Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Year of Absences: January

Okay, I looked back at my blog from last year and apparently I did do some stuff in January, and from the sounds of the blog it was mostly watching TV, resuming teaching after the break, and some swimming.
But, also, there was a picture of a day I went skiing at Soldier Hollow when it was 10 degrees. You can revisit that post here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Year: A Post of Absences

I know that at this time of year we (and by "we" I mean people I know or am related to, but not actually me) make year-end lists of things we love or loathe and we look back at the year with fondness or skepticism. This year, I want to start MY year-end retrospective by noting that, recently, I had to fill out a form at a doctor's office. The last question required that I mark any "conditions which trouble me." One of them was "forgetfulness." What? Am I troubled by forgetfulness? Or, more aptly, am I human and over the age of twenty? Time was, I made fun of my mother (how could I be so cruel?) for not recalling where she parked the car. This, my friends, happens to me every time I go to Costco. I've been there so many times how could I possibly distinguish where I parked this time from where I parked last time. But seriously, does this "condition" cause me "trouble"?
So, this year, I will celebrate December 31 by providing you with a trail to things I have forgotten.
Apparently nothing happened in January, and I have no pictures to prove it.
In February, Son had a birthday. What did we do? Can't recall.
Oh yes, see, now I remember. Son wanted breakfast for dinner, so we had bacon, eggs and what look to me like frozen waffles. One memory recovered!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas by the Numbers

Christmas movies watched: Two (Elf, Charlie Brown Christmas)
Meals cooked: Zero! (Christmas Eve at a friend's, Christmas brunch at a friend's, tamales from Victor's)
Movies watched on Christmas: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, G-Force
Good gifts bought for Middlebrow: 3 (whiskey glasses, Django Rheinhard CD, guitar book)
Gift for MB that was really for both of us: 1 (Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express)
Great gifts received: Many! (Running shirt from my sister, sweater from MB, gloves from Ross)
Cookies eaten: infinite! Too many! Make it stop!
Books read since school ended: Two? Age of Innocence & Year of the Flood.
Things to do between now & Jan 11: So many! I choose not to think about this now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book!


My book is available for pre-order on Amazon. I received The University of Alabama Press catalog today, which my book, and the other FC2 books appear in. Still says March.
I'm excited though!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lessons: The Last List!

I'm pretty sure I've run out of wise things to say, but that won't prevent me from offering this fourth and final list.

  1. Drink lots of water.
  2. Hug people every day (preferably your family and friends, but strangers work too, if they are willing)
  3. Go see live music. It is always fun.
  4. Have coffee with friends, weekly. You DO have time, and it reminds you why your life is great.
  5. Play games, whatever kind you like. I like cribbage, Settlers of Catan, Mastermind and any card game. Also: tennis.
  6. Read things. Preferably (for me) novels, but also blogs and newspapers. And mysteries.
  7. Breathe deeply.
  8. Remember who you were and thank her for getting you to this point. Forgive her for the stupid things she did, for without the stupid things, you wouldn't be who you are.
  9. Life is too short for envy.
  10. Be generous to a fault.
  11. Don't forget the past, but keep moving forward.
Here's hoping I learn some other new things in this next year.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

10 More Lessons (whoosh! Almost done!)

  1. You know, life is really, really, really short. It only seems long during the last week of classes.
  2. Don't sweat the small stuff.
  3. The small things are really important. This may seem to contradict #2, but what I mean is, just loving the feeling of your son's head gently resting on your arm: important. Getting mad at same son because his room is dirty or because he spilled water all over the floor: not important.
  4. Some things CAN wait until tomorrow: grading papers, cleaning the bathroom, oh, other things.
  5. Take time to run in the snow. Or hang out and drink coffee. Or sing really loud in your car. I mean, if you like it, do it. If you don't like it, you may still have to do it, because chances are it's your job.
  6. Remember that no ONE thing is your life. Your life isn't your job or your relationships or where you live or what you do, but an amazing combination of all these things. So if one thing changes, you can handle it.
  7. You should do situps. You really should.
  8. Give and receive compliments. When someone compliments you, smile and say thank you. Surprisingly, this is often harder than giving compliments.
  9. Stress relief is not optional. Find the thing that relieves the pressure and then make that thing a priority: running, Crossfit, writing, alone time. This is a necessity. It's right behind breathing and drinking water.
  10. It's all about the people. At the end of the day, you can replace anything you bought, you can buy a new one, you can find a different meal/book/entertainment option. But without your peeps, friends, family, community, who cares? It's all about the people. I'm blessed to have such good ones. Thanks!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More Lessons from my 41st Year

Today, since it is exactly one week until my birthday, I will offer another ten lessons. These, I decided, will be about food, since that is one of my obsessions.
  1. The things you love might not be good for you, but you can learn to love the things that ARE good for you (like spinach, kale, chard, peppers, etc.)
  2. Always, always, always eat breakfast. Always.
  3. Protein, protein, protein!
  4. Lack of protein makes one a total bitch! And yes, by "one" I mean me.
  5. Always, always, always carry snacks. Such as: precooked sausage, apple, almonds. Or: cheese stick, orange, cashews. Or: protein bar.
  6. If you have healthy snacks in the house, you are more likely to eat healthy snacks. This also works with children. If you just give them the healthy snack, they will usually eat it.
  7. Coffee is not optional.
  8. Do not eat to live or live to eat. Somewhere in between is best.
  9. Savor each bite. If it's not worth savoring, you probably shouldn't eat it.
  10. A healthy attitude about food is a gift you give yourself and your children.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Birthday Lesson

A fellow blogger, whose birthday is today, made a list of things he's learned, one for each year. Well, I am older than him, so it's going to take me awhile to think of (gasp!) 41 things. So I thought, in the spirit of breaking things down into rounds, I'd start with ten and do a few lists in the week leading up to my birthday.
Ahem. To begin:

  1. There are really very few people who are going to love you in spite of who you are, so when you find him, for god's sake, marry him (done!)
  2. Savor each second, minute, hour, day with your child, because pretty soon he will grow up and it will be sooner than you think
  3. Age is all in your mind (because as far as I'm concerned, I'm still 28)
  4. The things that you think you shouldn't do or eat are not as good as you imagine them to be when you are denying yourself; Forget about them and move on
  5. If you are not improving as you get older, something is wrong (and the benchmark for "improve" is all up to you)
  6. Weightlifting is hard; writing a novel is harder
  7. Keep trying new things
  8. Fail. Fail better. Fail again.
  9. What looks like failure is really just an opportunity to try a different way
  10. You must do the one thing you think you cannot do (thanks Eleanor Roosevelt). Like: Crossfit or writing a novel.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks: An Abecediary

I stole this idea from Hightouchmegastore.

A...Apples. On which I have nearly subsisted lately.
B...Books. What would I be without them?
C...Crossfit. Enough said.
D...Dessert. Of all kinds.
E...Eggs. I eat so many of them. So often. I wish I could have chickens.
F...Friends & Family. I am blessed to have so many friends from various parts of my life: work, crossfit, writing, running. I especially miss my family at this time of year.
G...Glee. Yes, the TV show. Don't laugh.
H...husband. He's a prince among men. He does laundry, dishes and sort of makes dinner. And now he does crossfit, so he's pretty much perfect.
I...Iceland. Because it gave us my favorite mystery writer, Arnaldur Indridason.
J...Jerks. Without them, I wouldn't be able to feel superior.
K...kitchen. For cooking and baking and standing around talking.
L...laughter. Especially of the kid variety, but I'll take any kind.
M...music. I like to listen.
N...Nutritionist. I've learned how to eat. Finally.
O...Obama.
P...pie: pumpkin, apple, peach, cherry. The list goes on.
Q...Quizzes. Because I need to know which '80s song I am.
R...Ross. One of the true joys of life is when your 8 year old "too cool" son wants to sit on your lap and praises your cuddles. God I wish I could stop time.
S...students: a few make up for the many. And thank god.
T...Thanksgiving. Yeah for turkey and a reason to eat mashed potatoes.
U...Utah. Home sweet home.
V...vino. Of all kinds.
W...Writing. Keeps me sane, makes me crazy.
X...too X-rated to say. Let your imagination run wild.
Y...You.
Z...zebras. Why not?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"An Education"

Did I like it? Yes I did.
First, it was set in London. So I was watching, thinking, "Was I there?"
Also, two words: Peter Sarsgaard. Of course a sixteen-year-old girl would throw caution to the wind for him. Of course.
Also: Dominic Cooper. So sexy.
Also: Olivia Williams as the "old maid" school teacher with glasses, no less.
And Sally Hawkins has the smallest role possible, but is still lovely to see.
I quite liked this film, but it was, in many ways, a romance, but the happy ending is not the marriage plot.
Plus, it made me want to rewatch many film versions of Austen films (Dominic Cooper is in the latest BBC "Sense and Sensibility").
Also, I don't get to go to movies very often, especially with Lisa B, so it was a grand day out.
Now, back to reality. Today, rowing and then much grading. Then more grading, and when I'm done with that, still more grading.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Student I Have Not Seen In Three Weeks,

You are failing.
Go away.

Twit

I deleted it. Like anyone cares. If you have TV things to say, say them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Success

...it furthers one to cross the great waters.
Or something like that. It's a quote I'm misremembering from the I Ching, back when I believed that if I threw coins it could tell me something about myself. I don't disbelieve it now, maybe I just believe it a little less. Or, maybe, I want to believe it.
I wrote 2,000 words today.
After my last post, complaining that I couldn't do it all, I did work out today and I even went to Costco and bought various forms of protein and then I cooked a turkey breast (btw, SUPER complicated: you cut open the package, plop it in a dish and put it in the oven). And then I made myself lunch and took a shower. And then I wrote.
Then I picked up the kid from school, drove the carpool, did a little more grocery shopping (what is it about the words "almond milk" that cause that item to drop off my list the moment I walk into a store? Is it because I'm stupid?) came home, surfed the internet for 15 minutes, then I wrote for another hour and then I "made dinner" (made quinoa: boil water, add quinoa; steamed broccoli: boil water, cut up broccoli, put broccoli in pan; cut up turkey I had already cooked; poured chocolate soymilk into glass: Wala! I'm mother of the year!).
Then we watched "Community" and Son had a snack of health food store toaster pastries.
Then I sat on the couch with Son and we both read Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I finished mine! Then I watched "Waitress." Why can movies have happy endings and not be sappy? Or, are they sappy and we just don't mind? And by "we" I mean "me." I mean, I don't mind.
So that's my "I'm Superwoman and don't you fucking forget it" Day.
Did I mention that MB did all the dishes and a shitload of laundry? I'm sure that had something to do with it. Also, who cares what we have for dinner? I mean, I got all the food groups in there. Plus dessert that comes in little foil packets. That, my friends, is the secret to happiness. Whatever it is, it's just fine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Much

MB suggests I am doing too much. This is after a crazy workout at Crossfit, one that left me tired (I went home and laid down for one hour) and too sore to type. Yeah, I was too sore to work on my novel.
Maybe, MB suggests, you shouldn't try to: teach full-time, keep up this crazy workout schedule, be a Mom, run, be social, etc., especially when I have trouble sleeping, which I do.
Maybe.
Maybe it's my crazy workout schedule (Monday: off; Tuesday: Crossfit; Wednesday: run; Thursday: Crossfit; Friday: run; Saturday: Kettlebell class; Sunday: run). But, sometimes I don't run on Wednesday, sometimes I go to Crossfit or do nothing.
Maybe it's my sleep schedule (go to bed around 11, get up around 7). Sometimes I wake up before 6 and just lay there, my mind busily spinning with the things I need to accomplish. Sometimes I fall back to sleep. More often, I don't.
What is this too much of which he speaks? Is it just the human condition that we try to do more than we actually can? Is this an affliction of the working/writing Mom? Is this an affliction of the woman of 2009? It's not enough to be a writer or to be a Mom, I also have to be in shape and awesome?
I have to say, I like to work out, it's good for stress, though sometimes it causes stress. My workout buddies are my social group, my friends. If I didn't work out with them, I wouldn't see them. Sad!
But what about writing? I will finish the novel this year and I think I can work out AND work on my novel.
In my opinion, it's all the grading that intrudes on my writing time. That, and napping when I can't hold my hands up long enough to type a word. There is that.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Next Thing

I'm looking for the Next Thing. Have you seen it? This is the thing that will help me sleep past 5 AM, the thing that will quiet my asking mind, that will pick me up and calm me down. I am looking for free house cleaning and free massage and free will. I am looking for more and less. I am looking.
Also, this next thing must be affordable, sugar free, approximate. It must be close, accessible, desirable. It must be like a kitten and a lion. It must be.
Perhaps the next thing is next. It is next, and so, waiting, it will arrive. Or, fleeting, it must be pursued. One of these is true.
The next thing exists only in dreams, in sleeping, in thought.
The next thing is not here now, and so must be next, and so must be deferred and so never.
Never, never next thing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview

Do you run because you love it or because you are afraid?
Both.

Do you find that Crossfit influences other parts of your life?
Insufficiently. For example, the facts of weight and strength distribution, the accomplishment of seemingly insurmountable tasks, the lifting of very heavy things over one's head, one would think that such physical manipulations might lead one to the conclusion that other tasks which are, on the surface, easier to accomplish would seem less daunting, nay! easy, in comparison. But alas, dear readers, this is not the case. Words do not magically appear on the page, nor does time expand and slow, nor does the sun rise earlier or set later. Still, as one who can deadlift and one who can clean AND jerk, one would hope that say, writing a novel would come easily. But nay, it is not to be.

What do you eat?
I eat only the flesh of skinny animals or those that swim or larger animals, but only if they were happy. I eat the apples and the bananas and the shakes that taste like dessert but are really medicine. I eat the eggs and the spinach and the cheese. I eat the yogurt. I eat the honey. I drink the coffee, and yes, it owns me, it is my master, the black elixir that giveth and taketh away the pain.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
There is water and a blue sky. The shine during the day is bright and of the sun; at night, small fires. Sometimes there is wine, often chocolate. During the day, Spanish is spoken and at night there is silence. There are tastes of smoke and the sea, the strong scent of pine and rain.

And what about tomorrow?
Always, I am amazed.

Yesterday?
She said to me, she said, never this and then that, never should, never could have, never no.

What does this word mean?
That word?

And how happiness?
Only there is no doorway, no rooftop, no next. In this, I have seen and know, so it must be.

Well then.
So goodbye.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One of the Sadnesses of Challenge Month

Just now, thinking about making some snack for Son, I became a little heartsick at the thought of not baking things for him...the idea that I can't sit in the breakfast nook with him, eating a homemade cookie and talking about how good they are, knowing I made them, that unlike other cookies, this one had something intangible baked into it, that one of the expressions of feeling is making things, food, for other people. Sadly, much of this food involves flour and sugar.
I know, next month will be different and I can make cookies again, and, more importantly, pie. But just now, just for a minute, I was a little sad.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quantity vs. Quality

I'm teaching a novel writing class and we are using the No Plot? No Problem! philosophy of shooting for the word count, quality be damned. It's also a kind of variation on Anne Lamott's idea of Shitty First Drafts. Just get it down, you can fix/revise/cut it later.
However.
However, yesterday as I speed-typed my way to 20,000 words (even I, the teacher, am about 4,000 words behind), my novel took a turn for the weird. And by weird, I mean paranormal, maybe, but it could just be first-person delusion. Or, it could have been a weird coincidence. But, my question to you, oh wise and worldly readers, is: do I go with this weird turn? I'm afraid it might mean that when I reach the 50,000 word mark (the goal), that I will have to cut the last half the book and rewrite that.
Or, I could just say, okay, that's weird, but I can rewrite that little chunk later, and go on with the book as if that weird/paranormal/delusional part never happened. (Except I got a good section of description and I could go back and revise it so it's not so important in the overall plot of the book).
My normal philosophy of writing would be to go with it and see where it takes me. I'm worried, however, that this weird turn will make what I am trying to do (an artsy/noir/mystery type thing) into something else (a paranormal mystery/young adult series). Not that the something else is BAD (though it could be terrible) it's just not what I set out to do.
What to do? What to do?
Please help. For now, I'm stuck.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Categories of Men

Now that I'm over 40 (cough, cough), I look around and put males into certain categories. I mean Men that catch my eye for some reason (their pants are falling off, they are cute, they smile at me, they try to chat me up).
  1. "I'm old enough to be his mother!"
  2. "I'm not old enough to be his mother, but I still couldn't date him, because he doesn't know who George Michael is."
  3. "He might be a suitable partner, if MB ever wises up to my insanity and divorces me."
  4. "I would make him a nice trophy wife."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall "Break"

