Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things to Know XXIII

- I keep temporarily losing my phone.

- What that really means is that I keep leaving it various coat pockets or backpack pockets and forgetting, for a while - usually about two hours - where exactly it is.

- I'm kind of okay with that.

- We're having a bit of a heat war in our house.

- Namely the guy I share a wall with phoned Buildings and Grounds yesterday night and told them he "had no heat" and they came and turned it up to 70 (when it had been at 68).

- I think he's trying to smoke me out of my room so he can move in here and have the bigger room, the nicer view, and about twice as much heat vent.

- I don't really think that, but it makes for an interesting thought.

- Mini fridges can freeze coffee creamer when turned all the way up.

- Found the previous out the hard way Tuesday morning.

- I will most likely crawl outta bed tomorrow morning and walk to breakfast because not only am I out of coffee creamer - as mine froze and had to be thrown away - but I'm also out of milk.

- Pretty sure my Focus was hit by a train.

- "Take a yard stick and whack it."

- Sometimes I forget I have a tattoo.

- Having a plan doesn't necessarily always mean you have to like the plan you have when it took a lot of tears, internal screaming, and faith in places you weren't quite sure you wanted to put faith to begin with in order to get said plan.

- "Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up. Peter Pan is the dead boy. Neverland is the land of dead boys."

- Thank you, Modern European Drama for completely changing my worldview on the subject of Peter Pan and thus rendering the childhoods of four college students a little more skewed.

- All things considering, it does kind of make sense.

- Paperwork sucks.

- Sleep is good.

- Have I mentioned my Focus has been hit by a train again?

- I have been distracted by YouTube for the past hour and a half, and need to actually go finish the rest of the play I need to read for tomorrow morning, bright and early at 8:35.

- I love my schedule.

- I also love my dorm bed when I'm not feeling like my corner single is a sauna in disguise and trying to enhance my Weight Watchers.

- Speaking of that - at least 4 pounds down. And still going strong.

- There's something morally right and confident-building in there somewhere, but I'm a little bleary-eyed to really attempt to decipher that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Well-Adjusted Individual

Least, that's what I feel like. Or have felt like the past few weeks.

I guess what brought this on is when my friend and I were sitting in the pub this early afternoon having lunch and talking about the issues she's currently having with one of her housemates, and she looks at me and basically says she'd have been a crying hysterical ball of a mess that would have to be dragged out if she'd gone through the past month the way I have - meaning changing the graduation date, the various meetings with professors that I'll have again in the fall, meeting with my adviser, meeting with my adviser and my mother - and she also mentioned I've had to grow up quite quickly with this in a short period of time. That I've done really well adjusting and that's something she wouldn't have been able to do.

Which sort of really got to me because it's one thing to hear it from an "adult" but it's another thing to hear from one of your peers. It was also further compounded by one of my professors from last semester who, upon walking by the airport lounge on the second floor of the science building remarked, "You look a lot calmer than last semester." Which, yes, I suppose I do.

Mostly because I am calmer.

I've had to make fairly big decisions. I've had to give things up. Neither of those two have been particularly easy, and I guess I hadn't truly realized that. I've had my wake-up call - it's kicked me thoroughly in the ass, hard enough to bruise - and that's what we're going with. It's like a New Year's Resolution on steroids, one that's going to stick around a lot longer than just the first week.

That being said, this is week three of Weight Watchers and I'm still going strong. If I lose another pound at the end of this week, that makes five pounds total. I'm pretty proud of that. I'm also pretty proud of the fact that I do my homework very regularly, and I do it in a timely fashion so that my nights aren't quite so late and hectic, and there's a calmness to my life that hasn't been there in three years. I've probably said this before, but I really feel like I have the whole college thing down now.

Too bad it's taken the circumstances it has to get me to this stage. But that's how the story goes, doesn't it?

Monday, January 23, 2012

First Week in Rewind

It's really fantastic when your first week back at college only has three days in it, and lab is not included.

Things have been going fairly smoothly in my corner of the universe. 'Course, I say that, and now things could, according to Murphy's Laws, take a nosedive. But, well, such is life.

So far I've been doing a much better job about utilizing my time - including my weekends - and getting things done starting in the afternoon when I'm done with class and not waiting until the evening. To the point where the play due Wednesday for Modern European Theater was done this afternoon by five-thirty - having been started Friday afternoon - and my Food for Thought reflections on the reading for Bonding With Food was completed tonight and already emailed to my professor. Inorganic readings were done this morning - along with practice problems, though a visit to office hours is in order because I'm a little fuzzy on certain things - and the problems from last Thursday "due" in class tomorrow have been completed. Tomorrow I get to see how right I did them.

