Monday, October 29, 2007

Top Issues in Unspeakableness

Here are some high (and low?) points from the panel on Saturday.
  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.")
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
All in all, the festival was fun. I heard Janette Turner Hospital read and bought her new book, Orpheus, Lost, which is good so far.
You should also buy Christine Allen-Yazzie's book if you haven't already. It's great.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I made the Pumpkin Risotto (Scorpion's Tail's recipe) and some salmon (that Middlebrow overcooked, not my fault!).
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

The Secrets of Isis

I was talking with some friends last night about TV. I asked if anyone remembered Isis. Of course it was another woman who remembered. The first female live action superhero!!
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

Moab: The Stats

So we're back. Thanks to my superb navigational skills, we took the long way (and by long I do not mean more scenic route) there. But we took the more scenic and shorter route home. We made it, hurray!
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 come!

We're off tomorrow for The Other Half, the half-marathon I'm running on Sunday. As the day approaches I simultaneously feel surprised (what?) and excited (the heart races as I plan what to eat, wear, etc.). It's an odd feeling.
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

"Once" and Exhausted

If you haven't seen the movie "Once," you should. Absolutely. Now. Stop reading and go see it. Good. Now, you should listen to the live concert from NPR.
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

Just Had to Blog

I don't have anything to say, but I felt the need to blog. MB is home and he thinks the nook looks fantastic. I'll post some pictures, eventually. We still have to finish the benches, but still. And maybe get new cushions? Always something.
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

Children, Crying and Crying about Children

While the gander is away, the goose is busy trying to keep her head above the rain water. Okay, seriously.
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)
  1. 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.
  2. I love snow in a movie. A scene with snow falling, lightly or heavily, characters walking or running. Your work is done.
  3. 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.
  4. I love food.
  5. All these things go together of course: "Mostly Martha." I think it was Lis who recommended it. Thanks!
  6. But I did cry, a few times, during this movie. So thus, the theme.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. I like to not cook and have Wild Oats sushi for dinner with Wild Oats soda and Wild Oats cookies. Why not?
  10. Who takes out the garbage when the gander is away? The goose. That's right! The goose!
  11. When the gander's away the goose has to do fucking everything. Is that fair I ask you?
  12. Am I a goose? And what does that mean, really?
Tomorrow I must go to the market (rain or no rain) and fetch some tomatoes if there are any to be had, and most importantly, a pumpkin for Son. It is never too early in October for Pumpkin buying. I anxiously await the weekend I can buy a sugar pie Pumpkin and make a pie. Yum.
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.