What is the sound of one fall breaking?
If you spend even, say, two hours, or perhaps, say ten, grading, then is it really a "break" or is it, as one colleague claimed, just an opportunity to catch up and, if so, then is it a "break"? Well, is it?
If, for example, you spend the first half-hour of said break trying to decide if you should turn the furnace on, then is it really a "fall" break or have you somehow, rapidly and inexplicably, fallen down a slippery slope that would more appropriately be deemed "winter"? Or, perhaps, is there another season between fall and winter, fwinter, and is that what we should be calling this weather that vacillates, schizophrenically, between hail and sunshine? (and wind, let's not forget the wind, lest it punish us by blowing more, and more hard. Harder.)
What, then, are the approved activities for this fwinter non-break? Grading, sure, that's one. Watching shows (any & all) on Hulu, two. Drinking wine, three (but only for today, because then, lo, the crazy October challenge begins and all fun is banned. Banned!). Hiking with dog? Maybe, if it stops hailing! Four. All indoor exercises, that's five.
I need at least ten things that aren't grading. Movies? Check. Reading? Maybe. But it might be for class. Okay, TV, that's never for class (unless I call it "research"). Dog outings, yes. Trips to Park City? Depends on the weather. Eating out? What with this challenge, let's just say no. Shoving my face with approved food items? Yes. Working out just so I can drink chocolate milk? Hell yes.
Hey, if you are only allowed one vice (chocolate milk....okay, coffee...that's two. And working out, three), you are damned sure going to work it. Or I am. Yes, I mean, I AM.
Now I just have to come up with three fitness goals for the month.
One bright spot? When it strikes midnight on Halloween, I'm going to eat some candy. I get to define "some."
Fall break? What?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Son's First Day of School

This picture is just too good not to post. It shows Son on his first day of school. Can you see his attitude oozing from every pore? It's saying "Mom and Dad, don't embarrass me. Just don't. Stop!" I will always remember his first day of school this way. He looks so handsome in his new shirt. And he hates me.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Update: Son's Stats

Reading: 2 books in 3 days
Eating: so far today, oatmeal, bagel, sausage, eggs & toast. He just asked for a cheeseburger.
Anatomy: at 6 am this morning, "Mom! Look! I have a six-pack. I have a six-pack!"
Education: "Chipmunks are educational!"
Guitar: picked up guitar, just now, to practice "Greensleeves"
Song lyrics: "I'm bankrupting my family with haircuts and polishing my nails." (just for the record, I think the last manicure I got was before my sister's wedding...uh, 5 years ago? How long ago was that?)
Vocabulary: glance, levitating, exasperated (though he doesn't really understand the last one)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blog as Secret Facebook

I feel I should quit revealing my private life on FB, so that leaves my blog, which I'm coming to think of as a more private facebook, not because it is somewhat anonymous, but because if I post on FB, say, that I ate donuts for breakfast or drank wine AND jack daniels last night, my exercise friends will scold me.
Or, if I post some liberal screed my conservative friends will berate me.
Or if I decry Dan Brown's latest book as the death of the American Novel, someone, no doubt, will find me out as the snob I am. (As if all my diatribes against vampire novels haven't outed me already...)
In short, I think I will have to revert to "professional" FB, which sounds boring, but is probably what it is for anyway.
Which means I'll have to post my after finding-of-Son-and-friend, in the car with the windows rolled up, swearing screed here:
"Get the BLEEP in the BLEEPing car right BLEEPing now!!!! Where the BLEEP were you? You stay in the BLEEPing front yard! If I ever BLEEPing find you BLEEPing in the BLEEPing alley, I'll BLEEPing kill you. Do you BLEEPing understand? Do you?"
Or something like that.
It's not pretty. But as I told Son last night, love isn't pretty. Nor is parenting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Overheard from the back seat

"Smell this book. Doesn't it smell good? It smells like the used bookstore. I love the smell of books!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I am Unfriending You

Dear Person Who is My Facebook Friend, But Whom I Don't Really Know and with Whom, it has now become painfully clear, I Have Nothing in Common,

I don't know why we're friends. It's not that I don't like you, because clearly I did like you, at one time, maybe more than 20 years ago. Or maybe I never really liked you and never really knew you, but somehow found you again after lo these many years, and then somehow felt guilty that I didn't know you or that I was judging the now-you based on the old-you and so I accepted your friend request, or I saw you on a friend's page and thought "Hey, that who's it. I should send a friend request." Because we all know that more friends are better, right? If I have a lot of friends that somehow makes me a good person, better, say, than those other people who have less friends.
But now, now it has become clear that not only do I not really know you, I don't think, actually, that I DO like you. In fact, I think I dislike you. Not, as you might suspect, because you leave snarky and judgmental comments on my supposedly humorous political posts. Not, as you might fear, because I am a censoring communist that wants to take away your guns and your right to talk about your guns. Not, as you might posit, because I don't want to hear the voice of dissent.
No, actually, it's because I'm tired. Tired of the political climate in which the only way people can disagree is to call each other names like Nazis or communists. Tired of a culture in which the President wanting to talk to schoolchildren is suspect. Tired of people who say they believe in the Constitution when they don't, actually, know what it says.
Yes, I have to say. Some of the people who disagree with me ARE stupid and racist. I just didn't know that you were one of them.
Now, I realize, Facebook really should just be a place where I update everyone on what I'm eating and my workout routine.
For all these reasons and more, oh so much more, I am unfriending you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Go Clijsters!

I used to admire, and sometimes like, the Williams sisters. I was rooting for Kim Clijsters anyway, mostly because I love a comeback (especially by a mom). But, as one commenter at the New York Times said, this incident proves why Serena is an impossible person to root for. Venus has always been the classier sister, and I feel sad that Serena had to fall this way. I admire her tennis skills, but I have lost my respect for her.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Little from Column A, A Little from Column B

The answer to yesterday's question is : Yes. It is both lack of sleep and reality that have caused me stress.
Today I ran, fast, and then I went to Crossfit. Then I worked with the grade school students and then I taught my students. Actually, I lectured, then I yelled (they hadn't done the reading).
Now I'm getting ready for bed.
But it seems Obama's speech was positive. Son's teacher taught his class the sign for "responsibility" and they had a talk about what that meant. I think I should ask her to have that talk with my students.
Yawn.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Lack of Sleep? Or Reality?

Now that two weeks of school are over and done, and the third about to begin, I must confess I feel a bit sick, sort of a nauseous-anxiety-dread. Also, I must confess that the last two nights I have slept very little, both nights because of, perhaps, too much food + red wine, and also, last night at least, because crazy Gus kept whining/coughing.
So what is causing my nausea-anxiety-dread? Is it simply a lack of sleep? Will I wake up tomorrow thinking that the world is peachy keen and that all one needs in life is a balance of waking and sleeping time?
Or...or, dear readers, is the confluence of lack of sleep mixing noxiously with Obama education-speeching hysteria & Glenn-Beck Day declaring insanity?
What I'm saying, beloved ones, is maybe it's NOT just a lack of sleep but a too large dose of reality? I mean, people are hysterical. Mayors are declaring Glenn Beck Day (maybe it's just the one, but that is one too many).
Oh, on this Labor Day, I am a downer.
I will get some rest and check back in with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Teaching the Night/Novel Class

Good evening. I will now, in so many words, tell you all about the kinds of novels I hope you're NOT writing. That is, the novel about (of course!) vampires, the novel about a world that seems suspiciously like the world of Harry Potter/Stephen King/Shannon Hale/Twilight/The Lord of the Rings/all the science fiction books you've ever read.
You want to write witty banter? Hurrah! You like Kilgore Trout? Even better! Your favorite novel is Lolita? Huzzah! (Okay, yes, there are at least three readers in the class. Out of 28).
Yes, we all want to marry Mr. Darcy. But he doesn't exist. So now what?
No, that doesn't mean we move to Mars and write about unicorns. Absolutely not.
What? Your novel is about a teenage girl who kills with her mind? You are dismissed.
Please do not talk about Twilight. Or werewolves. Zombies are acceptable.
Yes, I like Luna Lovegood too.
What? You can't name a novel you like? Only a movie? I will close my eyes and make you disappear.
What? Does the novel have to be made up? You mean, fiction? Is a novel fiction? Is that really your question?
Excuse me. Class is now over.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Some Observations on the Recent Aquirement of the Cell Phone

  1. The only person who calls me on it? Middlebrow.
  2. Revise that: Middlebrow and Jane, my running partner. She texts to say, "Where are you? Why are you sleeping in?"
  3. Is it really necessary? Middlebrow called me from the car to tell me he was on his way home. I imagined that he was, but then he called and so I knew for sure. Did I need to know?
  4. Revise that: Verizon also sent me a text (or txt, I know!) to tell me I could manage my bill on line. Great!
  5. Revise that: I also got a call from various friends of Son or their parents to arrange play dates.
  6. The cell phone is a play date arranging device.
  7. To wit: I arrange play dates for Son, and running engagements for myself, which are really just adult exercise versions of play dates.
  8. Revise that: A colleague called to say she couldn't come over because her dog passed away.
  9. Is the cell phone a bad news delivery system? Do I need it in case bad things happen? For the inevitable bad things that will happen?
  10. Revise that: I also got a solicitation call. For Middlebrow.
  11. The only thing wrong with having my cell phone number be our old land line number is that I still get those "Want to give us money?" calls. And all the calls that are for all of us. Middlebrow gets only calls for himself, and some guy named Lee who used to have the phone number and is/was apparently a deadbeat.
  12. I think the idea is that my family will call me on it and I will call my family. So far, we've emailed each other to that effect, but no calls have taken place. I blame this on the beginning of the school year.
  13. I forget to turn it on, I forget to turn it off, I forget to charge it. So far, it has not rung in class, while I'm teaching, so I consider that a bonus.
  14. I don't ever want to get email on my cell phone.
  15. Revise that: I think my mom called me. Once.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Am I The Only Sane One? Scary!

