Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Milestones and Lethargy

Today is my birthday. What have I done so far? Laid around like a boneless chicken.

The vicious heat and humidity of the first chunk of the week combined with the new sanity-busting teaching schedule folded me up like a Walmart lawn chair. I toyed with the idea of doing Something Big today to mark the occasion. Scott and I were going out to dinner and now we aren't. I'm too invested in staying away from people. I was going to work on a new section of the book that I've been slow-cooking in my head, but I'm not there yet. I've watched an episode of "Big Brother" and walked around the house in a daze. I had started to be on a regular sleep schedule, going to actual sleep at 11:45 (rare as hen's teeth in a Twinkie for me) and last night I blew it. Let's just say that the birthday lesson is: There's a big difference in how I feel going to sleep pre-midnight vs. 2 a.m.

At my advanced age of 54, it's all about giving my body what it begs for. Well, the good stuff it begs for, with just an occasional dip into the luscious pool of vice.

One great thing: Almost EVERY year I have to teach on my birthday. With my crazy new M/W schedule, and with Labor Day on Monday, not only am I off today, but I don't have to enter the classroom again until next Wednesday. The one dark cloud on that horizon is a faculty meeting I'll have to attend on Tuesday with my former close friend who now will not acknowledge my existence. But the horizon is not today. Today is today.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Recovery and Re-entry

It was mostly in the neck. The effect of yesterday. And in the wildly vivid dreams swirling through my rattled brain all night from the vast amount of information I took in, and spewed out, yesterday.

I use my priceless, microwaveable Bed Buddy every day, but today it has lived around my neck like an albino fox fur chomping its own tail.

Today I played hooky from my office hours, since no one can possibly have anything pressing the first week, right? I go back to the long, long day tomorrow. Those who do not know what it's like to lecture in front of a class for 75 minutes at a time, 3 times in a row, pooh-pooh my work hours, tell me I'm spoiled, roll their eyes when I say how drained I am at the end of the third class. When I'm not  lecturing the whole time, I'm running a writing workshop, trying to maintain the precarious balance between too gentle comments and too mean, not only from me, but from each student in the room, jumping in to save the writer of the moment when he/she looks like he/she might die from discouragement or despair, and jumping in to tame the obnoxious student who jumps in with a cerebral comment like "This sucks," and keeping the whole thing going at a fast clip. Then I go home to start reading, grading, prepping for the next time.

I've worked fast food jobs, retail jobs where I was standing on my feet all day, home health care jobs, magazine editing jobs, and have spent entire days tearing viciously stubborn vines off the side of a brick house. No job wears me out like this one. I do love this job. I am grateful for the job. I love/hate the students. But it's a mental and physical endurance test for an old cow like me, especially the first week of the semester.

Zapping the albino fox again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maybe I'm Just Getting Old?

My college classroom today. A writer's workshop, 18 students. One of the things I put in my syllabus is a list of guidelines for classroom conduct, and one thing on the list asks them not to go in and out of the classroom during the class period. (Sometimes they just drift in and out at their whims.) One small, cute girl pipes up: "So how does going to the bathroom work? Can I just get up and go piss?"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Classes Start Tomorrow. What's the Word of the Day?


It's a tricky word, because you can get so much from it.

"Read" for example. The joy of reading all those papers and poems my students will turn in.

"Red." My face. And the way I'll be fanning away the usual stage fright that never goes away, but is especially flaming on the first day.

"Rad." This school year will be totally rad, dude. Srsly.

"Dead." If we're down to basic, I'm glad I'm not, and even a job that has begun to feel like a gut punch is better than being dead. See how optimistic I can be?

Biggest dread isn't the teaching; it's the re-entering a poisonous zone where I have to see the colleague who has, as far as I can tell, disowned me. I'll need the kevlar big-girl pants tomorrow.

