Wednesday, December 26, 2007
We decorated the cookies! And they were the best Christmas cookies ever. Notice the kangaroo. We have two kinds of cookie cutters: Christmas and animals. We used both.
The Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake. Delicious for Christmas breakfast.
Middlebrow is manly. He got an Ops Knife ("not a weapon. For use as a tool only.") and some binoculars. If you have any Special Ops, he's the man for the job.
The post-present mess. The table is filled with Son's presents. MB is wearing the Smartwool running shirt I gave him. We had a Smartwool Christmas at our house. I also gave him Smartwool running socks and he gave me a sweater. Warm and toasty, but soft.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Son only likes cutting out, frosting and eating the cookies. Therefore he couldn't be bothered to help me mix yesterday. Also, his finger hurt. So I had to do the mixing myself, which made me testy. Why do I do it if no one cares? Later, of course, I realized they do care, but not about the same stages I do. Also, I'm the mom, which requires that I do the non-glamorous parts of the job.
Yesterday I also cooked the pork and made the red chile sauce for the tamales. Then today I shredded the pork, cooked and shredded the chicken, and prepared the chicken filling. MB did help with mixing the dough and making/rolling the tamales. He was a good sport.
Then we could finally relax while the tamales steamed. I made some rice. We bought refried beans at Rico yesterday, so we were prepared for the meal. I was going to make a salad, but I let that go.
Verdict: delicious! The fancy (golden raisins and sherry, olives, poblano chile) chicken filling was too much for MB, though he liked it. He preferred the more basic pork filling. Both were great, and we have about 29 tamales left, so I'm putting some in the freezer for our normal lives when we don't make such labor intensive meals. (I'll post some pics later)
But I'm glad we made tamales! And I'm glad we're done!
Tomorrow we eat leftovers and veggies and that salad. But now I have to make frosting so Son can do what he does best: frost his little heart out (and cover the breakfast nook in sugar, etc.).
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The other best present: dinner with the girls at Martine. Delicious! We had...what? Chorizo and red peppers with polenta(so good), portabello mushroom stuffed with shrimp (also good), clams with some kind of red sauce (also the best!), lamb meatballs, scallops and so much more! (i.e., red wine)
Then I came home and there was another present for me!! And MB had organized the whole house. We went to IKEA again on Monday for shelves and other organizational aids, so our house is basically tip-top.
Actually it's warm and cozy and very Christmasy.
We will make sugar cookies on Saturday, maybe other cookies on Sunday (MB's diet really interferes with the baking!), and tamales on Saturday. Then maybe some kind of meat, etc, for Christmas. Oh! I also want to make a cranberry cake for Christmas morning! We'll see how that goes.
Monday, December 17, 2007
- Ate breakfast at Over The Counter. Yum! A Spanish Omelet with home fries and sourdough toast. Delicious.
- Bought Son some gifts (neither beer nor vodka).
- Went to Toys R Us. Bad idea! It was the lunch hour and everyone else was there too. At least we weren't buying some $349 mini Ranger Rover (or whatever!) like the guy in front of us. I felt most sorry for the under-trained cashier. It's hard out there. You know.
- Searched the house for my Christmas card list. Did not find it.
- Wrote out a few Christmas cards.
- Bought all the stuff to make Chex mix and 7 Layer Bars. Must choose which to make first. (I made the 7 Layer Bars and then the Chex mix, which is still in the oven. Two down!)
- Saw two local figures at neighborhood Smiths (Ed Smart and Dooce. At least I think it was her.)
- Bought fixings for healthy dinner to counteract the sugar and spice of Christmas season. This week we are eating rice and veggies. Really! Oh, and tofu.
- Burned and ripped some CDs. On our new "simplifying" plan we are trying to rid the upstairs of CDs. I am ripping what we want (and we will store those downstairs) and the rest go to wherever obsolete technology goes to die (that would be in the basement with my cassette tapes!).
- Found green wool blanket that will serve as tree skirt. Present count: Son 9 (not including stocking stuffers or unwrapped booty). Me: 1 stocking stuffer (from my mom!) and Middlebrow 1 (from his family gift exchange person). I can see how this Christmas is shaping up....
- Weighed myself. (Big mistake!! Do not do this!! Wait until January 1!! or 2!!)
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- Don't run errands on your birthday. I made the mistake of going to the Pharmacy to pick up my prescription and it made me crabby, because of the intricacies of health insurance and compounds.
- IKEA is fun, but it's exhausting, and apparently it's inevitable that you will fight with your spouse while trying to load the large, unwieldy flat packages containing the bookcases you will soon assemble onto the cart that is too narrow.
- Tequila is fun, but too much is not fun. Note to self: do not drink too much tequila.
- If you don't bake the cake, you won't have one. I was too tired to bake a cake either for myself or for MB. Maybe tomorrow.
- Movies are good, but sometimes they are just excuses to fire guns and smash cars into one another. (Bourne Ultimatum). Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- MB likes the Miriam & Amadou album I downloaded last year and listened to all around Spain. I guess he never listened to it. It's fun. And it's in French!
- Hugh Grant is the best lead in a romantic comedy. Sometimes you just need to watch a romantic comedy and forget about grading and life, etc. (Love Actually)
- Chinese food is good for what ails you. (Little World)
- MB and I had a fine, but ultimately disappointing breakfast this morning. We will use one of Son's remaining school days to go out for breakfast again.
- MB has now assembled and secured the new bookshelves. He is filling them with books right. now. I am watching. His OCD-ness is emerging.
- Today we received our first box of Christmas gifts from out of state. Son enjoyed unpacking the box and reading the names off the presents. My mom sent me something for my stocking. It was shaped kind of like a bottle. Son said, "What is this mom? Is it vodka?"
- I'm really tired. I'm going to go to bed early.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Now, first I just have to say that visually the movie was stunning and really interesting, perhaps one of the more aesthetically interesting I've seen. And parts of it were very funny. I'm thinking especially of the scenes where Stephane has huge hands. And when he's driving the cardboard car.
But, overall, I can't say I loved it. I didn't dislike it. But mostly I have to say I was confused. I realize that Stephane, the main character, was also confused. And it wasn't just that I was confused about what was dream and what was reality, but that I was never quite sure of the narrative. Does he like Stephanie, and does she like him? That seems like a really important base for the movie, but it's never quite clear.
My critique of this movie reminded me of a criticism of one of my professors (Omar Castaneda) on a story I wrote in an undergraduate workshop. He said, "These people are boring, but if you write about them in a boring way to convey they are boring, then you are boring the reader." Actually, I don't think they were boring, but I probably was writing about them in a boring way.
In any case, this is my point about the confusion. Stephane is confused, but if he's presented in a confusing way then the viewer is confused. I think the narrative could have been more "transparent" and by that I mean that we could see that Stephane was confused, but perhaps we could have been a little less confused than him. I think this would have increased my sympathy for him as a character. As it was, MB thought he was mentally ill. I thought maybe he just had a sleep disorder. But he was mean to Stephanie, and I was never sure what their relationship was. Was he a mean friend or a mean lover? It does matter.
In any case, I did like many things about it. But as a "story" it was not satisfying. I, too, am not enamored of the inconclusive ending.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
- Sleep in.
- Drink green tea.
- Skip breakfast. Still full from last night's late night pizza (leftovers from Son and Babysitter)
- Try to finish the novel I'm reading (The Post-Birthday World)
- Shovel the walk/driveway/sidewalk in less than ten minutes
- Drive to Lone Star for lunch (because who doesn't need a burrito and the world's best iced tea?)
- Make second trip to Steve & Barry's (for gifts, sweater and vest for self, t-shirt for Son, sweater for MB)
- Stop by Red Balloon (more gifts, Playmobil Advent Calendar for Son)
- Finish book on drive home (more on this later)
- Put together advent calendar for Son
- Watch Son open days 1-8 in less than 5 minutes
- Wander around the house wondering what to do
- Read everyone's blog, comment on blogs, click links on blogs, surf
- Watch Son constructing new knight scenarios with calendar booty and castle stuff from two Christmases ago
- Drink some 7-Up
- Stare into space
- Think about making more rice to go with curry leftovers from Thursday
- Consider the movie viewing options for the evening ("The Science of Sleep")
- Finally give in and grade a few Creative Nonfiction portfolios
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Today at the Asian Market I had one of those experiences that made me do a double take. I was wandering around the aisles looking for curry paste and bamboo shoots when I heard a man ask, "Finito?" I looked up to see an older Asian gentleman talking to the young Latino boy who worked there. The boy gestured to the cart he was pushing and said, "Si, finito."
Sometimes I think I live in a place that is not all that diverse. Other times, like today, I'm amazed how much mixing of cultures takes place, in many small ways, every day. This experience made me feel nostalgic for all the times I traveled overseas: my first trip out of the US to Korea, my vacation in Thailand, backpacking around Europe, last Christmas in Spain.
There is something wonderfully alienating about being in a place where everything is new: the food, the language, the culture. There is also something awesome (in the literal sense) about being immersed in another world.
After I witnessed this exchange, I wandered the aisles just looking at everything. I love the unfamiliar smells: the sharp tang of unknown spices; the mixing (in the aisles) of food from many cultures, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian; the strange flavors of potato chips (shrimp!); the delightful confections (Pocky!).
When I first moved here, I drove all over town one day looking for ingredients for Thai food: galangal, lime leaves, Thai basil. Now I go to one place. The superstores of Asian markets. I haven't been there in awhile. I guess curry is really a winter food.
But this holiday season, I plan on trying to cook big meals from all the kinds of food I love: an Indian curry, Mexican tamales, and probably at least one more Thai curry.
I'm thankful I live in a city with such a diverse selection of food (and restaurants)!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
So, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. And then get grading so I can actually celebrate next week when I am done with everything and I turn 29. Again.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Then, as MB said, we went to the play "Billion Dollar Baby." I too thought it was funny. It was amusing. Kind of a play within a play, as the character is writing an essay about "one person plays" and it was a one person play. And a reference to another play by the same playwright. It looked effortless, the play, and I thought, "Hey! I should write a play!" Maybe I will. Who knows.
Today we got a tree from a local place and put it up. We got lights on it, and approximately six ornaments before Son's bedtime. I promised he could decorate it tomorrow.
When I was a kid we got the tree on my birthday, which I suppose was meant to mitigate the fact that my birthday often got lost in the Christmas mania. And I think I did look forward to getting the tree and cake on the same day. Wow!
But it was fun, the tree getting. It looks a bit lopsided, but we'll fix that tomorrow, I suppose.
Right now we are listening to the new Holiday music I just downloaded from iTunes. (Right now it's Aimee Mann). I also got Diana Krall and Bing Crosby. We already had Christmas with the Rat Pack and some Barbra Streisand.
I'm so looking forward to the last week of school. Love it.
And now, having said I had nothing to say, I find that I did. Sort of.
Friday, November 30, 2007
- Baking: chocolate chip cookies, this bittersweet chocolate and hazelnut cake I make every year from my and MB's birthdays, boob cookies (a family tradition, basically a small peanut butter cookie with a Hershey's kiss right in the middle), seven layer bars, some kind of sugar cookie for Son to decorate.
- Tree: This year we are finally getting a tree. Maybe tomorrow. I am looking forward to having the good-smelling, well-lit, glowy thing in our living room for almost a month.
- Reading: A lot. I just want to read some trashy detective fiction, and maybe finish a few more of the books that haunt my nightstand.
- Writing: I'd like to work on my novel (the old one), send out some short stories, and take one more look at my collection before I submit it to another publisher, just so I don't fall into despair about the publisher that my collection is now languishing at, unread and unloved.
- Sleeping: A radical notion, but maybe I'll go to bed earlier. Maybe.
- Swimming: Try to get up earlier to swim with the Serious Swimmers (otherwise known as the Masters. But I'm not the slowest one! So there's that.)
- IKEA: MB and I have an IKEA date. When Son is in school we're going to go shopping.
- Breakfast: MB and I also have a breakfast date. We drop Son off at school and then we go have breakfast. I'm hoping we can try a new place.
- Movie: I hope to see a movie in a theater. It's a radical notion, but it just might happen.
- Appetizer date-night: MB and I usually go out for our birthdays. This year we are going to IKEA. But I hope we can still squeeze in a date that goes something like this: appetizers and drinks, movie and popcorn, dessert and wine. That sounds like an ideal birthday to me and covers a few things on my list: baking (the dessert), movie, and this one of course, number 10. The end of the line. As far as we go.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Son brought home a cared for Middlebrow. On the front was a picture of a turkey, a pie stamp, a sticker that said "Fish." And under that he had written "Beer."
Inside it said
Dad: I like pie. I like turkey. I like cranberries. I like beer.
I think we're lucky we have a liberal teacher. No one sent a note home about his beer lovin'. No one mentioned it to me. But I did say, "Maybe you shouldn't talk about liking beer at school. They're going to send Social Services." Which led to a lengthy discussion of what Social Services is.
And then, later, Son said, "What if I wrote to Santa and said, Dear Santa, I want beer. Please bring me a six-pack of beer?"
I replied that I didn't think Santa would bring him beer, as it's illegal.
"What if he wrote on it For Son only? Son, Son, Son?"
What indeed. I'm almost tempted to leave a six-pack of something under the tree for him. Maybe Root Beer?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I started eating meat when I was pregnant because I was so anemic. Also, I craved meat. And I like red meat. I like lamb. I like sushi. I like lots of things.
But I know, (know, know, know) that many things, like cheese and milk and some kinds of meat (the kinds I like: bacon!) aren't good for me.
A friend from Idaho said she just read the book Skinny Bitch. I looked at it on Amazon and it actually looks good. It says things I already know: diet soda is bad for you, coffee is bad for you, sugar is bad for you.
Eventually, I guess, I should just do what I know is good for me. Thing is: I like sugar. I really do.
So what do you say? Should I do it? Should I go back to being a vegetarian?
But here's my problem: I like to eat local and it's hard to do that with vegetarianism (like avocados, in the winter? I love those too). And I think that there is some good local meat.
And also I'm lazy. It's hard to cook when you are a lazy vegetarian.
What's a girl to do?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So, I blog instead of
- Writing something else: a novel, a short story, a poem, a letter, an email
- Baking (don't chocolate chip cookies sound good?)
- Cuddling Son to sleep
- Watching videos from TED (my new worst habit)
- Writing limericks about all the things I should be doing. Like "There once was a teacher of writing..."
Monday, November 26, 2007
It scared me, in terms of education and what we're doing, or more specifically, what I'm doing to my Son, but it also gave me hope. Maybe we can just teach more art, more dance, let kids do what they want. Maybe.
I'll save the second one. It was by a filmmaker who gave cameras to soldiers going into Iraq. She made a movie from their films. It made me cry. But her talk was fantastic and I want to see her movie. It's called "War Tapes."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I love foreign films. I sometimes think that I might absorb some language just by hearing it. This seldom really works.
I really liked this movie for many reasons. It was slow, dialogue driven with complex characters who struggled against their circumstances. The movie was about making art and following rules and breaking rules and being a good person or being a bad person in bad circumstances.
What I liked most was how an unsympathetic character becomes sympathetic over time. Watching this movie, I felt like one of the reasons Americans often fail to make Important Art is because we don't really have a lot of environmental challenges. I don't mean global warming. I mean institutions and societies that imprison us. Regimes that silence us.
Obviously one could argue that the "regime" we live under now attempts, daily, to silence and imprison. And, no doubt, some great art will be made in the aftermath of this war.
