Category Archives: My Roommate


Is it “everyday” or “every day”? There’s room for both, in this world.

Like so:

“Miracles happen every day.”

“It was an everyday miracle when ‘Peppers’, the lovable duckling, took his first flight across Farmer Blackthorn’s pond!”


In any case, today’s miracle is that I’m posting a blog entry, after this many days of absence: 98. Squeak!

A partial list of other miracles which happen every day:

-Cakes also happen every day




Two weeks ago, I was traveling down to Indianapolis, midday, on the Megabus. I looked out the window as the day began to fade away, the shadows to lengthen, the dusk-light to dance, et cetera. The sun emerged from behind the clouds. For some reason, I was able to look directly at it without discomfort for a few moments. [No: I have not received new, bionic eyeballs via mail order.] [Which…hold on, I’m Googling “bionic eyeballs”. Hey, we’ve got bionic eyeballs now! Neat! Also: Aaaaaaaaaaaa!]

The sun is Every Day, and also Everyday. I don’t lend it much thought. But for some reason, at that particular moment, the hard fact of THE SUN was borne in upon me like a–well, a solar flare, is what. It’s so big that we can see it with the naked eye, it makes sugar maples grow, it warms my face in the summer, and it’s 93 MILLION MILES AWAY. WHAT IS THAT. WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT.


Recently, NASA was able to capture its first 360 degree image of the sun, via two probes it sent out in 2006. This is apparently a very big deal. For instance, we will no longer be taken by surprise if a “farside active region” decides to launch a “billion-ton cloud of plasma” at us! Yaaaaaay!

Here is the image from the probes:

Here is a NASA artist’s rendering:


I love astronomical artists’ renderings


Here on Earth’s surface, in Chicago, it’s been snowy. Last Tuesday night, Jessica and I watched the snow careen by in the front window like cannonfire.  I grew up in the Midwest; I have seen snow and ice before. I have never seen anything like this.  Our street is like the surface of the moon.

It snowed again yesterday, and then–again–this afternoon, flakes with the density of sawdust, which I brushed off my coat at intervals to keep it from piling up. When I walked down the street after work I couldn’t see three blocks away; instead, there was a wall of white, which only cleared as I approached it and walked through.

I passed these bushes on Logan Boulevard:

“There’s nowhere for it to go,” said a woman I work with, of the new snow. There are still piles as high my waist in plenty of places, impassable street corners, buried cars. I don’t know what the lesson is, when there’s nowhere else for the snow to go.

Everything happens at once.


This poem is a bruiser, but it’s so good, everyone; I’ve gotta.

EVERYONE: You’ve gotta?
ME: Uh-huh.



I hate my heart What is this wild and bad
renunciation I hate my heart Why
does it hurt me even now after so

much raking over after so much ruck
It’s hard to call my heart it speaking of
part of me that is almost all of me

because what is there that is not my heart
Tucked beneath my breathing lungs it beats
it breathes it is my thoughts what thought do I

have that isn’t folded inside my heart
Is there such a thought a heartless thought I
don’t have one When I walk I carry what

My heart on the stick of my body Or
my courage in the sticking place O screw
don’t I have the courage of my good heart

Is this my scarecrow longing for his heart
I’m scared of my heart the old rags and bones
the rage a rage for order pale Ramon

Even though I’ve raked my heart it rages
Beshrew me I know my heart is good Shrew
little sparrow will you come to my hand

O screw I eat crow I crow my heart out
Am I the shrew to it or it to me
To no one but my heart or it to me

Sarah Arvio


1 Comment

Filed under Math and Science: General, My Roommate, Poetry, Sarah Arvio

America America! Oh Yeah!

Election Day. Our polling place is across the street–a lovely Lutheran church. I’m going to get up early; I’m going to shine my shoes; I’m going to do a soft-shoe routine out the front door; I’m going to stand in line while a bemused Election Day volunteer flips through a binder of registered voters the width of a bowling alley lane, and then I’M GOING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS.

Continue reading


Filed under Beginning Brand New Things, Katha Pollitt, My Roommate, Poetry

My Life Is Not That Hard

What a very exciting day you’ve had, federal goverment!


Second Amendment.


We will see what happens, won’t we?

We will see.


My roommate and I are in the process of attacking our overgrown, but promising, backyard.

Last weekend, we headed out with spray bottles of Round Up, cutting shears, garden gloves, well-trained lizards, et cetera. Lord Almighty! Has anyone been in our backyard– in the yardwork sense of the term–since Egypt’s Third Dynasty? We do not think so.

