Monday, August 27, 2007
plastic toy shelf*
tall boy dresser*
bathroom pantry/towel cabinet
cot and extra pad
window mount air conditioner
pots and pans
baby booster seat
wobbly kitchen table*
angle brackets for wobbly kitchen table
four dining chairs*
two folding chairs
etc. etc. etc.
*indicates used items
red indicates items carried on top of our car.
With the furniture all in and the piles of unpacked stuff slowly shrinking, its starting to feel like a real home here. As I poured myself a bowl of cereal tonight into an unfamiliar bowl, and ate with an unfamiliar spoon at an unfamiliar table I had the bizarre sensation of being at someone else's home. I remarked to Melissa that our decision to celebrate our five year anniversary by selling everything and moving across the country seemed on the outside a bit crazy. But the alternative (keeping everything we have and driving across the country) would have been insane.
On a different note...
Tonight Melissa and I watched a bit from Cirque du Soleil (for those of you who, like me, were raised during the phonics era of public education, that's SIRK DAY SO-LAY.) To say nothing of the French proclivity for superfluous letters, we were amazed at the limits to which performers can push their own bodies. The on-stage phantasmagoria of dance, music, acrobatics, and old fashion circus clowning was enough to make me break out into spontaneous applause right in the middle of my living room, only to pause and glance sideways at Melissa long enough to feel fairly silly. The clapping would have been natural had we been attending the live performance, and even at the end of a particularly evocative movie clapping feels perfectly appropriate, but somehow, sitting with my wife in my living room, in front of our computer screen, it was just silly.
When, in 2006, BYU quarterback John beck, sprinting towards the sidelines to avoid the oncoming defense, threw a 20 yard touch down pass behind him, across his chest and into the waiting arms of Johnny Harline to win the big rivalry game against Utah, I screamed liked I'd just won Powerball. I jumped up and down, clapped, high-fived everyone in the room, hugged my wife, and cheered again. "That was amazing!" I kept saying, like the people around me didn't believe me and I had to prove it to them.
That was a football game. Just a sport, only art in the broadest sense, evocative for the social implications of communal victory, bragging rights, and the collective relief that "we" had beaten Utah. More than accepted, my reaction, and the reaction of the people in the room with me was expected, even dictated by our culture. That is how we are supposed to act during a footbal game. But the BYU football team on our TV could no more hear our un-containable exuberance than could the Cirque Dancers on my computer monitor hear my momentary spasm of applause.
Wordsworth described poetry as a "spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion recollected in tranquility." The poet alone is capable of the tranquil recollection, but all of us, perhaps occasionaly while watching performances like Circque, or our football team, are capable of the spontaneous overflow Wordsworth called poetic. So perhaps my uncontrolled outburst was the seed bed for good poetry. Maybe underneath that response is the subtle urgings of the muse in my ear. Maybe there are songs waiting to leap from my chest in stanza after stanza of lyrical expression. Or maybe, I'm just a geek.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Finally a free moment . . . and its only 12:18 am. Well, Athens reminds one of Oregon, if it were in the Midwest--Just as green, but really humid with a slight accent. In fact, it feels (literally) a lot like Japan. After a week of unpacking and furniture hunting and three drives to Columbus I am ready for another Sunday. Last night I picked up my friend David Grover from the airport in Columbus and we got home about 8pm. Melissa went to a movie with some ladies from the Church and I put kids to bed and promptly fell asleep on a text book.
This morning we went garage sale-ing and ran into David again, so he tagged along and we drove from one end of the valley to the other in what turned out to be a fairly successful garage sale-ing adventure. We came home with a kitchen table, a book shelf, and a crib. Even Callan found what he was looking for. We gave him four quarters and told him he could buy what ever he wanted with it and he said, "I want to buy a fire station." We laughed and told him we could look for one but not to get his hopes up. However, at the second garage sale we stopped at Callan found an old Little People playset that included a fire station, and it was only a dollar.
Tonight I went with David to Jackie-O's, a bar in Athens where the OU English department holds occasional mix-n-mingle type gatherings. We met several people from the program, all very interesting, very unique, very IN to literature. This is the second bar mixer I've been to in the past year and they both had three things in common. The music was too loud, the lights were too low, and I had to shout in order to be heard. The typical conversation went something like this:
Me(Shouting): Hi, I'm Joey whats your name?
Stranger (shouting): I'm Jacob.
Me (shouting): Excuse me?
Stranger (louder): Jacob!
Me (still shouting): Nice to meet you!
Stranger (shouting): Are you English?
Stranger: What are you studying?
me: English! Creative Writing! Nonfiction.
Me: What about you?
Me: What are you studying?...
You get the idea.
It's exciting to be part of a group of people so interested in learning, reading, writing, and thinking. Its also extremely scary. I feel a bit like a 120 pound freshman trying out for the varsity football team, surrounded by beefcake giants who wonder if I'm in the wrong place. I'm going to be teaching college freshman a week from Tuesday, and between now and then its my responsibility to transform myself into a college teacher. One conversation I had tonight revolved around professorial titles. I explained to a pair of PhD students that when and if I get my PhD I wouldn't want the title Doctor, because, as I explained, I don't check orifices, and the only people I call doctor are the people who check orifices. They both currently teach, as I will soon and they mentioned that their students call them Mr. so and so, or Miss So and so, or just so and so, but the consensus was that first names were a good way to go. And when I think about it, my favorite teachers, the ones I felt were the most interested in me and my success always went by first name with their students. At BYU the title "Brother" and "Sister" helped eliminate the decision about saying "Dr. Jones," or "Professor Jones" or Mr. Jones" but even that felt too formal. So Joey it always has been, and Joey it always will be. I still feel like a little kid with a speech impediment when I introduce myself as Joey, but I feel fake when I say Joe, and like a complete space alien if I say Joseph, so diminutive or not, I'm Joey, your English 151 teacher. Welcome to class.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Amid the bustle of packing, Melissa held still long enough for me to capture her smiling.