But, culturally, Americans are forbidden to do very little. I do remember the woman who rolled in chocolate (what a waste of chocolate. Unless someone licked it off...) and The Piss Christ. But really, weren't those just attempts to provoke a conservative administration? Were they really "art"? Or attempts at "art"? (That is, were the artists trying to do something aesthetically or were they just trying to make a statement?)
What I mean is, most Hollywood movies gloss over the difficult moments, the repressive institutions, the awkward silences and difficult decisions. At one point in the movie MB commented, "At this point, the Hollywood movie would turn the plot into a chase scene, lots of shooting." American movies often substitute the big explosion for the subtle change.
I even liked the ending of this movie, though for a few moments I was afraid it was going to have a dark, depressing ending and I was going to be mad. But a few friends had said they loved the end, so I held my breath and waited. And it was good.
A very satisfying, moving film. Five stars!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
In any case, I started the book around 8:30 on Friday night and read until just past midnight. I thought Middlebrow was still reading too, but unbeknownst to me he had fallen asleep. Then I got up today and, after dropping Son at a playdate, finished the book. It's a recent record for me, one book in less than 24 hours.
Reading this book was a relief, as lately I'd had a hard time getting into any book. I love the feeling of getting so wrapped up in a story that things like sleeping and eating seem less important. But then there's also that feeling when the book is over. A kind of elation, but also the let down. The world of that book is closed now, though in a way it's still alive inside you. If the book was really good, you go over parts of it again and again in your mind. The characters are vivid.
I liked many things about this book: the narrator's voice (distinctive and clear, but unobtrusive), the plot (a mystery, but really a family mystery about characters and relationships between them), the structure (divided into sections, "Beginnings," "Middles," and "Ends"), and many of the little details (the narrator is a biographer who has written an article on a certain set of twins, her father owns a rare book shop), the writing. The book has some beautiful sentences which are heavy on insight into the human character. But I didn't mind that.
And it has closure, and a somewhat happy ending. No loose threads to annoy the mind.
I was going over my list of books read this year, and I think this is definitely one of my favorites. My mom has a five star rating system, and she hardly ever gives anything five stars. She's a librarian, so she's read a lot and has many books to compare against one another.
But this was a five star book, definitely.
Next on my bedside table: The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I've heard great things about her writing. One friend (from the book group) said she couldn't put it down. She also said her mother called her and told her she had just finished it and, when she hung up from talking with her daughter, was going to read it again. I look forward to it.
Winter (especially vacation) is the time for reading, especially reading a book a day. Okay, maybe every three or four days. Or five, depending on how much movie watching is taking place.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Well, they did. They dropped me off by the Capitol and went to get coffee before meeting me at the finish line. I liked this Thanksgiving Day race. Lots of families, running and walking, lots of groups taking pictures at the start. I especially liked the runners with turkey hats. I saw only one person I recognized, and I knew her from Son's school.
It was a jam packed race, and I was passing people the whole way, which made me feel good. Much of it was uphill (at least half) and the second half was downhill. Hooray! I felt pretty good about the race and when I checked the results, just now, I won the "Athena" category. For those of you not in the know, that means I weigh over 150 pounds! Crazy! Yes! But hey. At least I can win something. Though I have to say I felt like throwing up when I got to the finish. But then I had some water and a few bites of pumpkin bagel. All good.
We put the turkey in at 1, etc, etc, etc. Now I am boiling the carcass for all it's worth. I think I will make soup, though I can't say what kind. Maybe turkey with rice? turkey with noodles? unknown.
All the food was great: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce from a can, homemade pie with whipped cream. Delicious.
We are all thankful for many things: food, family, health. But son's list was my favorite: theaters, so we can see movies, our house, turkey drumsticks, and Harry Potter.
I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.
Let the insane Holiday Season begin.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Number of containers filled with peeled, cubed, uncooked, leftover pumpkin pieces: 8
Soups made: Curried Pumpkin Soup
Salad made: Caesar Salad (from The Surreal Gourmet)
Bottles of wine consumed: Two (Coppola's Merlot, and a Penfold Cab-Shiraz)
Dogs made crazy by laser pointer light: One
Pies made: Two (from baked down pumpkin and dough made from scratch)
Pieces of bread toasted: 11 down (five to go!) (for stuffing! tomorrow!)
Things yet to do: veggies (celery, radishes, red pepper) to chop, stuffing to make (onion and celery to chop and sautée in butter! toast to squeeze!), potatoes to peel and cook, salad to make (red leaf lettuce, apples, pecans), green beans to steam, turkey (oh yeah!) to defrost, roast, slather in butter and wine, etc.; can of cranberry sauce to open.
Harry Potter movies left to watch: One
Thanksgiving at home: priceless!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Even after swimming, there are things to do: papers to grade, crossword puzzles to complete, folders to lose and then find again, writing center hours.
Also: a friend from high school (high school!) to pick up at the airport with her significant other. Unlike many high school friends, she is crazy in a way that is familiar and comfortable. She is crazy in the same way you are crazy. The things you had in common then, you still have in common. You can talk about creativity and art and food. She took the photographs of your wedding. You take her and Man to a brew pub for lunch. You drink beer. You take her to one of the cool places in town for tea. She photographs everything in sight, including you doing a Serious Author face and the bookcases which are organized by color (red, green, etc). She finds a yellow one that says "Revolt" and places it in among the red. She is able to see things that are invisible to others. But you see the monkey holding two candles lamp. It seems important.
Picking up Son from school is different with Friend. You see the chaos for what it is: an intricately choreographed dance of attraction and avoidance, of deferral and intersection. The direction and energy of the children is inversely proportional to the direction and energy of the adults. You can see this now. You worry about the parents who worry too much. You want Son to move like a dervish through this hallway, to move out into the world without damage or care. Instead, he finds a turkey made from a pine cone on the playground. It is a treasure. You make him return it, imagining the child who misplaced it, distraught and unanchored, turkeyless.
There is more: the dog who jumps on all visiting strangers, the phone calls with directions, visits to the neighborhood bakery which is only open this one day because it is the day before the day before.
And then: good-bye to Friend and Man, the gift of a pumpkin, the roasting of pumpkins, eating of leftover chili, watching of wizard movies, the staying up too late, the inevitable fit, the sudden drop into noiseless sleep, instant and complete.
There is more to do, accomplish. The making of soup, the making of pie, the purchase of the turkey.
But first you must sleep. Tomorrow is the day the plan begins, and you must get up in seven hours, regardless of when you go to sleep. So sleep now.
Tomorrow is the day before.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Also, I was swimming today and thinking about how I almost drowned when I was 4. Luckily my grandmother's sister taught me how to swim right after, so I've never been afraid of swimming (not in pools at least). I was wondering if I could have been a swimmer when I was younger (our town didn't have a public pool, and I'm not sure if we even had a swim team). But then I'm not sure I could have been a good swimmer then. When I was younger I used to pull my head out of the water and flip my hair. My teacher used to yell at me for that. Well, maybe not "yell."
So, in honor of the poet I want to be (someday) and the swimmer I might someday become, here's a poem from my MA thesis: Vocabulary of the Unsaid.
I want to put some kind of disclaimer on this poem, but I will resist. (But somehow I did, by saying that I wanted to. See how I did that?)
How I Learned to Breathe
Taste of chlorine: clean and toxic.
I fall through divisions,
under, before, beneath. Caught
in anomalous borders,
He says, “I revived you.”
I studied him through
the bars of the bed.
What is “parallax”? What
I filled in black lines with white.
Memory hovers, nameless.
I could see myself
always on the surface.
coming into focus.
She could teach me--
floating in her hands.
My face in, I blew, I breathed,
eyes open to the image
a watery shadow rises
and begins to fix.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
- Pie: Pie for breakfast, pie for dessert, cold pie with whipped cream while watching the parade. Pie, pie, pie.
- Turkey: One of the reasons I'm glad we're staying home this year is that I get to make all the stuff, and you know what that means. Leftovers!
- Stuffing: Lots of different kinds of stuffing are good, but the only stuffing that will do on Thanksgiving is the exact same kind of stuffing your mom made when you were a kid. In my case, it's a melange of white bread (toasted), celery, onion, butter and poultry seasoning. I love it cold. So good.
- Mashed potatoes: I think I might have to be traditional and actually peel the potatoes this year for that smooth tato goodness. For the average weekday meal mash, I usually don't peel. The peels are good for you, you know.
- Gravy: How many times a year does a person eat gravy? In my case, usually once. So you have to do it right. I may make some mushrooms on the side, because I have become overly fond of mushroom gravy.
- Cranberry sauce: From a can. I mean, how much can one woman do? I like this okay, but I love it on sandwiches the next day.
- Green beans: For some color. You have to have some vegetables. Right? We will also have the all day vegetable tray with the carrots, celery, radishes, etc, and dip.
- Olives: When does one eat olives from a can? On Thanksgiving. I could eat a whole can just standing in the kitchen trying to get them onto the veggie tray and failing.
- Wine: I found a Martha Stewart turkey roasting recipe, and it involves basting the turkey with wine and butter. I think this is a good idea. And then there is the wine you open at noon so that you can start drinking before you eat. It's a good idea to eat a little something. How about some of those veggies?
- Family: I enjoy staying in my pjs most of the day, just hanging out with the family. I also like the mid-day football game. I held this game in Bellingham one year and Tommy Z tried to actually tackle me. I don't think he understood the finer techniques of touch football. Also, I don't think he understood that I'm supposed to win! But it was fun nonetheless. This year, maybe it will be me vs. MB and Son can be the person we all pile onto when someone makes a touchdown. Or Son can be the person who makes the "Goal! Scoredown!"
Good luck with your pre-Thanksgiving food shopping. Also a nightmare. Not one of the things I am thankful for.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
In case you haven't heard, Steve and Barry's opened here last weekend. What, you might ask, is Steve and Barry's? It's a department store selling celebrity clothing lines: Amanda Bynes, Venus Williams, and, most importantly, Sarah Jessica Parker's line Bitten.
Hightouch, daughter and I made our way down there and did some power shopping.
The best part about this store is that everything is ridiculously inexpensive. It's not on sale, the regular prices are just low. I got two pairs of pants: boyfriend jeans for $14.98 and black work pants for $19.98. I also got a button up shirt that fit my shoulders! Unheard of. It was only $12.98!
I still need to shop for some boots, but I am well on my way to super high fashion at a very low price.
And just to be clear, pie is not better than shopping, but it's just as good, in a different way.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I am awaiting my colleagues and their various significant others and, most importantly, the pie they have chosen to bring to the first of what I hope will be an annual Pie Party.
I made apple. It looks pretty nice if I do say so myself. I took Hightouch and Lis's advice and made the crust with butter. I think it went okay. I'll let them decide.
On the menu: chocolate and pecan, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, apple, rhubarb? and perhaps other various unknown pies.
Also: Bailey's, and enough wine for many, many more people than are actually expected. We have to have some left over for Thanksgiving!
I'll post some pics and reviews.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
As a former barista, and a woman who frequents coffee shops, I found the study quite fascinating. First, I acknowledge that I was pretty bad at customer service. I don't like people, and bitchy women ordering "skinny vanilla lattes" are just about the worst thing ever. But I could make coffee and do it fast. One interesting part of the study found that when the staff was all female, wait times for women were still longer, but not statistically significant.
So the upshot is that women are nicer to women, but men make women wait longer. Why? It's an interesting study, and I wonder what kinds of conclusions we can make. It will be interesting to see what economists and sociologists make of this. Hmmm.
It also reminded me of a time I was at a party and a friend of a friend told me that I should smile more. At the time I was working as a cashier at a food co-op. She said it was part of customer service. I made the argument that I was paid to scan and total groceries. I understand, of course, that being nice is part of it. But every once in awhile a person has a bad day, right? And I have the right to be in a bad mood, right? But she seemed to think that smiling and being fake was part of the deal. Maybe. This friend of a friend said she didn't like to come through my line because I was intimidating. I don't understand this. How can you be intimidated by a person who is ringing up your groceries? In practice, I liked this aspect. It meant when I was working with the young, flirty girls, my line would be empty, while hippy men lined up to be helped by them. Great for me, I thought. I can stand here and drink coffee while she works. I should also add to this that I had the best record for till correctness of any cashier. They wanted me to become a manager. Ha! I quit to go to graduate school. Thank god. That job would have killed me.
But it begs the question, do we discriminate against customers based on gender? Did I? I don't think so. Though I have to say, in my memory of terrible customers both at the coffee bar and at the co-op, all of them were women. Men, in general, seemed to care less about my general mood. As long as I made their coffee and it was fast, they didn't care. I really did hate those non-fat vanilla latte women. Hated them!
I also had some high maintenance shoppers at the co-op. Once a woman returned more than a hundred dollars worth of cleaning supplies. I sighed heavily and did the return. Then I went back to the customer service desk and told the supervisor that the woman who I had just helped was going to come complain about me. And when she did, the supervisor said, "Yeah, I know." It was actually kind of funny. I just can't stand the shoppers who feel they deserve special attention just for doing what everyone else is doing: shopping.
Which is why my customer service career came to an end. But not quickly enough for me. Never.
So my opinion is, yeah, women probably wait longer. Maybe men are just less likely to put up with perceived bitchiness. Or maybe they are just sexist pigs. A little from column A, a little from column B?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As a result, it was me and the sub against the first and second graders. They assaulted us in the following ways:
When asked to write what they learned about seeds from a story, they wrote on their worksheets "No." They had learned nothing.
One student complained about having to practice his letters. "I already know them all," he said. When I explained the purpose was to practice handwriting, he said, "I don't need to practice, I'm perfect." I just looked at him. How does one acquire such panache at such a young age? He also has the mannerisms to go with it, gesturing toward himself, and then out, wildly. Sigh. I told him to do the handwriting practice anyway, and eventually he did.
Another kid cried because, according to the girls in his group, he thinks everyone hates him. That, and crying gets him out of having to do any actual work.
One girl squirmed in her chair and said, "I'm having a bad day." Apparently this is how she tries to get out of everything. In her world, it's always a bad day. No worksheets, no learning.
Luckily there was no math today, only "free choice" which involved a cooking center and various arts and crafts. We had to keep them from lunch to get them to clean up.
Needless to say I was happy to get out of there and go to College, where if the students are having a bad day they just don't show up. My attendance was laughable, but we got to discuss genre, by which I mean blogs, so that was fun.
What have I learned from this? Pajama Day, while good in theory, is hell in practice. Kids in pajamas don't want to work, it's that simple. I, on the other hand, don't want to work, pajamas or no. And at this point in the semester, even students who are passing will not turn in a paper if it means they don't have to change out of their pajamas, and can stay home, doing whatever they do, squirming or crying, but not learning anything.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I had a day of conferences last week, and they were okay. My least favorite was with the student who needs the most help. He turned in a draft that he had clearly written just before emailing it to me. "What's the heart of this essay?" I asked. He looked at me blankly. I'd forgotten about this kind of student. He doesn't have an idea, he doesn't know what to do, he doesn't even know how to ask me a question so I can help him. "Okay," I said and sent him on his way. I'm accustomed to this student in beginning writing, but in an elective? I'm not sure why he's in this class. He is an okay writer, and I think he might even be creative, if he just wrote some stuff and loosened up.
In contrast with this conference were the majority of the conferences I had today. First, a student who wants to be an English major. I gave her a handbook. She's great at description and terrible with grammar.
