Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Britney, Students, Newt, Bunnies, Reminders, and That Damn Maternal Instinct

This may be one of my longest posts EVER. Way too much to cover, really.

It’s been CRAZY these past few weeks. Between working my day job, going on a girl's trip, wrangling up college kids for finals, grading for another professor who’s sick, putting a lot of energy into COTR, gearing up for spring, and dealing with a new pup, life has been on fast-forward, to say the least.

First off, the Chicago-mid-week-Britney-shopping-eating girl's trip. I and my friends, Mock and Leroy, went to Chicago mid-week last week to catch the Britney Spears concert. Now, I'm not a "real" Britney fan, but I did wear a pink wig (see above) and worked it like going to the concert was my job. I was pleasantly surprised. She doesn't sing, of course, but the choreography and showmanship were plain awesome. It was fun as hell, and despite Leroy being sick, we all managed to have a spectacular time. We even got into the VIP room at the concert, where drinks were 4 bucks instead of 8. Oh yeah...

Jeb, the new pup, started out as a quiet little fuzzy man, and while still brilliant, he’s become a terror just like his brother was two years ago. He especially likes to gnaw on his sister, Tess’, nubbin tail. That goes over well with her. We fully expect him to be doing algebra sometime here soon, as he already knows how to open doors at 11 weeks. Mensa may want to consider its first canine. I’m just sayin.

Last week, I was offered a full-time job at the university. It pained me to have to turn it down – I love that job so much - it’s really the longest I’ve ever held a job. As a contractor/consultant by nature, I’ve always been sort of non-committal with jobs, changing every 6-12 months. But, my teaching gig has surpassed the four-year mark, and it freaks me out a little that I continue to love it more each day. If I was independently wealthy, there’s no question that I would’ve snatched the job up without as much as a blink of an eye. All I can say is that I don’t know how teachers eat. Or buy shoes, for that matter. Money is a necessary evil, and so my part-time-best-job-ever continues…

On the same day I had to regretfully and painfully decline the full-time professorial gig, I had two students tell me how much they loved my class this semester. Not one, but two. In college-age years, this type of feedback is like gold. I told them that I was so happy that they enjoyed my class, but asked in response, did you LEARN something? They assured me that they learned a lot and actually don’t mind writing now (a major feat for engineering students). They enjoyed coming to class and doing the work they thought they’d despise. This mended my broken heart in about 2.5 seconds. It’s the reason I teach, and no money in the world could ever buy the feeling that kind of feedback gives me. If I get one sliver of it a semester, than I know I’m not doing my job in vain.

My new site with buddy Mock,, is starting to gain momentum. We had lunch yesterday with some of the Governor’s staffers and got a bit of a tip that Newt Gingrich would be at the Capitol yesterday. So, of course we had to stalk him accordingly. We ended up meeting Mr. Gingrich, introducing ourselves, and saying hello to his secret-service-looking posse while handing out cards for our site. It was so political and pomp and circumstance and cool. Absolute cherry-on-top type of day.

When I got home, Mr. Daisy was working, of course. There’s never a dull moment or real down-time at our house – especially now with him singlehandedly finishing our basement, on top of us trying to keep up with 7+ acres of land that needs mowing, planting, etc. I planted my veggie garden last week, and it’s already better than last year’s. I fully expect to be a master planter within the next three years of gardening practice. I may have even missed my calling as a farmer, although I would totally miss stilettos. This year, I’m growing four different types of tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, onions, and zucchini will be planted this weekend. I used to be addicted to Whole Foods in downtown Chicago. Now I’m becoming Whole Foods. I still can’t keep a houseplant alive, but my garden? It kicks ass.

Mr. Daisy usually mows the back acreage, and I try to do the front when I can. The Dixie Chopper is like riding on a race-car in the world of mowers. It’s actually fun to drive, and so I like taking my iPod out there and mowing like a good country gal. It’s instant gratification. Who would’ve thought?

In the first few minutes of Mr. Daisy mowing last night, he stopped and came inside to let me know that he hit a baby bunny. Our eldest Dane, Brina, “discovered” four abandoned baby bunnies this week, and while we assume that Mama Bunny didn’t just leave for a life of alcohol and prostitution and instead was eaten by a hawk or coyote, the bunnies are motherless now, nonetheless. We made them a shelter out of an old bucket and some dish towels, trying to give them at least some opportunity to fend for themselves, knowing that it’s going to be so difficult for them to survive without their mom. They’re docile and allow us to pick them up. They don’t even’s as if they like the attention. They are that young. They’re just plain tiny, and it kills me to see them vulnerable to the elements. But I think it kills Mr. Daisy even more.

When people come to our home, they assume that it’s me who’s the big animal-lover. And, I am - without a doubt. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore animals. When I was a kid, I wanted to be the animal chick on Johnny Carson, for chrissake. But, the funny thing is that Mr. Daisy – tough, Carharrts-wearing, manly-man guy Mr. Daisy – is a bigger softie than me when it comes to animals. He’s the reason we have four dogs – I’m not complaining, believe me, but he would probably have 10 if we had just a bit more acreage.

So, when he came in, somewhat distraught over the bunny, I just felt for him...then for the bunny. The bunny didn’t have any visible cuts, but he was bleeding out of his ears and mouth – which I assume was a sign of a head injury. Obvious internal injuries. Neither one of us could do the “farmer” thing and put the baby out of its misery. It was just too small. I mean, I’m from the city. I couldn’t do it if someone told me how to. And, Mr. Daisy just didn’t have the heart. I asked him, do you break its little neck? How in the hell does someone DO that? Do you smother him? I can't do any of those things! Neither one of us could bring ourselves to do anything, so while I cried like a little girl, Mr. Daisy made him a makeshift bed, covered him with a warm towel, and made him as comfortable as possible. Mr. Daisy would say sweet things to him as we checked on him and periodically pet him. The little guy passed away this morning.

I’m sad about it. I realize it’s a bunny and I get the whole circle-of-life nature crap, but it upset me – more so because it upset Mr. Daisy, I think. I mean, I know I’m the same chick who would shoot a skunk. I would shoot Mr. Rabid "I'm-taunting-you-at-4-pm" skunk man. Without question. But a baby bunny – there’s nothing ominous about this creature at all. Just sheer vulnerability and weakness. Something I hate to see in an animal or a person. And, Mr. Daisy had an even harder time with it, reaffirming once again why I love him and married him. It’s the little things. Diamonds, shmiamonds. The stuff you see in movies? I’ve never been overly impressed by all the "normal couple" stuff. The impress-everyone-else stuff. In this case, it was a little bunny that made me remember why I married my husband. Go figure.

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and while my stepdaughter will be home from her first year of college, both my stepkids will be at their Mom’s to celebrate the holiday. Understandably so. I shall pamper my Mom and Mother-in-law with love and attention (while my sister and husband cook, as I’m a known domestic retard) this Sunday. In addition, I will dote on those three remaining little bunnies and see if I can’t help them in their survival in the wild. There’s that damn maternal instinct again. Life is so awesome that day you’re living in the middle of downtown Chicago, all single and self-sufficient and sans anyone to answer to or take care of in any way. Then, the next day you’re playing Mom to two stepkids, four dogs, and now three homeless and motherless bunnies.

Delicious ambiguity. So delicious, indeed.