Sometimes, sometimes when I observe humanity, sometimes I think, "Am I the only sane one?"
To wit:
I like people. I like to hang out & laugh. That seems normal, right? Why do some people not like this?
I like to watch TV.
I like to waste time.
I love my husband. He's the only one I date/have sex with. Is this TMI? I apologize, but I'm afraid the world has gone crazy, with people having sex with not-their-partners or going on dates with same.
Really, crazy Avenues real estate people? Really? You're asking $730,000? Haven't you heard? We're having a recession. I'm sure you were invited.
I like tequila. Is that so wrong?
It seems like being extreme is in. Extreme diets (only one meal a day, only 500 calories, only blue food), extreme sports (run 100 miles in the dark, jump out of a helicopter, whatever), extreme positions (Glenn Beck is sane, we don't need universal health care). Why can't we just be moderate? Why can't we be like, I like to run just 5 miles and then eat. I like to have a beer too and then watch some TV on Hulu. This is my ideal life.
Sometimes, just to be crazy, I drink something with HFCS in it.
Wacky!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Questions

  1. If an administrator speaks in an empty gym, does it make a sound?
  2. Isn't critical thinking a skill? Isn't it?
  3. Does absolute tequila corrupt absolutely?
  4. What is the exact weight, in tons, of the unreadable texts I will read this semester?
  5. If exercise doesn't make you thin (thanks Time magazine!), then does eating not make you fat?
  6. And, if so, how many cookies do I need to eat?
  7. Aren't all vegetable calories good? Like all those beets and that metric ton of tomatoes I ate?
  8. When's the next vacation?
  9. What's my theme song?
  10. How many days until the semester ends?
  11. What? It hasn't actually started yet?
  12. Shit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How am I shallow? Let me count the ways: An end of summer catch all list

  1. Can't be bothered to listen to NPR any more...too depressing! It's KRCL all the time, except when I'm flipping to the country station, just for a sec, or to classic rock, but only if it's Rick Springfield.
  2. Can't be bothered to actually set up the on-line portion of my on-line class. Too busy....uh, something...
  3. Can't be bothered to crack the text books for class I have never taught before. Yeah, I've already read it, like, two years ago.
  4. Umm, is that coffee? Yum...coffee.
  5. Have you heard about my knee? First, when I walked, it was mobster pain, two guys with baseball bats and part of me begging, would you please hit me in the head and put me out of my misery? Ouch.
  6. My knee is 90% better. Maybe 99%.
  7. I soooo hope that Juliette Lewis (opening for Cat Power opening for the Pretenders) is a train wreck. Train. Wreck. That would be soooo entertaining.
  8. Do I need to wear mascara on the first day of class? Discuss.
  9. I saw on a magazine cover that Bradley was dating Renee and not Jennifer and I actually cared for, like, ten seconds.
  10. I haven't even started worrying about how my new syllabus increases my grading load.
  11. You know those emails that students send saying "what books do I need for your class?" or "where does our class meet?" I've taken to responding to them with the same tone they have written them, except I edit out all the swear words that my brain tells me to type. For example, one response, unedited, would have looked like this: "Check the fucking bookstore, idjit!"
  12. Oh, I feel much better now. I think I'll go get my eyebrows waxed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In Which I Become a Local Food Facist

My problem, lately (hey, you know me, I has problems...), is that when I read a book, I become a convert to its perspective (exhibit 1: Born to Run; perspective: we were made to run, probably barefoot).
Now I am reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and I haven't cried while reading a book since Plainsong which, my friends, was years ago. But reading the description of steer 534's pathetic life at a corporate factory feedlot nearly brought me to tears. My first act: emailing my local beef connection and ordering many pounds of local, grass-fed beef to fill my freezer.
Today I went to the Farmer's Market and purchased more local veggies and fruit. My favorite: the Sheriff's Horticulture Program, with food grown by prisoners. Last year, I got some great peppers there.
My sister and I bought local pastries (Crumb Brothers), local breakfast burritos (Rico's), some beautiful golden beets, a delicious melon, and lots of other stuff. We could barely carry it all.
I am afraid I will become insufferable when discussing food, at least for the foreseeable future. Please forgive me in advance.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flag-stuff

We arrived at the home of Otterbutt and The Photographer (I don't know what to call him...does he have a blog name?). They plied us with beer and delicious fish tacos (so yummy!). Let me just tell you, it is much cooler here than at home, and also where we are going next. We had to have blankets on the bed!
I'm drinking delicious french press coffee, then I need to eat something so I can go for a run. Later we'll go for a hike.
Aah, vacation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Basking in New Patio-ness

Yesterday we finished the patio, so today we bask. This included running all kinds of heat-induced errands, such as swimsuit shopping (all the good ones are gone, just ask the Australian at Pool-N-Patio), water bottle acquirement, snacks-for-the-car shopping (chocolate silk, pretzels, salad, animal cookies, celery, eggs), then returning home to sit in front of the A/C and surf the internets.
That done, I took all the vegetables from the fridge and either threw them away or cooked them. Must be done. Now, Middlebrow just has to drink all the remaining beer, which means packing should be fun. We'll either end up with no underwear or all underwear or a weird mix of shorts and shirts that don't match. Oh well, it's only Sedona. No one will notice. They'll be too busy getting blissed out in the harmonic convergence.
I'm looking forward to seeing my family, Son having playmates for a week, practicing my pull ups and double unders, drinking some cocktails, swimming in cold water and relaxing.
The final vacation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read This!

My title refers (sort of) to this book I'm obsessed with: Born to Run. But it also refers to this blog post.
Sometimes I think I'm talking into a void. Also, I think, "why blog?" It seems self-indulgent and narcissistic.
But then my friend posts this: "I prefer blogs that read like a journal where every petty detail of their lives are revealed." But his blog is intellectual and insightful, a mash-up of a personal essay and poetic theory. His blog is not petty.
But his post made me feel like it's okay to just blog whatever, I don't need a theme or an insight I can just say, here's what happened today people.
So, we're nearly done with the patio project, and I will post pictures, eventually. We put some sand on the part that is finished and (thank god!) it hides our imperfections. I wish I could cover myself with sand.
I decided that my experimental, obsessive novel needs to be a mystery with a chronological plot. Back to the drawing board. But I already have an idea for the second novel in this series with my thirty-something female main character. If I can't be literary, at least I can sell out. Maybe. I'll let you know how that goes.
I'm obsessed with the running book and now feel like what I need to do is run more. Right. I'll let you know how that goes. But the book is awesome, and even if you don't like running, it actually has a great plot and the information in it is super fascinating. It's inspiring.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thoughts I Had While Moving Rocks Today

Does this stone look like Maine?
Here's Massachusetts, but without Cape Cod. This one is Michigan. Wouldn't it be easier to make a patio if it was just a puzzle of the U.S. and then all we had to do was fit the stones back together?
This stone is shaped like Rhode Island and is the same size as Rhode Island.
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska.
Why did we make a big pile of dirt there? It needs to be moved.
Why did I get a PhD in English instead of learning a trade?
If a Humanities degree was a tool, what kind of tool would it be? (my guess: rubber mallet)
I'm hot.
Is it snack time?
Am I pretty?
This stone looks like Maine.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I miss Cromwell News