One more: "Dad." My dad was outnumbered a lot in his life. People were vicious to him. He got threats on the phone back before caller I.D. forced the spineless to opt for anonymous internet comments. He knew what he stood for. He stood up. He kept standing. He didn't cave. Neither will I.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


There's a husband in our neighborhood who pulls pranks on his wife all the time, but really hates and, I'm told, pouts when she gets him back. She did this to his car yesterday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nonsensical Math

So if our university has an enrollment of 48,000, how is it that there were ten billion students on campus today? And their parents.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Delicious Isolation

Stayed the hell away from campus today. Did not leave my house, except to get the mail, and that was touch and go. Sorted vast piles of papers and threw away two garbage bags stuffed with it. Ignored the need to plan classes. Yesterday was too overwhelming. Nice quiet day hiding.

A couple of times this summer I've gone to get in my car and have realized that I have not driven a car in over a week. This is how much of a hermit I am. The healthy shut-in.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Students Are Back

And thus, my trip to campus today was an endurance test. Not only did the summer finally decide to kick in and be humid as a Mississippi armpit, but just a trip into the English building to make copies and get the flock out was a shock to my system. I always forget how jarring it is to have them back.

And, perfectly on schedule, I'm back in that mental space where I'm convinced that I do not know how to teach. I must prepare for the Fraud Walk of the first day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How I Feel About Starting the Semester

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Things You Can Find Out About Your Spouse Six Years into Marriage

My sister loaded me up with 2 bags of tomatoes from her magical garden so after sharing them with friends, naturally Scott and I are trying to eat as many as we can before they go bad. When we put diced tomatoes on our tacos for dinner, I said "We're never going to get through these tomatoes at this pace!" He then informed me that this was the 4th time he'd eaten tomatoes today. The first one was his peanut butter and tomato sandwich for breakfast. I've been quizzing people ever since I heard that gut-bomb of a combination and no one has ever heard of it. In fact, I have now asked every person on the planet individually and Scott is the only human being to have ever eaten this concoction.

I plan to start asking all non-humans tomorrow. I'm starting with the crows.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


While I did make meager progress on the first-day handouts today, I mostly did five loads of laundry. Also changed the sheets, did dishes, and ran from the house out into the yard with Scott to enjoy a coughing fit after he nearly suffocated us by bleaching the part of the bathtub he was about to re-caulk. Bleach. It is strong smelling devil gas.

I'm now finished with one and a half syllabi and I'll need three total. Various other crap to hand out on Day One is still in the works, as is my annual pep talk to myself, trying to believe that I won't fall to pieces like a dry crumb cake when I have to re-enter those doors of academia.

A very close colleague and I parted ways last spring over a complicated and stunning misunderstanding that tore us both up inside like a hollow-point bullet. I supposed there's a chance of friendship forming between us again, but it's doubtful and it will never be like it was before. So that adds an extra  rottenness to the beginning of the semester. I'm used to the exhaustion and the chaos. Not so used to the emotional wreckage I'm about to climb back inside. It feels like going to the scene of a horrifying car accident and, after reliving the sounds of metal and the scream that turned out to be your own, being forced to squeeze in behind the broken steering wheel again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wait, Did I Say Nine Days?

Well, TODAY it's nine days and counting. Apparently the approaching school year has me so shaken up I can't handle first grade math.

Since I have nothing good to say, I will simply post a photo of the "well-loved bear" from Wednesday's  Antiques Roadshow debacle.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nine Days and Counting

Eight more days of freedom and then the wretched semester starts. Today I half-glanced at my syllabi and tried to face the music.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And Now for Something Completely, uh, Disappointing

My mom and sister and I went to do something new today. Mom has, for years, been getting wooed by a numbingly expensive assisted living center twenty miles from here. They're always trying to get her to move there and join the ranks of the snooty and their chandeliers and their very costly but very pooped-on thick carpeting. She usually ignores them, but this time they had one of the dapper hosts from the Antiques Roadshow coming in, and each invitee was invited to bring an antique for him to appraise.

A hundred or so people averaging in age somewhere between normal body temperature for humans and a redwood forest traipsed in with their various pieces of treasured glassware, musical instruments, rocking horses, and 1940s Boston Red Sox programs. What we didn't know was that this public TV blowhard in his double-breasted navy blue blazer and smarmy gold pocket kerchief was going to blather on about the history of the  Roadshow for a full hour while a room filled with bladders the size of raisins grew more tense by the self-aggrandizing sentence.

