"

Our eyes met, my heart thumping uncomfortably loud, and from the tightness in my chest those damned butterflies might have broken a rib. Maybe punctured a lung.

And so I showed him something of me Bobby had never seen - everything from my cluttered dresser-with-mirror to my five CD changer stereo to the stars painted on the ceiling.

"Did you paint those?"

"No. They were here when I moved in." The black cat curled on the bed lifted her head and stared at us with yellow eyes. "That's Pepper. She's a bit temperamental." Meaning, poke her belly and lose a finger. Possibly the whole hand.

We wandered back into the living room; my ass buzzed and the little black flip phone made an appearance. Text from my sister.

u guys here?

'Yeah.' "My sister." Motioned behind me. "She lives across the road."

Murph shoved his hands in his pockets, shuffling his feet a little. "And I'm gonna get to meet her later?"

Phone buzzed. made monster cookies. bring the boy.

I grinned. "Right now, if you want to. And she made cookies."

He shrugged. "Okay."

Back down the stairs, shoes, then out through the door and across the front yard to the mailbox. Nothin' comin', across the road and up the driveway to the back porch.

"We built this."

He looked at his feet. "The porch?"

"Ripped the old one to shreds and built this one as a family." It was warn enough out - and she'd been baking, too - that the back door was open behind the screen one. I caught the black and gray kitten as it dove for the door, cradling him against my chest until I heard the latch.

Murph pointed to the kitten. "Who is that little guy?"

Grinning, I put the kitten in his palm and he gently rubbed its tiny head. It purred. Loudly, for such a small thing.

"Wow," he murmured. "Talk about a V8."

Izzy was leaning against the doorway, inspecting the guy taller than her fridge.

"Murphy, meet Murphy."

His face was priceless.

"He's so ugly he's cute, isn't it?" Izzy grinned.

Murphy the human looked between two sets of green eyes and a nose that was probably eerily similar. "Are we talkin' about me or the cat?"

Resolutely not looking at my boyfriend found me wandering to the counter with a, "Ooh, cookies." Picked two off the plate and handed one to Murph. "You're cuter than the furball."

"Was a little worried for a sec," he mumbled, taking the treat, the kitten balanced against his chest.

"Are you allergic to oatmeal or peanut butter?" Izzy asked.

Murph shook his head, took a bite, and more or less blissed out. Monster cookies. Always good.

"Murphy, this is my sister, Izzy. Izzy, Murphy."

An orange tiger kitten padded in. Izzy pointed. "Morris."

"Like on the cat food commercial?" Murph still had his furry namesake.

Izzy grinned. "He's good."

He shrugged. "Used to have a cat."

Izzy took the kitten Murph handed to her. "She knows you're home. I told her you'd come get her after she got up from her nap and take her over to play." She rubbed Murphy the Kitten's fur the wrong way.

"Send me a text."

Murph tentatively raised a hand. "Can I have another cookie?"

"Of course you can have another arsenic cookie," she said sweetly, and again, Murph's face - cookie hanging out of his mouth - was priceless.

"She's kidding," I said, practically shoving him out the door. "Just kidding."

Dad's little black truck was in my driveway as we crossed the road and weebled back through the downstairs. Murph tensed at the kitchen door. "What if he doesn't like me?"

"Why wouldn't he?"

He shrugged. "He hasn't met me and I'm his daughter's boyfriend."

"He hasn't met you." I reached for the door handle. "And besides, it's not hunting season yet."

"Yeah," he snorted, "because that makes me feel so much better."

Kissing his cheek required standing on tip-toes. "You'll be fine. He doesn't bit." Which was true, but holy shit the man could bark.

Once on the other side of the door, Dex wandered over and Dad set a newly made pitcher of iced tea on the table.

And this is when I officially stopped breathing like a normal human being.

"Murph, my dad, Peter. Dad, this is Murphy."

That was, quite simply, all there was to it. Watching them shake hands, Dad offered him a glass of tea, Mom asked if he was hungry, and the next thing that happens is Mom and I are watching Dad and Murph talk football over roast beef sandwiches.

It was, simply put, frighteningly easy and incredibly normal. Which brought back those damned butterflies.

Dex sat staring at Murph until Mom physically pushed him away.

"What are you studying, Murphy?" she asked.

"History." He reached for the tea jug. "I want to teach."

"That's what Ollie's doing, too."

"Back up, plan," I protested. "Don't have a plan but I have a back up plan." Which was par on course for me, truthfully.

Conversation was the typical "boy-meets-parents" stuff and quite relaxing, to be honest. Even when the cat came waddling down the stairs resembling a pot-bellied pig more than a feline (she pulls her belly fur out, we have yet to figure out why) and began bellowing at Murph in an attempt to get him to share his chips.

Yes, cat eats potato chips and yes, sharing is required.

Time became one of those things that slipped easily away and before I could really fathom it, my phone was buzzing.

she's waiting for you.

I grinned.

"What?" Mom asked.

"Elizabeth. I told Izzy I'd get her and bring her over to swing."

Murph looked briefly terrified at the prospect of being left alone - temporarily - with my parents. He was a big boy, he could handle it. And if Murph could handle this, then he stood a chance of handling what was coming next.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


My train's a little late tonight, it's only now rumbling its way past the house. (Those of you who don't know, on the other side of the street I live on, down over the bank [and by bank, I mean sheer drop off] there's a set of train tracks that are active - namely, there's a train that goes by every night. Sometimes more than one a night, and it makes the house shake a little. Oh, and you can definitely hear it.)

You guys know me (or if you don't, just act like you do, and that'll be fine, too) and you know how much I avoid the word plan. And the word goal, too. I don't like them. They give me this feeling of structure, and while I'll freely admit that I like (and probably need) a healthy dose of structure in my life, I also really enjoy my flexibility in just going where my wandering feet happen to take me. I like that bit of spontaneity in my life. Not to mention I have a really difficult time planning next week in advance, never mind next month and possibly the next five years of my life.

With that being said, it's time for me to admit that, despite my ill will toward the words plan and goal, not only do I now have one, I actually have both.

This, right here, is where the universe implodes.

What's really interesting is during the first two years of my college career, I kept putting after-graduation plans to the back of my head with the idea that it wasn't time for me to think about that stuff yet. Two years later, I'm at the beginning of my junior spring, and now it's time for me to more or less think about what I've been trying to put off thinking about for two years. I won't get into the turn-around that I've gone through (though I will mention I get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, no matter the day of the week [so if that doesn't tell you how much I've currently got my shit together, I don't know what will]) but I will say that Louise is now capable of looking at the forest and not getting lost in the trees.

That's a macro versus micro type of analogy, but basically says that there is not only a bigger picture, but Louise is actually seeing it. In technicolor, too.

One of the first things to come out of this is that I've realized I'm just as good as everyone else. And if I'm not, at the moment, then there's no reason why I shouldn't be. There's no reason that says I'm not capable of being as good as everybody else. There's nothing that says I need to stick with the system that half-assed worked for two years and let that continue to be me.

No, thank you, we'll give this a whirl, and considering that I actually sleep at night now, I'm thinkin' it's workin' pretty damn well.

The second thing to happen is that, and irony of irony for me, things don't always go according to their first plan. When you factor in the only luck I have is bad luck (Murphy loves me, and I don't care which Murphy you pick, in this case) it's no surprise that the tentative idea of going to grad school somewhere (tentatively John Jay in NYC) the fall following graduation has kind of shifted.

Grad school is still the idea, it's just been put off to the spring following graduation, or the fall a year from graduation.

Namely because I don't have an entire free semester in which to do my student teaching before I graduate. Not if I want to graduate with a degree. So what the Colleges allow you to do is take a ninth semester and use that as your student teaching semester. You graduate, then find someplace to live (though my education adviser and I are going to see what we can swing, and we'll probably get a pretty good deal in the process) and do your student teaching.

At this moment, that's the plan. How I went from having no plan to having one that's cementing itself more and more each day is beyond me. I still can't believe it, and I'm the one actually living it.

Damn terrifying, truthfully.

The bottom line is that, when you start to figure out what you want to do, you start to plan things. You start to absently set goals that become a little more concrete the closer you get to them, and while I enjoy flying by the seat of my pants just as much as the next wandering Sagittarius, the idea that there's a bigger picture? It's a really nice motivator.

When I say, right now, that life is good? I mean it. I really, honestly, mean life is good.

And if you wanna bring up the fact that it took me roughly three years to figure out, well, to that I say better late than never.

P.S. - For those of you currently living in the path of the snowstorm - whether you're beginning to get the mass amount we're supposed to get - be careful. We're not invincible. Maybe tomorrow is the day to stay in, make some hot chocolate (or coffee) and curl up with a good book. If you need one to borrow, I have everything from quantum mechanics to Terry Pratchett. But please, honestly do remember to travel safely if you absolutely need to, and if you're curled up somewhere with a good book, all nice and toasty, remember me slogging through the snow on the way to class because HWS hasn't quite heard of the concept of a "snow day" yet. Oh well. There's always next winter.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz