Friday, March 20, 2009

Mr. Baseball has been listening to NPR again...

The other night Mr. Baseball said family prayer and it went, in part, something like this:

"Please bless the people who can't pay their mortgages, and bless the people who need healthcare and taxes and stuff like that."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We drove up to Murray, Ohio a few weeks ago for some research. I'm working on an essay about coal mining and plasma donation and poverty in South east Ohio and this little town used to be one of the largest coal-producing towns in the world. Now its a bedroom community with a gas station, a ball field, and a small museum dedicated to its mining past. A park sits on the old mine site and a shadow of the now defunct train line still cuts through town.

The boys love trains. It was cold enough to make stiff fingers, but the train was a big winner.

We got to go inside the red caboose and check out the observation seats up in the box.

The Monkey loves to help cook. "Need a chair" he says, over and over until I bring him something to stand on so he can "help" with whatever I'm working on. Last Sunday we made cinnamon rolls and his job was to collect all the sugar crumbs that spilled out as I cut the rolls out.

When the Monkey isn't helping cook or reading a book, he's drawing on paper.

Another regular Sunday afternoon activity at our house is building with the Lincoln Logs. Mr. Baseball and I wanted to use all the logs we could in one house and this is what we came up with. The Monkey was still in his Sunday clothes because he'd just woken up from his after lunch nap and somehow we managed to keep him from knocking over our masterpiece for quite a while. However, after we left it alone for a while he did end up riding his push bike through it while shouting, "Knock it down, knock it down," over and over again.

Mr. Baseball was pretty proud of himself.

Can you tell that the Monkey just woke up?

Another funny website

courtesy of CNN.




Especially the Twinkie Hot Dogs

Lubbock or leave it?

Lubbock was windy, flat, and friendly. From the folks who gave me house hunting advice on the plane to the guy behind them who gave me a ride from the airport to my hotel to the friendly Realtor who drove me around on Thursday for five hours and bought me lunch, to professors and grad students at Tech who answered all my questions and laughed at all my jokes and made me feel very much at home, to the department secretaries who treated me like an old friend, everyone in Lubbock conspired to make the entire town seem like a fantastic place to live, and I think it may have worked.

Of course the decision will be easy if we don't get accepted anywhere else. We've been put on the waiting list here at OU, and at Missouri, and I have a feeling that Utah has done the same (though we haven't heard from them and the rejection letter may well be in the mailbox tomorrow).

Which has me thinking--there are only 17 creative nonfiction Phd programs in the country--most of them east of the Mississippi and most of them very young programs. I have no idea how many applicants applied to the various programs this year, but likely there are just a handful of writers who got accepted all over the place, which means those of us on waiting lists are currently WAITING for those select few writers to make a decision about which school to choose from, and then once they sort themselves out, the pecking order shifts and spots begin to fill. And we all have until April 15th (the national decision day for all grad school applicants) to make a final choice about where to go. So we're all waiting on each other to decide, but if I'm waiting for the folks at Utah and Missouri to decide before I decide about Texas Tech, and a person accepted to Utah is waiting to find out about Missouri and Texas Tech before they make a decision about Utah, then we are all circling around these grad school vacancies like some painful game of musical chairs--once someone makes a move, the rest of us go diving in to fill empty seats at the last second.

I don't think there's necessarily a better way to do it, and I don't really mean to complain, but rather I'm interested in my own inability to wait very patiently for anything. I want my news fast (NPR pledge drives bug me to no end), I want my food fast (sometimes I'd rather make sandwiches for dinner than chop vegetables and heat up a pan), I want my travel fast (I often run up stairs because I can't stand the time it takes to walk up them) and I want my graduate school decisions fast.

It didn't help that I got my acceptance to Texas Tech more than a month ago and I'm still waiting on Utah and Western Michigan. And now we're stuck in this Limbo making huge hypothetical decisions--everything prefaced by giant looming IFs and MAYBEs. Like I said, this isn't meant to be a complaint--we are genuinely excited about Texas Tech and the package they've put together for us--we'd just like to be able to focus on it with all of our energy, but we don't feel like we can really do that until we know all of our options.