When I was in London, I frequented a small shop called Cromwell News. It was right next door to our hostel. The water was cold, if over priced, and it was open late.
But that's not why I loved it or why I miss it now. I miss it because of the man who worked there. He always smiled and his eyes sparkled in the most cliched way possible. He always asked me questions about how I was and what I was doing. I never asked his name, but he made my time in London better, because I knew he would always smile at me. I wondered if it was just me, or if he smiled at everyone. He did smile at everyone, but sometimes when I walked past the shop, not going in, but on my way somewhere, he would see me and raise his eyebrows in greeting and smile.
On the day before my last day in London, I asked him why he was always so happy. I didn't fully understand his answer (he was from London, but he was Indian), but the upshot was: you have to make yourself happy. I think he said, "There's a war out there" and it was clear he wasn't specifically talking about Iraq or Afghanistan, but the world in general. "You can't let it get to you," he said.
Here was a guy with a fairly boring job (standing or sitting in a fairly small shop, selling postcards and water and souvenirs) and he just seemed to be blissful, in the true meaning of the word.
He said he wanted to go back to India, eventually, but he was content for now. No, not content, happy.
When we got up on Sunday to leave, Cromwell News was not yet open. I never told him good-bye, but I really, really liked him.
I hope I never forget the way his eyes smiled.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Contemplations for July

  1. What is happiness?
  2. Is happiness having only 39 days of summer vacation left? Or having a whole 39 days of vacation left!
  3. Is happiness the difference between a question mark and an exclamation point?!
  4. Is happiness a certain beverage?
  5. Is happiness box wine?
  6. What is suffering?
  7. Is suffering the patio project?
  8. Does suffering involve digging?
  9. Can suffering be solved by certain beverages?
  10. What is the relationship between happiness, suffering and box wine?
Discuss.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The complete album of digging photos

The Digging Project

Here's me, about to start digging. Why dig? I am asking myself. It is a deep philosophical question.

The beginnings of The Hole. The hose marks the edge of the space we need to clear. Oh woe is us.

Middlebrow working his magic with the shovel. Note how Gus is "helping" by smelling stuff and chasing butterfly shadows through The Hole.

The gorgeous radishes I got from Hightouch's CSA. The Mexican zucchinni and the yellow squash I bought. We roasted them and ate them. Delicious!
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Things I am Doing Well this Summer

  1. Exercising
  2. Eating
  3. Drinking various beverages including: water, coffee, wine, Pimms
  4. Sitting around
  5. Surfing the internets

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

As if to explain

First, I ran this. You can't see it, but it's f@&*ing steep
Done! See the way I'm tossing that totally unnecessary shirt? That's because I don't need it! I'm done!
Why am I making that face? Because I ran faster than I ever have. I'm tired. (please note: mouth open, eyes closed. Yeah, that's me.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More CA pics

Our moves
Middlebrow's breakfast
Where he got said breakfast (Santa Monica)

Why people live in the CA
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California Dreaming

My handsome boys
Just one part of the amazing things Karen & Eric did for their wedding
Son looking at the "Flight of the Newlyweds" flip book
Our table poster
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reasons to Smile

  1. Listening to Son laugh as he reads Garfield comic book (also, when I look over, he's doing some hand motions and mouthing the words to himself)
  2. Cuddling with Son (he entwines his fingers with mine so I can't get away)
  3. Son trying to get me to fall asleep in his bed by rubbing my forehead and humming
  4. Singing lullabies to Son
  5. Working on a new story while Son watches movies in the hotel room
  6. Taking Son to the ocean
  7. Drinking delicious cinnamon coffee at Mexican restaurant
  8. No rain!! on the wedding day
  9. Finishing the wedding poem
  10. Vacation

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Transitions

Phase changes create difficulty. The shift, for example, from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Not, perhaps, technically a phase change, but a transition nonetheless.
To ease this transition, I offer these suggestions:
  1. Regular doses of Pimms (pimms, fruit, mint, ice, carbonated lemonade)
  2. Running (the harder the better, more difficult to dwell on ideas, must focus on breathing)
  3. Crossfit (see running)
  4. Hanging out with friends (add wine, food, music, etc.)
  5. Movies (I have yet to do this...but it sounds helpful)
  6. Food (in copious amounts)
  7. Pool (will it stop raining?)
I am following this regimen.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A few photos

One of the buildings at Kew Gardens.
More Kew.
Me, with "Dr. Watson" at the Sherlock Holmes museum. Yes, it really was that cheesy.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Two photos and some comments

An orchid from Kew Gardens.

London and the Millennium Bridge

I'm glad to be back in Salt Lake. I had a lovely swim today outside. I fought with Son (everything back to normal!). I saw some friends.
Already, I am scheming ways to get back overseas...any help on this front?
Cheers!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'll be home tomorrow


the most delicious gelato. Ever. Paris.


don't I look European?


they have Jackalope in London?


Before "The Cherry Orchard"
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Thursday, May 21, 2009


This is me by the Putney Street Bridge in Bath.




This is me at Stonehenge.



I saw this on the architectural walking tour of Bloomsbury.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pints

This is a pint of Thatcher's Heritage, a cider. I drank this at Earth & Stars in Brighton.
















This is a pint of Deuchar's IPA. I drank this at Albert's near Victoria Station after Evensong at Westminster Abbey. We saw a man in a pinstripe suit with medals on his chest.
After this pint, I had a Greene King IPA.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


You know how blogger uploads photos...so here they are, randomly.
This is my "outstanding value" which is a towel I got at Marks and Spencer so that I could shower. Yes, no towels at the hostel. Oh well. Now I have a bath towel and a hand towel and all is right in the universe.






This is the buffalo representing "America" in the Prince Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. You may not be able to see it, but the buffalo is being ridden by a "native American." According to this memorial there are 4 continents. All of them have fascinating animals.








First pub drinks in London (I had a Samuel Smith Old something Bitter). The other girls had cider, which was dry and delicious.












Parliment (blurry...). We saw a protest by Sri Lankans (?) about the recent deaths. It stopped traffic and there were many many police there. An educational experience to be sure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheers!

Greetings from London. At the insistence of Otterbutt and Hightouch, I am blogging.
The trip was uneventful, except for the sporadic sleeping. Yesterday, we walked all over Kensington, found the park ("you know how I love the park!"), found where T.S. Eliot lived and died (accidentally), went to TK Maxx (that's right, not TJ, but TK), found Whole Foods and another store with delicious prepackaged food stuffs. Paid WAY too much for a coffee. Had Indian Food (delicious!).
I have been in London less than 24 hours. Have not yet had a pint, but will today, so don't worry. We're going to do a walk along the Thames to orient ourselves and, if I have my way, a trip to the Tate Modern, which might not be chronological, but will, nonetheless, be lovely.
Cheerio, chaps! I'm off to have my free breakfast or a protein bar.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Because

I am not a religious person. You know that.
You may not know that my grandfather was a Reformed Presbyterian preacher. They don't have accompaniment in church (no organ, piano). But what I most remember about the times I spent with my grandparent are the Psalms they sang. Before meals at camp. At church. Sometimes when I listen to Garrison Keillor I get a bit of what I remember from those days.
Today when I found out that my friend Craig had most likely died, the words of some of those songs came back. I think when we don't know what to say or do, familiar words return to us most strongly.
I thought of this "I lift mine eyes unto the hills."
Maybe they will make you feel better also.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lon-Don

Yeah, I know I'm lame and about to get lamer. I haven't been posting, because I've been so busy, and now I'm not going to post. At all.
On Saturday I'm leaving for London where I will, no doubt, eat and drink too much and get sick of museums and then, just in time, flee for a weekend in Paris.
Before you know it, I'll be back.
Be good. I promise to bring pictures and trinkets and lovely stories.
I promise to seize the day.
You do so as well.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What to Do

When someone disappears half a world away, what can we do? My friend Craig is missing, and besides sending emails, calling people who can do something, what can I do? I know my anxiety and sadness is not productive, but still...
So please, keep Craig in your thoughts.
Here are some of his poems.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nostalgia

Hightouch's post has inspired me to write about songs that I love, songs from childhood, songs that bring me to tears, or nearly, songs that I wish I could play on the guitar and sing along, if only alone, in my bedroom.
But before I get to my list, I have to say that I wish I had my father's old Ford pickup (greenish), with its AM radio, buttons that you could actually push in and sometimes they would get stuck in. And this radio played only real country music (not that shitty pop that tries to pass for country now). You know what I mean: Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams.
Okay, so here's my list.
  1. Charlie Rich "The Most Beautiful Girl": This is the first 45 I ever bought. I must have been 5 or 6. I loved Charlie Rich.
  2. "Tennessee Waltz": I think the version we had was by Andy Williams. I can't verify that. But here's a great version by Patsy Cline.
  3. Kris Kristofferson, "Me and Bobby McGee": This is the only version I knew until I was in my 20s. Seriously. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." This the way I remember him. He wrote this song. He's my hero.
  4. Willie Nelson, "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys"
  5. John Denver, "Rocky Mountain High" (Also his "Eclipse" is one of my favorites)
  6. John Prine, "Paradise"
  7. Bonnie Raitt and John Prine, "Angel from Montgomery"
  8. Johnny Cash, "Hurt"
I'm sure there are others, but I have miles to go before I sleep. Miles!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Snow Run