He finally started picking up one thing at a time from the heavily laden table and going on impossibly long about each one. It had dawned on all of us after a full hour and only 4 antiques in, that Mr. Road Show surely would not get to every item there, and if he did, it would take so crushingly long that each and every one of us would lose the will to live, and some in the room would actually kack.

One by one, the elderly audience members began to throw in the towel. The first to go was a tiny woman on the far left side of the front row, standing up as much as she could with her heartbreakingly severe osteoporosis hump, and quietly retrieving her black violin case from the table. As she shuffled out of the room, others got more brazen and approached the table boldly to reclaim their antiques and back out of the whole deal with the Thurston Howell wanna-be with the blindingly white capped teeth.

Two hours since he had begun regaling us with his tales, Thurston told us the presentation was over, but he'd stay as long as it took for those wished to hang around to get their object appraised, and those who wanted to leave were free to go. Suddenly the keepers of the crypt who had been slumping in their seats in semi-consciousness sprang to mummy-life as though zapped by a Sears Diehard and rushed the table, grabbing their antiques and elbowing into place in front of the fake-smiling PBS wizard.

Mom, Sis, and I opted to get the hell out. I felt bad for my mom who had lovingly wrapped up her father's silver shaving brush and porcelain mug into an old pink bath towel and toted them there, not with an intention of ever selling them, but just to join in the reindeer games.

Roadshow guy did say one thing I'm still thinking about: The collectors of antiques have a different set of standards for plush stuffed animals. As he was appraising a very worn out but adorable 75-year-old stuffed toy bear, he told us that while most categories of antiques are more valuable at auction in pristine condition, with stuffed animals, the more "well-loved" they are, the more people want them. It's as though they want to see the visual evidence of love.

My sister and I walked out the door of the uppity assisted living place with our well-loved mom and drove down the street to Cracker Barrel for an early dinner of chicken pot pie.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Drive to My Hometown

Pushed for time today as I head to Indiana to see my momma. So here's a picture I took last time on the drive home. See? Indiana ain't so bad. If only Turbo lived there.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Plumbers and Dogs Who Take Off

I'm not talking about plumbers and dogs together. Two separate things.

The plumbers came here today and dug up our back yard to gain access to our busted pipe, and I was assigned the supporting role of Random Wife Who Turns on Water. The bathtub faucet ran full blast for 15 minutes while I did a phantom load of laundry, filling up the washer and putting it immediately on "spin." This after I emptied the 40 billion coats from the living room closet because plumber dude thought he needed to slither into the crawl space. [Insert joke here.]

But no, he sticks his face in the front door and says "Hey! I don't think I need to get into the crawl space after all. I've found a way in through the back yard." [Insert joke.]

They were efficient and stuck the root-chomping snaky thing deep into the core of the earth and suddenly the heavens opened and I was able to do laundry again without gray bilge water from the devil ship filling the bathtub.

I am very sad to say that I was trying to be nice and I took two of my precious bottles of Aquafina outside to give to the sweaty plumbers. It wasn't even that hot today. 80 and humid and overcast. Aquafina rarely darkens our door here because we make a quarterly run to the nearest Costco (100 miles away) and stock up on enough bottled water to create a snow globe inside that Stephen King dome on CBS. Thus, boring old Kirkland water is our staple, like a homely dog sleeping on our porch. Only when the Kirkland has run out do I get the happiness of Princess Aquafina appearing in her fine blue gown. Here is the salt in the bottled water wound: Those douches did not even drink the Aquafina! One of them unscrewed the lid and took a tiny nancyboy sip that would only have confused the two taste buds that it fell between, and the other dude did not even open his! I wanted to wrestle them to the muddy ground and use that root chomper on their swampy back yards.