Later a guy who's been quiet most of the semester. He's a good writer, but he clearly hadn't found his subject, until now. He had told me he was going to write about random conversations on public transportation. Okay, fine. But he sent me an essay about how his family moved to the woods, essentially, and how his mom came out of her depression for awhile. Because he wrote about it before I know that his mom eventually committed suicide. What was interesting was that in this essay he shifted from the third person (referring to himself by name and to his parents by their names) to the first person. He clearly was dealing with some tough emotional territory. In the final section, he began posing some questions that he hadn't quite addressed in the rest of the essay. I pointed to this section in our conference and said, "This is the section that can change this from a good essay into a great essay. But you have to decide for yourself, are you doing this essay just for this class, or are you a writer?" Like a good lawyer, I didn't ask a question I didn't know the answer to. Obviously he wouldn't have started this essay if he wasn't a writer. It's that kind of essay. It's messy, it's not done, but it's what he really needs to write about. I hate it when creative writing classes become therapy, but I see some real potential in him as a writer, and in this essay in particular. He said he saw this project extending beyond the end of the class. What greater compliment is there for a teacher than for a student to finally confront the subject matter he most needs to write about and to pursue a project beyond the end of a class? It's those quiet ones. You never can tell.
There was also another student who told me that she wants to turn her essay into a book. She's writing about her father and Viet Nam. He wrote a remembrance book that she is going to include in her essay. She had some great lines that began, "The story I want to tell is..." I referred her to "How to Tell A True War Story."
A few of these students told me that they are signing up for my Fiction class in the Spring. One, a great writer and a student from last semester, is working out a special deal with me, as he can't fit it in his schedule because he finally got into the nursing program.
Just when I had almost given up: hope.
Monday, November 12, 2007
- Hips, hips, underwater, underwater. See, it seems that one should roll one's hips while swimming. Also, one should focus on the hand that's underwater. I seem to forget that, especially when I'm breathing.
- "You must have fallen from a star, you must have hmm de hmm de hmm de haw." Lyrics to songs you know are good to sing to oneself while swimming. Did you notice what I said there? Songs you know. But I like to sing songs I don't know, like the one above from "Once." So I just sing that same line, with the hmming, over and over. Luckily I'm not breathing, so all the singing is in my head, so no one notices that I don't know the words.
- "I wonder if those lifeguards think I'm like the world's worst swimmer." I wonder a lot what the incredibly bored looking lifeguards are thinking as I swim and flip and swim and flip. I actually don't think they are thinking anything, they look that bored, but if they are thinking something I also sometimes imagine they are thinking, "Wow, she's hot. She's a fantastic swimmer. How did she get so hot and fantastic?"
- "I wonder if the lifeguards notice that I sometimes take an extra breath before I flip and think I'm lame." I have to take an extra breath sometimes because I don't want to drown while trying to flip turn. Also, I'm afraid. Also, I almost drowned before. But that was a long time ago.
- "I wonder if the lifeguards would save me if I hit my head while trying to turn because I misjudged the distance between me and that wall." This is why I sometimes flip too soon and end up having to just swim with no cool push off to propel me forward.
- "I wonder which lifeguard would give me mouth-to-mouth if I did almost drown. I hope not the one with the mustache, because mustaches give me the creeps."
- "Was that 100 yards or 150? How far have I swum? Am I a good swimmer?"
Sunday, November 11, 2007
- Rainy days: I like to stay inside and drink tea. And think about running, but not actually go running because, you know, it's raining.
- Reading: Along with drinking tea, I read Son the rest of Harry Potter (the 2nd) today. It's difficult, to read out loud for a long time, but it was fun. I enjoyed that Son was so into it and that he wanted me to finish.
- Breakfast: I love to go out for breakfast. We had some friends in town, what shall I name them? Conservation Man and Idaho Teacher. We all went out for breakfast. It wasn't the best breakfast I'd had there, but it was good. And Son ate all his breakfast and a side of bacon and a side of fruit. Dining out for breakfast is fun. It just is.
- Food: I'm not hungry. At Son's school, we are doing a project for the food bank, making snack packs for kids who eat free lunch at school. Apparently, over the holiday breaks, many of these kids don't get enough to eat. I'm thankful that Son has enough to eat, even if he's not always aware or thankful. And I'm thankful that his school cares enough to have the kids do service projects. In first grade! Maybe these kids can change the world!
- My family: I'm not always as thankful as I should be for them. All of them. I have great sisters and parents and a great husband and a great Son.
- My brain: Even though I often feel stupid, and use the word "idiotic" about myself too often, I know I'm not stupid. So I thank my brain for still working and for getting me this far. You deserve a break! But please don't take one. Not yet.
- Writing: Even though I'm feeling discouraged these days, sometimes writing feels like a gift. Like when I've been discouraged and think I suck, and then one day I sit down and write something, and I have no idea where it came from or why. Those are the good days. I think there are more on the horizon. (Cue the George Michael:) I just gotta have faith.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
- The number of actors that I adore beyond reason is actually quite long and includes some shockers: Clive Owen (always my number one), Gabriel Garcia Bernal, Mark Wahlberg, Judi Dench, Jennifer Aniston, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey, Peter Skarsgard, Kate Winslet, Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McCounaughey, Emma Thompson, Joaquin Phoenix, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette. I could go on. But the list must end somewhere.
- My home is filled with books I have not finished and have not started. Some standouts: Cloudsplitter (one year and counting!), The Beauty of the Husband, The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Kite Runner, Midnight's Children. Etc, etc, etc.
- My weaknesses are, in no particular order: dark chocolate, red wine, tequila, baked goods (cookies, scones, cake, pie), french fries, soda, potato chips. Basically potato and potato products. Dip (especially the one my mom used to make with cottage cheese, cream cheese, garlic salt and red wine vinegar). Really cold good beer (hoppy!). Hard cider (also really cold). Artichoke dip.
- Best meal ever: Right now, as I try to think of it, I'd have to say our first meal at Martine. At that time (years ago? maybe 5 years!) our town seemed like a restaurant wasteland. It has improved, but I'd have to say that Martine is still one of the best. Sangria is out of this world. That first time, I still remember, I had a tapa that was scallops in a Clementine reduction sauce. Also I think it had pistachios on it. Oh. My. God. (Also, at Stella, I had some amazing lamb with a cherry salsa. Wow!)
- Another good meal: My defense celebration meal (for which I still owe a great many people) where we went to Metropolitan and I had the elk medallions. So. Good.
- Favorite kind of restaurant: Taco truck. Haven't met one yet I didn't like. Looking forward to going back to the one in Pocatello.
- Favorite drink: the kind with alcohol in it. Does that make me an alcoholic? Maybe. Honestly? A pornographic martini (vodka, three olives) or a margarita on the rocks with salt.
Friday, November 09, 2007
- Jane Eyre: love it! I spent about half (okay, maybe I exaggerate) of my oral exams discussing this. Why? Unknown. But I did. I've read it maybe 3 times. Never tire of it. My favorite part may be the crazy lady in the attic. I identify with her. And with Jane.
- All Jane Austen: Never met a Jane Austen novel I didn't like. I've read all except: Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.
- House of Mirth: I think this was my favorite of the novels I read for my exams. Since then I've vowed to read more Wharton. And have I? No, I have not. Hey, give me a break. It's only been 5 years!
- Mrs. Dalloway: I love this novel. It is my favorite Woolf. Why? It's lyrical without being choppy. I much prefer this to The Waves, for example. (But, like hightouch, I have not read To The Lighthouse). I often use excerpts from this novel for my students to imitate.
- The Awakening: Love it! I know, she kills herself in the end, but there are many descriptions of interior space and she moves from a house to an apartment. Plus many good details (especially the last two paragraphs).
- Our Mutual Friend: I actually really liked this despite the fact that it is so long. It also has lots of interior space issues. One thing I didn't like is all the minor characters who never recur. I was left wondering, well, what happened to them?
- Lolita: I once had a long fight with some friends of friends about authorial responsibility for writing novels about pedophilia. But I hadn't read Lolita when I had this discussion. I like to do that. But now I have read it, and I'm not sure how I feel about authorial responsibility, but I do know that Nabakov is a master. In his second language. Damn him!
