24 Mar


So last night, I went to Memorial Library, which is one of the libraries on the UW campus. As a teacher in a public school, I can get a library card and check out books from public universities since I’m a technically a state employee. I walked in and saw two college girls sitting behind two separate desks; the one on the right was checking people’s IDs as they walking through the gate into the library, and the one on the right was working the information/guest pass desk. I walked up to the latter and ineloquently explained that I was a teacher and I think there’s some loophole — well, not exactly a loophole, but a, um, rule about how I can get a library pass . . . . She eventually cut me off and quickly explained, “yeah, because you’re a state employee, you can be issued a borrower’s pass.”

“Right,” I said. “Let’s make that happen.” She told me she needed to see a driver’s license with current address and proof of my being a teacher. I got out my wallet, threw the driver’s license down and then fumbled through my other cards to see if anything looked like it might prove my teacherness. All I had were insurance cards, which she wouldn’t accept. I told her we didn’t really have a card to carry around proving we were teachers. “I guess I could bring in a pay stub.”

Just as she was explaining how late she’d be there in case I wanted to come back with some proof, I interrupted and said, “Oooh. You could look me up on the Madison West website.”

At this point, college girl #2 spoke up: “Do you teach at Madison West?”

I told her yes.

“I went to Madison West!” I looked at her closely. Sure enough, I remembered her from my homeroom. For three years, she had been in my homeroom class, which, for those who don’t know, only meets about five times a year.

“Yeah,” I said. “You were in my homeroom.” She squinted at me slightly. “You have a twin brother.”

“Yeah!” she said. “Corey.”

“Yeah. Your name is Emily.”

“Oh my God!”

I turned back to college girl #1. “Do you need any more proof than that?”

“That is pretty impressive,” she conceded, but she still needed to find my name on the school’s website.

08 Mar


I’m not sure if Eileen and I are getting sick or if the warmer night yesterday threw us off, but last night, we both slept horribly. Speaking for myself, I don’t think it was something I ate. For dinner I had pasta — pretty standard. Earlier in the evening, I snacked on a few chicken wings and an apple, and, uh, some brownies. Nothing out of the ordinary. I stayed up a little later than I planned, researching whether I could really get a free xbox 360 or mac mini through some website called freepay (it turns out I can, or rather I could if I had 8 friends), so I should have been plenty tired. But when I got into bed, the dreamworld evaded me. All I could think about was how shifty it would be to ask my students to sign up for freepay to help Mr. Storm get a free xbox.

Eventually, of course, I fell asleep, but it was a restless sleep. I woke up three or four times. Once, Eileen was up too, and she muttered something about how the dog kept getting up to go eat out of the garbage and then coming back and asking for help getting back on the bed. Eileen’s a professional sleeper, so I wasn’t sure if she was awake when she informed me of the above, but I think I responded by asking whether she had blocked the garbage can with the kitchen stool.

When morning arrived too early, I grabbed our little battery-powered alarm clock and held it to my chest. That way I can repeatedly click snooze as soon as the alarm sounds. A half an hour later, I fessed up to the fact that I wasn’t going to get up to bike in the basement for an hour. So I reset the alarm and went back to bed. I slept a little, but not enough to feel any better when the alarm went off again 45 minutes later. Tember thumped her tail a bit as I crawled over her and Eileen, but she didn’t bother to lift her head up — a subtle sign that she knew something was wrong.

When I got into the kitchen, I saw the damage she had done to the garbage. I was muttering to myself about how it didn’t make sense: she never got into the garbage in the middle of the night; she only did it when she was home alone for a long period of time and when she had too much energy to burn; yesterday, I had taken her to a nearby park to throw the ball for her. It simply didn’t make sense.

Then I saw the little carryout box in which I had gotten my chicken wings. I dug through the garbage, looking for remnants, but I couldn’t find any bones. Immediately, I thought back to a freshman English paper I had graded years ago by a student who told of how she had secretly given her dog some chicken bones. Her parents had told her not to, but she did it anyway. Two or three days later, her dog died, and she blamed herself.

The first internet article I found was pretty encouraging. It claimed that in most cases, the bones cause some constipation but otherwise pass through the system without harm. The next article I found was not as encouraging, however. It was a horror story about a dog who had died after eating chicken bones. I stopped my search. Emotional personal accounts: 2. Reasoned advice from a certified vet: 1.

When I called in, the vet assistant told me that if I wasn’t going to be home with her all day, it would be best to bring her in. I woke up Eileen and said, “I need you to do me a favor.” Tember ate chicken bones and might die! “Tember got into the garbage and ate some chicken bones, which aren’t good for dogs.”

Two x-rays and $140 later, she’s fine. If she passes a normal stool tomorrow morning, we’re totally clear. Tonight, Eileen commented that if we were to tell our Ecuadorian landlords that we just spent $140 on our dog after she ate chicken bones, they’d think we were crazy. She said this while spooning with Tember on the couch.

What can we say?

01 Mar

This Day Has Come

During the summer of my freshman year of high school, I went to Sydney, Australia. It was an exchange program set up through my dad’s company, which had offices all over the world. I was mildly obsessed with Australia during my middle school years; apparently, my parents knew this. I have no idea what sort of behind-the-scenes discussions went on between them before they presented the idea to me, and to tell the truth, I’m not at all sure how I learned of the opportunity. But I do remember the long plane ride; I remember the family I stayed with; I remember Woolhara, the suburb where they lived; I remember getting lost and inadvertently walking through the red light district of Sydney; I remember getting sick on a quiche I bought in the subway station; I remember sleeping with a hot water bottle; I remember being overtired one night and listening to the Grateful Dead on my walkman and having an almost-spiritual experience.

I remember a lot. Since school was in session for my host brothers and both parents worked, I was alone a lot and I explored the city on my own. I don’t keep in touch with the host family anymore. Consequently, there’s no one with whom I can reminisce. From time to time in the years that followed, I have been struck suddenly by one of those memories that are so uniquely mine. Of course, a lot of my memories are uniquely mine; strictly speaking, they all are. But Sydney in 1989 is so detached and isolated from everything else I know. Years later, I did the whole backpacking through Europe thing that college grads do; I did that alone, too, and, like my Aussie experience, there’s no one with whom I keep in contact from those travels. But there are all sorts of people who have been to all the European places I’ve been to, so it’s not in such a detached place.

One specific memory that has kept resurfacing in the past 17 years has been a song. It’s the perfect illustration of how detached those Australia experiences were. The song is called “One More River,” and I remember that it was very popular at the time. I heard it often, saw the video on TV, and since I liked it, I even paid attention to the lyrics. In fact, I still remember some of them. But I haven’t actually heard the song since 1989.

Today, the lyrics once again popped in my head, and I decided to do a little internet search for the song. I had done one about five or six years ago, but I couldn’t find much at the time. But I well know that the growth of the internet has been pretty much exponential in the past decade, so I figured it was worth a try again. And guess what? I found it. I found the lyrics and I even found the artist’s website. I have no idea how popular he is, but he has 12 albums out, so he must be doing alright. “One More River” was on his second album, which came out in 1989. Employing my pirating skills, I even found a copy of it. It sounds a little different than I remember it, but not much.

Tonight, just prior to playing the copy I found, I told Eileen, “this is a momentous occasion.” She went back to reading her book after the song was half done, but I sang along with the whole thing. Here it is: One More River