It's been a good start to the semester and I'm determined to keep it going. This not waiting to start homework really does make life a little simpler, in terms of getting things done, not feeling overwhelmed, and actually feeling like a decent student.

There is, however, a long way to go until May. But we'll keep chugging along.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And Sometimes We Lose

Back when I first started blogging, I made a promise to myself to be honest here, in this space. Not quite to the level of posting my journal entries - mostly because those have far more four-letter words than one would expect - but honest enough about life. Or the parts that are my story to tell, because a lot of what's happened in the past, oh, almost a year now, really, haven't always been mine to completely divulge.

This, however, is.

It's no secret last semester was difficult. In retrospect, it might have been too much. The experience, at times, was great. I'm not Superwoman, and I make no attempt to be on a regular basis, unless it's when I'm spending the day with my niece, and then, yes, Aunt Olly has both X-Ray vision and a little bit of magic up her sleeve. But in this setting, we don't always win.

Sometimes we lose.

This one of those moments when the best laid plans of mice and men and all that more or less falls out. Rather than graduating this upcoming May with my American Chemical Society Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree, I'll be returning for another semester in the fall as I'm three courses shy for my degree. And three courses is one too many to be able to walk across the stage and then come back to finish. As it stands now, I'll graduate in May 2013 with both my bachelors and my teaching certificate.

There's nothing really easy about this acceptance. It's something you - or rather I - have to come to grips with and I have the support of both my family and my academic adviser. It was a difficult decision, especially when I could have dropped down to a Bachelor of Arts and graduated this year missing only one course. But the BS carries more weight. And, ultimately, for me to do what it is that I want to do - not to mention fulfill what I've been working towards for four years already - I decided to stick with my BS.

I've also come to the decision that, when I find an appropriate replacement, I'll give up being Editor in Chief of a school publication. It was something I enjoyed doing, but, it's not possible, given the circumstances. I will, however, for my sanity, continue to try and play Club Soccer, because that's one of my passions that I have only just gotten back. Not to mention it's not as large a commitment as an every-other-week publication.

Currently, that's where I stand. As for going back to Wales at the end of the semester? With all of this, as it is, and the probability that I'll take a summer course somewhere to help try and ease the load in the fall, it looks like my feet will be planted firmly on this side of the Atlantic for the time being. Which was also a difficult decision to make but one that's for the best.

This is the plan. There might be some developments to change this around a bit, but, in reality, this is what we're going forward with. And for as difficult as it was to sit down and write this, believe me, it's been tough to swallow.

But, as I am assured by multiple people, we will get through this. And, one thing I keep coming back to it, from my own sibling and my cousins, who have been through higher education, it doesn't matter what path you take, just as long as you arrive at your destination.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Murphy and Me XXXXIII

Halfway through orgo Monday it dawned on me there were two weeks left of classes in the semester. Ten days. That was it. Then three days of Reading Days - where, in some cases, freaking out about all the reading not done over the course of the semester is a requirement - and four days of finals. Then home. For a month. Half of us would be ready to be back by New Year's.

There was, however, a lot to do in ten days. Including a massive formal lab report that was going to eat my soul before Friday.

Good things to look forward to. Positively enlightening.

Oh. Shit. I was going to attempt to not procrastinate on my T-S Britain paper and actually start the damn thing before the night before it was due. An all-nighter did not need to happen. Mostly because my orgo exam was seven to ten that same night, and a decent amount of sleep beforehand was labeled as helpful.

Holy zone out, Ollie.

Then again, we were doing synthesis, which was not one of my favorites. Still, it was better on all accounts than physics.

There was no lab that afternoon - thank God - and I swung through the Pub to use the last of my snack money on a Starbucks peppermint mocha. The line was a bit long, but with no where else to be it was perfectly fine.

While fumbling for my mp3 player in my peacoat pocket, a group of Smithies came in behind me.

"So, do you guys know what Lori saw this weekend?"

Oh, Lord. Save me or strike me dead from whatever binge drinking glory story was sure to follow.

"What did she see?"

Would be great if the line could move a little faster. And how friggin' deep was this coat pocket?

"She saw Murphy with a girl."

Yup. This line needed to move. Now. Our campus wasn't big enough to have multiple men by the name of Murphy.

"Oh. Why do you think I care?"

There was a sigh and for the love of all that is holy where was my mp3 player?

Someone snorted. "Because ever since you found out about his new girlfriend you've been asking nonstop about her. And every time you see somebody and they say how happy he is with her you sulk." There was a pause. "And that she's pretty."

Found the mp3 player and promptly dropped it, the headphones my fingers tangled around the headphone cord. Fantastic. I picked it up, plugged it back together, and started digging for my Vera.

"Pretty could mean not pretty. They could have just been being nice."

Really? Just - Really? My cheeks flushed. The person ahead of me moved and I stepped up to the cashier. "Venti peppermint mocha with skim milk, please." Handed her my card. "Should use the last of my snack money."

The girls behind me were silent for a few moments. Until I had my Vera in my pocket and in the process of untangling my headphones.

"So, what's her name? If you know it."

Not necessary for me to hear. Head down, I went to the other end of the counter for what served as the pick-up area for drinks. The student making them was a bit backed up. The girls behind me showed up almost with me, and as I'm only human, only the right earbud was in.

"Ollie. Her name is Ollie."

"Tall vanilla latte with soy?" That voice was oddly familiar.

Tanya's head appeared around the side of the milk steamer. Her eyes widened briefly, looking between me and whichever Smithie was, presumably, Manda. I shrugged, not daring to say anything.

"Venti peppermint mocha, skim milk!" Tanya called, and I reached for it, snagging a lid with my other hand. "Hey, Ollie."

"Tanya. Good to see you." Death by stare, if I wanted to tempt fate and turn around.

"You, too." Her brown eyes darted between me and Manda. "Tell Murphy I said hi."

"Will do. Thanks." Taking a deep breath I turned and looked for the first time at Manda. It had to be her - none of the others had such a death stare goin' on. She was skinnier than me, preferred to pass spandex off as pants, and carried an oversize Vineyard Vines tote rather than a backpack. Really the only outward thing we had in common was our hair, and that led me to the conclusion that Murph had a thing for brunettes.

Peppermint mocha in hand, one earbud in, and with an audience, I really wanted nothing more than to say something incredibly snarky - probably about her spandex - and then walk away. She'd look scandalized, I'd be smug, and it would, for all of ten seconds, feel like a victory. That was the idea.

The reality was I looked at her, she looked at me, I tucked the other earbud in with a smile and walked away. Because my parents raised me to be the better person. With that firmly in mind it was fairly easy to let the rest go.

Not to mention, from the sound of it, Manda wasn't completely over the break up. The particular aspect of dating is hard in a small school and not easy to deal with in general. God knows I'd be a walking train wreck whe - if, go with the if - we ever broke up. A much bigger train wreck than Bobby could ever hope to cause as I really, most likely lo - really really like Murph.

Yeah. Definitely in deep shit.

It was snowing. Big, fat flakes miraculously clinging to the still-green grass and sidewalks. Even the upper stairs from the Pub to the space between Coxe and Gulick were covered. Not a light snow, either, a full on no-other-goal-but-to-make-life-miserable kind of snowfall.

My peppermint mocha was too hot to do anything but sip at on the way back to Jackson. If this kept up - and stuck - I was going to need to dig out my Timberlands, as my Chuck Taylor's wouldn't cut it with the powdery stuff.

Having nothing else to do the for rest of the day presented a bit of a problem - what, exactly, to do to fill the time? As always there was the looming pile of physics reading or the slightly larger pile of back work - an entire book, by this point - for T-S Britain. Could always work on the monstrosity of a formal lab report. There were also lines to be memorized for acting, namely our monologues for the final, from The Laramie Project.

And, as always, there was the idea to say screw it and nap. Naps were glorious.

The steps by the College Store were nothing but treacherous and it was by pure luck I didn't find myself on my ass.

Dev and Murph were going out as I was heading in.

"Hey." He gave me a one-armed hug and a kiss on the forehead. "Oh, Colby might ask you for some of the girls' last names."

That was appropriately cryptic. "Okay."

"Colby's got something up his sleeve," Dev said, stifling a yawn.

"What time did you get back?" When Murph and I had returned from dinner Sunday, Devan still hadn't gotten back from Maine. Murph, at the time, had had no clue as to the geographic location of his roommate. Neither, ironically, had Dev himself.

"Six this morning." Dev shrugged. "Figured if I went to sleep I wouldn't wake up for class."

Having nearly once been a victim of that, sometimes it was better to stay up and mainline coffee than attempt to sleep for a couple hours.

"Yeah. When I woke up my roommate was magically back and swearing at his computer." Murph grinned. "But, we gotta go." He gave me another forehead kiss.

A rather disheveled Smithie came through the doors next before I had my Vera out and nearly whacked me in the face. It was a difficult catch with only one hand and this was one instance when spending summers waitressing was a good thing for more than a steady paycheck.

The walk to the fourth floor seemed longer than normal. My Starbucks had to be set on the little round table Jo and I did homework at for me to have a free hand to get my shoes to the side of the door and not face-plant. Then to find the Vera, then the room key, and -


Balanced on the door handle was a rectangular-shaped package wrapped in newspaper, complete with a red bow.

A birthday present.

With a note on my white board that read:

It's late but you already knew that. Happy Birthday.
-Love Murph

I unlocked the door, ferried in both the present and my Starbucks, and went about getting comfortable. It was slightly warmer than normal - not by much - and once the light was on, the door shut, and I had on the first sweatshirt available, the Starbucks sat on the dresser with me at the end of the bed, newspaper package next to my thigh.

The bow wound up stuck to the dresser. Bearing in mind it was newspaper and not specifically wrapping paper - a copy of The New York Times by the look of it - I was a little less careful than otherwise.

He'd gotten me a movie. He'd gotten me my own copy of Moulin Rouge. There was a sticky note on the front with another message.

Present also includes dinner and viewing of movie. How does next Sat. work?

Works for me, Murph. Works for me.

I passed the rest of the afternoon reading my month's worth of back chapters for T-S Britain. The snow continued to fall, and the wind started up at some point from the north. It was turning downright nasty out there and shortly after four I propped open the door to get some heat from the hallway.

Ordering in Chinese was beginning to look very appealing. Rather than walking all the way to Saga in this shit passing for weather, at any rate.

Jo popped her head in around quarter past five. "Dinner? And did you see you have a message from Murphy?"

"Yeah. It went with my birthday present." My copy of The Reformation looked like El had taken a blue marker to its pages, but highlighting was the only real way for me to retain information when reading, especially something so thick as history. I flopped it carelessly to the side and pulled the neck of my sweatshirt - Murph's by the smell and the size - up to my nose.

"Moulin Rouge and dinner," she said, putting the DVD back in the moon chair. "Very cool. Dinner?"

"I thought about ordering from Main Moon?" Lowered the sweatshirt. "I don't wanna go back out in this."

Jo looked at the window - the shade was almost always up for Henry to get natural sunlight - and the tree branches on the other side of the glass whipped back and forth. "I told Maria I'd meet her for dinner." She shuddered. "Better bundle up."

"Yeah." There was no way in hell I was leaving the building tonight. "I'm probably gonna order in. Have fun with Maria."

Jo wandered back across the hall and I let my head thunk against the wall. A hundred and fifty pages later and no so much as a dent in the workload. Talk about Karma for a lifelong procrastinator. Damn it. There was only so much British history I could handle.

A break would probably be for the best. Not to mention my email hadn't been opened all day and was probably full. No surprise that between Facebook notifications, general HWS spam, and suggestions on where to study for finals, there were about forty new messages. One of them was from Colby.

Need Some Help
November 30, 2009 11:30 AM

I'm planning on having everybody for dinner Friday (the last day of classes) but don't know everybody's last name. Like the girls who were at movie night that one night. And there are no Sasha's at all in the directory. Help?


'Course there were no Sashas because Sasha's actual first name was Alexandra. Sasha was a nickname.

I hit reply.

Josephine Cornish
Alexandra Meyer-Roberts (Sasha)
Cara Freislow
Better put me in the CC so they don't just delete it.


That should be fun, all of us for dinner.

Facebook was after email and there was nothing new there. The picture of Murph and I at Halloween was still my profile picture.

Pretty could mean not pretty. They could have just been being nice.

Clicked the picture to enlarge it. Murph - broad-shouldered, hazel eyes, beautiful, slightly crooked smile - and me. In a four-year-old pirate costume that wasn't as loose in the bodice as it used to be. Which made sense, considering my high school sophomore self was skinnier than my college sophomore self. But by how much? Was it noticeable? Had I gotten fatter since soccer season ended? We had until February as a break, but was there a need for me to get back on the treadmill sooner?

