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Archive for the 'The Life Domestic' Category

Project Elissa

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I am the Bravo reality tv lineup in real life.

On Project Runway Elissa, I sewed a dress to wear to Paige and Trent’s rehearsal dinner. It took a lot longer than one day to do so. Sorry, Nina.

On Shear Genius Nerd, I cut Noel’s hair. He hadn’t been shorn since Josh and Corinne’s wedding at the beginning of June, so there was a lot of curl to tame. Good thing there was a lot of Olympics to watch.

On Top Only Chef, I baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for a church fellowship. Unfortunately, we did not have time to let the dough rest for 36 hours, but the cookies that chilled for 18 hours were, according to Noel, superior to the cookies that chilled for only 6. Not much of a Quickfire Challenge.

Bubbly and Lovely

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

We were walking hand in hand through our neighborhood tonight.

The man in the white t-shirt and jeans stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, twiddling his cigarette between his fingers and eying us intently.

“You’re bubbly.”

He said, pointing to Noel.

“You’re lovely.”

He said, pointing to me.

And then, with the man clearly pleased with this couplet, we parted.

Resting, Resting

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Things I am not doing this summer include: taking a language class, writing a chapter, and spending inordinate amounts of time in the library.

Things I am doing this summer include: helping plan two weddings and execute four, watering my garden, remembering why I love contemporary art, traveling, assembling friends’ Ikea dresser, getting a piercing, eating as many meals as possible in my backyard, learning about hospitality, learning about twitter, trimming a chapter into an article, researching evidence of ethnic profiling in World War II visual culture, and running 6 miles.


A House Full of Poets

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Most of you know are familiar with our cat, Whittier Anique, that fluffy, fully-declawed ball of terror who has a beautiful appearance and an ugly personality. Though the previous owner named the cat after the Quaker (read, ‘pacifist’) poet John Greenleaf Whittier, Whittier has never really evidenced much of a commitment to peace.

We adopted her as a teenage cat, but the relative solitude of her kittenhood had prepared her poorly for our frequent house guests. Her petulance is widely reported upon; visitors exchange tales of derring do regarding how close they were or were not able to get petting Whittier. She has bitten younger siblings, hissed at inquisitive neighbors, and once, upon her untimely escape from our Chattanooga home, dispatched a bigger alley cat by sheer fierceness of personality.

We told her that a change was in order. That she was not participating in our family vision to be a warm and hospitable home. That she needed to make an effort at sociability. Thus far, she has not responded. She remains a privately lovable, publicly cantankerous, ridiculously good looking cat.

whittier in the grass

And so, after some reading, we decided that it was time to introduce someone new to the mix. A cat with a resolutely amiable personality that will hopefully unleash Whittier’s inner social butterfly.


Pinksy will be joining the Weichbrodt household this weekend.

Pinsky hails from a corn farm in Iowa, the childhood home of one of my fellow grad students. Her parents had a single abandoned kitten from a recent litter and they wanted to send her to a good home. After being assured that the kitten (a) had an extraordinarily people friendly personality and (b) color-coordinated with Whittier, we agreed to adopt.

You may be wondering, “Pinsky? Have the Weichbrodt’s no taste in cat names?” The answer may still be affirmative, but the choice is not without its reason: we were simply trying to thematize. Since we already have one female cat carrying the somewhat androgynous last name of a male poet, we thought we might as well keep things going. Robert Pinksy is the former Poet Laureate of the United States and the recent academic adviser for poet-laureate-in-the-making, R. David Macey. You may also recognize him as the moderator of the Colbert Report’s Meta-Free-Phor All.

It will be an exciting week of cat isolation, monitored visitations, and home exploration. There will be pictures. And stories. For what’s the point of having a house full of poets if you don’t get stories out of their residencies?

Soccer, Marriage, and the Incarnation

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I am married to a man who loves soccer.


I myself have always preferred soccer to the ridiculously torpid pace of baseball, the erratic momentum of American football, and the braggadocio of professional basketball, but I never quite imagined living a life that would include:

Now, lest anyone be either too impressed or appalled, I tend to do these things in the company of said soccer fanatic, a state of affairs which makes it all a little less sad and, perhaps, a little more theologically sound.

Marriage is a relationship that can only exist — much less thrive — on a foundation of continual and mutual self-sacrifice. Jesus’ example is clear: by taking on flesh to live and die, He became like those He loved. In ministry, particularly overseas, Christians widely embrace the idea of living among those whom they serve; by eating the food, wearing the clothes, and singing the songs of the people who surround them, they live out Christ’s love. Yet, particularly in my early college years, I worried about ‘losing’ myself when I got married. I saw my identity as something I needed to protect, something that should never really be compromised by a man. I would have, of course, told you that marriage should be a selfless relationship, but I imagined such sacrifice taking place on the more grand and dramatic stage of, say, ‘life goals’ or ‘caring for an ailing spouse.’


What I’ve been learning for the past two and a half years, though, is that the Incarnation is realized most truly in the mundane. It is echoed when I ask Noel to teach me how to punt a soccer ball. It’s knowing — and caring — where Samuel Eto’o plays next year. For Noel, it means asking for rice with dinner or going to a slew of gallery openings.

Pursuing an incarnational marriage means that I’m watching the Copa America tonight — US versus Argentina — and that I can’t wait.

In Loving Memory of Helga

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

In my quest to re-landscape our front yard, I have been making daily morning sojourns to our neighborhood park’s mountains of mulch. One of the perks of living in University City is that they randomly provide free mulch in the community park…towering, smelly piles of woods chips and peat moss created from the byproducts of the neighborhood. Every morning I pull up in our sweet little Jetta, Schmitterling, next to the quivering heaps of organic decay, pull out our two recycling bins and a shovel, and proceed to funnel a corner of a mulch mountain into my plastic box.

Schmitty Among the Plants

I realize, of course, that I look ridiculous. Schmitty is a petite, silvery, and kind of trendy. When she parks next to the other regulars at the mulch pile — the contractors’ white pick-ups, the gardening devotee’s Forerunners, or the occasional minivan with the middle seat removed — she seems pitiably unfit to haul large quantities of gardening stuffs. The contractors and experienced gardeners pitch huge amounts of furry peat moss into their truck beds or specially dedicated army of garden buckets; I precariously toddle about with a canary yellow recycling bin loaded down with wood bits. Sometimes, they look at me sadly, wondering when I’ll realize that my Jetta has no place in the world of committed gardening.

I love Schmitterling, but sometimes, particularly when I am loading mulch into plastic containers, I wonder what life would have been like if Helga was still with us. Helga was Noel’s previous vehicle, a 1994 GMC 1500 extended cab truck, who wore her 100,000+ miles proudly. Helga was big, blue, and big. When I first started driving her, I was slightly frightened; that solid Norsewoman could take a skinny half-Japanese girl any day. Soon, though, we developed a valuable working relationship, together inspiring truck drivers throughout the greater Chattanooga area to commit double takes when they saw us.

Shiny Helga

Helga loved to cart stuff around. She carried Goodwill couches, Bagpipe issues, groceries, luggage, oversized rolls of watercolor paper, and adventurous 2nd South residents in her spacious bed. She would have liked carrying mulch for me, I think.

We’re not sure where Helga is now. The last we heard of her, she was heading south, purchased by a nice Mexican from Atlanta who planned to take her across the border for his family to use. Sometimes I worry about her; how would a northern lady take to the warmer southern climate? Though I can’t say for certain that she’s in a better place, I think she’ll be okay. I still miss her, though, especially among the mulch mountains.

A Fortnight’s Preparation for a Pacific Journey

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Back when my predilection for historical fiction was deep and true, I used to revel in the unending descriptions of “preparations” for heading west. I can’t entirely explain this fascination, but I adored the lists of supplies and the painstaking details of curing meat and finishing quilts. I had no idea what 10 yards of blue calico looked like but, by golly, I knew you needed it out west.

And why should the farthest west be any different? Packing to go home to Hawaii can be something of an endeavor. About two or three weeks out, my mom approaches me with a list of goods she needs me to transport to her island home. Most of her requests are for gifts, but they’re all items you can’t get in Hawaii: Bath and Body soaps, Trader Joe’s bottled bruschetta, packages of dried cherries, and canned boysenberries. Oh, and really cheap Gap t-shirts. While the list’s content generally remains steady, quantities fluctuate — or generally trend upwards — for the remaining time until my departure.

Though the time allowance may seem generous, you have to allow for the unexpected. Trader Joe’s might only have six bottles when I need twelve. I need to locate bubble wrap. Canned boysenberries can be hard to find and require grocery store hopping. Suitcases need to be weighed, but we don’t have a scale. How, exactly, does one pack a dozen bottles of antibacterial soap in assorted scents to prevent leakage? And, by golly, someone needs to get those 10 yards of blue calico.