Which brings me back to Turbo. Which is already a falsehood because I have not yet mentioned Turbo.  Turbo is a hound dog that was on one of the dozens of Alaska/Mountain Men/Deadly Fish/Kill Your Own Meat/Nobody Showers Out Here/Shoot it Now/Shit, Clem Done Fell Through the Ice television shows that Scott watches when he is not watching Food Network. Before yesterday I had never heard of the likes of Turbo. Oh, but yesterday I got to see a snippet of the show where Turbo, one of three hound dogs owned by some insane mountain guy, got a wild hair up his hound ass and decided to take off during the night. He got lost. Keep in mind, Turbo is a tracking dog. I made the mistake of walking into the room to fold laundry just as the owner was looking for the lost Turbo, along with the other two dogs, and yelling "Turbo! Where you at, boy?" up into the frigid foresty hills. "Hey!" he tells the dogs as they ignore him and daydream of lengthy afternoons of butt lickage. "I think I see somethin' movin' up on that hill!" And dang if Turbo didn't come runnin'!

Ten fricking seconds of Turbo story and it stuck in my brain like a lima bean in a toddler's nostril.

I couldn't stop talking about Turbo. "Glad Turbo was OK," I said. At the dinner table it was "I figured that dang Turbo was a goner" (taking on the dialect of the old goat on the mountain) and, while eating my decidedly not-deadly salmon, muttering simply "Turbo."

I questioned my own sanity throughout the evening, reasoning that "Turbo" was probably a dwarf in a dog costume, placed strategically into a "reality" drama just to screw with me and get me hooked enough to watch again, and finally I regained my equilibrium.

Until I got into bed with Scott and I said "That ignorant Turbo." 

"Oh," he said. He had seen another episode. "Nobody's heard from Turbo since he jumped down into a hole to take on Three-Toe the wildcat."

Screaming. Curtains ripped from windows. House caving in.

The least I can do is go find that wildcat hole and toss down a bottle of Aquafina.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Still Digging Out

One thing I've learned about clutter: When you try to do something about it, it gets worse before it gets better.

As I've been sorting things and organizing and pitching, I of course have had to dump out various containers of papers, knock over precariously stacked piles, and as I watch it go terribly more awry, I reassure myself that this will all be better when I'm done. Scott seems to have the utmost faith in me about it and sometimes his confidence in me even starts up a tiny flame in my willpower fireplace before my pessimism blows it out.

I was reading a book on clearing out clutter last night. It is one of seven clutter books I own. I can only find 3 of them. One of those missing is titled Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui. And I swear to you that years ago when I first owned that book, I misplaced it and actually bought a second copy. My friends made much sport of this. I liked this book. I don't buy the woo-woo part of it so much, but it had some good suggestions for getting rid of stuff. I even got my mom interested in the book, and when she went to Books-a-Million and they didn't have it, she wrote me and said "So feng shui to you, too."

Back to the clutter book. I was reading about how, when you start clearing out your junk, you make room for "miracles." As the piles disappear, you'll suddenly find exactly the right piece of paper that you need. Or you'll get a phone call with news you really need to hear. Good things will flow into your life. Keep in mind that word "flow."

What has flowed into my life today? The washer's dirty water. It backed up into the bathtub and we are screwed. My feng has apparently made a bitch of my shui. A plumber will have to come here and I am now questioning all this digging out. The clutter was protecting us but there's no turning back now. I've pissed off the hoard-goddess and she convinced our washer that we must be shat upon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Books. Too Many.

As my annual "Oh Dear God, the Semester is About to Begin" panic rituals kick in, I return to the tried and true tradition of organizing my books.

It's the first in a line of projects designed to help me be less freaked out when classes start, and to be able to find what I need for teaching, and to be able to come into a house at the end of the day without bumping into the cameramen from "Hoarders." They always want to stay for dinner and trust me, they are whiny bitches.

Now, about the books. There are way, way, way too many. You probably caught on to that from the clever blog post title. To give you an idea of how over the top my book collection is: It took me all day yesterday and today, or at least as many hours as I could stand to do it, to organize only my poetry books and a small subset of my nonfiction books. They were all over the house in various piles, none of which made the slightest bit of sense. As of three minutes ago, I've jumped this hurdle on the road to Looking Like a Sane Person Lives Here.

