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He likes it, hey Mikey!

Yesterday morning, I woke up early and decided that the thing that would make me happiest in the world would be to have a steaming hot bowl of Cream of Rice. I love me some Cream of Rice cereal. Cream of wheat is for peasants. Oatmeal? I spit on your oatmeal. Give me Cream of Rice or give me death. Or cake. Whichever.

Sorry’ Izzardism.

In the winter months, the ladies that my grandmother cared for in her home loved hot cereals, one of the few cheerful remnants of their earlier lives in state-run institutions. I suppose my grandmother found the idea of oatmeal every day to be depressing, even though Betty and Charlotte probably didn’t care, so she cycled through every version of hot cereal there was. Farina, Malt-O-Meal, you name it, she made it on varying days of the week. And my ultimate favorite was the Cream of Rice. She made it so creamy, so delectable, that it was just as good as her homemade warm tapioca (another of my octogenarian favorites) and a delight to eat. It is so hard to find that I started thinking that I was imagining things, but then, lo and behold, I discovered on the shelf of one very particular grocery store the very same package I remembered from Saturday mornings with Grandma and the ladies. And since then, I’ve been hooked. Screw that instant oatmeal crap. A quarter cup of Cream of Rice along with one cup of water and two minutes in the microwave makes the most perfect warm breakfast a girl could ask for.

I did seem to remember that my grandmother’s version was creamier, however, so yesterday, I decided to try half water and half milk in my bowl. I measured out almost the end of my box of Cream of Rice, then measured out just about all of the remaining milk to make the right ratio, and dutifully stood in front of the microwave, stirring every thirty seconds, until it reached the perfect creamy consistency. I stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla sugar and then tasted it. Perfect! Just like I remembered it, sort of like a warm rice pudding that has gone through the food processor. It had gotten a little thick, so I splashed a little more milk along the top, and then, because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I opened a jar of spiced Chicago sugar and sprinkled a little on the top for just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg flavor.

Immediately, the smell of garlic wafted up.

I looked down in horror. Somehow in my morning myopia, I found the spiced sugar bottle, but then grabbed powdered roasted garlic bottle next to it. Gah! And I had used the last of the milk and cereal. Blast! Blast! Blast!

I stomped around the house until Esteban woke up and then announced that he had to take me out for something really good because I had put garlic in my Cream of Rice. He then proclaimed that I was a little dumb sometimes and I could not do anything but agree with him. This was the same stupid clueless head that left her purse in the car. What else can you say after that?

I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but I’ve started another class for Spring semester. It’s with the same professor and of the twelve other grad students, six were in my last class. It’s sort of surreal because we’re in the exact replica of the room we met in last semester, so with the same teacher and most of the same students, it feels as though there’s been a time shift and half of our classmates have been replaced with imposters, only no one is really mentioning it.

Our first meeting was delightful. First of all, it was absolutely awesome to be in a class and actually know my classmates and have them say hi to me when they walked in the door. Also, the professor started talking about workshops and how if this is someone’s first workshop, maybe it’s not for them, and then went on to talk about being handed ‘steaming piles of turds’ in previous classes. Except that one has to believe that he’s talking about one incident in particular, especially when all of the alumni of the last class sat there smirking, knowingly. That sort of made me feel bad, because I would hate to be the person that everyone was smirking about, but man, don’t take a graduate class in writing if you can’t even write sentence that doesn’t make one openly grieve for the words that you’re destroying. Invite into my bastion to imbibe my comestibles, indeed. Ouch. It hurts even now.

One cool moment: we had to sign up for our workshops, and instead of handing the sheet around, the professor crumpled it up and threw it to someone, who threw it to my girl crush, who threw it to’ me. Ok, I know this is juvenile, but it was like being picked first to be on a team. My girl crush! Eeeee!

Also, after class, I ended up walking to the parking garage with another classmate, whom I rarely even talked to in the last class. That was very cool too! They like me! They really like me!

I ended up taking a very early workshop for my first story because I wanted it to be handed in before our big weekend but I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write. I made a bet with Chauffi that I would have a novel started by January 31, 2005, or be required to make a political contribution to the Republican party, and am proud to say that I have officially started a novel. Several paragraphs of one, anyway, and also a very loose outline. And well within 24 hours of the deadline too. Go me! So maybe I could use the first chapter of that for my first workshop, but then it would have to not suck. Well, we’ll see. I have tons of time, oh, well, several days to mull it over. But at least I’m not contributing to the Evil Empire! I wouldn’t want an angry mob of hippies to knock on my door and forcefully reclaim my Birkenstocks. Well, they wouldn’t use force, man, ok, but like, really man, just be cool, ok? They’re totally going to sacrifice them at the summer solstice. Which is cool, right, because they’re like all natural and of the earth, ya? Peace out. See you at Burning Man.

By the way, if you’re coming to Weetacon or even thinking about possibly coming to Weetacon, make sure to make your hotel reservations by this Wednesday, as the group rates will disappear at that point. Considering the great rate we’re getting at St. Brendan’s (and not-to-be-sniffed-at rate reduction at the Quality Inn and Suites), it would be a bummer to decide to make the trip in two weeks and then have to pay $150 more than everyone else. Likewise, for those on the fence, if it doesn’t work out, you can cancel reservations without being charged as long as you give them 48 hours notice. End of public service announcement!

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