There are parts of me I'd rather get rid of. My love handles. That bit of my back just above my rear end but before the rip at the end of the my spine. The way my middle back skin rolls when I move just right. Those were parts of me I wasn't particularly fond of. And my thighs? Larger than normal, definitely. A life spent playing soccer year-round.

Twenty years old and now wondering how pretty I was. Which, of course, leads naturally to Murphy and what he thinks and the idea of possibly having, at some point, sex with Murphy, which leads to giving up my virginity, which then leads to if I'm not good with seeing myself naked, how am I supposed to let somebody else? Somebody being Murphy. My boyfriend.

What it all boiled down to was the fact that until I got over the fear of my own body, Murph and I wouldn't so much as start for whatever level was next

Of course it wasn't Manda's appearance that brought on that happy revelation, it had just brought it front and center at the moment. When there was enough academic stress already to choke an elephant.

Jeezus. What. A. Mess.

On the other hand - as there was always another hand somewhere - Murph chose me. He could have walked away at any point but he didn't. He wanted me as his girlfriend, free and clear. Not a replacement for Manda.

Just like he's no replacement for Bobby. Murph never could be, either. They were too different. It was comparing apples to oranges with the only common factor between them being the fruit market they were bought at.


I turned in the chair. Murph was looking at me with an expression that clearly said he'd been trying to get my attention for a while. It was rather adorable, really.

"Ollie?" he repeated.

Oh. Right. "Yeah. Sorry. I think I just compared myself to a fruit market."

If he found that little tidbit of insight weird it didn't show. He shrugged instead, and said, "You'd make a pretty fruit market."

Good to know we're on the same page, whatever book it might be in.

"Sorry." I closed the laptop and went to give him a hug. "Thank you for the birthday present."

"You like it?" He grinned.

"Very much. And dinner and a movie next Saturday sounds great." The first of three Reading Days. Perfect for taking it easy before freaking out about papers and exams. "I'm gonna order Chinese for dinner, you want an egg roll?"

"Sure." He settled on the end of the bed. "How was your afternoon with the Brits?"

I dug by the side of the mattress for my phone. "Bloody brilliant." Took a few minutes to pace on the green indoor-outdoor carpet while ordering dinner, glancing occasionally at Murph. Anywhere from forty minutes to an hour. I snapped the phone shut.

"Ollie?" Murph toed his shoes off in front of the mini-fridge, the thump lost in the burst of noise echoing down the hall from the other door. For something to do - and since this was a conversation nobody else needed to hear - I kicked the door stop under the pirated TV table and waited for it to close.

"What's wrong, Ol?" Murph piled my T-S literature and notebook and dropped them onto a pile of dirty laundry. He turned to face me when I sat in the middle of the bed, swiveling his whole body with a suppressed wince.

How the hell to start this conversation?

"I met Manda today." Apparently by blurting out information like it burns.

Murph blinked. "Where?"

"At the Pub. Oh, and Tanya says hi." Maybe this would be easier than originally anticipated.

"Was she nice to you?" There was a tone in Murph's voice I hadn't heard before. Like he was trying to keep his temper in check.

"For the most part." It was true - she hadn't come right out and said anything to me, just about me. There was a distinct difference. And nothing bad, either.

Murph gave me a stink-eye worthy of El.

"Really." Which got him one in return. "She's not over you, that much is obvious."

"Not surprising," he muttered. He looked at me fully. "I broke up with her."

There wasn't anything to say that wouldn't sound both cheesy and cliche. Murph didn't need me to say anything other than, "You make me happy." Today, tomorrow, for as long as he was content with me, he made me happy.

Murph, in a feat of contortion, curled on his side between me and the dresser, his head on my thigh. My bigger than average thigh. Damn it.

"I did nothing but sleep all weekend. Why am I still tired?"

"Because it's only been a week." I rubbed the back of his neck. "It takes longer to not feel wiped out."

"It sucks."

"Yeah. I know." There was a lull. "You have a lot to do these last two weeks?"

"Start final papers." Murph relaxed further. "I only have one sit-down final the second day." He rolled to his back to look up at me. "What about you?"

"Last slot on the last day." Which meant going home Saturday morning instead of Friday night. "Physics." My hand migrated to his chest. "It's great."

He snorted. "Okay." His hand came up to hold mine. "Can I hang out here for a while? Dev's passed out on his laptop in the middle of econ spreadsheets."

