Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Silliest Harry Potter Quiz So Far

But it kept me in giggles.


WHO ARE YOU SCREWING AT HOGWARTS??


You scored as Harry Potter. If you went to Hogwarts you would hitting it with Harry Potter. The fact that he's famous isn't the only reason your screwing him. Its those sexy glasses, that cute little scar, and the fact that he has no regard for authority is a major turn on. He had you on your back the second he told you that little sob story about his parents.
Get down girl, go ahead get down.

Harry Potter


90%

Fred and George Weasley


65%

Cedric Diggory


65%

Ron Weasley


60%

Draco Malfoy


60%

Victor Krum


30%

Percy Weasley


25%

No one, your a prude


0%

WHO ARE YOU SCREWING AT HOGWARTS??

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Track Santa!

If we have to be spending so much of our tax dollars on national defense, isn't it nice to know that NORAD is keeping track of Jolly Old St. Nick's flight path?

Slightly Unclear On The Concept


Julian and Pablo (his penguin) would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Julian is very excited about Santa Claus and the reindeer. He knows that Santa comes down chimneys and fills stockings. He knows that Santa sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you're awake. However, Julian does not seem to understand the nature of Santa's list. He shouts "naughty or nice" when singing about Santa and I can just tell that, in Julian's mind, just making it onto one of Santa's lists is the big accomplishment, that, for Santa, naughty and nice are really not that different. While this may be a good thing to realize early on in life so that he doesn't spend his formative years wondering why really good things happen to really bad people, right now it is not such a good thing for us, his parents, as it means he is taking great joy in being naughty. For the past few weeks he has called Fred at work (or rather, he has demanded that I call Fred for him) and then shouted through the phone, "I'm naughty Daddy" with total glee. You can just tell that he thinks every time he pulls the cat's tail or purposely tips a glass of water on the floor, Santa is making a note somewhere and smiling.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Can't Get It Out Of My Head

I spend most of my out my out of the house time at one of four places: the gym, the supermarket, the thrift store, and my mother's house. What these places all have in common (in addition to me) is that they are playing the Christmas music right now. My mom is let off the hook on this because she is doing it in self-defense, to keep my dad from playing right wing talk radio (at least this is what she says, however, I know dad is listening to NPR on his side of the house, so I am not sure if this is just what she is telling me so that I don't get all grinchy with her). But the gym, the supermarket, and the thrift store are playing the radio station that has been playing Christmas music since Halloween. Which means I have heard every rendition of Jingle Bells, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Baby, It's Cold Outside, and Santa Baby ever recorded. Which isn't terrible, really (hey, you should hear the stuff played at the thrift store the rest of the year). However, the song which I have heard an inordinate number of times, a song about which I had almost forgotten as I don't think I have heard it since it was released twenty odd years ago, is Last Christmas by Wham!

I'm afraid I will have to vociferously disagree with whoever contributed to the Wikipedia entry on this song. It is most definitely NOT one of the great cultural achievements of our time. I do completely agree with the bit in the wiki entry which notes that the song has almost nothing to do with Christmas and the small reference in the chorus was just added in order to cash in on the holiday market.

The song drives me nuts.

For starters, doesn't anyone remember how totally beautiful George Michael was back then? And he was fairly articulate and had a gorgeous voice. How the heck am I supposed to believe that anyone would dump him and/or cheat on him? I know, I know, beauty, eloquence, and the voice of an angel aren't everything and everyone gets their heart broken, but still, it is a bit much to expect us mere mortals to believe that almost anyone, man or woman, who received George Michael's heart for Christmas would give it away (especially not the very next day).

But really, that isn't the problem. George Michael wrote some other breakup songs which rang true, my inability to believe is not simply a function of George Michael seeming like the 80s version of Bryan Ferry (another man whose heartbreak in songs seemed unbelievable to me-I mean, he's Bryan Ferry, who the hell would break up with someone so suave and sophisticated and attractive? Then I watched the Jerry Hall E! True Hollywood Story and had my answer, but I digress.) The problem is the song and melody are so simplistic. I don't doubt that the character in the song has had his heart broken, but I also don't imagine that the character is over the age of thirteen and his definition of love is one involving fantasy, milk shakes, and hand holding i.e. I expect that the protagonist won't even remember this girl five years from now and, if he does, it will be with sort of rueful embarrassment, a "how silly was I to even call that emotion love?" sort of memory. I didn't even buy it when I was thirteen and had never had my heart broken.

The song is twinkie and simple and, for most of the song, George sounds like he is phoning in his performance. He sounds as committed to the song as Gwen Stefani sounded to her wretched cover of Talk Talk's It's My Life, except, in that case, the reason she sounds so overprocessed and simple is because she doesn't have nearly as much talent as her PR people want us to believe. That and she didn't write the song (not that I am opposed to covers, but seriously, why bother if you are only going to put out a crap product to which it is embarrassing to listen?) But George Michael has a great deal of singing talent and wrote the song and, when you read the lyrics, there are moments which are not simple ("A face on a lover with a fire in his heart, A man under cover but you tore him apart" for example), so why does he only bust out his voice towards the end? Because it happens, just as one is about to discount the song, you hear him sing over the chorus "you gave me away" and there is so much emotion in his voice that, frankly, he transcends the song, he is no longer some kid who has been dumped for another, he is the abandoned child confronting his parents, the man who returns home to his family only to find all the locks have been changed on the doors, he is the person with wounds which time cannot heal--in short, all the emotion that he failed to put into the rest of the song is that one line and it is heartbreaking. It is that one line, I am positive, which makes it impossible for me to shake the song from my consciousness.