- Beloved: I reread this for my exams and I have to say I didn't love it so much the second time, but I still like it. And I love the structure, so I'll keep it on my list.
- Tristam Shandy: I liked this book, but I liked the movie even more. I know the movie isn't in the canon, but still.
- Wieland: This is a shocker, I know, but I really liked this. I wrote a pretty good paper on this that my professor liked. My thesis was: She must be unhoused! (Sorry, I can't remember her name!). As you can see, many of these novels concern houses or interior space. It's my obsession. Deal with it.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
- Moby Dick. I know. This is must be a mortal sin for a fiction writer. But hey.
- Canterbury Tales. At the University of Oregon, where I got my BA, there was this scary professor who taught the Old English classes and he made you come to his office and read Beowulf to him in Old English. I avoided this class until the English Department finally hired a woman who taught a class on Medieval Women, and then I took that. Needless to say, we read neither Beowulf nor Canterbury Tales. But I had already read (at least one page of...) Beowulf.
- Paradise Lost. To be honest, I "read" this for a class in grad school, if by "reading" you mean opening the book and turning the pages but retaining none (and I mean NONE) of what has passed before your eyes. I used to think it was because I was stupid, but now I know it's because the book( I should say "poem") sucks. You heard it here first.
- Aeneid. I did read part of this, but I never finished it. This is the second book from the same class in grad school that I didn't read/like/finish. I much prefer The Odyssey, thank you very much.
- Any novel by David Foster Wallace. I think this is only a sin for a lover of postmodern fiction. I like his short stories. You know why? Because they are short.
- Remembrance of Things Past. Nothing. I have not read it. If I ever get stuck on an island, maybe I'll get to it. But I doubt it. I'm shallow!
- Some James Fenimore Cooper novel I was supposed to have read in grad school. I read some of it. But I didn't finish it. The professor was mad at me because I didn't talk in class for about three weeks, while we discussed this novel. I hated it.
- Billy Budd. Is it nice to include two Melville on such a short list? I was supposed to read this for AP English in high school. I just couldn't do it. It was so boring. So. So. Boring. Even now, I still couldn't read it. And I didn't read Pierre when it was assigned at UO. My teacher had a thing for introductions, so I just read the introduction. I knew there would be a question on the introductions on the final, and there was! So I passed the class!
- Invisible Man. Okay, I started it. I read most of it. But I didn't finish it. Again, so long. Why? I know it's good, but I tire easily of novels that get too preachy.
- The Bible. I've read parts of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament. But I've never read the whole thing. This, I think, is a mortal sin.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Pushing Daisies: When a widow asks Ned how he knows how her husband died he says, "DNA. ish."
Samantha Who: Okay, honestly? I can't remember the line now. Which is ironic, I know. I think it was in the bar when she said something about wanting to help the little people and her shallow friend thought she meant dwarves. Maybe I'll think of it tomorrow.
*Update: here's the line. I had to go on-line and surf through the episode. So, yes, Samantha says she wants to quit her job, because she doesn't like it, so she can help "the little people." Her shallow friend says if everyone asked themselves if they were happy, they would all quit their jobs, "and the economy would collapse by morning. And how is that helping the dwarves?"
But I have to go to bed now, because supposebly I am getting up at 6 to exercise, but don't bet on that.
*Update: I did not get up at 6, but at 6:50. I went to the gym and ran two miles on the treadmill.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
- Cashews: maybe this is just what I had today. But I was craving them. And now that I've decided fat is good (well, natural fat, like nut fat) I can eat as many cashews as I want. I think I ate 24.
- Salad: actually, I think I'm addicted to the Caesar dressing at the pizza place. The salad is just so-so, your regular iceberg affair. But the dressing is good.
- Smartpop: Is that what it's called? That white cheddar stuff? It's good.
- Double-dipped chocolate peanuts: They sell these in bulk at the little snack place. Hightouch once gave me money to buy snacks for a department meeting and I came back with these gems. I may have eaten the whole bag. Thanks HTMS! I owe you!
- Chocolate: the usual kinds. I usually don't buy or eat these at school, trying to maintain my image of healthful snacking, but...I do buy candy sometimes. Rarely.
- Potato chips: I sometimes buy the baked ones, but I also love Salt & Vinegar. In a pinch I'll eat SunChips (I like them, but they are not my first choice, especially the cheese ones or the french onion ones).
- Gardettos: I might be mispelling that. I like the mustard kind. That's sort of weird, right?
- Sandwich: We have a new sandwich place, which I think is okay, as those things go. Their salads are weird, but big. ("...and such small portions!") But in a pinch you can get something mildly healthy, like a turkey sandwich.
- Coffee: you don't really want to get it at school, but sometimes you have to. It's watery. But it smells, almost, like coffee. And with enough flavored creamer, it's a meal.
- Pretzels: they seem healthy, but they are almost never what I want. I get them when I feel too guilty to get the potato chips.
I need a snack! Stat!
Monday, November 05, 2007
So, only 7?
- I'm an anxious, anxiety ridden individual, plagued by self-doubt and insecurity. Often this expresses itself in certain habits. Such as: drinking too much wine and talking really loudly, allowing my attention to wander so that I'm not paying attention to friends I should be listening to during conversations, saying things I shouldn't and then regretting them later, feeling a sense of competition with, well, pretty much everybody, worrying about my weight, my eating habits, the eating habits of Son, my exercise habits, saying cruel things I don't really mean but then can't take back. Basically, worrying about everything.
- I have these OCD habits like: picking up trash and straightening things up at events where I'm not responsible (wine and cheese get togethers, kids birthday parties, restaurants, friends' houses) but not, I should point out, my own house. (Perhaps I do it because I am nervous and insecure?)
- I love to read mysteries. Once, in my high school AP class we were doing presentations on Greek gods from Edith Hamilton's Mythology and I had an Agatha Christie book stuck inside my mythology book. Then, when it was my turn, I took Agatha out, stood up and did my presentation, sat back down and continued to read Agatha. I mean, I was reading, right?
- I hate fantasy books. I don't mind sci-fi, especially sci-fi that's like our world, but only slightly different. But I hate books with dragons and fairies. Especially fairies! All my friends read those Anne McAffrey novels in junior high, but I couldn't stand them!
- My favorite book in junior high was Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater. I love that he's a commentator on NPR now. He's so legit! If you haven't read it, you should. It's like Vonnegut for the tween set.
- My favorite movie in high school was "Casablanca." I was such a romantic! Now...hard to say. I still love "Annie Hall" and probably always will, but I think "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is riding high, because I wish I could write something that original and inventive. (and I kind of hate that guy because of it, see? competitive!!) But then there are all those other movies I love: Grease, Ladyhawke, Hannah and Her Sisters, Lost in Translation, Notes on a Scandal, etc, etc, etc.
- I'm running a fun race on Thanksgiving at City Creek. I think y'all should run with me. It's fun. If we can find someone to watch Son, MB will run too. Anyone?
I did it! Success!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
This novel is less successful than the previous two, in my opinion, because she gets a little off-track with the characters. There are whole chapters that don't advance the plot, but rather give backstory about one of the main characters, Leela (and you know how I feel about backstory!). And at that point, I didn't care. I just wanted to find out what happened. And I think too much of the plot was elided rather than depicted. I wanted to know more about what happened in the Iraqi prison and what happened behind the scenes. I think the characters could have been more fully explored. There was a lot of darkness in the novel, but whereas in Oyster she went way into the darkness and depicted what was happening in Orpheus she talks about what happened, but it's never really clear what occurred. Maybe, in some ways, it's realistic. Maybe the characters will never really know what happened. But I think as a reader, I wanted to know more about the circumstances.
