We Shovel At Midnight

Thinking five inches sufficient for a little while, the storm let up at 10 pm, as I was walking to work.  It was inhaling again when I walked home at midnight, sucking snow into drifts against doors and windows, and up into the sky.  As I was stamping a path to my door, my friend Ben walked out of his apartment with a shovel.  “I just love shoveling,” he said.

So I joined him, snatching a shovel from beside my own door.  It was flimsy blue plastic, used by the maintenance staff for the light snow we’ve come to expect this winter.

We began our work, dipping and bowing, scraping snow onto the lips of our shovels and tossing it off again, wincing as icy pellets blew back into our faces.  It was thrilling to be outside so late, voices echoing off sleeping buildings.  Two others joined us after a while, and we all talked a little, mostly about the futility of what we were doing; another wave of the snow would be upon us in an hour.  We justified, saying that we were getting the difficult snow, the icy stuff that could only be removed if one threw one’s shoulder against the handle of the shovel, slamming it down against the sidewalk.  But really, it didn’t matter if everything was covered by morning.  The point of midnight shoveling is not to accomplish much.  It’s something you only do once, when you’re twenty-one, and it’s February, and the first real snow of winter has come screeching across the prairie to bury your campus.

We finished at 1, having shoveled every bit of sidewalk in the apartment square; the main paths surrounding the common building, and the small ramp-like ones leading up to each door.  There wasn’t much of a ceremony to putting the shovels back, to saying good night and trudging upstairs to bed.  Only the storm was reverent; bowing for a moment to survey our work before hurrying to erase it before anyone else could see.


Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?  I’ve been waiting for a blizzard like this for most of my life.  Ever since I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter,” as a matter of fact.  Though I do hope that I won’t have to resort to burning hay and eating nothing but bread made from raw wheat ground in a coffee grinder, I would like to experience a complete whiteout before the darn global warming sets in further.

This storm has such a bad reputation that evening classes were cancelled and a two-hour late start was set for tomorrow before it even started snowing.  Realistically, I can’t hope for more than that; the downside of going to a small school in a small town is that all the profs live mere blocks from campus.  And believe me, some of them will hike through any amount of snow and brimstone to teach a class.

I’m off to celebrate cancelled class with copious amounts of stats.  Stay safe out there.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If there’s anything I love more than movies, it is the people who act in them.  Yes, I adore my celebrities.  I track them on Twitter, I see what their upcoming projects are on IMDB, I laugh at their failings in US Magazine.  But mostly, I wait all year for the Academy Awards, where all my favorite people come together to wear gorgeous clothes, to drink large quantities of champagne without shame, and to receive deserved (and undeserved) awards for their craft.  I love to see actors as themselves.  I love that Julia Roberts is left-handed (she faked it in Erin Brockovich because the real woman is a righty).  I love that Natalie Portman makes dirty jokes and Nicole Kidman is from Australia (which I realize after 10 minutes of “where did this accent come from?”).  I love that half of them can’t figure out which side of the stage to exit on, even though they’ve been watching people up there ALL NIGHT.

I love how giddy everyone is, how wide a berth Meryl Streep is given as she sashays down the red carpet in a bubble of touchmenoti’vebeenwinningOscarssincebeforeyouwereborn.  I love it when Ryan Seacrest practically has to beg to get an actor to come and talk to him.  I love when they ignore him and continue posing for the press.  I love the transparent jokes he makes to hide the fact that he just got the cold shoulder.

I love this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And I think this is hilarious:

Stay gold, everyone.  And if you don’t, make a quick exit to the powder room, because the cameras will be on you.


Rolling The R’s

I slept until 1 pm this afternoon, only stirring when a poster fell in my room.

Since then, it seems, I’ve been staring at my computer screen, flipping between a blank word document and various non-related websites.  It’s the first paper of the semester, a mere 2 pager, and I’m procrastinating with everything I’ve got.  And so it goes (Jeopardy clue yesterday: in which novel is that phrase frequently repeated?).

It’s due at noon tomorrow, it’s only a literary analysis.  I’ve had to write dozens of them.  It’s on a book that looks like this:

Maybe I should just write the thing.



Thursday in Two Parts

You’ll hear me talk about this a lot, but I’ve always known Thursdays to be spectacular.  There’s just something about them.

Maybe today’s general splendor had to do with the fact that yesterday, a compadre of mine posted on Facebook that he was at the Sherman Alexie meetngreet.  I immediately commented, practically offering him my soul in exchange for an autograph.  And you know what?  I found out today that he got it.  I have yet to see the dear thing, but rest assured, it will soon hang (framed, probably) above my bed.  This is meant to read as inspirational, not creepy, by the way.  I admire him as a writer, you guys.  Yes, I may want to marry him.  But only a little.

Continuing with the spectacular theme (albeit a different kind of spectacular), and for those of you who seem to like my Clumsy Barista sagas a little too much, here’s an incident that happened today:

Someone asked for a Mint Cooler, except they didn’t want coffee in it.  Okay.  White chocolate powder and a few pumps liquid white chocolate into the blender.  Stir with spoon until mixture resembles thick icing.  Then decide to let machine do the work; press ‘blend.’  Machine coughs twice and then comes to a sludgy-sounding stop.  The sticky white chocolate mass has jammed up the blade.  What now?  Clearly we need some liquid in this thing, or it won’t work.  Dump out goo.  Try again with more liquid white chocolate, less powder.  Feel nauseated by the amount of sugar in this drink.  It doesn’t work anyway;  dump into sink, spilling a little.  Girl who ordered this disaster, who is waiting good-naturedly, trying not to laugh, tips me off that when other baristas make this drink for her, they usually just use milk instead of coffee.  Oh.  Milk, white chocolate powder, white chocolate liquid.  Blend.  Perfect.  I give her a few extra Andes Mints on top to make up for her ten minute wait.  Consider eating one myself, but it’s Lent, and some bozo decided to give up sweets.  A rush starts up then, and I am kept busy until my replacement arrives and laughs at my mess: one gummy blender, one counter streaked with white chocolate powder, four Andes wrappers, several dirty spoons, a puddle of whipped cream and a half empty gallon of skim.  I tell her I’ll clean it up.  She looks relieved.