“Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner”

  I interrupt this Hiatus with this brief bloggy update, aka Random, Amusingly [well, to me] Related Bullets of….. Summer:

1. Yes, it’s finally summer, after the coldest, wettest spring in Pacific Northwest history (or 117 years).

2. A good friend of mine, who retired last year, is rereading Middlemarch. Sudden recognition that I do not have time to reread Middlemarch, despite having the next 2.5 months “off” from teaching.

3. Related to #2 above, finally visited my physician for both my annual and to see if she could figure out why my foot has been swollen for 2 months (two xrays and visits to “specialists” led to nothing). Three results of interest: one, I am not in the midst of menopause despite a variety of symptoms, highlighting the fact that I have many years to go before I can reread Middlemarch; and two, a bone scan reveals I have a stress fracture of one of those metatarsal bones. And three: I am vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D?  Oh, yes, lack of sun. Got it. See #1 above. Soon to be cured: see #4 below.

So the walking and spurts of running I’ve been doing over the last few weeks, with the encouragement of those doctors who found nothing wrong with me, have not been exactly helpful to the healing process.

4. Related to #3 above, I started taking Deep Water Running classes at the gym last week.  I’ve only tried a few classes yet have discovered that with the exception of another 40 something professional, athletic woman with a foot injury, most of the participants have plenty of time for rereading Middlemarch.   And while I push myself to get my heart rate up (sometimes it works), for the most part, I’m still in the stiffling giggles stage: Despite the name, the classes are basically aerobics in the water, but everyone is wearing hats and sunglasses instead of leg warmers and leotards.  I just can’t help thinking of those scenes in Dirty Dancing (remember, 1986ish?) at Kellerman’s in the Catskills where the women do aerobics by the pool.

And interestingly, the instructors always play music from Dirty Dancing.  Which just makes me laugh more.

Happy St. Urho’s Day

St. Urho welcomes you!

For those not in the know, St. Urho is the Finnish equivalent of that Irish saint: both are credited with chasing unwanted creatures out of their respective countries.

And both require the wearing of the green (though different shades, and with the addition of purple for St. Urho’s Day).

And finally, both saints require the consumption of alcohol as part of the celebration. You know those saints.  Tonight, we should all be  toasting Urho with a Grasshopper, an odd mix of creme de menthe, creme de caocao and cream. Other recipes have vodka or brandy in them.

With a name like Annie, I have Celtic bloodlines running through half of me, but no Finnish. I’m assuming the Finns don’t mind if I celebrate ole St. Urho though: St. Urho’s Day was supposedly invented by a Finnish American who wanted to have two days in a row that encouraged heavy drinking.

Besides, St. Urho’s/St. Paddy’s Days always fall during finals week, a week when even that overly sweet-sounding Grasshopper sounds divine. So, let me be the first to wish you Kippis! which is Finnish for Sláinte!

The Gym Guy

I know: you’re picturing a guy who’s about 6 foot tall, dark wavy hair, high cheekbones or maybe dimples. He’s trying to hide his ass in those baggy basketball shorts, but they only set it off nicely.  Sculptured arms and abs. Long legs. You might be picturing this guy. Or this guy.  The Gym needs such guys if only to provide the necessary eye candy while I run, tediously, on the treadmill for 60 or 90 minutes, trying to get the miles in each week. The ice and snow (more coming tonight) outside prevent me from my usual river trail running, so I greatly, greatly appreciate these men.

But, that’s not the Gym Guy I’m referring to. I’m referring to THIS guy.

No, not really Archie Bunker, but someone very much like him.  He’s probably 70-something; an ex-baseball player (really, he was:  he’s told me about his glory years many, many times); retired from some sort of business that allows him to travel to Europe annually, and to Palm Beach each winter for a few weeks.  Let’s call him Bob.

Well, Bob knows I’m an English professor (ah, small town life), so he loves to ask me grammar and word use questions. Today, as I was nearing mile 7.5 on that damned treadmill, sweating despite the ceiling fans, he motions for me to take out my ear buds so he can ask me a question.

I usually try to snag a treadmill where the neighboring treadmills are already taken to avoid just this scenerio. Obviously, it doesn’t always work.

Today’s question: Bob’s friend’s answering machine (yes, answering machine–clearly this crew isn’t into the cell phone age yet) has the following message, and Bob wants to tell him it’s  incorrect usage:  “I can’t answer your call right now. Could you please leave a message after the beep.”  Bob says that the word “could” implies that the caller is being asked whether or not they have the ability to leave a message.  Bob wanted me to confirm that the friend should delete the word “could”.