In any case, it was a good read. I read it in about a week. I will definitely meet my goal of 25 books this year, maybe I'll even make it to 30! But I'm still trying to finish Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks. I've been reading it for more than a year. I have a good feeling though. I can do it!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
- Not taking Gus for a hike
- Staying inside on a beautiful, sunny day
- Not writing
- Not reading enough
- Not being a good enough teacher
- Not running
- Drinking too much wine
- Watching too much TV
- Yelling at Son
- Guilt-tripping MB for his outings (but he doesn't feel guilt on his own, so I have to!)
- Eating pizza (but it tastes so good!!)
- Piles of shit (paper) in the basement
- Not having read all the books that clutter our tiny house
Okay, I know that's a lot. But there were some positive things about today: we purged the old computer and lots and lots of useless paper. We started piling some books (see #13) to sell at the used bookstore. And Son's last soccer game (yeah!). Saw a cool cartoon exhibit at the downtown library. Went shoe shopping with Middlebrow. Tried on jeans at Nordstrom Rack. That was a disaster. Does anyone else suffer from the big quads no hips no waist problem? Low-rise jeans help, but my god, who are these tiny women with their matchstick legs? It's why 501s never really worked for me (but I tried!).
Time to read Harry Potter to Son, and then try to get MB to watch a foreign film with me. Maybe I'll try guilt...
Friday, November 02, 2007
Two ideas converged today: the idea that, for the DFL, I could make a cool Power Point presentation with images that part of my story would cover (like layers). And the second thing is that in my collection of stories, I have more than one (two?) in which knives figure prominently. A friend pointed this out and I laughed. I said, "Yeah, that's funny." Which he found amusing, because knives aren't usually funny.
One story is called "Knives in the kitchen" and is basically a list of different knives, albeit with eerie overtones (think Lydia Davis's "French Lesson" meets Crate and Barrel). The second is one I posted a paragraph of in the summer. Inspired by Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, it features a housewife wandering the house, butcher knife in hand. Madness ensues.
So I had to post this photo, which I love. Maybe I will use it. Note the "fotosearch" watermark.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Me, I prefer the chocolate. A ranking then:
- Dark chocolate: this can include many derivations, including Mounds and Special Dark. Not a lot of dark chocolate in the Halloween haul.
- Junior Mints: again, scarce. And I don't eat them very often, which adds to the allure.
- Almond Joys: good, even if they are milk chocolate. I'm joining Al Franken's campaign to get them to make Almond Joys with dark chocolate. What, are they stupid?
- Sweetarts: I only get them once a year!! What happened to the big ones that made you pucker like crazy and lasted all afternoon? Oh, Sweetart, where have you gone?
- Reese's Peanut Butter cups: these are ubiquitous. And therefore less in demand. Good, but could be better with more chocolate and less peanut butter. Which is why the tiny ones are best.
- M-n-Ms: if they gave out almond ones, they could move up the list. But alas, we are stuck with peanut and plain.
- Snickers: good, but the caramel hurts my teeth.
- Butterfinger: good, but with an odd texture.
- Other candy bars: whatever. I could take them or leave them: crunch, baby ruth, 100 grand, this new Take 5 thing, smores, and all those odd, new candies.
- Sugar candy: these are candies that lack any flavor beyond sugar: suckers, skittles, nerds, dots, etc, etc, etc.
- Candy corn: the lowest circle of hell is reserved for these headache inducing nightmares. They are sugar with some sugar and then some high fructose corn syrup. They are terrible and represent everything that is wrong with candy.
Monday, October 29, 2007
- Mental illness: apparently if you are depressed, or if you drink a lot (in fiction) you might be considered "mentally ill." By this standard, most people I know are mentally ill. I mean, who doesn't get depressed? And by depressed I mean would rather stay in her pajamas all day and swear?
- Swearing: Apparently, here in our corner of the universe, swearing is bad. Where I come from (not too far to the North) swearing is what people do. According to me and Raymond Carver, swearing is fun and a less fatal way of relieving stress than bar fighting. Also, according to me, swearing is the only sane response to people who honk at you for yielding to pedestrians. Someone (he must have been from Provo) asked me if I worried about alienating my audience by dropping the F-bomb. First, can I just say that I hate (hate!) the expression F bomb? I had never heard it until I moved here. This, despite growing up not too far away! Swearing is good for you! In the name of all that is holy, start swearing! And I answered that I never thought about it. Which is true. My co-panelist, Christine, said she tried to alienate people and in spite of this was invited by our friends down south to read. She thought they hadn't read her book, but they had. So we try to alienate, but we fail.
- Alcohol: Christine's protagonist is a self-confessed alcoholic. Mine just drinks a lot (martinis, wine, margaritas). I said it was a "social lubricant". It allows her to do stuff, like relax and get on with life. Much like swearing.
- Indeterminate sexuality: I think that it's okay to be gay and it's okay to be straight, but we don't much like people who can't commit to one or the other. And in my story, it wasn't a case so much of that. A few people have commented on the "sexual attraction" between the female characters. I never thought of it that way, but more that the main character was obsessed with the other's (pregnant) body. But that falls into some indeterminate category, which makes people uncomfortable. (One editor called my story "edgy.")
- Unspeakableness: One sharp listener observed that if we were talking and writing about it, then it wasn't "unspeakable." I agreed, sort of. We write around things, like depression and alcoholism and hope that readers put it together for themselves. But then he asked, what is, truly, unspeakable. My response: violence against children. I think there are times when it is acceptable to talk about it, but as a subject for fiction, I don't want it described or, I don't know. I just don't read books like that, and I do, in some cases, think it shouldn't be published. I think it's unspeakable, as a writer, to talk about subjects or genres that the first amendment shouldn't protect, but I feel that way about violence against children.
- Librarian rudeness: Our panel ended at the same time the library was closing. The librarians ran into the room and said, "You have to leave" then proceeded to hang around as if we were ruffians bent on destroying The Word and not participants in the Book Festival that they were hosting. It was...weird.
You should also buy Christine Allen-Yazzie's book if you haven't already. It's great.
Friday, October 26, 2007
But the highlight, the new addition was the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino.
I found the recipe at the New York Times. The woman who wrote it said she always orders interesting combinations on menus because she assumes that if the chef put it on the menu it must be amazing, and this recipe was.
I agree with her description of the dressing as Caesar-y (lemon, olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic) but the tender kale (not like the tough regular stuff) is also a revelation. It's like a healthy Caesar salad. Eat more! It's full of iron!! Pile on the cheese!! Yum yum!!
Of course, it helps that the pecorino is delicious and the homemade bread crumbs and the lemon etc etc.
It was delicious. And the risotto was as well. Pumpkin, roasted in the oven, and the finishing touch of vermouth.
Another nice dinner.
I hope to see you all at the Book Festival. Maybe at my panel? I'm subbing for a friend, so I'm not in the official schedule. But if you want to attend, email me and I'll let you know which one it is.
It's "Speaking the Unspeakable."
Sounds like me, right?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
What? You don't remember Isis?
The same friend also reminded me of Shazam! Another gem of Saturday morning TV in the 70s.
Here's what I remember: eating Cream of Wheat (made with milk not water!) with lots of butter and brown sugar. Sitting in the basement watching TV all Saturday morning until American Bandstand came on. Remember "it's got a good beat and I can dance to it. I give it a ten"?
Well. That's what's on my mind today.
And, apparently, I confused Isis with She-Ra: Princess of Power, which was a cartoon. I must have watched it.
If I had more time, I'd dress as Isis for Halloween. As it is, I will go with my traditional costume of Tired Mother.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We ate a lot of meat, but did not drink excessively, due to race day. We ate at Eddie McStiff's, The Moab Brewery, The Moab Diner (breakfast), and ZAK (something like that). I think my favorite meal was the post-race hamburger at ZAK. But it also might have been the tiny pb and j I scarfed at the post-race feed.
But okay, the details. Well, Saturday night when we were having dinner the wind was howling. I imagined snow. But when we woke up Sunday (yes, at 6 a.m.!!) it wasn't too windy, only really way too cold. We boarded school buses (first time since 1984) and waited. And waited. Then we were driven up to the start. During this time we overheard strange conversations about which shirts to wear and Texas schools.