Tomorrow, just for kicks, I'm going to count the poetry books. Then I'll enter the dark abyss of pondering how stupid it is to have this many. Even if I quit my job and read for 40 hours each week, and read only poetry, it would take me a good fat decade to read all of these.

Have I mentioned that in addition (at first I typed "addiction") to these books inside our house, there are FORTY other boxes of books in the garage? No? I didn't mention it? Well, there are. And down the road, about 25 hurdles from here, is the task of downsizing that whole ridiculous mess. A few years ago I made a valiant effort to downsize and I shared on this blog some photos of things I was getting rid of. Like my betamax tape of "Flashdance." And my Incredible Hulk Christmas ornament. Guess who didn't get around to tossing those?

Friday, August 09, 2013

I Totally Burned One at Venice Beach

And by "one" I don't mean a big fat blunt, even though those were in abundance after the bargain-basement 40 dollar evaluation deeming you "anxious" enough to need some medical weed. What I  burned was a 3-inch wide strip of skin on the back of my neck and over my shoulders because I was too moronic to put sunscreen on that part. Scott and I took a long walk in the high-noon sun so that I could have the obligatory Venice Beach experience. He says he can't count how many times he's taken people there. Everyone who came to visit him in L.A. in 20 years wanted to see certain things, and this was one of them.

Honestly, it was just depressing as hell. Not the Venice Beach you see in movies, teeming with muscle men doing their weight-lifting parlor tricks while friendly sparkling freaks roller skate by. It seemed to me that it was filled with anger and desperation. Many of the vendors of crappy art were surly and pushy (Surly and Pushy were dwarves #8 and #9, I believe) and there was nothing happy in the air. Except for the occasional cloud of pot smoke.

I had been smart and had smeared SPF 50 sunscreen on my face and the front of my neck. Just as we were starting our obligatory walk out to the waves to put our feet in and look for a few shells, we contemplated getting the Coppertone out of the rental car and glomming up. But no. That would have been too reasonable. Instead, we stood there with our pasty midwestern necks exposed and ended up with not only the worst sunburns of our lives, but the most stupid looking ones. Bright pink-red strips painted perfectly around our necks and shoulders like some idiotic fraternity hazing ritual. Yeah, dude, you have to go to classes all week stylin' your redneck half-dickey.

This is what I get for making fun of the toolbags who were riding the rented segways and staring in amazement at the dope sign.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

OK, it wasn't long enough to be a vacation: only three days. Scott and I went to L.A. so I could give a poetry reading for my favorite literary journal that I finally got published in. There were three featured readers. I went last, was terrified as usual, but it was over before I could even process that it had begun.

More about all this later. Just wanted to get a post up to show that I hadn't flown the coop again.

Here is one of my favorite parts of the trip. A Venice Beach dog with 80s rock band hair. This is him thinking over my offer to give him a french fry if he'd sing a couple lines of "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. 

Friday, August 02, 2013

Tomorrow I Will Be in a Metal Tube for Four Hours

On the side will be the word "Southwest." I will put on noise-reducing headphones and grit my teeth for most of the four hours in the air.

I will probably pray a lot, but to be fair, I pray a lot when I'm on the ground

Thursday, August 01, 2013

I Need My Sister's Personality Today

She loves to pack her suitcase. LOVES to fly. Gets excited at the mere mention of travel. In that respect she takes after my dad.

I am like my mother. When it comes right down to it, she'd rather stay home. She hates the packing, stews about everything, does not feel the pre-trip joy or excitement. Probably the only way she'd be gung-ho about a trip is if you told her "We're going to pick up your house and fly it to Hawaii. You don't have to pack. You can sleep in your own bed. But when you walk out the front door, you'll be stepping onto the beach." Then she would find something else to worry about. Like a shark sprouting legs and laying in wait on her welcome mat.

How is it that so many parts of my personality are carbon copies of hers?

This conversation has happened hundreds of times:

Mom: You have got to stop stewing about everything! It's not good for you.

Candy: Hmmm. I wonder where I got that?

Mom: You didn't get it from me. I've still got all of mine.

And then usually I punch her. And then she gets up and comes after me with a sledgehammer. She's mighty wiry for 90.