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show me how you do that thing

I spend way too much time away from this thing. I know. I KNOW. What I’ve been doing in the interim: finishing my master’s thingy, writing a paper, doing a shitload of work and client meetings at work, watching my employer grind the business into the earth, celebrating Ward’s retirement and Ward and June’s 39th wedding anniversary (separate celebrations, same venue), planning social engagements, Weetapidoling, podcasting and rolling my eyes over the annoying commenters over on Yahoo Shine (one day, probably the most insipid and generic posts I’ve ever written was featured on Yahoo’s main page and inspired a lot of semi-moronic comments) and also, sleeping. Suffice to say, the (fucking) laundry? She is not done.

The more things change.

This weekend has been the creamy filling in a two-parter West Coast adventure for Esteban. He got home on Thursday and will be flying out on Tuesday again. Had we known his travel arrangements (and not had the moratorium on spending money) I might have leveraged some time off and just flown out to Las Vegas/San Francisco with him and hung out, doing my own travel thing. But unfortunately, the crystal ball was uncertain.

I did get my legs waxed. Actually, the appointment mentioned in the previous post was postponed, as it coincided with Ward’s spontaneous retirement party, and I was forced to live with Wookie legs for another two weeks. The waxing was seriously not painful. Not as painful as my typical removal of 90% of my eyebrows, but the downer is that not only were my freshly waxed legs NOT smooth, this whole idea of not having stubble for some freakishly long period of time (4 weeks, I think my aesthetician said)? BULLSHIT. I had stubble on Day 5, people. Not worth $40 and waiting through all of that leg thicket for five measly days. I’ll stick with my shaving gel and Mach 5, thank you very much.

Despite Monday’s disturbing incident of abnormally large snowflakes, it’s more or less spring here in the GRB. I have turned off the furnace for the seventh time this year (much to Esteban’s dismay, because he’s much less cold-tolerant and energy-conscious than I am) and am once again having very hot and bothered fantasies involving landscaping. I don’t actually want to DO any of this, however. I would like to just point and have things done. Actually, my biggest quandary is how to lay things out in our big green blank canvas of a yard. I never understood why people hired interior decorators to makeover their houses, but right now, if Martha Stewart offered to come and tell me what should be planted where, I would happily just sign over the yard to her. I have lots of theories that involve closing off the space between the potting shed and the garage and turning it into a walkway of some kind, and doing something to make some privacy between the street and the dining room window but sans magic wand, I really don’t know when it’s all going to happen. Oh well, I’ll think about it tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I will be spending the entire day in Milwaukee. In the morning, I will be facing my master’s oral examination, whereby Dr. O’Henry, Professor Dreamy and my current adorable lady professor (who really deserves a nickname because she’s pretty awesome… hey, Dr. Awesome) will be asking me questions and I will in theory be answering them with some kind of intelligent combination of words and phrases and perhaps even punctuation. I’ve heard that someone was asked to define a novel in one of these things, and thinking about how I would answer that question pretty much makes my head explode. The only way I can do it is to make my hands into two right angles and then focus in on a pencil and say “This is a short story” and then spread them wide enough to pull back the shot until it fills the table and say “and this is a novella” and then spread my arms again until my hand frames encompass the entire room and say “And this is a novel”. It’s a piss poor answer, quite frankly, but it’s a better one than “A very long story that has more than, ooooohhhh, 45000 words.” I’m a little bit nervous, because, well, Dr. O’Henry is my advisor and thus, running the show, and I would have to say probably my biggest concern out of the three. He scares me, a little bit, and I totally know that it’s all because he won the O’Henry recently. And Professor Dreamy is an AMAZING writer, but for reasons I’m not entirely understanding, seems to dig my stuff. And the cool thing with Professor Awesome is that she is outside of the creative writing program, meaning that she’s a lit person. The lit program people all seem to look at the creative writers with a little tilt to their head, like you would if looking at a trained monkey. And she volunteered to me, one night after class, that she was so surprised to hear that I was actually a writer, not a lit and comp person, because I was totally holding my ground in the class with the lit PhD folks. Which, I have to say, almost made me burst out into tears, because after the disaster of that stupid scifi paper, I was honestly starting to doubt whether I could hack critical analysis at all and maybe I was just an idiot savant when it came to words, able to string them together in a way that sounds pleasing, but not really able to think about the fundamentals behind all the lovely phrases. And, quite honestly, between the lack of funding in the program and the fact that the PhD requires an additional 12 credits in lit classes, it’s driving a lot of my decision not to continue on for the PhD. Which is another thing that I know I’ll be asked to explain during my oral exam, and it’s quite honestly, something I’m not looking forward to doing, because I know that my decision is a disappointment to at least Professor Awesome.

Thus, this Tuesday is also a big deal because not only is it the last day of class for the semester and also, it will be my last time that I attend a class that I’m taking as a requirement for a degree. At least in the near future, anyway. Which makes everything a little bittersweet.

A few weeks ago, on one of the first truly warm days, I was sitting on a bench next to the big water fountain, weeding through the fiction slush pile for the campus lit magazine, and listening to my iPod. My favorite song in the universe, “Just Like Heaven” came on and the moment perfectly encapsulated my experience in this program. Sitting in the middle of everything, hiding behind a pair of sunglasses and some white earbuds, half there in person and halfway an observer untouched by anything. The sun was warm and under the sparkly synthesized rhythm, I could hear the spatter of the water against the flat cement and watch the students and faculty rush by, oblivious. Robert Smith’s voice was full of nostalgia for a time that has passed and even at that moment, I could feel it slipping away, as though I had never been there. Because I practically never was. And then just when I thought that everything would go fuzzy, dissolve into a faded montage, a shadow broke the page and it was Trent, who was running late for his class but just wanted to say hi. And for the first time since being in the program, I honestly felt like maybe I was really there.

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