"Of course. Might need to do some reading but yeah. You can pop in a movie or watch TV if you want to."

"When you get up to get delivery. Then I'll movie."

The warmth of his chest seeped through his layers into my palm. Part of being happy was being comfortable. I was comfortable with Murphy. It was being comfortable with myself that needed some improvement.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Murphy and Me XXXXII

[Sometime this weekend there will be a rather legit nonfiction post from me. Promise. At some point this upcoming weekend.]

The shenanigans started way too bright and early. Though the Happy Thanksgiving text from both Murph and Liam - with separate ones from Sasha, Cara, Em, Mel, Jo, Dev, and Colby - were both greatly appreciated and slightly unexpected. At least the volume. Dev's was shorthand and rather sleepy, but he was either still awake or had only just gotten up, and was therefore excusable.

Dexter, after pacing up and down the short hallway outside the bedroom for what seemed like hours, finally nosed open the door and decided to crawl in bed with me. And happily wash my ears.

Coffee was in order. Immediately. And Dex followed me down the stairs - almost bowling me over - and I staggered down the last few steps and almost into the stove.

"Look who's bright-eyed this morning," Dad chuckled. "Coffee, sweetie?"

I weaved around Mama and Aunt Janelle, who was a regular at our house for morning coffee on weekends and holidays, and beelined for the fridge - and the coffee creamer.

While wearing a flannel shirt that wasn't mine. A flannel shirt that was way too big, even considering I liked my winter sleepwear tops bigger. Shit.

Oh well. Live and learn.

"Cold in Geneva?" Janelle asked once I'd sat down, coffee creamer at the bottom of the mug. It would mix when Dad poured the coffee in, thus not requiring the need to dirty a spoon. Not that it mattered, as we had a dishwasher.

"Very." Mama handed me my freshly filled mug from Dad.

"It's a little big, don't you think?" Mama this time. "And a bit like something your Uncle David would wear?"

Uncle David's style was borderline lumberjack some days. There was no way to win this argument. Damage control, yes. Win? Hell no.

"Is it yours?" Dad finally chimed in, as expected.

Cue flaming face. "I'm borrowing it until B and G comes and actually fixes my heat." Go big or go home. "He's got, like, four." Which was true. The boy had multiple and he hadn't put up much resistance when one had come with me.

Then again, we'd had bigger problems regarding Murph's appendix and everything else had been relegated moot.

They seemed to absorb that and I sipped my coffee. The little black flip phone was upstairs - which was fine - and when Dad started taking rolls out of the oven, the only reaction appropriate was to salivate. And then steal one off the tray. As Aunt Janelle did the same, Dad doing anything other than semi-glare was rather pointless. It was tradition.

"Ollie, when do you want to do your birthday?" Mama asked.

To anybody else it would have been an odd question, but it was fairly standard procedure in our family that a birthday party rarely occurred on the the actual day of birth. We usually held out for the weekend - since it was better than, say, a Tuesday - and whoever was celebrating go to pick dinner and one form of dessert. Yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and cookie dough ice cream, please and thank you. Though rumor had it Dad was making cheesecake sometime today.

I told Mama Saturday sounded good. That way those going out for Black Friday didn't have to hurry home.

Aunt Janelle stayed for another cup and a half of coffee before heading out the door with an "I need to get my ass home and be productive" though how much productivity could be achieved on a national holiday was beyond me. There sure as shit wasn't anything I was going to be rushing off to get done - physics included - and that was both understandable and fine by me.

I did not come home to stuff my face and do homework. Well, yes to the first and hell no to the second.

"How is Murphy?" Mama asked. "Did he go home?"

"Yup. He and Liam and Colby are heading back, still on the road, I think, and he's doing okay. He's tired."

"So were you."

True. Very true. "Yeah." Took another sip of coffee. "He'll probably sleep better when he gets home." Until the sores on his heels go worse. "He got the card you sent." Because, once I'd gotten back from the ER that night...morning...whatever, whenever the hell it was I finally made it back to Jackson, and had gotten enough sleep to function, my first step had been to call Mama. Then text Izzy. Then text multiple people to ask how they were doing. Then, predictably, there was a nap.

There is no shame in napping as a college student. So long as it's not during class.

"What was it, again, that happened?"

"His appendix exploded." Rather gruesome, now that I think about it. But more or less gruesome than a six inch long, skinny twisted cyst a doctor pulls surgically out of your lady parts?