For instance, what?

What is that? What in the name of God is that?

Jessica, hacking away with might and main at a stand of weeds so robust that they could have been mistaken for sapling trees, suddenly came upon these:

 1. Put them in an aquarium?
2. Ask them to tell my fortune.


Each tug at the soil unearthed a fresh wave of insect life, which ranged from mildly off-putting to arm-thrashing shrieky shrieks!


We discussed the fact that we were single-handedly destroying whole ecosystems, but Jessica pointed out that we were the ones paying rent.


Inside the apartment, progress. On Saturday, I opted to stay inside and put together the extra bookcase for my bedroom, purchased at Target some weeks ago. It had been leaning against a wall in our living room, eyeing me with silent reproach every time I made my way past it. “Feckless layabout,” it would have said, if it could speak to me, and I’m not saying it couldn’t.

I opened up the box, tremulously, and removed the insides.


–Wildly inexpensive bookcase=hilariously shoddy materials, which appeared to include spit as one of their properties. By the time the screws were completely screwed in, for example, nothing remained of their original topmost surface but a silvery gouge.

 –No upper body strength

–The common sense God gave a mongoose

–Zero concept of spatial relationships

I sat on the floor with it for hours, while the buttery blue sky went by in the window, curving my arms and legs around the corners of the bookcase as though it were a recalcitrant child, and about to wriggle out of my grasp in an international airport.


Finally, it was done. I got to my feet and flipped the bookcase over, and set it upright.

I had put the bookcase together with the unfinished surfaces facing outward.


My life is not that hard.


There are a lot of bunnies in our neighborhood right now. Sincerely–they’re everywhere, cotton-tailed and jumping. Jessica and I have a running dispute over what to call this phenomenon.

JESSICA: Bunny Parade!

The choice is clear.


In Doubt, Recalling Cordelia

I cannot heave my heart into my mouth.
Or one hundred-eighty swallows turning south,

or the hen-and-chickens clustering on the garden wall.
That is not all: I cannot tell you all

the scroll of steam uncurling from the tea
might say about what is, or what might be

the common bloodline of this apparent world.
Its speech is locked away, a furled

flag of an antique country, since just a minute ago
was autumn, you saw it, the gold funeral fires, the smoke, and now

come these white billions, already, each irreplacable flake,
and there is just too much to say for them–to say it would take

a tongue as old, as young, as Alexander, for too much goes
unnamed, unnoticed, more is coming, it snows

and snows all day and night and buries all the words.
But we are still responsible for them all, responsible for the birds,

the burning leaves, the climbing vine, we are the only ones
who can say just what it is we saw. And progress swells, a new scene runs,

and still we drop our lines, forget,
the silence piles up in drifts, we let

the words get lost, the tongue stalls–
How can I say how I love you? The burden of the old tune falls

out of my mouth like a stone. And do we name them cursed or blessed,
who love according to their bond, no more, no less?

Leon Weinmann



Filed under Beginning Brand New Things, Leon Weinmann, My Roommate, Poetry


Full disclosure: I’m feeling a little bit sick at the moment, sitting here writing this. Fuzzy and hurty and throat-achey and floaty. Not enough to hie me to my bed, but just enough that this blog might end up short, sweet, and sounding like something out of a fever dream. If I start telling all my secrets in a state of delirium, I’ll know it’s time to pack it in.

My roommate, bless her boots, fetched me orange juice and chicken noodle soup, both of which I am currently consuming as though they are the water of life. She is a good fetcher, that one.


I never call in sick to work. Like…ever. If I woke up missing most of an eyeball, you’d be hard put to it indeed to convince me that a trip to the doctor and a day off  might not run me amiss.

ME: But who will do all the things?


On Saturday afternoon, I babysat for a good chum of mine. He on his scooter, and I on my two feet, made our way to the Old Town Art Fair, stopping during our journey as necessary for puddles that looked good and splashy, or curves of sidewalk that looked extra scooty.  Also Italian ice.

If memory serves, this was the last time I was at the Old Town Art Fair:



When we reached the entrance of the art fair, my friend and I had our hands stamped with a broad, blood-red stamp, which later–embarrassingly–I would forget about, and which I would re-discover out at dinner some hours later, when it looked very much as though I had pressed the top of my hand to a red-hot stove! Ha ha!

ME: No, I am not a child!