Of course, wanting to get back to my boring treadmill and get to mile 9 already, I confirmed his opinion (as he knew I would) and quickly replaced my earbuds and raised the volume on my ipod to avoid further discussion.

But people: this happens REGULARLY and it’s quite annoying.  Now, to give Bob credit, he waited till I had run nearly 7.5 miles before finally begging me to hear his question (though he had been trying to make eye contact for at least a few miles).  Really, there’s nothing I can do short of changing the time I go to the gym, something I can’t do.

Sigh. If only this guy would interrupt me on the treadmill. My luck, he’d ask me a grammar question.

A Beach Read…

…if you like beaches with gray sand, lots of rocks, broken bottles, used condoms, hurricane-whipped waves, and rain.

I prefer picture postcard beaches  myself, but since I’m far from a beach, and this spring (summer is not until Monday, right?) has been what I’m calling “the grayest, coldest, wettest spring since I’ve lived in this town” (now 15 years), this book has been the perfect read for sitting on the sofa under a blanket,  wearing winter lounge wear (sweats), and cursing the weather while drinking lots of spiked tea.

Give it a chance: it’s one of those novels that has to gel, and when it does, wow. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon.

But warning: this is NOT a light and uplifting read (not that I consider this  a bad thing).  It’s a novel about depressed people. Serious depressed. It’s a novel about identity theft that goes way beyond someone digging through your garbage for your credit card number. It’s a novel about obsession (not love obsession, naturally, because these characters are too messed up to ever fall in love).  It’s a novel that someone (like M. Night Shyamalan, or the Coen brothers, or recent Scorsese)  will want to make into a movie–for the ending alone.

The NYTimes compared the paranoid moments in the novel to those of the masterpiece of paranoia,  DeLillo’s White Noise. But unlike in DeLillo’s work, there are few humorous interludes.  Stephen King could have written it, but there are no clowns or dead children (ok, there are dead children but only off stage).

It’s a thriller, with some gore, but not that much. There are three pairs of characters who ultimately converge and it’s in that convergence where the gelling happens:

There is a high school history teacher and his student. A father and son. And twins. You gotta have twins in a thriller.

It’s not a beach read, but read it anyway.

I’m also still reading The Lonely Polygamist by Brian Udall.   The opening was so promising: father of 28, husband of 4 wives, comes home from a long drive and really, really has to pee. But, naturally, all the bathrooms in his big house are being used. Eventually, he finds his way into a storage closet with a bucket. Fun stuff. But now, it’s getting sluggish.  One of his sons has befriended what could only be an odd duck, though polite,  with a fondness for bombs.

Last summer, I read a slew of novels about middle aging males making it the summer of Andropause or Aging Lotharios.  This summer is turning out to be closer to the Summer of the Almost Apocalyptic Novel. Not quite, apocalyptic, since the end of the world characters are in the background rather than the foreground. But they are there.

Obviously, unless I wake up Monday and summer weather is finally here, I need some light and uplifting novel recommendations: any suggestions?

The Eye of The Tiger

A colleague and I have been giggling for weeks over this song.  It came up during a faculty meeting, oddly, and he and I were the only other folks who remembered the Survivor tune created specifically for Rocky III: it seems our other co-workers were either not into popular culture 28 years ago, or under the influence, so to speak, and thus missed the fabulous early 80s.

Since that meeting, my colleague and I have heard this song regularly–almost weekly–on a variety of tv shows, the radio, at his kids’ concert. We call each other up every time we hear it and have a giggle over it.   It’s quite discombobulating.

But, tomorrow is the half marathon I’ve been training for, and that song is going to be on my Ipod’s playlist.  It’s the perfect running song.  So think of me running in my  running skirt, bopping along the 13.1 miles and singing:

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the cream of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

Oh, if you missed this song, here ya go:

Summer Reruns

While you semester folks are either finished or nearly finished with the term, I am slogging through week 7 of an 11 week quarter, with those damned miles to go before I, literally, sleep.  So still teaching, still grading, still advising, still committee-meeting, still interviewing candidates (yeah, late, I know, and I have oh so much to say about that—someday), still writing an essay due in 3 weeks, still training for my half marathon (which is the day after graduation—I believe it shall be my annual celebratory big run!).

So, while I’m scanning the blogosphere daily, and commenting when so moved and in between student conferences, this blog will be quiet for a bit. 

Feel free to read some old posts. If WordPress’s stats thingy is correct, the most popular ones are these: