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*Bring your plow over tonight. I’ve caught three more “mousies” since last we spoke, and I think there’s still one more…*

(ahem… just so the internet is aware, neither I, nor my roommate, are slovenly people. My mother, the queen of un-slovenliness, even agrees with me. We just live in a portion of the urban jungle where, apparently, the mice are choosing not to notice the “occupied” flashing neon sign outside!! The battles rage – we will defend the third-floor homestead!!)

surely anyone reading this knows the source of the title, but just in case… go

okay, but mawage.. marriage – it has been bringing some folks together lately in my world. some of my dearest friends have been tying the knot. In reverse chronological order (drum roll, please)…

Nate and Laura!

The groom has been a good friend of mine since the end of grad school, I guess, and at times has felt like an extra brother. His bride is a beautiful, gentle, wise, warm … perfect! … complement for him. They were married in an outdoor ceremony under the sunshine, and the whole day spoke beautifully of their love for each other, their love for Christ, and the love of the Father for His children.

it was really great fun to be at their wedding with the whole gang. (this is not quite the whole gang in the photo, but a goodly portion thereof…)

We were starting to feel a little de ja vu, though, because exactly one week before, we had all been around for (second drum roll, please…)

Matt and Jamie’s wedding!!

(but first we must back up to Jamie’s bachelorette party…)

The bride is the one between the V and the E… I’m perched up in the L. There were four bridesmaids (2 sisters and 2 friends), and the 2 friends got to plan the party.
We went out for Thai food with two other girlfriends and then for bubble tea. The tiny tapioca balls in the bottom are perfect for…
TARGET PRACTICE! we had lots of fun with this (i have to give credit to the other bridesmaid, miss Joy, (who also took these photos), for the pea-shooter idea. actually, the bride herself had been known to take aim when bored with her bubble tea, so it seemed an appropriate activity for her last night out with the girls. (c; that’s me standing in the background, evaluating the shots. We live in a college-y part of town, and so after getting the tea right next to the university, we wandered on to campus to find a spot where we could play bachelorette’s bull’s-eye.
so after the party came the PARTY – the wedding! and the more i think about that, the more it deserves its own post. and there’s another wedding after that…

(pardon the caps lock… it just seemed to fit the mood at the outset of the post…)

i’VE BEEN INVOLVED, FOR THE LAST TWO HOURS, IN A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH MY COMPUTER SCREEN. ACTUALLY, I’M RELOCATING THE LOVE/HATE FEELINGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY DIRECTED TOWARD THE PAPER I AM TRYING TO WRITE THAT SIMPLY ISN’T SHOWING UP ON MY COMPUTER SCREEN. BECAUSE I’M NOT ACTUALLY WRITING IT. THE WORDS ARE NOT COMING OUT OF MY FINGERS. BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT IN MY HEAD.

WHY ARE THE WORDS NOT IN MY HEAD??

I’VE BEEN WORKING ON A CONFERENCE FOR WORK, AND I LOVE GETTING THE EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH LOCAL INSTITUTIONS, GATHERING SPEAKERS, FIGURING OUT LOGISTICS, ETC. ALONG WITH ALL THAT, MY BOSSES GRACIOUSLY INVITED ME TO PRESENT A PAPER. ME. PRESENT. A SCHOLARLY PIECE OF RESEARCH TO ESTEEMED COLLEAGUES WHO HAVE BEEN STUDYING THIS MATERIAL FOR MORE YEARS THAN MY LAST BIRTHDAY CAKE HAD CANDLES. HECK, SOME OF THEM HAVE WRITTEN MORE PAPERS THAN THE AFOREMENTIONED NUMBER OF CANDLES.

AND YET HERE I SIT, TRYING TO COME UP WITH A PAPER THAT WILL SEEM NEW, EXCITING, INNOVATIVE – AT THIS POINT, I’LL SETTLE FOR ANYTHING VAGUELY COMPETENT – TO MY FIRST REAL ACADEMIC AUDIENCE. I’VE PRESENTED A PAPER BEFORE, BUT IT WAS TO A GRADUATE STUDENT CONFERENCE – PEOPLE ARE KIND. THE EVENT WAS EVEN CALLED “EMERGING SCHOLARS SYMPOSIUM.” E-M-E-R-G-I-N-G. BY NOW, IT’S EXPECTED THAT ONE HAS FULLY EMERGED. I’M NOT ANY TOO SURE THAT I HAVE!!