Anyways, we started wandering though the booths, scooter in tow, surveying the work, discussing Art. At one point, we examined a display of what I’d call “reptilian pottery”–glazed sculptures and suchlike of turtles and lizards, and so on. One of the pieces was a bowl with two salamanders entwined around the top. We agreed that this had “cereal bowl” written all over it.

Walking back through the crowd, I heard a woman sigh, and say:

“I wish I was talented.”


Madame: You have only to find your medium.


Sunday, at the White Elephant Shop for Children’s Memorial with Laura.  That place was packed to the rafters with sugar-goodness, although the pricing of certain items certainly seemed dependent upon a coin toss and a benevolent God. Decanters, couches, Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True”: In the tradition of the best thrift stores, this place had it all.

The first thing I saw when I walked in the door was this:


There’s nothing like the dead-eyed stare of a doll-heap to put you off your feed for $5 vases, and make no mistake!

Then there was this:


I think it’s time for me to go to bed, don’t you?


Gute Nacht, meine Leiben. 

That means “Everybody put on your sleepytime pants!”


After Visiting Hours

“All unnecessary weight is eliminated…Even the brain cells needed for song are lost and replaced seasonally in some birds.”
-All the Birds of North America, p. 63

At midnight, in the sunroom of the ward,
when you’re locked in your pajamas, stupid
with heartbreak, and your throat a frozen stream,
you’ll read how birds in winter lose their minds,
or lose that part that urges them to sing–
each glad cell dying in the blood, until
they know no love but the sparse, sterile seed,
the bitter pills that flatten and preserve
their thoughts against this thoughtless cold, this dark.
And yet they seem at peace with this: they love,
they turn away from love, they wait for love
to come for them again, and trusting, sing
the song they knew was gone for good–I knew
you’d come back, I knew it, I knew you’d come.

Leon Weinmann


Filed under Leon Weinmann, My Roommate, Poetry

All In All

I was home for Easter last week; I’ve got a valid excuse for not writing. Celebrating the Risen Lord can certainly take the stuffing out of you.

Instead of attending Mass on Easter morning, my family and I went to the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, which features, among many fine attributes:

-Seven different Old Testament readings, registering at varying degrees of grimness on the Old Testament Grim O’Meter™

 My brothers went out to obtain pizza to snack on pre-Vigil, during the Butler/Michigan State game. When they returned, and we began eating silly things at a very great rate–things like pepperoni-stuffed breadsticks–my mother said:

MY MOTHER: Boys, why did you get TWO large pizzas?
MY BROTHER BEN: The tomb is empty, Mom.


The next evening, “The Sound of Music” was on the T.V, and I am obliged to watch “The Sound of Music” if it is playing within sight or sound of my person. My mother joined me, and after a time, my father. Neither of them–to my very great astonishment–had ever seen the movie. They had only seen “The Sound of Music” on the stage, when my high school performed it my freshman year, and I played the Reverend Mother. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Anywho, I hadn’t seen the movie in some time, and my mother and I giggled over the Baroness Schräder’s dramatic and thinly-veiled ill will, Maria-ward. She was forever giving Captain Von Trapp or Maria the eyeball for being secretly in love with each other and stuff.


Then there was the scene with the puppetry.

MY MOTHER: This is weird.



On Sunday, my roommate and I decided to go to St. Hyacinth’s Basilica, which is basically the lodestone for Catholic Polish Chicagoans, and light a candle for Poland, and for everyone who died, and their families, and so on, and so forth.

It is a beautiful church.

We arrived right after a Mass had ended, and people were flooding out onto the sidewalk; everyone was dressed as though they had just attended a funeral.  The men wore suits and smoked. Later I would see a woman dressed all in red, with a white jacket, for Poland.

We made our way inside. The church has several side alcoves. In one of them, a baby was being baptized, in Polish.

When we finally seated ourselves in a front pew, and after we prayed, we looked around. People sat in the pews, talking softly, and so did we. We decided that we did not know what we would feel, were we the people of Poland. The closest I can imagine is how I felt after 9/11, the hot-edged this is the most terrible; but that is different.

In front of us, an elderly gentleman hung matted drawings of John Paul II on the wall. This is true.

Outside, news crews were filming. People were singing, but I don’t know what. The Polish national anthem?

The Polish national anthem, for the record, is entitled: “Poland Is Not Yet Lost”.


Around the block from the church is a Polish bar. They had the door propped open, and many voices floated out onto the street. “Dancing Queen” was playing.

JESSICA AND I: Everyone grieves differently!


We decided that JPII was waiting for the Polish delegation to arrive at the gates of heaven.

JPII: Comrades! Come and drink a cup of grog with me!