Yeah. That's a toss-up.

Mama headed upstairs to take a shower and I sipped cold coffee, occasionally trading remarks with Dad about the turkey, and he proudly said he'd made pie.

"Oh. What kind of pie?" Pie is good.


Normal pie is good. This might be a train wreck. "Fantastic." I picked up my coffee mug. "Can't wait to try it." When, in reality, I was beginning to think I wanted to wait until Christmas to have a bite.

It was a small crowd for dinner - only eighteen - and it was a regular food feast. Turkey, stuffing, broccoli, green beans, rolls, somebody brought sweet potatoes to go alongside the regular mashed potatoes, and a dish of corn because Dad doesn't eat any vegetable but corn. Between dinner and dessert was copious amounts of coffee to go around.

Izzy and I wound up next to each other on the end of the table closest to the corner cupboard, watching as the desserts were brought out. Cheesecake, Dad's pie, and somebody had made some sort of pumpkin mousse concoction in a graham cracker crust.

Pretty soon, along with a fresh cup of coffee, I was staring at a slice of Dad's pie and wondering what, exactly, it was held together with. Or rather, failing miserably at being held together.

The whole smelled like syrup. Pancake syrup.

"Hey, Dad..."

"Yeah, Ol?"

"This have maple syrup in it?" Somebody had to ask. As with most cases, it's usually me. Scratch that - it's always me.

Dad grinned. "Yup."

Great. Absolutely fabulous.

Izzy leaned over and whispered, "Chomp chomp."

Damn it. Generally, you take it, you at least tried it. As it was a holiday - and a new recipe - and I had an audience, fork found pie and pie found mouth.

Regurgitation was not an option.

"Shut up," I growled at Izzy after getting that first bite down. She laughed. Ah well. Can't win 'em all.

It was late - early, by my more recent bedtime standards - when I finally crawled between the sheets to curl around Edgar. He smelled, very faintly, of Murphy - a combination of his cologne, general boy smell, possibly shampoo, and probably whatever he used for laundry detergent. But it was Murph.

The phone buzzed. I tugged it onto the mattress with me and flipped it open. New text from Murph.

u awake?

Love T9. Yup. Hit send. Waited. Saw the light from the screen before it buzzed.

how was dinner? and the fam?

How to phrase this... Dad made a pie held together with maple syrup. Yeah. Self-explanatory. Other than that it was great. They asked about you. Even el. She'd come right up to me, looked around, and gone, "Where Morefy?"

The ceiling had a new patch of faint blue in the dark.

awwww :) ma and da asked how u were and about ur heat

Yeah. Still no heat. I'll just bring another blanket back. I pressed my nose into Edgar's fluff. Edgar smells like you. Send.

Damn I was tired. The buzzing jerked me awake.

yeah? :) miss you

Oh, Murph. You make my heart hurt. So much. I miss you, too. So much.

I sent that message and then opened another, typing I love you. Writing it made it feel more real. More tangible. But it was so difficult to say.

It's not that the feeling is wrong or superficial. It's not forced. It just, like so much of me when it came to things like this, circles back around to Bobby.

Bobby was the first real relationship I'd had, off and on all through high school and into the summer before my first semester at William Smith. We'd said those three little words, but, if it was true, shouldn't it have been more difficult to say goodbye each time we took a "break"? It should have hurt more, shouldn't it? It didn't. We cycled on and off and there wasn't much more to feel than lonely for somebody to spend time with, to hold hands and be comfortable with in those months we were off.

Murph and I are comfortable, but different. A different kind of comfortable. We were inherently different than Bobby and I. And those three little words...I wanted to be absolutely sure.

This was one thing in my life I didn't want to lose, that four month mark be damned. For the first time, this feeling for another felt bigger than me. A lot bigger.

Murph's newest message had arrived five minutes ago.

when do u think ur gonna be back on sunday?

Should be back before dinner. Why? Askin' me out on a date? :) Not that we made too much of a distinction between unofficial and official dates. What the hell was the difference, anyway?

The mattress shivered. That little flip phone had a mean vibrate.

u kno it ;) but yeah dinner sunday?

Predictable. Utterly predictable.

Yes. Dinner Sunday. As I'm falling asleep, I need to say goodnight. Night, murph.

Edgar got crushed to my chest. Much like normal.

The phone buzzed again.

night ollie :) sleep tight

I proceeded to do just that.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz