Sunday, December 24, 2006
But the food. It really consumes our days and nights, and by consumes I mean it's what we do. That and the wine.
So I'll start with a few nights ago, when Middlebrow and I made our way out into the world alone, armed only with a Triana map and some recommendations.
We started the gastronomic tour at Blanco Paloma or white dove. We shared the tapa special of the day, two slices of zucchini between which was sandwiched a green substance with shrimp. The whole thing was deep fried. It was good. We also had Pollo con campiones (chicken breast with mushrooms, served, of course, on top of potatoes).
Then we went to Bar Esperanza, a brightly lit place with seating at the bar for about ten. Here we had the gambas ajillo (shrimp with garlic). It was served in a little earthenware dish which had just come off the gas range. In it were shrimp and slices of garlic swimming in olive oil. We ate this with some bread. I observed many of the other patrons consuming Ensalada Rusa. Middlebrow, being a recent visitor to Russia, commented on the fact that it basically looked how salad looked in Russia, which is like a big heap of mayonnaise. It was, in fact, potatoes, but mostly mayonnaise. It looked like mayonnaise jello. I observed with a grimace how the patron of the place opened a refrigerator to top this salad with more mayonnaise. We did not partake of this abomination.
We headed out for Casa Ruperto, home of the deep fried game hen, but it was not open. Que lastima! So we stopped at an unknown place, Cafe Tranvia and had the tortilla de la casa (tortilla of the house) which was a standard tortilla with cheese on top. But it was good.
We came home and convinced everyone to go out with us again. We made it to Los Golondrinas , which means the swallows. Here we did not eat, but had one drink before the kids officially melted down. It was only eleven!
The next night we went to Sol y Sombra, a bar with a bullfighting theme. Sol y Sombra refers to the seats at bullfights, those in full sun (sol) and those that are shaded (sombra). This was definitely my favorite bar. It was decorated with bullfighting posters, and in the back room, jamon serrano hung from the ceiling.
Here we had solomillo (pork loin) cooked with whole garlic cloves. Delicious, with the added bonus of garlic on bread. We also had gambas ajillo again, also very good. We also had merluza al jerez, a white fish cooked in sherry. It was so good. We also shared two bottles of house wine. For all that it was about $80. For six people! With two bottles of wine! I know. It's crazy!
Last night El Don y Scorpion's Tail took us out to Blanco Paloma restaurant. We had a lovely sit down dinner. The kids had chicken and patatas fritas. We had an amazing cut of beef served with duck fat (basically), and an equally delicious piece of fish. To start we shared a salad of watercress that was served with goat cheese, walnuts, pears, and an amazing raspberry dressing.
Again we had great wine. For dessert, we shared a chocolate souffle, cheesecake, and the kids had cinnamon ice cream. It may have been the best ice cream I ever tasted. But of course they only let me have the smallest taste.
We finished with a golden colored liquor made from some kind of herb. It was strong, but good.
I should mention that the table behind us was filled with Spanish women wearing reindeer horns (you know, the kind made from felt). They were having some kind of tacky gift exchange. The kids called them "The Smoking Reindeer." They gave the boys each a set of reindeer horns. I took some photos, so look for them soon on Flickr.
When we got close to home, we heard singing. There was a small band in the plaza near the apartment, singing songs. We got to hear one of the songs about Sevilla, it was even about this neighborhood, Triana. The crowd was full of people from age 10 to about 70. We watched for awhile. It was great fun. They gave us some liquor (anis, unfortunately). It was a lovely end to the evening.
Today, El Don has been outdoing himself cooking for our dinner of tapas. We will have crepes with smoked salmon (S.T. will make these), some mushrooms, Espinacas (the spinach with garbanzo beans), solomillo (Pork Loin cooked with whole cloves of garlic in red wine), Tortilla Espana (spanish tortilla made with eggs and potato), conejo (bunny!).
Tomorrow, El Don is making a type of paella with small pasta and a crazy assortment of mariscos (shrimp, calamari, oysters, mussells, etc.).
Then we will eat leftovers until we leave for Barcelona on the 27th.
Merry Christmas Eve and happy eating to all of you.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
We've seen some amazing stuff here, most notably Alhambra. Today we went to Alcazar Real, a lesser castle from the Moorish period, with great gardens and a maze. Son and Friend had fun.
We've mostly been eating and drinking amazing Spanish wine that we send Son and Friend down to buy at the corner store, Don Jose's. The wine costs between 2,50 E and 4 E. Yes, that's about $6 max. For great wine!
We're planning a big dinner of many varieties of Tapas for Buena Noche (christmas eve). So far we've decided on mussels, shrimp, tortilla de Espana (egg, potatoes), salmon, espinaces (spinach and garbanzo beans). Did I mention the olives? They have a store just for olives!! My favorite are the Verditas (green, raw). They are so mild. I think of them as "soft." My favorite part of the day is before dinner when we hang out, have wine and drink olives.
FYI, "buenas tardes" which means "good afternoon" lasts until around 8 pm. Then it becomes noche, or night.
Highlights from the trip:
Watching "Without a Trace" in the hotel in Madrid. I had seen it before so I could follow the story. Plus, how hard can it be. Someone's missing. The agents ask, "Donde esta? Donde esta?" But the best part was the incredibly low, macho voice that they dubbed in for Anthony LaPaglia's voice. It was hilarious.
That son's favorite part of the trip, so far (at least last night, when I asked) was "when we looked at the pictures." His favorite was Goya's "Perro semihesnueda" or something like that. It's the "Semihidden Dog." And "Saturn eating his children." That's my favorite.
Son says "si" when I ask him questions and Scorpion's Tail got him to do some reading in Spanish when we were out at the Cathedral.
Tonight Middlebrow and I are going out for Tapas in Triana. Son is staying home and having pasta with butter and cheese. Sad.
It's 7:00 pm in Triana. Son and Friend are having an "early" dinner. It's the Spanish way.
Click on my Flickr link to the right to see pics from Alhambra. I'll upload some others later.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I am SO in the throes of pre-trip mania, that I forgot today was my birthday until I went to yoga and had to write the date on my card. Funny. I guess I'm losing my memory already. And so young. And then we had to do sun salutations for the sum of my age digits. It's 11. You do the math.
So adios cha-cha. That's son's way of saying "Adios, muchacha."
We will try to blog from Friend's house in Espana. And give you updates.
Middlebrow has a Flickr account so we'll try to upload pictures too, so you can see how much fun we are having.
And don't forget to compliment me on the new shape of my eyebrows. Middlebrow is SO not equipped to be complimentary on this front. But it matters. It really does. Not as much as TV, but still.
Monday, December 04, 2006
First, and I felt this way about The West Wing for the first three or four years, Sorkin et. al. shows the world not how it is, because that's way too depressing. But he shows how it could be. But more importantly, how it should be. On The West Wing, this meant we got to see how the world could be if we had a President that, I don't know, knew something about economics. Was a Christian who didn't believe in literal interpretations of the Bible. Believed in the separation of Church and State. Upheld the Constitution.
Now, and I know even as I write this it sounds ridiculous, Studio 60 demonstrates how TV could be. But wait. Maybe it's not ridiculous. How much time do most Americans spend watching TV? If TV were more intelligent, more democratic, more socially engaged, wouldn't that be beneficial for boneheads like me who spend so much time watching it?
Let's take tonight's episode, for example. As Middlebrow pointed out, this is what SNL should be. On the fake SNL, Studio 60, there was a skit about Santa being caught on the Dateline Predator cam. Funny, right? And Danny (Bradley Whitford. I heart him) made room on the show for a tribute to New Orleans complete with black and white photos and a brass section from N.O. And, more importantly, the boy got to kiss the girl. Satisfying.
This show also afforded not one but three characters the opportunity to make speeches and stand up for the First Amendment. Ed Asner!! got to make a speech about the First Amendment. On primetime television, baby.
More importantly, and this is my main point, people, so listen up: the show is not saturated in irony and sarcasm. Here's what I love: characters make speeches about the First Amendment and they are serious. They are not tongue in cheek. The show is saying that these sexy, rich people feel things and that's cool. It's smart and funny. It's okay to feel. In fact, the show goes out of its way to make you feel things. About New Orleans, for example, or the First Amendment.
And that, my friends, is why I love it. Plus I love all the actors and the witty banter. There's that too. And the blonde woman from the British Office. Did I mention Bradley Whitford? And Matthew Perry has left that other show far behind. I may heart him too.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Leave it to the January edition of Runner's World to remind me that I am, in fact, a runner. Just reading the list of 2007 marathons made my heart race. And then I found the Valley of the Sun half-marathon in Mesa just before Spring Break. So I'm thinking about it. The problem? I'll be in Spain when my training should begin. I guess if I run twice a week or so when I'm in Spain the whole thing could work. Plus it will give me the chance to run in Spain. Yeah! Spain!
In other news, I'm doing pretty well on my Finishing Books I Started This Year in an Attempt to Bolster My Year-End (reading) Numbers. I finished Michael Martone by Michael Martone (hilarious), Success Stories by Russell Banks (pretty good), The Evil B.B. Chow by Steve Almond (decent), and I'm almost done with Body Toxic by Susanne Antonetta. This last one is really good. I think I got bogged down in the earlier chapters, which focus more on the environment, but I'm really liking the later chapters which focus more on the "self-medication" she does, and on her journals, which are banal but fascinating. I have one or two others I need to finish, which may or may not happen this year.
I'm also done with all the grading I can do until Monday. Then it's a mad dash to the finish line. (I'm awfully fond of running metaphors as well.)
Monday, November 27, 2006
Number of days until we leave for Spain: 15
Number of loads of laundry I'll need to do before we go: umm, 42?
Number of weeks completed for next semesters' syllabi: 3 (for one class) and 4 (for another)
Number of book contests I sent my book(s) to: 3
Number I've won: 0 (to be fair, only one is "over")
Number of poetry month poems I turned into short shorts for my book: 2
Number of Christmas presents purchased: 7
Number for Middlebrow and Son: 0
Number of students I'll be SO glad to see the last for many reasons, not the least of which are in-class use of hand-held devices and the fear he could go postal: 1
Number of books I'm looking forward to reading on the plane: 2 (can I finish two on the plane?)
What I'll miss most about Christmas in the States: my family, and cookies
What I'm most looking forward to doing in Spain: seeing friends, drinking wine with friends, sharing tapas with friends, everything?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
- Recent five-year old communiques: Son wrote a note to a school friend, a girl, and Middlebrow didn't look at it before Son put it in her cubby. When I asked him what it said, he claimed he couldn't remember. Then later he said, "It said for and look and body." After that he told me it said, "Look into your body." Middlebrow overheard this and raised his eyebrows. I was given the task of intercepting this risque kindergarten note. Middlebrow told Son, "you have to be careful of what you write." At son's school they do Kid Spell which is OC speak for "stop asking me and figure it out yourself." I asked Son to take the note back so I could look at it. It said (and I quote): Lk for yr life. Lk to yr life. I'm not sure, but I think Son may be the next Dali Lama.
- My favorite new song: Richard Thompson doing "Oops I Did It Again." His version of Squeeze's "Tempted" is a close second. (Thanks High Touch Mega Store)
- Favorite night before Thanksgiving activity: Baking the pumpkins to make into pie tomorrow. According to my sister, Erin Alice, this is "way too Martha."
- Okay, my real favorite night before Thanksgiving activity: drinking wine.
- My favorite Thanksgiving activity: Drinking wine. And the obligatory football game in the backyard. This year Dr. Write and Donna take on Middlebrow and Son. It's obvious we will win. Girls kick a**!
- My favorite internet activity: watching videos of racist rants on YouTube. And the drunk college professor. That one's good too. And Craig Ferguson. What did we do before YouTube? Oh yeah. Work.
- My favorite day before Thanksgiving in-class activity: Giving extra credit to students just for showing up. I should go back to showing "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."
- My favorite night before Thanksgiving meal: Popcorn and toast. (actually, soup. This year, from a can.)
- My favorite day after Thanksgiving meal: Mexican.
- My favorite day after Thanksgiving activity: buying nothing. I already got (most of) my Christmas shopping done.
Monday, November 13, 2006
You are sitting cross-legged in a Denny’s, tied up like a pretzel in the corner booth. You don’t know why. You don’t know why you are sitting cross-legged, but you are in Denny’s because you and your best friend decided to leave your town around 10:28 pm on a Friday and drive the approximately five hours (more like four and change the way she was driving) to her town, where her parents are not expecting you until morning. What to do? You start at a Denny’s right off the highway. The bars have just closed, or are closing, and the place is beginning to get busy. You and your friend empty your pockets and your wallets and your backpacks and count the change you have dumped onto the table. The question is, can you afford dessert? You cannot. You can afford the two omelets and two cups of coffee you have already consumed. When the waitress comes around again, you nod, yes, you will take more coffee. Refills are free. You begin to look into each other’s eyes with the goal of deciding how much longer you can sit in this booth and drink free refills before the waitress tires of you and asks you to leave. Just then a drunk cowboy staggers over to your table. Just a detail here, but it’s southern Idaho. This might not be the only drunk cowboy in the joint, but he’s the only one standing in front of your table. Or wobbling. The waitress sets your check on the edge of the table, eyes him and asks, almost reluctantly, if he wants anything. Give me a steak! he yells. And burn it! You are somehow charmed by this character, recognizing as you do, that he is drunk and paying attention to you. Why are you sitting like that? he exclaims, as the waitress flees. Are you a yogi? This is the eighties. Yogi is not a term you hear much in your day-to-day life. No, you say. It’s just comfortable. He eyes you suspiciously as if he recognizes the liberal, yoga loving hippie you are about to become. He grabs your check off the edge of the table. I’m going to get this! He begins waving the check around and swaying from side to side. Tell everyone that folks from Kuna are nice, he says. If you ever meet anyone, tell them that you met a cowboy and he bought you dinner.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Not a Love Poem
There is no time for love poems now:
our house fills with dirty socks, small
metal trucks roll underfoot, and all
the dishes are crusted with dried food. How
did we get here? But here we are, together,
what luck, forlorn on this Tuesday night.
In the laundry room, the glaring light
reveals, too soon, that yes, I am her,
the woman you married, no longer sexy,
sorting the blues from the whites, pouring
bleach and soap. Let’s face it: we’re boring.
Instead of romance, we’ll have rest. He
might wake up, our son, no longer small.
But wait, this is a love poem, after all.
Friday, November 03, 2006
This musing sent me back to Whittenberger, summer 1985. For two weeks, I lived in the dorms at College of Idaho, went to writing and literature classes, left campus illegally with my friend Suzi, went to the Idaho Shakespeare festival, fell in love for the first time (there will be no more references to that), and basically hung out with those who would become English major nerds in college.
The reason I think back to that experience is that during that summer I read both "The Metamorphosis" and "Lost in the Funhouse" for the first time. For some reason, my friends and I were also reading from Buddhist texts. So lines like "For whom is the funhouse fun?" mix with "Three things are not long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." Of course, I would write notes to my friends during class that said things like "Three things are not long hidden: the sun, the moon, and Suzi's butt." And when we discussed "The Metamorphosis" my posse and I would say, often and with feeling, "Monstrous vermin? How poetic!"
And, somehow, in conjunction with those thoughts I was revisiting the Frog and Toad books. I think these were the texts that had a huge influence on me when I began writing. Remember, for example, the story about The List? Toad makes a list and then proceeds to work his way down the list. But when he loses the list he is immobilized and can't do anything. He can't chase after the list because it is not on the list. Finally he remembers that Go To Sleep was on the list and so he writes it in the sand, crosses it out, and goes to sleep. Is that not post-modern? Does it not, in some way, represent the Post-modern Condition? Our lives mediated by language and text. It's probably no surprise, as well, that the first novel I read was Charlotte's Web. It also focuses on textuality, language, character. All the things I love.
Also in high school, same summer, I read Jane Austen for the first time, Pride and Prejudice. And I had just read Waiting for Godot in my English class, and then I saw a production of it during Whittenberger. I also read Catch-22 that year, and still remember the paper I wrote about the prostitutes. My senior year I read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. All these texts were influential.
So my aesthetic (if I can call it that) is a strange mixture of plot and no-plot, closure and openness. I think this leads me to feel split, often. From my dissertation I now have two story collections. One, more traditional, is called When I Say Idaho. The stories in this collection have some plot, characters, closure. The other, more experimental, has gone through several name changes: In the House, The Infinite Cages. Lately I'm favoring Dioramas of the Domestic Landscape. The stories in this collection have little to no plot. They are not chronological. Some have no logic. One is "Knives in the Kitchen." It's about knives. One is "The Shopping Habits of My Neighbors." It's about shopping. They are thematically linked, but often they are episodic and more about ideas than about narrative arc.
I'm thinking of writing an essay about my aesthetic development. But I'm not sure how I'd decide to address my scizophrenic nature. So often, I think, we are asked to choose sides. But what if I don't want to choose sides? Can't I like both?
My favorite intersection is that of "Lost in the Funhouse" and Buddism. I'm definitely going to have to turn that into a story.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Last night we saw The Prestige. First I just want to say that Christian Bale is my new favorite actor. I've loved him in the last few things I've watched. This movie was fantastic. I loved it. I liked everything about it: the fractured chronology, the dialogue, the premise, the actors, the magic. Everything! It was clever, but also touching. I also love Michael Caine in his understated way. And Hugh Jackman. Highly recommended.
On Thursday we watched V for Vendetta. I think this movie was promoted terribly. The most engaging part of the movie to me was the mystery elements and the Stephen Rea character. Of course Natalie Portman was good, but the movie was very intelligent, the dialogue was good. I think when I saw the trailer, I thought it would be super violent and I didn't get a good sense of the story. But I really loved this movie, and was impressed by the writing.
The Break-Up: I'm not sure what to say about this. I love both Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. And I love that Vincent D played Vince's brother. The cast was great. I have to say, though, that the ending was unsatisfying. I know it's all open-ended and what not, but when I watch a romantic comedy, I want a happy ending. But that's the problem. It wasn't really a romantic comedy. There were funny parts, sure, but most of it was rather dark. My favorite surprise cast member: Judy Davis. My favorite DVD extra: the alternate ending (which isn't that different) which features a touching version of "Rainbow Connection."
We also watched Junebug recently. Though, as MB said, it was totally without arc, it was entertaining. It's hard to say who was my favorite, because everyone was so good. I have to say the character of the husband was incredibly irritating, and it bugged me that the wife never stood up to his absenteeism. But the characters were interesting. I especially liked the folk artist guy, who was odd and creepy.
We finally watched Amelie, which of course we loved. I found it inspiring, in terms of its plot and, again, just how it was written, the interesting details and how the stories came together. It was funny and sweet and charming.
We saw Final Cut, which I have to admit, I was reluctant to watch. But it was quite good. There were some unsatisfying loose ends, but overall, it was good. The premise, that an editor edits your life down to a movie that makes you seem like a good person, was interesting, and Robin Williams was quite good in it.
Overall, I have to say that Netflix has helped us to catch up on our movie viewing. And we haven't really seen any movies we didn't like on some level. Though MB may not ever forgive me for Cache.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
"I hear the secrets that you keep, when you're talking in your sleep."
"My Sherona. My, my, my, my Sherona. My, my, my, my, my. Whoo!"
"Wake me up before you go-go, 'cuz I'm not plannin' on goin' solo. Wake me up before you go-go. Take me dancin' tonight. I wanna hit that high!"
"You're too shy-shy, hush hush I know why. Too shy-shy. Hush Hush."
"In the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair. Cuz I might open my eyes and find someone standing there."
"Imagination never lets us take blame."
"Black cars look better in the shade."
"'Cuz there is something about you, baby, so right. Wouldn't be here without you, oh oh, tonight."
Did I mention I saw Rick Springfield on an infomercial selling an 80s compilation CD?
I thought: "I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot."
Also, this doesn't qualify as pop exactly, but I found myself singing it in the car today.
"Out of luck, out of love. Got a photograph, picture of."
And can anyone tell me when Depeche Mode became Classic Rock?
A free 80s mix tape to anyone who can name the sources of the lyrics above.
I will probably forget (soon) your names in order to make room for more song lyrics. I apologize in advance.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Class Two: Males in the class were visibly dozing while I talked. I gave them time to pair up. Most of the class (except four) left after about ten minutes. They are now known as "The Lame Class."
My question is: How should I exact my revenge? I have some ideas, but I want to know what you think.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd: Am I the only one who remembers, and loved, this show? I love Blair Brown, the star. And David Strathairn as Moss, the bookstore owner. I became addicted to it just after I graduated from college and was living in Seattle. I'm waiting, but unless someone else gets on the bandwagon, I'm not sure this will ever come out on DVD.
Thirtysomething: I know I'm not the only one who watched this, but it is still unavailable on DVD. Especially now that Timothy Busfield is back on Studio 60 (another show which, blame Middlebrow, I am now addicted to. It's actually good!), maybe they will put it out on DVD. The funny thing to me now is that I watched this show when I was twentysomething. Why did I like this show? I loved it! But it was about totally foreign experiences, child rearing and working. What did I know? Maybe I hoped my life would be as exciting and climactic as their lives. Is it? No. Not nearly as exciting. That's why I want the show on DVD.
Others? Are there shows you miss and wait (quietly, deperately) for them to be issued on DVD?
I wanna know!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
After my last post about "best novels" I found this news heartening. And, of the six nominees, three were women. Is it that the UK is more forward thinking than the ole U S of A, or what? Anyway, the name of her book is The Inheritance of Loss, which sounds good.
Other good news for women is the Gift of Freedom Award. $50,000, sisters! This year the award is for a fiction writer. Let's get out there and apply.
Maybe it's the cold medicine (let's hear it for DayQuil), but I'm feeling more optimistic.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I think that's a good standard for making a list of novels. He talked a lot about the folly of making end of the year lists and best novels of the century and such things. But he did come up with a list of five things that good novels must tell us:
- Who we are
- Where we came from
- The names and powers of our gods
- Who our enemies are
- How to protect ourselves from enemies
He said the Great American Novel is a mythical creature, like a hippogrif. He said it is a book that is still being written. I think it is almost an impossible task, at this point in our national history. Can one novel encompass everything? Isn't it rather presumptuous to believe that one novel can speak to the many aspects of what it means to be American?
I don't know, but I think I would have to have voted like Banks, choosing a novel I just liked or wished I had written, rather than trying to decide which was "most significant." For the most part I find "important" novels boring. Middlesex and The Corrections come to mind as novels that try to be important and The Great American Novel at the outset. I liked Middlesex, but I preferred the narrator's story to the larger immigrant story. I couldn't read The Corrections. I read about ten pages and thought if I had to read one more description of magazines piled around the house, I was going to scream.
Just thinking about it now, I'd have to say that the novels that come to mind as my favorites are not American, but British or Canadian. And if I had to pick just one novel? Just one American novel? Aargh! I can't do it!
But just for the record, of the novels nominated in the NYTimes poll, I loved Underworld, but I wonder if it will age well. It seems so much of our time. I do love Beloved, but I loved it less the second and third times I read it. I haven't read any Roth since Goodbye, Columbus. I just can't stand that much discussion of masturbation. Banks said last night that John Irving voted for himself.
Actually, thinking about it just now, I have to wonder why Sherman Alexie didn't get any nods. If there is one aspect of American culture that needs illumination, I think it is Native American culture. I loved Reservation Blues and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.
Middlebrow suggested to me that maybe it's a problem of genre: my favorite American writers are short story writers. Ron Carlson, for example, is one of the best. Jesus's Son by Denis Johnson and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien both received some votes in the poll. The other book I might have voted for is All The Pretty Horses, though again, it pales upon revisitation. Notice another problem with all these titles? Yep. All men. The other book I thought of was Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, which Middlebrow mentions is really a novella.
Which leads me to the question, is the Great American Novel a masculine conceit? Do women's novels, because they tend to (gross overgeneralization) focus on more intimate portraits, automatically fail to be a Great American Novel? I think maybe so. I think our conception of the Great American Novel excludes many fine novels by women, just by virtue of the definition of the GAN.
So maybe I would make a protest vote: Break it Down by Lydia Davis. It's a book I wish I had written. It's short stories.
So what about you? Cast your vote and be counted!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Here are a few.
- Soup. It's finally cool enough to make soup in my kitchen without dying. And it's cool enough to appreciate the warming effects. On the menu for this weekend: some chili perhaps?
- Sweaters. One of my favorite rituals as a child was finding the great barrels (cardboard, probably from U-Haul) that we stowed our winter wear in. As a child, it was like shopping, because what had belonged to my sister the year before was now mine. I remember specifically when I unearthed an "Organic" (remember that brand?) corduroy skirt that had belonged to my oldest sister that finally fit me. It was soft and brown. I loved that skirt! Now I only get to unpack the stuff from last winter that was mine and is mine still. But it is somewhat like shopping, because after six months, I've forgotten what's in there. My love of sweaters also explains why I will never live in Phoenix.
- Leaves. This year (maybe it's this way every year) it seemed like the trees on my street changed over night. One day green, yellow or red the next. I love leaves and have since I went to school in Oregon. There were so many beautiful colors in the fall. It's the same here. I love the intense yellows appearing all over. I collect the leaves with Son and press them in the Dictionary or the Riverside Shakespeare. I vow we will make some beautiful art project with these leaves. So far? A dictionary full of leaves.
- Pumpkins. I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie. I love seeing a huge pile of pumpkins outside every grocery store. My love of pumpkins goes beyond Halloween. I especially love to visit Pumpkin Patches and pick my own. Sadly, this tradition seems to be disappearing. Son's school was recently deciding if the class should take a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. I was one of the parents who raised her hand to say, yes, I want to go and I want Son to go. I love the crisp air and the tractors and the hayrides. I also love the hot cider.
- Fall Break. We never had one when I was in school. Or if we did, it was called "Potato Harvest." Even if I don't leave town, or I only get 50 miles away, it's a break.
- Baked Potatoes for dinner. See #5.
- Even though I don't watch football or follow football, I do have a certain nostalgic love for the outdoor sporting event. The crisp air, the sweaters. Do they still have bonfires? Probably not. They seemed unsafe, even when I was in high school. But they were fun.
What are your favorite signs of fall?
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The New Adventures of Old Christine: While people love to insult the title, this show is actually funny. For example, last night Christine was talking about how when they are not dating women channel their energy into other things. "Like what?" her brother asks. "Drinking." (It's funny because it's true.)
Grey's Anatomy: Yes. I'm one of the hoards of people who can't get enough. Forget that the basic premise, that McDreamy would leave his gorgeous wife Addison (Kate Walsh) for the pouty Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), is completely unbelievable. I watch because of Cristina (Sandra Oh). And for McDreamy, who are we kidding, even though I find him morally challenged. And I like the rest of the cast too. It knows it's a soap opera with some medicine thrown in. I respect that.
Kidnapped: Somehow Middlebrow got me addicted to this even though the set up, kidnapped kid!!, would normally make me turn the dial. But really it's Jeremy Sisto I love. I get to love him now without being creeped out, as I was on Six Feet Under. Plus it's a mystery.
Without a Trace: I know I've said (more than once) that I would never watch this show again. I just can't watch the ones about kids. But I love Anthony!! It's genetic, I must love him. Plus that blonde girl doesn't bug me as much as she used to. And that other guy is okay too. But Anthony. . . (sigh)
Numbers: Math made sexy. Female FBI agents in completely impractical outfits (I like to mention this to MB when we watch it). Did I mention the math? This show reminds me that while math is a different language, it's basically narrative. Or the show makes it seem that way, for which I am appreciative.
Law & Order: The original. I still love it, even though the cast keeps changing. But I like the split between mystery and law drama. And they can still wrap it up in an hour. Nice work!
The Office: Love it! It's gotten away from the British original, but it's still hilarious. Steve Carrell. I loved the Gaydar on the last episode. Gaydar!
Scrubs: In reruns every night on KJZZ. Twice in a row. Nothing takes away the sting of grading like comedy and Fudge Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (MB brought these into the house. I must kill him!). And beer.
Also I watch Mystery every Sunday as long as the Inspector Lynley mysteries are on. We love our British Crime Drama. And comedy.
But what happened to Love Monkey? Middlebrow and I were the only ones who watched it. But it was good. Tom Cavanagh!! He's Canadian!! C'mon!
Friday, September 22, 2006
Either way, suddenly, my hair
has a mind of its own. The usually neat
tidy strands, fill with water. No hair care
product can keep it in check. It’s wild,
footloose, a coif with no inhibitions,
hair on the loose, like an impudent child
suddenly allowed out. It’s a bitch, one
damn thing after the next, each tangle
with a complaint or idea of her own.
Each heads out at a different angle
determined to look wind blown,
sexy. It doesn’t work. I look like that
psycho killer housewife. I need a hat.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
New favorite activity: Throwing back a cold Old Style in a hip dive bar.
New favorite T-shirt: This pink one. I bought it the day before I left for the weekend. The flight attendant complimented me on the color. It cost $12.99.
My new bedtime: 3:30. Yes, a.m. These are the crazy people I was drinking and playing the name game with in their hotel room on Friday night. They are friends of the groom. What are their names? I can't remember. (But my best guess is: girl, Adam, Lance, Jamal)
My new new favorite person: Lance (in the middle, above). He's a friend of the bride from Stanford. I blame him for the fact that I'm still tired, two days later.
My new favorite word: Ridiculously. As in, the wedding was ridiculously fun and emotional, everyone is ridiculously successful and ridiculously attractive. The toasts were all ridiculously eloquent, including Lance's. I stayed out ridiculously late one night, and only kind of late the next. I had to get up ridiculously early to make my plane.
My favorite pre-wedding chit-chat topic: The ridiculously liberal Salt Lake Mayor, Rocky Anderson. Also: kindergarten, day care, and how ridiculously easy it is to live where I live.
My one regret: I didn't give a toast. The others were just too good. I should have written one before I went. I was the only grad school/creative writing representative.
Final evaluation: A++
I had a ridiculously good time.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Might as well be Edward Hopper. At least he
would try to see me in a positive light, he
might turn his head and try to determine if
there is a best side, and what color my skin
actually is: apricot? butter? morning sun?
Maybe he would shout encouragement, one
word, well-timed, would help with when,
exactly, to discard the shirt, or what I should do,
like if I should twirl the bra, or just drop
it, still cupping my absent breasts, on top
of my t-shirt, jeans, socks, empty shoes.
Forget it. He would paint only what he can see,
hair, eyes, skin tone. Not actually me.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
How to Write a Raymond Carver Story
First, there must be alcohol.
Add some people who like to drink.
The action is mostly internal. Think
about love or death. A man calls
his lover from a payphone or a
stranger in the middle of the night.
The story is about sex, or a fight
over sex. Or they need more of
something they lack: sleep or money
or gin. They were in love, once,
but now it’s gone bad. He humps
a maid, or a stranger. He says, honey,
it’s not over, not yet. It’s not so bad
we have to quit. In any case, the end is sad.
Son: God's coming down from outer space. God's coming down from outer space.
Son: We were made from apes. Humans were made from apes. We are apes.
(Just now Son and Friend are playing, either with lego men or his knights. Here is that conversation:)
Son: Let's get mochas. We'll have two mochas, please. That costs thirty dollars. Pretend I got you a bagel too.
Geez. I'm not sure where he gets all this stuff. Certainly not from me.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I have also, perhaps somewhat foolishly?, undertaken a new novel, which I unknowingly started this summer when I wrote a story called "Still Life." My dreams of grandeur have already been dashed, however, as I received my email rejection from The New Yorker last week. It's already easier than the unfinished novel in that it's simply chronological, I have a full cast of characters and I just write from another point-of-view when I get bored or stumped. It's also fun because it's set in Idaho and one guy works on a farm, so I get to throw in some farm jokes, personal experiences, etc. I actually already used a line that one of my dad's friends said to Middlebrow when we were helping them load the hay from the field next to my dad's house. And I've also included that the farmer drinks beer at 10 a.m. when he drives his pickup around. And I get to write from the boring husband's pov too. That should be fun. He's a medievalist, but I'm not going to do any research. Maybe I'll just base him on someone I know.
My plan is to use those spare moments to write poems. I wrote a four-page story about a pig ("The Manner in Which the Pig was Obtained") just because the urge hit me. I've been doing a lot of writing in my head as I lay in bed and try to sleep. But now I'm going to try to get out of bed and write a few things down. Or write a few things down before I go to bed.
Monday we are off to the Sheepdog Competition at Soldier Hollow. We went last year and had a great time. Lamb burgers and sheepshearing. What fun!!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Also, I try to be the right combination of nice and scary on the first day, so that the students who will inevitably end up to be a pain drop and the nice students stay. I wasn't even mean in my first two classes.
But then, as I was talking about the importance of participation, I saw a student in the back of the class doing something with a small handheld electronic device. So I said, "Or, for example, if you are sitting at the back of the room, playing with an electronic device instead of paying attention, I'll remember that." Nothing. He didn't even look up. I paused for dramatic effect. The class was quiet. Then, he finally looked up, and I asked him to put it away. "If you don't want to be here," I said, "don't come. But there are people who want to be in this class. I can't make you a better writer unless you want to be one."
The students sat in a stunned silence. Then I went on with my boring monologue concerning the syllabus.
I rushed right home to see if he dropped. So far, he hasn't.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
One of my favorites was called "The Twins." It was about a woman who learned about breasts from an older female neighbor who referred to her own as The Twins. She even named them and described their opposite personalities. Sometimes she said, "I can't talk now. Terese (one of the breasts, the naughty one) kept us up all night. She learned how to make pasties out of drink umbrellas and we were up until 3."
I've decided that this is how I will deal with all potentially confrontational situations. It's not that I don't want to do whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing, but The Twins. Well, they don't like action adventure movies. They don't want to go for a run. They don't want to eat spinach, etc.
I think I'm going to like the perkiness of The Twins.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
- interesting characters
- tense situations
- an amazing cast
But here's the part, I guess, that is harder to achieve: the writing. The dialogue was great, sharp, but didn't draw attention to its own cleverness. It is difficult to get all the elements working together, moving in the same direction, but this film achieved that.
Here are my nominations: Steve Carrel, best supporting actor; Alan Arkin, best supporting actor; Michael Arndt, best original screenplay; Abigal Breslin, best actress.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"Like, I hope all this co-oping won't interfere with my tanning."
"Um, Jessica? Jessica? Jessica?"
"Like, I don't think it's like, appropriate?, if like parents, like, yell, except when, you know, your kid is like, a total jerk. Then it's totally fine."
"Umm, is this meeting almost over? Cuz I so have to IM someone. Like now."
As the years wear on, I can see this joke becoming unfunny. But for now, it's like, totally hilarious. Especially if you take into account the general demographic of the OC, which is pretty much people like Middlebrow and me: middle-class, sandal-wearing, pseudo-hippies who drive Subarus and Priuses and Volvos (except us, of course) and wear Keen shoes and Columbia sportswear (okay, that includes me), eat rice and talk about our commitment to public education. I'm totally in the OC, dude.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Perhaps you can't tell from this photo, but our poor little Saturn is stuffed to the gills with necessary camping equipment like the thinnest of sleeping pads (woefully inadequate!) and the puffiest of sleeping bags (still not warm enough!) and snacks.
Did I mention the best camping invention since bagged ice? Yes, I could only be talking about pre-made (!!) margaritas in a bottle that you can buy at the liqour store. Did you hear me? Pre-made!! What do you need after a short drive in a cramped car, followed by a cursory perusal of every campsite in a five-mile radius? That's right, a pre-made margarita on ice. Thank you very much!
Okay. Here's the real reason we go camping. Blue, blue, blue sparkly lakes, hikes with Son, excuses to eat marshmellows, huddling together in the tent to keep warm, sitting around the fire drinking hot drinks, telling Son about the camping trips of our youth, trying to remember all the words to "Take Me Home, Country Roads."
Son proved himself to be an amazing hiker. He hiked without complaining, and led us on the uphill climb back to the car at a pace that would leave Floyd Landis breathless (Floyd without the dope, I mean). He also said he wanted to be a Ranger when he grew up, and he began his training by building several cairns (one pictured here) to help hikers when the trail "got confusing." Which way is it to Brooklyn? Yeah, it's thataway.
All in all, a wonderful trip. We did not freeze to death the first night (though we could have), and Middlebrow and Son discovered a few lakes that they have vowed to go back and fish in. And I achieved my goal: I relaxed and was fun. I had fun. I laughed. I forgot about the S word for a few days. I drank pre-made margaritas, ate Smores and sang songs. What else does a girl need?
Sunday, August 06, 2006
After spending a good deal of the early afternoon hiking in the Albion Basin (would have pictures but the camera's batteries are eternally "exhausted"), I returned home to have a premature nervous breakdown. I was saying as much when Middlebrow, sensing an opportunity, said he would take Son to the park. MB was slow getting off the couch (where he has been parked, working, for, oh, forever) so Son began badgering me to take him to the park.
"Let's go to the park, Mom, the nervous breakdown is at the park."
On the plus side, I did almost finish one of my syllabi. So I got that goin' for me.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Then J.C. somehow injured herself running (that doesn't bode well for the story, does it?), and I was left to run the 10K by myself. Well, by myself with about 200 people.
When my alarm went of at 4:45 a.m. (yes, IN THE MORNING), I thought, I can just lay here. No one will know if I don't run the race. Problem was, I already had a full tank of adrenaline and nerves. What was I going to do with that?
So I finally left the house at 5:40. Race time was 6. So I got even more nervy driving up to Research Park. I wasn't the only one arriving just in time.
The race started at 6:05. It took several minutes for all of us to file over the starting line.
I knew that I had started too fast. I was tired and my mouth was dry. I just kept running fast, though, because I wanted water. The first aid station wasn't until Mile 3. By that time, I was halfway done. Why slow down? The faster I ran, my logic dictated, the faster I would be done.
I finished the race in 54:39. My goal had been to average 9:30 or 9:15 miles. My unofficial average was 8:48. (Remember, my half-marathon average was 10:06).
So I'm pretty proud of myself. My new training regimen is working!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
This is the object that shall henceforth be referred to as "The Thousand Dollar Fridge" as in (imagine this in Middlebrow's voice), "Hey honey, would you grab me a light beer from The Thousand Dollar Fridge?"
See, at first MB didn't understand the allure of the adjustable shelves. Not just adjustable, but adjustable half shelves. And the door that can store, like, five jars of unnecessary olives and pickles. And, as you can see, chocolate syrup, three bottle of sesame oil (??), and so many different kinds of salad dressing it boggles the mind.
MB now understands the allure of this particular fridge. "Hey!" he said. "You could fit a whole case of beer in here." Of course. When one wants to convince the husband to buy an overly expensive appliance, think of your audience. Shouldn't I know this? Don't I teach this to my students?
Here, then, is how we spent the afternoon: moving the acceptable food items from the old, sad, white fridge to the new, gleaming stainless steel fridge.
We've almost joined the world of grown ups. Almost.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I only bring this up because I feel I'm on the verge of giving up on writing for the summer. I've lost my will. Or am I merely surrendering to more pressing responsibilities like playing Clue, Jr. and Superman Uno with Son?
This was supposed to be the week I really cranked up the heat on my novel. But instead, (due to a bad day camp situation), I'm spending all my time with Son and some really demanding cats. And Mother Nature is cranking up the heat on me, and others. As a result we're having some quality indoor time.
Which has caused me to ponder, does the world really need my novel? (no) Can it wait until a time when Son needs me less? (yes) And is it possible to be a good mother and a good person AND finish a novel? (unknown, so far, no)
Is it necessary to be an arrogant bastard who believes the world needs his/her novel in order to just finish the damn thing? (possibly)
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Middlebrow using his brand new jigsaw to finish remodeling the bathroom and save our marriage. Let's hear it for Middlebrow!
The building of, and nightly sleeping in, the bedroom fort, using, of course, a sleeping bag.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Assertively Unhip readies herself with some stellar pool playing.
Assertively Unhip and Beau warm up the crowd with a stunning rendition of Jennifer Warner and Joe Cocker's "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong." I believe AU is gesturing in an attempt to convey to Beau that the lyrics in pink are hers. But to no avail. He sang all the lyrics, gave 1000%, and was therefore out of comission for the rest of the karaoke adventure.
Here, AU and I are doing our interpretation of "Copacabana." I don't think you can see it, but our hand motion and dance moves are amazing. Amazing!
The beautiful High Touch does "Roam" thereby putting my own vocals to shame. "Roam if you want to, Roam around the world!"
Middlebrow stuns us all with his version of Cake's "Short Skirt, Long Jacket." As AU said, he enunciated very well.
All in all, a great evening. I mixed my liquors and beer to no ill effect. Had a good breakfast at Eggs in the City. All in all, a fabulous 24 hours.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
- Vinyl, real vinyl, including Captain and Tennille (look for a favorite from this, "Love Will Keep Us Together" on karaoke night!) (I did keep the "Grease" Soundtrack though)
- A crib we haven't used in how many years?
- Cloth diapers (we never used!!) and diaper covers we haven't used since, well, since you know when
- Baby shirts and blankets I was saving why?
- Baby bath toys that needed to be incinerated
- Swinging ranch-style doors (from previous owner!)
- Large piece of block print fabric of unknown origin and purpose
- Maternity clothing (why was I saving this?)
- Extra-large t-shirts that were not maternity, but that I wore before I was pregnant and during, but that now look strangely like cotton mumus
- Nursing bras and breast pads
I only mention this because what I am issuing here is a plea to clean out your own basements. I know you have stuff down there that you don't need and haven't seen since Clinton was in office. Someone needs your old stuff more than you do. Trust me. I was brought to tears by the list of Needed Items. I feel like a criminal for keeping all that shit in my basement while other people, people without homes, go without basics like clothing.
I'll get off my soap box, but I now feel better about my own (very recent) release of the hoarding instinct. Please join me in purging your house of stuff. Your conscience and your housemates will thank you.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Here is Son and Son of Thirty-One (Nephew of Otter Butt). Adorable. And look, they love to light things on fire. They are Proud to Be Americans, where at least we can light things on fire once a year (twice if you live in Utah), and celebrate our love of all things explosive and flammable.
Note, of course, that no one got hurt, burned, or lost an eye. Success!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Here is the New Couch, purchased at Form + Function. They delivered it today. It is smaller, and so makes our living room, such as it is, appear larger. This is just the first in many future purchases to make our small home into a viable living space. Next, contemporary shelving, a mod chair, a secretary, some art, a coat of paint, and a rug from Overstock.com. We may join the 21st century yet!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Night One consisted of me travelling alone to Senor Iguanas, a restaurant owned by a guy I went to grade school with. It was weird from the moment I got there. I kept saying, "Oh my god! Oh my god!"
This is Blake Roberts, Peter Pappas & Johnny Papapavolis. Johnny and I went to grade school and junior high together. He's an actor in LA. You may recognize him from his roles as an extra in "The Island" and "Coach Carter." Peter is his boyfriend, a casting agent for "Two and a Half Men."
Blake and I went to junior high together. I regaled him with the story about how I had a huge crush on him and how he ignored me. Then I gave up on him. The next Friday at the Sock Hop he asked me to dance. It was too late. The song? "Stairway to Heaven." I thought it would never end. What's worse than dancing with someone you no longer have a crush on for ten minutes? Hearing about it at your 20th reunion.
The first "oh my god!" was brought about by the sighting of Eva and Mary, friends from Franklin Junior High who went to The Other High School. I had just been thinking about them and how we used to get together at Mary's house to watch "Dynasty." Proving, of course, that I have always loved bad TV.
Mary most fondly remembers working on projects that involved poster board and colored pencils. Oh junior high!
This is the next night at the Holiday Inn. The "mixer" was held in a lounge by the pool. It was hot and humid inside. In this photo I have just finished an extremely icy Jack and Ginger.
Those are my friends Andrea (AJ), Doug, and Denise surrounding me.
I haven't seen Doug since high school. We went to Junior Prom together. Andrea, Denise and I have stayed in touch. Andrea and I share a birthday, though she is a year older. Denise lives in Pocatello, though she left for a while. Her husband has been in Iraq for more than a year, and is coming home in August. She was the first friend that I was "ugly friend" to, meaning, she had the boyfriends and always tried to fix me up with their friends. It never worked.
The oddest thing to me was recognizing people I never really talked to in high school. They smiled and remembered my name. I saw all the guys I ever had crushes on. They looked okay, but not amazing. In general, and factoring for the fact that all 80s hair was bad hair, the women looked the same, and generally better than the men.
My favorite moment of the night was when a male friend from high school said, "Lynn, you are blowing our minds." He may have been drunk.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
All the editors and agents and faculty are great, and quiet. No real problems.
The readings have been great. My favorites so far: Ralph Berry read his story "'bus"; Bruce's poetry reading; the fellowship winners reading with the judges (we've brought them out of their afternoon ghetto!); Cheryl Strayed's reading.
Have I mentioned how nice everyone is?
I went hiking with Ralph, Jesse Lee, Janet, Dave, and Jenny yesterday at Millcreek. It was fantastic, beautiful, if a bit hot. No one fainted, so I consider it a great success. I will post photos at a later date.
The downside of all my activity, of course, is that MB hates me and resents the fact that I spend 18 hours a day away from the house. Son hasn't freaked out too much, but I think he'll be ready for some Mom Time when his camp is over this week.
And thanks to Sylvia and the whole Writers at Work Board for giving me the Executive Committee award. Very kind.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Sunday: Arrivals! I picked up Bruce Beasley and Suzanne Paola and their lovely son who wants to be called Penguin. They were my professors at WWU and I'm so glad they are here. They are both fantastic writers and, more importantly, lovely people. The Dinner at President Sylvia's house was loads of fun. We had a brief wine panic solved by Middlebrow and others. A delicious repast complete with yummy potatoes (courtesy of HighTouch) and an amazing Rum Cake (a la Strange Polkas and his grandmother's recipe). All the guests were lovely. It was fun!!
Who can you spot in this photo? Along with Strange Polkas, this photo includes Janet Holmes, Cheryl Strayed, Julie Culver, Dylan Landis, and various Writers at Work
Monday: I woke up at 4:30. Why? I could not sleep. I finally got up around 5:30 and had some cereal, then laid down and tried to go to sleep. Finally got up, for good, at 6:30, went to Alchemy for coffee, came home and made breakfast, then wandered up to Westminster around 7:45. The Registration Desk quickly erupted into chaos. But all was well, mostly.
Took Son to his day camp at the Museum of Natural History. Dropped of MB with Son, so he could ease Son's transition.
Took the New York Agents hiking at Alta. They are lovely people. I feel bad for making them hike over snow in their slippery sneakers, but there were no complaints. A photo, perhaps?
This is Miriam Altshuler and Emily Forland. You might not be able to tell, but at this moment a mighty wind was about to knock us over. It was a nice hike, and today my knee hurts for no apparent reason.
Last night Suzanne read with the Nonfiction Fellowship winner, Brenda Sieczkowski. It was a great reading. I was exhausted and had to come home to collapse in bed.
Today, Son has the flu. So it will be a mellower, quieter day all around.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Here are our woefully overexposed lower parts. It was bleeping hot when we left the safety of our home, thinking, hey, it will be fine if we get there right when the gates open at 5:30. No problemo.
Here is the stage, empty, with the people in front of us. We didn't care if we could actually see (we could) or what we saw (a lot of people, only two or so we recognized). The show was great. And I had to make only one trip to the car: for a blanket. Necessary. It was cold up there!
Lessons learned for next time:
People get to these concerts way too bleeping early. For John Hiatt: be content with mediocre seats. Woman in front of us in line recounted story about sitting in line at 8 in the morning for Chris Isaak. Who do we love enough to queue up at 8 a.m.? No one.
Bring more beer.
Pants are good.
Blankets are good.
Work on bladder control, as we do not want to spend latter portions of concert in port-a-potty line.
Cookies are good, but run out too early in show.
Engage babysitter and tell him/her will be home way past 10.
Don't bring too much food.
Fleece may be necesary.
Above all, be ready to have faith in humanity restored. Nothing lifts the spirits like a bluegrass version of Robert Cray's "Smoking Gun."
Many people, children included, can have fun and picnics in relatively limited space.
Wine and beer help people get along.
Be glad, after all, that you never succumbed to the desire for a tatoo.
Contentment is readily available; when at the Red Butte Garden listening to music, one can think of a multitude of reasons to be happy.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
So I loaded up: all the Beck, some DuranDuran, some Everything But the Girl, some Depeche Mode, My 3 New Songs, some Black-Eyed Peas, "Inside and Out" by Feist, 7 Year Bitch, Aha, Aimee Mann, Madonna, Nirvana, Talking Heads, Techtronic (pump up the jam, pump it up), Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, and a new (free!) song by Corinne Bailey Rae (?).
But honestly, I have to say that for most of the run I was oblivious to the music. Once in awhile, like when I was running down 21st South, I would tune in to the music (It was "Pretty Vegas") and feel better and then tune it out again.
I have to say, however, that when "Inside and Out" by Feist came on, I was in the middle of Hell (remember? State Street?) and it felt like a cool breeze. So I was glad to have it. But I was glad I didn't overthink the order and that I let shuffle take over.
Let go, let iPod, that's what I say.
In other news, Son and I are on a Pool jag. He insists on going every day, though he's working on his first, ever, sunburn. I bought him a "protective shirt" today, so if I can get him to wear it, I think we'll be in business. This is my plan for the whole summer: write in the morning, pool in the afternoon. So far (one day) it's working. I wrote six pages yesterday, but nothing today (today is MBs school day, so that's my excuse). I'll have to average my page count over six days (we all take the Lord's Day off, right?), but hopefully it will work out. My summer writing group insists on a 20 page per week count when we meet on Thursdays, or no beer for you! We have to give ourselves incentives.
I'm going to try to write one page right now, while Son shrieks and uses some incredibly irritating Bob the Builder Cell Phone Book. We'll see how it goes.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
First, let me just say that when I read in some running book that runners should get to the starting line, like, three hours before the race, I scoffed. With a starting time of 6:45, I have to say my plan was to make it to the starting line by then.
I had to wake up and dress Son once I was ready. Middlebrow and Son drove me close to the starting line and dropped me off. I did not sleep well last night, and woke up at 4:30, never really getting back to sleep. So when my alarm went of at 5:30, I was ready. By the time I made it to the starting area, it was a freaking mad house. They had girls singing patriotic songs. Why? I don't know. And the lines for the bathroom! Oye vay! This is why they tell you to get to the starting line three hours before. Because you'll be in the bathroom line the whole time.
Did I get in this line? Yes I did. Another thing I didn't factor in: nervous race bladder.
So after waiting in line, I started about 10 minutes after the "official start time." To make matters worse, I had some kind of watch snafu and didn't time the first mile. So how long did it take me? I don't know.
The first mile was fine, easy, if too fast. I'm not sure how fast I was running. I saw one person I recognized on Foothill (classmate of Son's and family). Mile 2, fine. Mile 3: ooh! This was a tough one. Up hill to 21st South. When I ran this part of the course with a friend, this is where we nearly died of heat exhaustion. Luckily it was only about 7:15, so it wasn't hot yet. Then downhill to Sugarhouse Park. Yeah! I showed my novicity by letting go and just running, fast. I didn't care. I took advantage of every water stop.
The turn around at Sugarhouse Park was fine, not as brutal as I predicted (it was here I thought I'd start to lose it). It all felt okay. I saw another person I knew, who did not see me. I was encouraged by the anonymous strangers who cheered for everyone.
I did not start to lose it (and by "it" I mean my normally cheery disposition) until around mile 7 when there had been no water since mile 4. The half-marathon is the bastard step-child of this race. Around Wild Oats on 11th E I could be heard muttering under my breath, "Where's the fucking water?"
I saw Middlebrow, Son and Friend near my house. I had run this part of the course during training, so I felt fine. Especially since some angel had water in front of her house, and then there was (finally!) a water station.
Then off to Liberty Park, more water there! The highlight of this section was when the marathon leader (yes, a Kenyan!) passed me, with his 2 News media escort. We all clapped for him. He didn't even look tired or sweaty. Did I mention that he also seems to have no body fat?
Miles 10 to 13 were the longest three miles of my life, mostly because State Street is hell. You may not have noticed, but even at 9 in the morning, it has too much pavement, no shade, no sprinklers, etc. It sucked.
Somehow I managed to run faster once I saw the "Mile 13" sign. I'm not sure how. My feet hurt, and I could feel the blisters. But I just wanted to finish.
And I did. I even found Middlebrow and Son and saw Son finish the "Kid's Marathon" (1 K). We got our snack bags and went home. All in all, I felt okay.
Until my stomach started hurting. But no one wants to hear about that. I'll let you know my official (chip) time when I know it.
The last question is, if I got up at 5:30 this morning, what am I still doing up?
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I was thinking about my recent cloud post. It's true that Nebraska has good clouds. But there were a few interesting clouds out today. Observe.
Here's a huge white one. It's peeking over the mountain. Note dinosaur head in lower right. Rrrr!
Here's a scary cloud. But basically unthreatening. Basically benign. A Utah cloud. Pretty to look at (for now. no lightening. yet.).
Saturday, May 27, 2006
As we were eating, and I was lamenting the general lack of Ketchup (Sonic Burger is decidedly anti-Ketchup), I looked up to see a short African-American man driving a blue VW Bug through the drive-through. My first thought was, "That guy's not old enough to drive!" My second thought was "That's Gary Coleman!" He had pulled his car forward in the drive-through and was having an animated conversation with the teenage boy who had brought him his food. The boy walked away. The young blonde sitting next to Gary rubbed the back of his neck while he gestured wildly and generally gave off an angry vibe. It was busy at Sonic Burger, so Gary was forced to sit in his car with the blonde rubbing his neck, while the two teenage boys who seemed to be running the joint dashed about attending to the other customers. Five or ten minutes later, the teenage boy returned to Gary's window holding what can only be described as an astounding amount of ketchup packets in one hand. He shoved these through Gary's window. Gary gesticulated and shouted. The teenage boy walked away. Gary pulled forward to the garbage can and inserted an unidentifiable object into it. He drove away.
I was about 75% sure it was Gary Coleman until I told Otter Butt this story. She said she recently heard that he had moved to Provo. So now I'm about 95% sure.
Welcome to the Promised Land, Gary!
Sunday, May 21, 2006
What is this dysfunctional and yet healthy relationship I have with running? Why can't I love it?
I'm not quite sure, but while I was running on Wednesday, I did think of some reasons why I run. I do it, but I don't always enjoy it. Do you see my dilemma? Not all of the reasons are directly related to running, by the way.
- Because of the anxious, nervy, (pre-drug?) rush I get while lacing up my shoes.
- Because I can buy any song (any!) on I-Tunes, load it on my I-Pod and be listening to it, while I run, just moments later.
- Because making Running Playlists makes running that much more fun.
- Because of the 1-2-3 punch of my three new songs! ("My Whole Life" Bif Naked;"Soul Meets Body" Death Cab for Cutie; "Pretty Vegas" the new INXS. In that order).
- Because "Que Ondo Guero" is fun to run to. (Thanks to Sleepy E for Beck! I love Beck!)
- Because running gives me another excuse to buy stuff (new mesh hat: $16; three pair of cushy, cool-max running socks: $23; having new running gear: Priceless).
- Because when I finally reach the dark strip of shade on the North side of Liberty Park, I feel an almost pure sense of gratitude.
- Because of the smell of lilacs on McClelland.
- Because my resting heart rate is 66.
- Because, having run, I feel I can do and eat almost anything without guilt.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I am just proving to myself that I can, in fact, manage without Middlebrow.
He called and emailed, by the way, to let me know he is still alive (wheew!) and that Moscow was crazy and that he was tired and he misses us. And by us, I'm sure he means all of you, out there, in the blogging universe.
In other news, I'm kicking some Fantasy Idol ass. I've picked all the losers for the last four weeks. If only my real life were as easy as Fantasy Idol. But there's still no way I'm going to win that trip to LA. Which is too bad, because I'm sure Chris would like to meet me.
Son and I are off to Nebraska to visit his friend (same age) and my friend, who just had twins. I plan on holding the twins, and doing nothing for a week. Sounds like the perfect way to cap off the semester.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
I liked the movie, and I think it did a good job of conveying the creepiness of Ray Porter. He was creepy and charming at the same time. One thing I think the movie did a better job of than the book was communicating (visually) the ways in which Ray objectified and manipulated Mirabelle, how he marionetted (is that a word?) her. But she let him. Because it was better than being alone.
The flaw in the movie, though not huge, was the voiceover. The book has a narrator, but it is not Ray Porter. The narrator comments on the things Ray does wrong, where he fails. The voice over "narrator" (Ray) does this too, but in the movie it has the feeling of retrospective realization. In the book, it's more of an omniscient voice that is more sympathetic to Mirabelle.
I cried at the end, though now I don't know why. I think it might be because Mirabelle had moved so far beyond Ray, and Ray still seemed stuck. And he was never right for her in the first place. And she ended up with Jeremy, which was great.
I think my favorite scene in the movie is when Jeremy calls Mirabelle from the road and, reading from a self-help book, leaves a message on the answering machine that says, "I think I may have objectified you." It was funny, but touching too.
I worry, though, that Jeremy's financial success may make the "moral" of the movie something like, when you are self-actualized you will have emotional and financial success. I know Suze Orman would like this. But ultimately I think the movie is about Mirabelle, although Ray thinks it's about him. Jeremy, however, always knows it's about Mirabelle. (I want to see the Mirabelle font.)
My friend, who should know, told me the book was based on real events in Steve Martin's life. The book is dedicated "to Allyson." Hmm.
Some last thoughts: I'm a little in love with Clare Danes and Jason Schwartman. In that order. Steve Martin has aged well, but he still shouldn't have played Ray. I want Middlebrow to take me to Armani to get a fitted dress. But, barring that, I'll settle for some new shoes. (But not cruel shoes!!!)
Friday, April 28, 2006
Anyway, it was the standard Elementary School Auditorium affair, except every person (except me and one other woman) had Other Children besides the Kindergartener, most of whom needed to cry and scream while we, The Adults, were supposed to be listening to The Speakers, most of whom were unnecessary, except, perhaps, the School Nurse, who informed us in exactly what ways our children could/could not be drugged during school hours.
My favorite, of course, was the PTA President, who announced that she had decided that "there needs to be a law that everyone who has a student in Kindergarten also needs to have a student in High School at the same time" in order to fully appreciate the joy of the Kindergartener. I wanted to leap up and hurt her. But I prefer Otterbutt's response (I already told her this story), "Where do I send the condoms?"
Son really wants to go to this school now, because one of his best buddies from preschool is going there. And I have to admit, I love the fact that it took us about 10 minutes to walk there. But it was just plain depressing, and I don't mean the architecture. Where were all my neighbors?
Oh yeah, their kids all go to private school.
And so it goes.
post-script: The nice parent volunteer from the Open Classroom called me this evening to let me know that Son has, in fact, been admitted to their Kindergarten and will be in afternoon Kindergarten. This is actually good for us, as it is longer and only four days a week. None of the ruse of half-day half-day Fridays, which is like, one hour.
So the story has a happy ending, for us. What about those kids trapped in that school with that crazy PTA president? I worry for their souls.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
- Why Be Bitter?
a) Because a Harvard student got paid $500,000 for plagiarized ethnic chick-lit?
b) because stealing is the new mode of invention?
c) Because I, under achiever, can't write or steal the same?
d) Because students who have attended class only sporadically now appear, proclaiming, "I need to get an "A"?
e) Because students who have plagiarized yell, "It's not fair"?(talk to Middlebrow about this)
f) Because next week, we won't remember why we felt so bitter?
g) All of the above?