J/K, he would never call them comrades! He defeated Communism!


So! Science, right?

1. They’ve gone and discovered a new element! It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s being called “ununseptium” until they do, which is, quoth the NYT, “a very unwhimsical Latinate placeholder that refers to the element’s atomic number, 117.”

ME: You’re nothing but an unwhimsical Latinate placeholder.
YOU: Boohoohhohhoohoo!

They discovered it by smashing calcium isotopes and the element berkelium together.


2. Need I say it?

The Large Hadron Collider is finally, sort of officially and at half-speed, up and running.


This week has been a real whopper already. A whirl-i-gig. A fiddle-stick.

YOU: A whoop-te-doozle?
ME: No.



Fountains, for instance,
have a periphery
at some distance
from the spray.
On nice days
idle people circle
all the way around
the central spout.
They do not get wet.
They do not get hot.

Kay Ryan


Filed under Kay Ryan, Math and Science: General, My Parents, My Roommate, Poetry, Stirring World Events


Have you received your 2010 Census Form in the mail yet?


You’d better fill it out, if you’d like the accurate amount of  government dollars sent your way!

In addition, my roommate is a sociologist,  and she “needs the data” like “you or I might need” “lots of delicious pudding.”

The last time the census was taken, in 2000, I was in my girlhood.

[Less cool, right? Less cool.]

The next census won’t be until 2020, and they’ll have to send census forms to all the people living in outer space, in the future.

I wonder what that logo will look like.



On Sunday afternoon, Kimbo and I took a long walk through downtown Chicago. I’m hardly ever down there anymore, and I used to know its every nook and cranny. It’s an odd sensation, wandering areas where once you made your frequent way.

Earlier that day, I had a conversation over breakfast regarding that very thing: The idea that there are places–streets, storefronts, 7-11’s–which haunt you. My breakfast was in my old neighborhood. I haven’t lived there in three years. But being there makes the heart hammer, to this day.


At one point, we walked past a long line of what were clearly Movie-Actor-Movie trailers, stretching down an entire block of Wabash. The doors were labeled with names scrawled across masking tape. The trailers in the middle had stars on the door.


 “Kyle”, said one, and “Natalie” was on another.

KIMBO: Natalie Portman?
ME: Kyle MacLachlan?

The next trailer had a window in its door. The masking tape read: “MAKE-UP.”

KIMBO: Make-up?

We dragged our feet past this trailer, wondering if we could glimpse someone inside, getting their face powdered, or their lips daubed, or their faces reconstructed to resemble aliens from the planet Scorpotoobus, or one of its moons. Alas!

Around the block, on Michigan, they were filming proper, inside of a building. Equipment stood outside, spotlights heaved up on top of whatchmacallits. Not ladders. Lifts? We stood across the street, and Kimbo took a picture on her iPhone.

Looks like a romantic comedy.


When I lived in New York, stumbling upon a film set was a much more commonplace affair.

ME: Oh, look! “Law and Order”.
PASSERBY: [Falls asleep]

Come to think, you don’t really want to live in a neighborhood that looks like the perfect place to shoot “Law and Order”, do you?

DIRECTOR OF “LAW AND ORDER”: This street says “turf war” to me.


The first day of spring was this weekend. Not that we would have known it here; we were buckled down beneath a swath of snow as windy and face-slapped-ish as ever a snow has been this winter. Friday was a mirabile dictu sort of day; a sun-dappled, heart-full-of-doughnuts delight. When I woke up on Saturday and looked out the window, and saw the bank of white sitting outside, waiting for me, and the wind blowing the snowflakes through the air in a way that meant business,  I may have forgotten to count my blessings.

Just a little setback; I’m not worried. It’ll all come right in the end.

Here they come.


Filed under Beginning Brand New Things, My Roommate

When It Rains, It Pours Emergency Appendectomies

Landsakes o’ Goshen: One month, no Wheat Dear. I know. I’ve been told. You’ve told me.

One week off is forgiveable, perhaps.  Two weeks stretches the limits of hospitality. Three weeks is the complete departure of the Muse from hence via Harley Davidson motorcycle, or something? I wonder what my Muse looks like.

That’s probably about right.


Then you have your Greek muses, of course:

That’s Polyhymnia, the Muse of Choral Poetry, whose emblem is the veil ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I’m sorry, what?


On Friday night, my roommate had an emergency appendectomy!