Though I saw blue sky this morning, and see blue sky now, in between there were clouds, a haircut, and a run in the rain/freezing rain/snow. I chose the least optimal time, but there you have it. Sometimes you just have to go for a run because you can. Sylvia and I took her dog Reno and went for it. We were barely out the door when it started raining. Then later it became freezing rain/snow. But if you are already out in it, you just have to buck up and keep running. It was fine. Really.
But it just reminded me that sometimes it's just getting your ass out the door. Once you're out, it really doesn't matter. Sun, rain, snow. You're running. Just keep running.
I'm looking forward to sitting in the hot pools tomorrow and eating Thai food and watching cable.
Did I mention I made myself a delicious breakfast? It was a spinach-Greek scramble. And it was so good. I recommend it (1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, spinach, half a tomato, some orange pepper, reduced fat feta). I also ate a WW english muffin.
Hey, I'm going to England. Do you think I can get an English muffin there? Let's hope.
That's all I have to report. I had a lovely day at home. I drank sufficient amounts of coffee. I took Gus to the dog park. All around, a banner day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eve Sedgwick

A touching obituary here.
I realize that I've entered that time in my life when influential thinkers, writers, artists begin to die. I enjoyed reading her theoretical and critical writing. I feel I should return to her essay about Our Mutual Friend or at least Austen.
Good stuff.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Being Overtaxed: Literally

I've over committed myself lately. Saying I would do a book review (done!) of a book I hadn't read (but now have, obviously). Doing multiple proposals for various things (not done). Taxes (done!) after which we owed more than I can mentally deal with but we paid it, so it's over. Thinking about and planning the overseas trip, which also means emailing with students, and meeting with them. Conferencing with students (why??). Reading "Hamlet."
Some of it is wonderful and delightful: reading How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read for my book club. While the title sounds light and parodic, it turns out to be a really entertaining read, as well as good lit crit.
This weekend we are going to Idaho, so that should be lovely.
Okay, so now I said I would make turkey fricassee from the leftovers from Sunday's turkey. And I need to go to yoga, because my hips hurt, my neck hurts, oh, etc.
So off I go, to make some kind of concoction.
I also need to see a movie. Don't I?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In Which I Quits The Idol

I just can't summon up the energy to care about American Idol anymore. I know. You're asking yourself, how can this be? Even Simon irritates me. Adam may be the most overrated contestant since Danny Gokey since David Archuleta.
This is one of those times when only the word blurgh will do.
My prediction: Adam will win in the biggest yawnfest since Taylor and Katherine. Who should win? Probably Allison. I do still love Matt, and I do like Kris, but I can't sit through the rest of the insufferable performances, critiques, discussions and faux fighting between Simon and Paula just to get to one good performance.
Oh, how I long for the days of David Cook, Daughtry, anyone, really, but the jokers we are now being subject to. Something tells me I'm not the only one who has given up, is giving up, will give up.
Suck it, Idol!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Drinking

Middlebrow turned me on to this post, and this blog in general, over at the NY Times. It's about drinking, though at least one contributor is a recovering alcoholic. What kills me is the people who leave comments about how the blog is contributing to alcoholism, or about all the negative things that drinking brings into people's lives. Why are they reading a blog about drinking in the first place?
But this particular post took me back to the good ole days in Bellingham, where I once ran into a friend on campus. She was done with school, I was just a post-Bac, taking classes and working, still figuring out what the hell I was doing with my life. We headed down to the 3-B tavern, got a pitcher, slid into a booth and proceeded to kill the rest of the afternoon and probably most of the evening without moving, except to get more pitchers. The great thing about the 'ham, a college town of the best sort, is that, as we sat there, the bar filled with our friends, who would join us for a round and then drift off, only to be replaced by more friends.
Once, I left a greeting on my answering machine that began, "I've become one of those women who drinks alone, who sits at the bar and has just one, while the bar fills..." It was during a phase of my life when I left poems instead of traditional greetings. Once I got a message that just said, "Cool." I don't even know who that was. But once, a guy with the same name as Middlebrow (not an uncommon name), called me and heard that message. I wasn't home, obviously, so he just went down to the 3B and there I was. Of course!
Now that I'm past 40, with a real job and a kid, there are no opportunities for afternoon drinking or, at least, they are significantly different. Now, we have drinks in the front yard while Son rides his bike up and down the sidewalk. Now, we make vodka tonics and drink in the front yard with the neighbors, while the kids entertain themselves. We stop drinking at 9 or 10, or at least move it inside. We drink while we watch TV or movies. While we grade student papers. We try to mute the pain of inferior prose with beer and wine.
But we don't get to go into a dark bar on a perfectly fine afternoon for no other reason than we want to have beer, lots of it, and just talk, hang out, people watch, discuss, interact with each other. Afternoon drinking, long hours dedicated to nothing but beer and conversation, is a thing of the past.
I look back on those afternoons with nostalgia.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Nicholas Hughes

This is a touching column about the legacy of suicide, of Plath and Sexton. I taught both these poets recently, and it's hard to get away from talking about their deaths as a way into their poetry. But it's also hard to ignore, as a mother, their impact on their children.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Posting

I'll probably be posting more over at Poem A Day this month, so don't think I'm neglecting you. I will sometimes post other funny things here, like a link to this short essay that I find familiar and lovely.

And speaking of drinking, I'm contemplating my choices for this evening. Beer? Wine? Oh, what shall it be?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chowder for a Snowy Sunday

Fortuitously, we purchased some Snook at the local fish market yesterday. We thought we might grill it. HA! Today we awoke to a blizzard, so chowder seemed more fitting. I made this Cod Chowder, with the Snook of course.
I used more potatoes, some of which I mashed up to make the broth creamier. I used half-n-half instead of whipping cream. I added two cans of chopped clams with their broth and used only two bottles of clam juice. The Snook is still cooking, but it smells delicious.
I think the keys are: bacon and saffron.
Enjoy!
*we ate it...and it was not only the best chowder I ever made, it was the best chowder we've ever had!!*

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Instead

Instead of being gloomy, I will laugh.
Instead of being angry, I will join the slackers and imagine that I, too, am home in bed.
Instead of drowning my sorrows in fattening breakfast pastries, I will look at Lis's blog and pretend.
Instead of preparing for class, I will watch funny videos on Hulu.
Instead of grading, I will update my Facebook status to say "I'm not grading."
Instead of wondering what students do instead of schoolwork, I will make my own list of insteads.
Instead of saving money, I will buy expensive wraps and chips for lunch at Whole Foods.
Instead of drinking tea, I'll guzzle coffee by the gallon.
Instead of not, I'll drink wine on Tuesdays.
Instead of salad, I'll eat meat.
Instead of fruit, I'll eat chocolate.
Instead of black, I'll choose pink.
I will believe that spring is there, just out of our grasp, just around the corner, instead of trusting my senses, and the snow that continues to fall.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break Stats

Plane trips completed: 2
Pairs of shoes taken: 3
Pairs of shoes worn: 3
Different cocktails consumed: 4 (margaritas, Lynchburg lemonade, vodka & tonic, gin & tonic)
Non-alcoholic drink of choice: Arnold Palmer
Other beverages: Black & Tan, Corona Light, other beer at The Pub
Runs: 4 (one trail run at South Mountain, one run with Jane, two runs in my neighborhood)
Favorite Phoenix activity: sitting around on various porches with various beverages
Favorite excursion: Jerome, Arizona (ate at the Asylum. Recommended)
Movies watched: 2 (Just like Heaven and Coraline)
Activities renewed: 1 (Riding cruiser around neighborhood)
Friends seen: 6 or so
Readings attended: 1
Thin Mints eaten: infinite
Favorite snack: still chips, salsa, and guac
Most active day: Friday (run and then tennis)
Most fun day in town: Thursday (run, then lunch and a movie with HighTouch)
Most fun day out of town: all of them? Hard to say...the zoo was fun, Jerome was fun, hiking was fun!!
Number of swimming workouts: 0
Number of papers graded: 0
Number of students contacted: 0
Number of weeks until the semester is over: 6
Number of weeks until I leave for London: 8
Feeling like my head is going to explode: Priceless

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kirsten Wiig

In case you've been hiding under a rock or don't stay up late on Saturday, you might not know that Kirsten Wiig is the funniest person since....I don't even have a comparison. She's just funny.
Watch:


and



and



I couldn't find any clips of the target lady, which is also funny. A little levity for Thursday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blogging is Dead! Long Live the Blog!

Otterbutt was sitting on my couch yesterday (I know! I love Spring Break!), and she mused that perhaps the era of the blog was over, a victim of Facebook.
So, is blogging so 2005?
Maybe. But I was looking back over old posts, and if I hadn't blogged, I wouldn't have written down things that Son said, little ideas I had. I have them here forever. Is that a good thing? I think so.
Blogging allows for longer musing on ideas, and brief glimpses into each other's lives. I always look forward to reading what my friends (and strangers too) are thinking about, doing.
Facebook is fun, good for finding long lost friends, looking at pictures of other people's adorable kids. Wasting time on quizzes and what not.
I'm not ready to let go of the blog yet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Revisting an Old Post

At the book book group (as opposed to the wine book group) tonight, we discussed the movie "Closer" and I made some of my old complaints, which I made here, but then I really couldn't remember, specifically, what I didn't like about it, besides that I just kind of hated all the characters, and when I found the post, guess what? I couldn't remember because it's been nearly 4 years since I saw the movie!!
Is it just me, or does time have this weird fluid quality, kind of like water, kind of like taffy?
In any case, I didn't think it was so long ago. And the only way for me to remember what I really disliked about the movie is to resee it, which I just won't ever do.
So, I'll have to be content with reading my old post and going, "Hmmm..."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Thinker, Doer, Consumer

I want to publicly agree with the commenters on my last post, that I too believe it is impossible to not be a consumer in this day and age. I mean, I can't possibly grow or make all the things I need and want.
To wit, after my frugality post and after my Wendell Berry "I don't know the names of native plants" post, what did I do? I went to Target. That's right! And we spent a lot of money. I bought a new knife, a new cutting board, a new pot, a new blanket and some really expensive shampoo that MB will not ever let me forget about. Ever. Did I "need" any of that stuff? Probably not. I did need shampoo, but did not need to spend that much on it.
I also bought snacks I didn't really need and some food that we did need.
Then I went to DSW and bought some new running shoes that I sort of needed. And they were cheaper than my last ones, so that's good, right?
What I'm saying, my adoring public, is that we have ideals, things we would like to do or be, and then we have reality, which is the way things are. Which is where Target and DSW are located, and which is where I live.
Now, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to buy a book on native plants and birds and take Son out for more hikes, because I am going to do that.
But I'm also going to buy things I don't need, but maybe try to do less of that. And try to get some winter veggies from Chad (thanks for the reminder Hightouch!) and not consume so many things that I can live without that aren't sustainable.
Holy Cow, did I mention how many plastic bags they gave us at Target? I mean to tell the nice young man (next time) that it's okay for him to put more than 2 items in each bag. I mean Geez! So that would be a step in the right direction, right?
What I mean to say is just because I don't have a cell phone or cable doesn't mean that I am not compromised in my day to day living, because I am. I guess I just want to be more conscious about what I do and what I buy, and try to balance that out with some kind of "living gently on the earth" intention.
Peace out!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Wendell Berry: A quick recap

Last night my father and I went to hear Wendell Berry read. He read part of a new essay and short story.
I don't have time to say everything I want to say about it, but he made some good points about how our economy has been based on wants, and how we need to return to a need-based economy. He included art in needs, for what that's worth.
But one thing that hit home with me was the idea that many people think they "need" technology when really they only want it.
MB and I talk quite often about how long we can hold out on the cell phone front, and whether or not we are going to convert our TV to digital. On both fronts I want to say no. I don't think more TV is what we need in our lives; no one calls us on the land line we have. Why pay more for what we don't want?
Berry also mentioned that most children don't know the place they live: they don't know the plants or the animals or the birds. So true. Son knows lots of Pokemon, but he doesn't know the names of birds. This summer I will work to change that. And myself too. I don't know the native plants or animals or birds.
I agree with Berry that much technology works to alienate us from our local communities and the places we live, even the people we live with. I think virtual communities have replaced and are replacing real communities. And I think that's a bad thing.
He spoke in favor of local farmers, farmers' markets, etc. It made me really yearn for summer, when we can get the food we need from people who live near by, rather than from a grocery chain. (I'm ignoring, for the moment, the fact that I want coffee and chocolate too, neither of which are native.)
I took his beliefs to be both a warning and a challenge: what am I bringing my Son up to be? A doer and a thinker? Or a consumer?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Favorite Restaurant: Meditrina

Last night, Middlebrow and I went out for a delicious dinner at a new place: Meditrina. It's a small plates or tapas restaurant. No entrees! We decided this year we were going to try new places. I read about this place in our weekly city newspaper, and since you know we love tapas, we gave it a try.
It is on the West side, which we liked. It's not terribly out of the way, but it is a cute little place in what looks like a house, but isn't. Inside it has exposed brick and funky art. Our waitress was the co-owner! She was happy she didn't have to explain about the small plates. To start we ordered: flank steak with asparagus and red mashed potatoes with leeks. Yum! We also had the patatas bravas with spicy tomato aioli (I think we agreed that the spicy tomato aioli was the best thing ever!) and chorizo and pepper stuffed crimini mushrooms. Again, yum! Then we had the world's best salad: grilled granny smith apples served on a bed of arugula with crushed walnuts, gorgonzola and balsalmic reduction. I can't wait to make this on our grill! And a grilled artichoke served with the delicious aioli and butter. We also had lamb chops served with the mashed potatoes. (You know how I love mashed potatoes!)
For dessert, we shared bread pudding with strawberry sauce and vanilla cream and a glass of port. We were satisfied, but not over full.
Eating out (especially at places like this!) might not seem to fit in with our frugal lifestyle, but we've decided to not eat out at stupid places (like chain restaurants or lower quality places) in order to save up so that we can eat at a place like this once a month.
We do, however, sometimes order Thai take out (okay, we did that Friday) or eat at a local burger place (we did that Friday too) or MB likes to go get bagels (he did that Saturday). But somehow we feel justified in eating a really nice meal once in awhile. This place was not super expensive: all the small plates were between $5 and $10. Wine and beer was reasonable. Dessert was $6 (I think).
All in all, highly recommended. Easy to get to, easy to park, no waiting, nice decor, great service, great food. I can't wait to go here with Otterbutt this summer. We could sit on the front porch!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Graduate School or How to Recession-Proof Your Life

I won't pretend that our current life of thrift is the result of careful planning and strategic investment or budgeting. Much of it is sheer coincidence: we don't buy a lot of stuff because we can't afford a lot of stuff. I think we learned this in graduate school, when we lived way beyond our means on credit cards and student loans. Even still, we probably lived on $30,000. That includes our $10,000 (each!) stipend, some summer teaching when we could get it, loans and credit. Back then it was a good week when we could walk to Junior's Tavern and treat ourselves to a couple pitchers of beer.
Then along came Son and our lives changed. When our government subsidized health insurance ran out, I gave husband the ultimatum: one of us has to get a job. Luckily, I am married to a man who knows how to get a job. He got the first full-time tenure track job he applied for. Try not to hate him: this same luck or skill (you decide) also applies to sports, hobbies, and drinking.
The minute he got the job, we bought a house. At the time, I was teaching part-time for two different schools, meaning my "salary" was not going to help us get a loan. We bought the house we could afford, a tiny (1300 sq. foot) house, the smallest, cheapest house in the neighborhood we wanted to live in. That was 6 years ago. We're still in that house.
What's happened in the last 6 years? I got a full-time tenure track job and our Son has gotten bigger. We got a dog. That car we bought when I was pregnant? It's almost 9 years old.
Two years ago, when our first car was paid off, Middlebrow floated the idea of buying a new car. He was so excited! He's usually the thrifty one, while I'm the one who wants to buy things. But this time, our roles were reversed. We looked at some vehicles, even drove some. But looking at the payment on the handy spreadsheet the salesman drew up for us made my heart sink. I said no, I couldn't do it. Price was one part, but I also didn't want to invest in obsolete technology. Why buy a vehicle when the future of fossil fuel seems so uncertain?
Instead, Middlebrow bought a bike. We make it work. Sometimes (a lot of the time), it's a pain. But most of the time between public transportation (free bus pass from work), our feet, our bikes, and friends, we survive with one car. It helps that we live one mile from the campus where we teach most often.
We don't have: cable, cell phones, shopping habits (aside from books...), expensive hobbies (yet?). I have more to say, but this post is already too long. I'll continue it later.
Suffice it to say, I feel fortunate in these hard times.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Admissions of a Guilty Liberal