I THINK IT WILL ALL COME TOGETHER, AND I THINK I WON’T LOOK HORRIBLE, AND I THINK I WILL NOT BRING SHAME TO MY FIRM. BUT HERE’S THE THING: I DON’T WANT TO SQUEAK BY, BARELY ESCAPING THE SHAME-CAUSING. I WANT TO DO THIS VERY WELL. I WANT TO LEAVE MEDIOCRITY IN MY DUST. I DON’T NEED TO BE THE HIT OF THE CONFERENCE – I DO HAVE A SHRED OF REALISM LEFT – BUT I WANT TO MAKE A GOOD, SOLID DEBUT – LIKE CATCHING THE BRONZE MEDAL AT THE OLYMPICS WHEN I’VE ONLY JUST QUALIFIED FOR THE NATIONAL TEAM. I WANT TO WRITE A PAPER THAT IS A SLEEPER HIT – LIKE ONE OF THOSE LITTLE, LOW-BUDGET INDIE FILMS THAT SUDDENLY COMES INTO THE TOP FIVE AT THE BOX OFFICE ONE WEEKEND AROUND THE FOURTH OF JULY AND MAKES EVERYONE SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE.

BUT TONIGHT I DO NOT HAVE A SLEEPER HIT. I DO NOT EVEN HAVE COMPETENCE. I HAVE MICE.

YES, MICE – PLURAL. I HAVE SEEN THREE TONIGHT IN MY APARTMENT. There is one stuck on the trap under the tv stand, one very small one that’s been running around under the dining table, and one that’s been running around (ick) in the kitchen. We currently have eight traps set and one box of poison laid out. In the last eight months, we have caught six mice – seven, if you count the little one that bit the dust tonight.

In the small apartment that my roommate and i share, the living room (which is also the dining room) is directly adjacent to the kitchen; in fact, from where i lounge right now on the loveseat, i have a direct line of sight to the pantry shelves (we have just enough cupboard space to keep the eating and baking dishes; the dry goods sit on two snazzy wire shelving units from Ikea (think Metro Shelves at Scandinavian DIY prices). I have, then, had a front-row seat for all the mousie action tonight.

All of the mousie action that has taken place, I should emphasize, while I’ve been trying to write a more-than-mediocre-emphatically-competent-sleeper-hit-of-the-summer presentation. Now I ask you, how can inspiration strike in the presence of so much rodentia?

I keep thinking of the poem by dear Robbie Burns…with apologies to the dear Scottish bard, I offer a counterpoint to selected stanzas of his
“To A Mouse…” (the link also translates the Scottish words)
(please do read the real thing – the following notwithstanding, it truly is one of my favorite poems).

“Wee sleekit cowrin’ tim’rous beastie
O, what a panic’s in tha breastie!
[ha! Mr. Burns, may I introduce to you the fearless Philly mouse? neither d-con, nor snap traps, nor glue traps galore can keep these urban rodents from their appointed rounds of my apartment. No panic evident here].
tha need na start awa sa hasty
w’ bickerin brattle!
I wid be laith to rin an chase thee
w’ murd’rous pattle!
[but i’m not a bit laith to let my traps catch you as you run past! nor am i above bringing in a cat…]

i doubt na’ whiles, but thou may thieve.
what then, poor beastie, thou maun live!
[no, no, no – they maun not live, robbie! they maun not!!]
a daimen-icker in a thrave’s a sma request
[but it’s my daimen-icker! and i don’t like you chewing through the box to get to it, mousie!]
i’ll get a blessin’ with the lave, and ne’er miss’t.
[oh, but i will…]

thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin
[good!!]
it’s crazy, wha’s the winds are strewin.’
[the high temperature today was 85 degrees. OUTSIDE. and yet, the mice want to live in a non-air-conditioned city apartment. That’s what’s crazy!]
An’ naethin’ left to big a new ane
of foggage green
[or whatever you want from my pantry, mr. mouse, take your pick! it’s how you do…]
An bleak December’s winds ensuin’
baith snell and keen.

[…stanzas excerpted…]

but mousie, thou’rt no thy lane
in proving foresight may be vain
[Me, yesterday: Thursday night is my paper-writing night!”]
the best-laid plans of mice and men
gang aft a-gley
[Me, tonight: Grrrrr, mouse. Grrrr, paper].
an lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
for promised joy.

Still, thou’rt blessed compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee.
[Until thee toucheth a trap, wee mousie]
But och! I backward cast my eye
at prospects drear.
[the ghosts of papers past]
An’ forward, though I canna see
[the ghosts of future presentations]
I guess and fear.
[Unoriginal scholarship, PowerPoint errata, A/V snafu…and… more mice.]

PS: as i was finishing this post, caught another one. gah. it’s on, mr. mouse. i know you’ve got friends. it’s on.

The city is a discourse,
and this discourse is truly a language:
the city speaks to its inhabitants;
we speak our city,
the city where we are,
simply by living in it,
by wandering through it,
by looking at it.

- R o l a n d B a r t h e s

::listening::

The Decemberists - Picaresque Over the Rhine - Trumpet Child NPR - Morning Edition

::feasting::

Target tortilla chips (surprisingly, addictingly good) Espresso

::reading::

Jane Austen - Mansfield Park Mark