let your geek flag fly

I found myself showcasing my inner nerd yesterday, when I left the house wearing my Wrinkle in Time t-shirt, toting my Strand book bag, holding my dissertation notes, to go discuss Mormon history over lunch with a friend, C.

PicMonkey Collage

I only have the one Out of Print shirt, but I do have three Strand totes, one for every time I’ve been there. Visits to the Strand book store deserve commemoration.

But whatever. Like Pinterest tells me,




Last month, L. participated in an art challenge: draw 26 animals, one for every letter of the alphabet, in 31 days. This is the result. (Click on the images to enlarge them, or go here to see them separately. Also, you can  see him speed paint the animals here, if you’re interested.)



On average, they took him two hours, but there were also illustrations that had him at his computer until late at night. So late, in fact, that I went to bed alone. Which isn’t actually all that bad, all things considered. So much room for me to spread out! That ‘sacrifice’ aside, it was actually really fun to see L. in artistic mode. (Well, except for the part where he would nod and respond to whatever I said to him, but then have no recollection of our conversation afterward. Took me a while to catch on to that and save my comments for more opportune moments.)

It’s hard to say which one is my favorite, but I am very partial to the bear, the octopus, and the chipmunk. (And definitely not the tarantula. Sorry, me and spiders don’t go well together.) But my favorite might be the highland cattle, with a ladybug perched on his nose. Apparently I’m a fan of goofy cows.

smart car in the city

So, L. has a smart car. Do you know what happens when you drive a smart car in Salt Lake City? You get looked at lot. Complete strangers will glance over, look away, glance again, then nudge their neighbor, laugh, and point. SUVs and trucks will not like it one bit when you pass them on the highway. At gas stations, people will constantly ask you how your mileage is, or start talking about electric cars, or just do the point and laugh thing again. We also hear a lot of clown car jokes.

And although I’m a pretty good driver, I’m also an insecure driver, and it took me forever to learn that people weren’t staring at me because I was committing some horrendous traffic violation or something. Now, I just politely smile back, and enjoy parking in tiny spaces, like this one.


Which is an appropriate segue into a video L. showed me the other day. It perfectly highlights the awesome ridiculousness of the car–and why common sense should prevail and the car should stay in the city.

Friday confessions

idea blatantly stolen from here.

Confession 1:

I don’t pay attention to music. Pandora is my friend because I only have to think of a single kind of music I like, and then it supplies me with a never-ending stream of noise that basically all sounds alike to me. There are definite exceptions, but I generally can’t tell you five minutes later what we listened to in the car on the way to work. Upside? There is very little music I really don’t like.

Confession 2:

I currently have almost $20 in library fees, because I for the life of me can’t remember to take books back on time now that I no longer pass the library on my way to work every day. Even if said taking books back only means giving them to L. so he can drop them in the drive-through book return on his way to work. I know.

Confession 3:

It takes me at least three tries to actually place my order when I shop online, and I am incapable of placing an order over thirty dollars without feeling anxious about spending money. Which is why I wear a lot of Old Navy. And also why I look forward to one day no longer being a grad student.

Confession 4:
At the same time, it terrifies me that I’m nearing the (relative) end of my PhD program and will have to compete with all those other brilliant job seekers out there. I read job ads and my first thought is always a paralyzing “No one’s going to hire me!” As much as I love academia, sometimes I think a different career would have been better for my mental health.

Confession 5:

I’m reading a book about the Nuremberg trials right now. Lest you think I always choose sophisticated and intelligent books, I made my way through this series first. While they are better than they sound, it is not by much. But hey, at least I’m reading, and keeping reality tv where it belongs: at the gym.

Josie the Dog

L. has two pets: Josie the Dog and Mara the Cat. I am not a cat person, and I’m even less a dog person. I’m allergic to both, and, although these particular two are kind of growing on me, I frankly don’t really see the use of pets. (My apologies to any animal-loving readers I might have–I can almost hear the cries of outrage over here.)

Anyway, it took Josie a really long time to understand that I too can open the back door for her to go run around in the backyard. I tried so many times to get her to come with me, but she’d make it as far as the kitchen and then just go back to wherever L. was, waiting for him to go with her. A couple weeks ago, though, I had grabbed one of L.’s hoodies, because I was cold, and she willingly went all the way to the back door with me. It felt like a major victory, which is a little sad and more than a little telling about the kind of day I’d had.

Josie the Dog

Josie, years ago. She’s older now, but the eyes are the same.

We’ve come to a bit of an understanding since then. L. still has to be the one to let Josie out in the morning (she’ll wait in front of whatever door he’s behind till he comes out), but sometimes she’ll come with me if I say “outside!” loud enough. And the other day, when I was sick, she came right up and put her head in my lap. L. says that’s what dogs do when they sense you’re not feeling well, and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it was certainly adorable and I petted her for her trouble despite my allergies. I can’t quite get her to listen to me when I want her off the couch, and I came home to dog vomit on the carpet this afternoon, but hey, baby steps to dog appreciation here.

yes, yes you did

Now, I know that I’m not a typical student. I only remember not doing the reading once during the five years or so it took me to get my BA and MA–and I scrunched down in my seat in shame the whole time I was in that classroom. I hate missing classes, I never turn in anything late, and I’m still traumatized by the recent 8 out of 10 I got on an assignment. Short version? I’m an overachiever that is deathly afraid of failure. (But at least I’m aware of it, right?)

But as a teacher, the number one thing I hate is when students miss a class, don’t notify me beforehand, and then come in to ask me if they’ve missed anything important. Yes. Of course you did. What do you expect, I sit around designing course objectives and syllabi and readings just for fun? This especially irked me in Germany, since we weren’t getting paid for teaching (just gaining “valuable work experience,” insert eye roll here). Next time, I’m going to send them this poem, and hope they get the point. Or learn to ask their fellow students, not me. (Let’s keep expectations low, here.)

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

From Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993, 1993
Harbour Publishing

Copyright 1993 Tom Wayman.
All rights reserved.

on silence and peanut butter

It’s been kind of quiet over here, mostly because I’m slammed with work. I sent in paper proposals for three conferences, expecting at least one rejection, but then I got accepted to do all three. Then there’s the talk I’m doing at the U in April,  plus that pesky dissertation, three fellowship/grant applications, Wednesday mornings at the Natural History Museum, and oh, that class I’m taking, so I’ve been scrambling to get everything done in a way that satisfies my overachiever soul. (Which does not include getting an 8 out of 10 on a simple class assignment, by the way. When I got that back, I folded it in half neatly and stuck it at the bottom of my bag, hoping to never see it again. The fold of shame.)

I’m been so busy that I haven’t even been keeping up with my shows, and instead of spreading them out over the week like I’m used to (Tuesday: HIMYM, Wednesday: NCIS and NCIS LA, Thursday: Criminal Minds, Friday: Big Bang Theory, Saturday: Hawaii Five-O) I’ve taken to binge-watching them all in one tv-packed night. (And yes, listing that out makes me realize I really need to get a life that does not revolve around CBS.com or Netflix.)

But you know, I’m still breathing, and I like the work I’m doing, so it’s not all bad. Also, I have a 48 oz jar of peanut butter sitting at my desk at work (I didn’t even know they came in that size before I went to Costco!), and I’ve decided writer’s block is a good enough excuse to sneak a spoonful. It consistently brightens up my day. I finally understand why my sister E. keeps a jar of frosting at her desk…I might have to start doing that next.