Grapefruits Need Pruning and Blogs Need Naming

Now here is a book I’m sure you’ll really enjoy. It is called Seven Ways to Prune a GrapefruitIt’s a collection of poetry by one of (if not the) most delightful minds I have had the pleasure of knowing. Dr. Johnny Wink is a professor of English and Latin, a perpetual student of his wife’s Advanced Grammar class, and a real nice guy, to boot. He has been writing poems “for the sheer fun of it” many a year, now, and it’s high time his words were put back into print.

I encourage you to read this article to get an even stronger idea of the whimsical nature of Johnny Wink and the affection he inspires in all who come across him.

Then I encourage you to pre-order his book here, at the publisher’s website. They will only print as many books as they have orders for, and will be taking orders until August 19th. Unsettling Wonder is a British publisher, so it will ship from overseas if you are from North America. The total comes to £17.99, or approximately $28USD, and I have every confidence that it will be well worth it.

I was lucky enough to have Johnny Wink as a professor, mentor, and friend during my time at university. It makes my heart swell with gladness to know that now virtually anyone can be moved to giggles by his wit.

Johnny Wink was, in a way, the inspiration for the title of this very blog. Erin had asked me what we should name our joint endeavor, and I was at the time enrolled in the Charles Dickens course taught by Dr. Wink. It was a very small class, with only seven students—and all of us female. Being a small group, we were able to spend quite a bit of time bringing up our favorite quotations from our reading and having a good laugh (Dickens really is quite the chap for humor, in case you had gotten the impression he was all stuffy and didactic). One such session brought up this very quote from The Pickwick Papers (or its full title, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club), which turned out to be my favorite Dickens novel.

“Rum creeters is women” was such an unusual phrase; we had to know what it meant. When it was explained that the dirty-faced man was declaring women to be strange creatures, our class knew we had to take ownership of that phrase immediately. Johnny Wink, who for the purposes of that class was nicknamed “Miss Peecher” after one of Dickens’ characters, took it even a step further and suggested we start an all-girl punk rock band called The Rum Creeters. Well, we never did start that punk rock band, but I wasn’t willing to let that phrase be closed in a book and put back on a shelf. So now here we are, the Rum Creeters (for we are all a bit rum, aren’t we?), thanks to one Johnny Wink.

Signing off for today,

Puella Fontanarum Calidarum
(my Latin nickname, bestowed by Miss Peecher himself)


Make eye contact with a solitary pickle

The main university in the city where I live is renowned (among students, at least) not for its professors or its courses or its research space, but for the unconnectedness of the university population.

I don’t know anyone in my courses.
There’s no discussion during class.
Nobody makes eye contact in the hallways.
Everyone avoids eye contact in the hallways.

The building where I work is renowned (in my opinion, at least) for its friendliness. I have never worked in a building where people are so welcoming, even if I have never seen them before in my life…  even if it’s a Monday morning!

Good morning.
Having a busy day today?
Let me get that door for you.

From the lovely cleaning lady who greets me every time she sees me with a Goot mahning!
to the head computer technician who always offers to trade jobs with me to avoid the headaches of his;
to the maintenance guy who tells me about his motorcycle adventures every weekend;
to the scientific director of the other lab who teaches me about Chinese New Year folktales;
to the very cute contractor who smiles and holds the door open for me;
people in this building go out of their way to make eye contact, hold eye contact, and connect with you (whether you really want to or not).

And even if I am busy, even when I do have someplace else to be, that connection with another human makes that moment the most valuable place to exist in. Because that is the power of eye contact: the reminder that in the end, relationships with other people are the only thing that will last.

It’s alarming that of all the things they’re teaching at an institute of higher learning, they’ve not only neglected to teach that most important lesson, but are instead propagating the very opposite. So, what they are teaching is higher than what, exactly?

Once You Pop…

(Could have sworn I set this to automatically publish at noon, but whatevs.)

I recently dreamt that several of my high school friends and I were having a Pringles party at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Knott’s Berry Farm is a local amusement park, near the house I grew up in. It’s famous for having been an actual berry farm in the old days, and still sells its fantastic brand of jams and syrups (seriously, if you ever want your mouth to love you forever, pick up some Knott’s boysenberry syrup).

Pringles, as I’m sure you are aware, is a brand of potato crisps that come in a tall can resembling tennis ball canisters. It also happens to be one of my favorite kinds of crisps (after Zapp’s and Tim’s Cascade). There are so many different flavors of Pringles it’s hard to keep track of them all, hence their aptness as party food. (In my dream each person brought two different flavors and we all ate them merrily.)

My high school friends, at least most of the ones in this dream, aren’t really people I hang out with anymore. Of course it would be difficult, since I’ve been living in a different state for the past two and a half years, but even before that I was well aware I would probably never see them again. It’s not that I don’t like these people, it’s just that they knew and I knew the only reason we were friends was because we had been in the same classes since elementary or jr. high school. While we were all stuck in the same place, we might as well have had fun with each other. But now that we can choose where we want to be it’s quite obvious we want to be different places. So now I see pictures of them all hanging out together, because they’re still friends with each other, and every once in a while I get a Facebook message asking how I’ve been (but that mostly happened during the first year after we parted ways), and I feel absolutely no regrets that I don’t really keep in touch with them.

Because I did keep in touch with the friends that mattered most to me. Those are the people I can’t wait to see when I make my triumphant return to California tomorrow night. Those are the ones I want to share Pringles with at a picnic table in Knott’s Berry Farm. And those are the ones I dedicate this rather odd entry to.

Always enjoy ending a sentence with a preposition,

One Day Like This

It’s been a quiet Winter here at Rum Creeters. I’m sure you readers have had plenty of more important things to attend to, and (speaking for myself) this Rum Creeter has had a Dickens of a time (pun intended) coming up with posts while The Real World beckoned.

I’m currently halfway through my last finals week as an undergrad. Hopefully. There are still a few things I need to get taken care of, some forms that need to be mailed and some professors that need to be bribed (just kidding…sort of) and I don’t want to jinx it by saying, “So long, School! I’m outta here forever!” just to get the, “Not so fast…” letter saying I need to come back for one more pointless semester.

I only have one more final (Friday morning — here ’til the bitter end), so I am technically almost done. But there are some last minute assignments I need to turn in, because that’s how I roll. (Can’t you just hear the grad schools clamoring for me?)

The one good thing about my school’s new policy of not having December commencement (I’m supposed to come back in May to walk) is that I have time after finals to make sure my paperwork is squared away, since I don’t have to absolutely know for sure that I’m graduating on Friday. I’d like to get that taken care of as soon as possible, of course, for my own peace of mind. But it’s not something I have to worry about while I’m trying to pass exams.

One thing is certain right now: come January 7th I will be back in my home state of California. Diploma or not, I’m taking next semester off.

I need time to heal the rift that’s come between me and formal education. I need a chance to miss being in class. I’ve felt so smothered for the past few years, I’m almost willing to do something desperate just to get away from all the essays and presentations. It’s not you, College, it’s me.

And maybe, someday, after I’ve had some time alone with Work, I’ll come running back into your arms. If you’ll have me.

Rachel the Gone but not Lost