As soon as we arrived at the Start we got in line for the Porta Potties where we met some nice women from Eagle, Colorado and a man from Salt Lake. We made it to the bathroom before the Start, so that was good. In line, we debated how many layers to shed and put in the sweats bag. I ended up keeping my cotton sweatshirt worn over two different long-sleeve shirts. We saw my friend Adrienne from Idaho (also in line for the pottie) and wished her luck.
We lined up behind the 9:00 minute pace. I thought it optimistic, but Scorpion's Tail said we could always slow down later. Part of her evil plan, no doubt. We ran our first mile in about 9:55, but then we sped up. I shed my sweatshirt around mile 4. ST took a double-espresso clif shot around mile 6. I had part of a chocolate one. Hard not to gag....
There were more hills than I expected and I kicked it on mile 7, only to find that we had like three more hills. (gasp, wheeze). The hills were probably our slowest miles, but not too slow. I guess those hill workouts worked!
But, thanks to Scorpion's Tail, I PRed. Hard not to do when it's only your second half-marathon ever. But we finished in 2:04:09. My goal was 2:10, so we smashed that. We ran a lot of 9:10 or under miles. But the last mile we ran in 8:54. I didn't think that would be possible!!
It was the most beautiful racecourse ever, on Highway 128 just North of Moab. It started at Dewey Bridge and ended at a resort. People were actually drinking beer at 10:30 when we finished (and by people I mean the guy from Salt Lake who we met at the start. Okay, he wasn't the only one!). I saw a former student and a mother from Son's school. So it is a small world after all.
Well, you might be wondering, what's next for the running Dr. Write?
No running. I'm going back to swimming and yoga. But I do plan on doing this small triathlon in the spring. The swimming is in a pool, and the run is only a 5K. I think the 10K is the longest race I'll do in the near future. So maybe some running, nothing longer than 6 miles. I was happy with my six miles this summer.
At the end of the race, I think Scorpion's Tail could have run another 13, but I was done. DONE.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I am excited, and just hope I'm not slower than I was last summer when I ran my first half. But it will be fun. I'm mostly excited about our escape to Moab, for sunshine, I hope, and some amazing scenery.
I'll post my time and story next week. Wish me luck!
Monday, October 15, 2007
I saw "Once" by myself on Saturday, which probably contributed to the over all weepiness of the experience. But it was so good. And surprising. And original. Okay, enough cliches. But still. So. Good. I was listening to the concert last night and I think it annoyed MB. Too folky, or something. He doesn't like emotions, of course.
In any case, does anyone want to fly to Portland just to see their concert? I do, though I recognize it ain't gonna happen and it's ridiculous, because what's the point of having a job if you can't just fly off to Portland to see some musicians from Dublin?
In other news, I ran my last long run before the Half Marathon. I'm exhausted. And I think I'm getting sick (sore throat). But I literally fell into bed last night. But not until I had eaten a metric ton of food, including: bag of Spicy Thai chips, three Hermit cookies, some Reese's Peanut Butter cups, a turkey burger, some roasted beets and potatoes, broccoli. Not in that order. And a beer. Then I fell into bed. I also crave a sugar cookie with lots of nasty icing. I'll get that later.
Did everyone see "Once" then? Don't tell me you hated it. I can't take it. Only love, people.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Today as I was walking down the hall at school, I saw a young woman carrying her young son. He had his head on her shoulder, just snuggled up. It made me pine for those days. Son is much too big for prolonged carrying, and when I do carry him, it hurts me. I fondly remember those days when he would lay his head against my shoulder and relax into me, making him easy to carry.
One of my fondest memories is of a day when we lived in our old house downtown. His bedroom was in the front of the house and our "office" was in the back. He was taking a nap and I was in the back working. I was probably reading for my exams. He got up from his nap and came and found me in the office. He climbed into my lap and snuggled as only a boy who has just awoken can.
I miss those days, but I do so enjoy my conversations with him now. He read to me tonight, and I'm continually amazed at the words he can just read.
He also was explaining to me earlier that at school he got a folder and a bag to keep pens in. He held his hands parallel to one another and smacked them down on the table in unison to emphasize that he "just got it. Today." (thump thump). He's a gesturer. Wonder where he gets that?
In other news, I finally printed out my book. But now that I've done that, I've received some feedback from my adviser. Should I take her advice and change stuff and then print it out again? Have I mentioned I'm sick of this book and hate it and wish it would go away, like to the publisher, for example?
Friday, October 05, 2007
Last night, I watched way too much TV. And way too much of it involved: children, death (which made me cry) or children themselves crying. Example: I was watching "The Office" (pretty safe, no kids or crying) but stupidly flipped and saw about 3.2 seconds of "Grey's Anatomy" which involved Alex getting punched out by a guy who stole his own child (toddler age) who was addicted to crack because they had been making it in the house. And then, I watched about 5 minutes of news, which, of course, had to involve child murder, etc. And then I watched some "Nightline" which in a weird convergence of reality and TV involved a girl (child) with an artificial heart who received a visit from McDreamy.
In any case, I shouldn't watch TV when I'm alone. It just makes me cry. But then I kept watching "Nightline" and it had a short segment on wine. And that didn't make me cry.
In an effort to redeem the post, let me list some happy things I've discovered while the gander is away: (not news any of them, but perhaps, only to me?, interesting)
- I love voice-over narration. Maybe it's the fiction writer in me, but I love the voice, no matter what it says. I like to hear it. Not explaining, but commenting on.
- I love snow in a movie. A scene with snow falling, lightly or heavily, characters walking or running. Your work is done.
- I like foreign films. Yes, they are difficult. Those pesky subtitles. But I love to hear a foreign language. And after awhile I forget I'm reading. Really, I do.
- I love food.
- All these things go together of course: "Mostly Martha." I think it was Lis who recommended it. Thanks!
- But I did cry, a few times, during this movie. So thus, the theme.
- I also saw "Notes on a Scandal" last weekend. Amazing. I can't believe Judy Dench didn't win for that. I know, I'm sure Helen Mirren was amazing in "The Queen." But I can't believe she was better than JD. Omigod. An astounding film. Perhaps the best of last year. Also with a voice over. Also based on a novel. What can I say? I'm loyal.
- I also watched "Open Season" tonight with son. I'm sure you have many nasty things to say about Aston Kucher (his name sounds like slang for women's anatomy?) but his voice and insane dialog made this movie enjoyable. Really. I'm not kidding. Usually I find him as annoying as a trucker hat on a Hollywood star. But he was funny. The whole movie was funny. Sorry.
- I like to not cook and have Wild Oats sushi for dinner with Wild Oats soda and Wild Oats cookies. Why not?
- Who takes out the garbage when the gander is away? The goose. That's right! The goose!
- When the gander's away the goose has to do fucking everything. Is that fair I ask you?
- Am I a goose? And what does that mean, really?
Son is already looking forward to Christmas. Today he asked, "Why can't we sometimes just stay here for Christmas?"
I told him we were staying here for Christmas and he was happy. Not so happy about the fact that we have to get a small Christmas tree (so to avoid chewing by the Gus dog). But we came up with some possible ways to hide the tree from Gus, so we'll see. But he's happy, so that's good. He being Son.
MB returns on Sunday to a house filled with dirty dishes and, hmm, we'll see, tomatoes? In any case, he'll have his hands full as I have some papers to grade and have made no progress thus far.
What? What's that you say? I can watch "30 Rock" on-line? Must run. Kiss-kiss.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
If you want to be invited, just drop me a line. I tried to invite everyone I thought would want to post/be involved. But you have to post. And it doesn't necessarily have to reflect the "big minds" (i.e. intellectual) but if you are involved, that means you have a big mind (because you're so smart to want to blog with us). And it does have to be about the small screen.