She woke up on Thursday morning with a sore throat [A RED HERRING] and a stomachache. I myself had been doing pitched battle with a bout of illness that made the Black Plague of 1348 look like post-nasal drip, and so we assumed RED HERRING that her sore throat was merely an indication that I had infected her as well. “Tough luck, old girl,” says I, or words that effect, and off I went to work, whistling a workmanlike tune. WHISTLING IN THE DARK: that is what I was doing!

Later that day, we conferred again. Her sore throat had dissipated, but her stomachache was holding strong, and–and, oh and oh–on the right side of her body.

“Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen. This is usually the first sign.”


“I shall call my mother,” I said. Both my father and my brother had appendicitis, and my mother is a walkingtalking medical dictionary; I could call her and obtain the symptoms for just about  any ailment. She’d know. “Your uncle had that,” she’d say. “Rotate your left elbow three times, then look in the mirror. Are your eyes still yellowish?” My parents were in Missouri visiting my grandmother, and I’m a grown woman and all, but time, tide, and strange stomach pains centered on the right side of your body wait for no man. Ring-ring!

ME: Ma!

My mother ran me through a few symptoms, which I reported back to Jessica. She didn’t seem to be exhibiting any of them in a conclusive way. Later, my mother would text me:

“Though that may not be dispositive.”

It’s at times like these that I like to call my mother the “Oracle of the West.”

ME: Is this the Oracle of the West? Hahahahaha!
MY MOTHER: [sigh]



On Friday, because I am a fool in sheep’s clothing, I left my phone at home. Most of the time, leaving one’s phone at home is a minor inconvenience.

“Who would be calling me anyway?” I usually say, on such occasions. “It’s not like anyone would be contacting me because they’ve been informed that they may or may not be undergoing an emergency appendectomy!”  Ha ha! JOKE’S ON ME.

As it happened, I had a date that night, one whose timing required me to kick it into high gear on the homefront once I arrived post-work. I walked into my apartment and grabbed my phone. A text message envelope glowed on the bottom of the screen, like a harbinger of doom. At the time, I was unaware that it was a harbinger of doom; it could have been a harbinger of ice cream cake, for all I knew. A harbinger of ice cream cake, however, it was not. Instead:

“At Northwestern Hospital. Maybe have appendicitis.”


Seventeen phone calls later, it was decided that I would go on 50% of my date, then go to the hospital, with the caveat that if things got “real” or “live” or “real live” I would hie me haste downtown, wearing my most trustworthy pith helmet. Jessica’s aunt was in-bound from Waukegan. Plans were neatly ironed, with plenty of starch. It was assumed that some hours would go by before any medical personages descended on her person in a significant fashion.  The evening proceeded as planned. Then, later:

“Going into surgery now.”

TIME TO GO! Through the foggy night, to 251 N. Huron. I don’t know how long it took them to get her appendix out, but my guess is “thirty seconds, soup to nuts”.

While Jessica was in recovery, her aunt and I had a bro-down in the surgical waiting room, which was the size of a football field, and which contained the following people:

1. Me
2. Jessica’s aunt

Close to midnight, we began harrassing random passers-by for information. “Hey, what gives?” we said. [I am kidding.] Anyway, a nurse ended up spiriting us back briefly to see Jessica–who looked like a million, considering!–and then we loved on her, hand-holding and forehead-kissing and such, and then we fled the scene.


The next morning, I went back to Northwestern. When I got to the Belmont red line stop, I realized something, and that something was this:


There’s nothing quite like a mid-morning train ride to Northwestern Hospital, surrounded by grown men wearing t-shirts which read “Authentic Irishman”, and who are holding aloft red Solo cups, filled with what looks like a mixture of whiskey and Diet Rite.

ME: Is that a slice of pineapple?

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago! It’s like lining my veins with dynamite. The dynamite of terribleness. Enjoy.


When I arrived back at home later that afternoon, I made myself hot chocolate. The cup tip-tilted itself as I drank from it, and spilled onto me, immediately creating what I would soon learn was a “scald” burn, common among very small children, the elderly, and ME!

I screamed like a hawk, surveyed the damage in stunned silence, and picked up my phone.

ME: Ma!


Now all is quiet[er]. Jessica is mending well after a long weekend. We are cooking bland things, things that can be eaten with things like painkillers; things like toast, and oatmeal.

MY MOTHER, SUNDAY MORNING: “Baked potatoes are a nauseated girl’s best friend.”  [pause.] I read that once in this pregnancy book.



I have to tell you

I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.

Dorothea Grossman


Filed under Dorothea Grossman, My Parents, My Roommate, Poetry