Callan was very interested in helping us paint and we were very interested in him not getting paint all over himself and the floor. He did a great job keeping the paint where it should be and actually painted quite a bit of the wall. He didn't even complain when I went over his area with a roller, "to even everything out," I told him.
I don't know if this was our last Sunday or the week earlier, but we really miss being able to walk to Church. The Chapel here is 15 minutes away, which is still really close, and we're excited to be in a new branch with new faces and new opportunities to help out. Cal and I went to lunch at with a brother from the branch last week after church who teaches organ at the university. I mentioned that Melissa had been playing the Organ a bit lately, and he said "great. I'm the executive secretary and I was just talking with the branch president about calling an organist." There's a scout troop here too, so I'm liable to find myself in a familiar calling, but who knows.
The apartment is a bit smaller than our old house, but the sink is still big enough for Nolan.
Mike, Cristi, and Aubrey were an immeasurable help in getting last minute packing/cleaning/storing done and we are SO grateful for their help. They taxied Melissa to and from the house after I left, helped watch kids too, and even dealt with the left overs that Melissa couldn't get to before her flight left--all in the middle of getting ready to move themselves. We couldn't have done it without them. We're going to miss them being so close and being able to do Sunday dinner/FHE/birthdays etc. with them. They're fun, and they sacrificed a lot this past week to help us leave.
Here's our front door. Number 5. The place has character, if it doesn't have elbow room. And the fact that I don't have to mow a lawn, fix a leaky faucet, change a furnace filter, paint a wall, rehang a door, or otherwise be handy is worth almost any amount of downsizing. The only real question now is what am I going to do with my Saturdays now that I don't have a house to work on? oh yeah, graduate school.
Grocery shopping in a different part of the country isn't quite as shocking as grocery shopping in Japan was, but there are differences for sure. For instance today, while looking for lunch meat I came upon a package of Scrapple. I thought, "Huh, that's a funny name, I wonder what it's made of!?" UGH. I'm not much of a meat eater in the first place, but I don't know if I could touch this with a 10 ft pole! It's basically pig scrap jello. Here's what Wikipedia has to say "Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other scraps, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned, and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, and others are added. The mush is cast into loaves, and allowed to cool thoroughly until gelled." Get yours here (photo too!) if you dare...
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Out of Gas
This morning on about our 4th trip to Walmart this week (there's no where else to go!) we stopped and helped a girl push her car out of the middle of the road, drive her to the gas station to get some gas and return her to her car to fill it up! Luckily it started right away, that seemed to be the only problem.
(Okay so this was a few days ago but I still look at it as a "welcome" to Ohio). I was standing in the parking lot when I thought it had started raining. But I put my hand out to feel and looked up. No rain. Yep, it was bird. He had "welcomed" me to Ohio right on my brand new Ohio University shirt. YUCK! Never happened to me before but I'm just glad it didn't hit Nolan.
Craigslist and A Sick Turtle
Thanks to craigslist we now have a couch, a desk quite a few shelves and a free beer!? Huh! We don't even drink! But today in our search for furniture we came across a note about a sick turtle who needed a transport to the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus ASAP. Joey obliged since he was headed to Columbus anyway to pick up a friend from the airport. This is the thanks
Ha! Good for a laugh.
The other reason Joey headed up towards Columbus today was to stop and buy an air conditioner. We debated about 'sweating' it out for the next couple weeks but today changed our mind. When I looked at the weather report about 8pm it was 88 degrees, 100% humidity and a heat index of 121, YIKES! Needless to say our patience with each other was slim today. Joey even resorted to putting his shirt in the freezer for 10 minute stints and putting it back on to cool off. Works pretty well, thanks for the idea Callan. We checked Lowe's, Walmart and Sears Appliance (nope, not a real Sears, just appliances!) which were all the places that might have air conditioners, oh yeah, and The Tractor Supply store (just in case). Nobody had a 6,000 BTU ( the max we can have and we want the max!) air conditioner for us. hmm... So Lancaster is super special because they have a Target... er... I mean a Lowe's with air conditioners for us. So since he was headed to pick up the friend, and take the turtle he thought it would be no problem to stop a get one! Good thing. It's supposed to be 97 degrees tomorrow (with 100% humidity like today that would be a heat index of 174! Ah! ) and neighboring county schools are closed due to extreme heat.
The flight the friend was on got canceled this evening. Now taking the turtle the extra 45 min. past the 45 air conditioner stop will bring extra good Karma. Maybe there will be another turtle tomorrow when Joey goes to Columbus again?!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The apartment is one of 70 or so graduate student apartments right on campus and the colonial architecture more than makes up for the somewhat cramped living space. I just keep thinking, "This would be a castle in Japan." The entire apartment is floored in linoleum and has a coat of beige paint from floor to ceiling. IKEA would be so disappointed. Oh well. Maybe we'll paint one wall.
The bathroom looks really small, but its not as crowded as I thought it would be. And there's a medicine cabinet, which is more than we hoped for. The playground sits just outside our back window and its completely fenced off, so Callan can play back there in relative security.
Friday, August 10, 2007