And so we're waiting, and that's okay. It's spring in Athens (at least yesterday it was--70 degrees and sunny) and the first green daffodil shoots are breaking through the soil. Joggers and bikers and dog-walkers are out in force, campus has become shirt-sleeve-optional for guys and girls alike, and Mr. Baseball and I have already played catch outside more this month than we did all winter. If we leave this little town, we will miss it dearly. We will miss the roll of the landscape, the way the leafy trees shade everything in the spring and summer and give a serrated edge to the winter horizon. We will miss the winding brick streets and the sprawling green grass and the Georgian enclaves of the University. We will miss the hoards of children at the public library's "reading time," and the crafts and puppets and airborne building blocks that come with it. We will miss the friends and friends and friends we see at the store/church/park/mall/school/gym/theater/library every time we go out because this town is THAT small. We will miss the mix of Appalachian pragmatism and Academic progressiveness that has always seemed to have room for our broad religious and political ideas. We will miss the smell of Court Street at lunch time, the glow of sunset on the Hocking River, and the quiet of Campus during the University breaks.

But enough worrying about that, at least while we're still waiting.

P.S. The hotel wasn't nearly as bad as the reviewers on Trip Advisor suggested, though it may have been luck of the draw. It was hardly the Ritz (it was hardly a Best Western), but it was free, and it was clean, and the kitchen lent me a spoon so I could eat the pint of ice cream I bought at CVS, so all in all a pretty sweet deal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On the tarmac

Waiting for the captain to tell me to put my electronic devices away and just wanted to share some of the online reviews of the hotel I'm staying at in Lubbock.

From Trip Advisor:

"Possibly the worst place I have ever stayed. Football weekend in Lubbock
$169 per night for a dirty room that was in terrible shape. Found Roaches on the
walls. Sinks would not drain. Bed was bad. When we told the front desk of the
roach problem, they said that they already knew it.... My wife got up at 6AM
because she had enough. so we left....."

"A Friend booked this hotel because it was close to Texas Tech. The hotel
required us to book 2 nights. We barely made it thru one.The commode was broke
and had to be pulled up and a new ring had to be put underneath it. The handle
on the faucet broke off. When we asked for 1 night to be refunded. They refused.
Overpriced. Check around. Comfort suites better and cheaper."

"This hotel on their website represents itself as being refurbished and
because it was close to our son's school we booked it for two nights during a
recent stay. When we checked in and directed to our room I was disgusted and
went to pick up the phone to call the front desk, the phone wires had been cut
from the wall. There was a smoke dectector hanging from the celing with no
battery in it. The toilet was filthy with ground in rusted stains from being so
old, the bath tub had so many rusted stains in it also. My husband was desperate
to take a shower so he turned on the hot water and the water barely trickled
out, he turned it to cold and the water pressure increased slightly, however it
was freezing water. At that time I used my cell phone to call the manager up to
the room. I asked him about the website stating that their rooms had been
refurbished and he said that is only on the first floor, and when I asked to be
moved he said they had no other rooms left. He then fiddled with the taps on the
shower and asked "If we wanted a hot or cold shower"?I told him that we could
not stay there because the room was disgusting. He then replied that we would be
charged for two nights if we left. IWe had no choice but to leave because I
refused to even use the filthy toilet never mind sleep in the beds.Our credit
card was billed for the two nights and we paid for another hotel also. I think
that it is very wrong that a hotel can advertise this way and not

There were more and they were all like this. Now I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and some of these reviews are a few years old, but one was from last November. The QB took a look at them and said, "Maybe I'm glad I'm not going."

I can't imagine them putting us up in a hole. Maybe they've remodeled.

We'll see. I'm off to Lubbock for campus visit.