Today when I was walking down the street in our neighborhood, I was afraid one of the parents from my son's liberal, eco-friendly, did I say liberal?, school would be driving their Subaru Outback down 9th East and see me (yes, me) carrying my 32 oz. Coke/Caffeine Free Diet Coke trademarked mix and be like, "Is that Dr. Write? I didn't know she drank (gasp) soda!"
And so began my internal self-chastisement/reveling in the guilty pleasures. The things that I don't want other earth conscious, green-lovin', liberal people to know that I do, and not only that, I like doing it.
  1. Shopping for shoes. (I know, it's practically required for women to like shoes, but I don't always buy sensible Keens.)
  2. Capitalism. (I know! It's bad. But it's given us Target. And DSW. And, also, Giant Extra-Large Popcorn and the 124 oz. soda. How can that be bad?)
  3. Sugar (As in, that thick pasty frosting that's made from different kinds of sugar and put on sugar cookies. I love that! Also chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls.)
  4. Potato Chips (and I don't mean the fancy health food ones, though I do like those too. I mean the rippled kind. With white dip.)
  5. Staying inside on sunny days (it's my inner geek. Usually I'm reading)
  6. Getting my eyebrows waxed (and this from a girl who used to not shave her legs! Oh how the mighty have fallen!)
  7. Bad, stupid, bad romantic comedies (no plot is too predictable! No cliche too cliched! No meet cute too cute!)
  8. Mystery fiction (in which bad things happen and criminals are caught. I think everyone knows this about me, however)
  9. Bad pop music (with rhymes like love and dove; think Madonna circa 1985; but I still like it!)
  10. Trashy TV (again, I think everyone knows this, but I just watched "Dollhouse" and I liked it!)
I know...these don't seem too bad. But just picture me in Birkenstocks, a hippie skirt with long hair. Then you'll see.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Happens in Chicago...You Know

Well, I am maybe partly recovered from Chicago. Enough to tell you my news, which is that on the first day of the conference of famous writers and writers who want to be famous and graduate students so naive and eager they still believe they one day they will be famous, I saw not a famous writer, no, but a famous actor, yes, lo behold, it was Helo (known to people who know him as Tahmoh Penikett, wha?) . I spent some time on-line trying to find out why he was in Chicago (it turns out, he's Canadian), and all I can figure is that he was doing press or it was for the big premiere of "Dollhouse."
So the rest of the conference was gravy. And what gravy! I had three delicious lunches (citiocafe, Epic Burger, Chutney Joe's) and three delicious dinners (Green Zebra, MK, Tamarind). I drank, well, a lot. I bought so many books, that my suitcase tried to escape from me while I was zipping it (like, hey, get away from me. Carry those books yourself, etc.).
I saw lots and lots and lots of people I love.
Also: one friend, who shall remain nameless, asked me where my husband was, then said, "What happens in Chicago, stays in Chicago." Was he flirting? Possibly. But we had just had a conversation about some delicate matters concerning the groinal region. Here's a hint. If you're trying to pick up a woman, don't tell her that stuff. Tell her, "I'm your husband." That's really (with me) the only way to guarantee success. (And yes, I'm forgetting about the waiter I kissed four years ago. I'm old. I forget stuff.)
I reignited my love for Jack & Ginger (even non-Jack Jack) and boy did I get tired.
Also: I had a conversation with Charles Baxter in the elevator. For what it's worth.
I also saw a guy who didn't give me a job in a small, Midwestern town four years ago. He said he did me a favor. He now lives in Alaska.
Had a free drink, didn't go to a Jeff Tweedy concert. Drank way too much on the first night. Will I never learn? No, apparently not.
Now, do I have tons and tons of work to do. Plus I'm sitting here in my running clothes. Apparently dinner is NOT going to make itself. Damn dinner.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HB, R!

Believe it or not, today Son is 8. Eight! I swear I just gave birth to that boy, carried his 10 pound body around inside my body, felt him turn and twist my guts.
He still twists my guts, but in different ways. He's adorable and smart. He's argumentative and a pain in the ass (where does he get that from?). He reads like crazy now (again, wherefore?), and he's getting so tall, he reaches my shoulder. I can still pick him up, but barely.
I love that he loves to watch "American Idol" with me, and we even voted last night. Why not? He loves The Beatles and REM, he got his first stitches last year (something tells me, not his last), he loves The Hardy Boys and Captain Underpants, he's an artist and a writer and a thinker.
I'm worried about going to London for 3 weeks, leaving him and Middlebrow. Oh, I know they'll be fine, but what about me? When I see a painting in the Tate, I'll think, "Son would love this." I hope I get to go back with both of them someday.
For now, I'll cherish the tiny moments, like last night, watching AI, when he pulled my arm around him, or when we speed-decorated 24 cookies for his birthday during the commercial breaks.
Happy Birthday, Son! Now please stop growing up. I can't take it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This is What I Have the Energy To Say

I am home. From Chicago. I am tired. I bought lots of books. So much talking. Not enough sleeping.
So. Good. to see many and various friends from graduate school and other places and what not. Talking to editors who were kind enough to publish my stories or essays. Talking to other people who always, always reject me. Seeing new, cool magazines.
Talking to Charles Baxter in the elevator. Hearing Stuart Dybek read. Seeing William Gass.
Had to get up at a crazy time of the morning to catch the plane, but then it is worth it, when one is home.
Son likes fancy Diagram shirt I bought him. Husband likes NBA socks. Son likes miniature handcuffs and miniature squirt gun.
So much laundry.
Being irritated at pretty much everyone after the first two or three panelists. Note to self: more than 3 panelists is too many (except on the panel I was on, on which everyone was brilliant and succinct and interesting).
Ate so many meals. Yum. So much wine and beer. Ginger ale.
So many books.
Good to see everyone. Tired. So Tired.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bye-Bye!

I have not been blogging because my life is crazy. But I got a haircut and I am off to Chicago to eat a lot and to observe writers from afar and anear. I also plan on having a few drinks and maybe relaxing. I SO look forward to seeing my friends. You know who you are. And going to a few readings, a few panels, and wandering in the book fair.
Ciao!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

In these dark times....

This makes me feel better.

Return to Life

I have been busy:
  1. Not sleeping
  2. Too much emailing
  3. Swimming
  4. Eating
  5. Drinking
  6. Worrying
  7. Job hunting? Maybe?
  8. Obsessing
  9. TV Watching
  10. Hulu Watching (my brain is more gelatinous)
  11. Not doing various of my teaching duties
But now I'm here. I'm here for you. Really I am. I must go.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's a Good Metaphor for this?

In class this week, one of my students said, "Being a student here feels like being a passenger in a taxi with a drunk driver." He was not referring to my class, but to the fact that he had signed up for classes in his major, arrived at said classes on the first day only to be told that the program no longer existed. This is a problem for many reasons: first, the president of our college said that "no one has lost their jobs." I had thought this was a semantic truth (at least) because the people who have, in fact, lost their jobs, would not do so until the end of the fiscal year. Not true. Some people have already lost their jobs. Second, as my student pointed out, couldn't they have given the students some warning? Like, at least called them over the break? How many of them can there be if this program is considered "expendable"? Third, he went to talk to his adviser about what he could do so that he wouldn't lose his financial aid, and she had no idea that the program had been eliminated.
Oh. Problematic on so many levels.
But after speaking to this student, who said during our class introductions that "if I wasn't in college I'd be in jail or dead," I thought, no, the passenger in the drunk taxi isn't quite right...because the student isn't just paying, he's participating. He wants to participate. He showed up on the first day! He's already figured out a school to transfer to. He's alert.
The only analogy I could think of was being on the back of a bicycle built for two, when the person in front is steering, not telling you where you're going. Then, the person in front suddenly stops, gets off, and says "I'm done. I will go no further." Sure, chances are you could maybe find a random stranger to help you out, maybe pedal home with you, but haven't they just left you in a shitty situation? What are you supposed to do with this bicycle built for two when you're only one person? Only one person who, maybe, only recently started bicycling in the first place.
I know. You can find someone to teach you how to ride this tandem bicycle alone. Only that "teacher" will be far away, and you'll need a computer and/or cell phone, and you'll actually have to do all your riding by yourself with no direct feedback from this "solo tandem bicycling" expert. Oh, you don't have a computer or a cell phone? You want an actual teacher? Sorry. We can no longer help you.