I hear the song every day. I find I have grown to want to hear the song so that I get it out of the way because, oddly enough, I only hear it once a day, so if I don't hear it early on, it is like torture waiting and wondering when I will be ambushed by the song. I find myself humming the song in public when it isn't being played. I can't understand why this song has crawled out of the woodwork after all these years to torment me.

This time of year is stressful enough even if you aren't being stalked by the Ghost of Bad Christmas Songs Past. The only thing worse, really would be to be haunted by the Ghost of Bad Christmas Songs Present. If I must be followed by bad holiday songs, is it too much to ask for the Ghost of Bad Christmas Songs Future chase me around?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

There's A World Outside Your Window

It's been 22 years since Do They Know It's Christmas? and I still cry every time I hear the song. I apologize in advance for the disjointed nature of this post. I have a lot to say and, frankly, I lack the talent to say it well or with style.

We are extremely lucky to live in this incredibly wealthy country, where we have access to clean water and abundant amounts of food, where we have shelter from the cold, where we are safe to practice our religious beliefs. As a female, I have been lucky to have been born in a time and place where I could get an education equal to my brother's, where I do not have to fear rape while getting water for my family or as punishment for accusations made against my family, where pregnancy and child birth are not the most common cause of death for women and infants. This accident of birth is something for which I will be forever grateful, it truly is the greatest gift I have been given, and one which makes all other gifts pale. All I can do in return is to pass along what I can.

So, yes, I really like the shoes and I am really happy they are mine. I have a few things for Fred which I picked up yesterday, Julian is getting a stocking full of clementines (which may cause him to explode from joy--he really loves the little oranges), and I knit scarves for the whole family. However, I can't really buy big gifts for the people closest to me because there are a lot more people in the world who need gifts more than we do, people for whom the Christmas bells ringing are the clanging chimes of doom. I need to do more than thank God that it's them and not me.

This year, as in previous years, we bought books for all the children in our lives. The kids are getting older so, I hope, we will eventually be able to buy them shares of animals. Ordinarily, I feel uncomfortable about giving donations in lieu of gifts (because, unless requested, I worry it is the philanthropic equivalent of giving bowling ball with Homer on it), however, who could quibble with the gift of livestock?

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was gang raped on the orders of her village elders in 2002. Instead of keeping quiet and, maybe, killing herself to restore her own honor, she spoke out. Her mother encouraged her, telling her that "Someone has to be the first drop of rain." Mukhtar Mai pressed charges against the men who raped her and they were found guilty (though their convictions were overturned, the Pakistani Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case) and she received a compensation check from the government. She used the $8,300 to start schools in her village. I don't know where she found the courage to continue to fight, I don't know where she found the grace to give back to the village, but I am so astounded that she did.

I first became aware of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital the way most people do, I saw the commercials. But then, a few years ago, a very young girl I know began treatment there and I came to find out what a marvelous place it is for children and their families.

I know I was naive at twelve, but I believed that we would end poverty in the eighties, that we wouldn't still be talking about famine and disease in Africa all these years later. Perhaps it is naive of me to think that signing a petition and giving money will do anything, but the alternative (apathy and inertia) is unacceptable. I know it is probably naive of me now, but I believe we can make poverty history before Julian reaches adulthood. I hope that when he is old enough to understand the lyrics of the song, I will be able to talk about famine in Africa in the past tense.

So this year, as in previous years, most of the money which could be spent on Xboxes and Prada will be donated to charity. The greatest gift to give is life.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh My Precious

Think you can resist the lure of Christmas? Think you can't be turned into a gibbering, drooling, cackling materialist? Yeah, Smeagol thought so too, just before he found the ring. So there I was, thinking about how Santa will be filling Julian's stocking with oranges and apples and that I would be telling him that Christmas was about more than stuff, when I saw these Swarovski crystal studded shoes on sale (except in silver, which look even more fabulous) and, suddenly, it was like a mirror was held up and I saw myself for who I really am. Now, in books and movies, when a big "see how you are" revelation occurs, the receiver of said revelation usually goes on to dedicate his or her life to making the world a better place or they go completely nuts. I am too busy admiring my feet in the crystal shoes to go mad and, while I want the world to be a better place, I must insist that the shoes not be harmed. Tomorrow I will tell you all about the organizations to whom we plan to send the money we won't be spending on Christmas gifts. Today, however, I wanted to talk about the shoes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spontaneous Meme!

Thanks to Stuntmother for this crazy ass meme: reach for the nearest book, turn to the 123 page, find the fifth sentence and post the next three.
"Henry," he said at last, "How long ago was it that his mother died?"
Grampa thought a bit. "It was...well, in July of last year. Almost a year ago now."
The book: The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have this sort of book lying on the floor of our office, but I went to the thrift store the other day and all Julian's Christmas books (or books I bought for his future reading years) are here. Is the book any good? I have no idea, but it was only a quarter, so I am willing to give it a shot for now (also, he is only two, I am guessing I have a few years before I need to review this one.)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Laundry Day

This is what laundry day looks like when you own a ridiculous number of black dresses. Because, of course, I can't throw the dresses in the dryer. In fact, I think the manufacturers would all attack me for throwing them in the front load washer on delicate with Woolite Dark, but I am a snob and don't entirely trust the dry cleaning.

I have a bag of five black dresses I am going to sell to Disgraceland or give to charity. I was excited that I managed to choosed five dresses with which I could part. I know, the fact that I have never worn them should make it easy to delete these from the closet. Should being the operative word. The problem with having any sort of collection is that the collection takes on life of its own and one hangs onto items solely because they add to the collection, even if the item in question adds nothing but its presence. Fred was not terribly encouraged by my bag of clothes, observing that I was just intending to buy more black dresses to take their place. Which is probably true (screw the probably part, now that nanowrimo is over, I have all this time and the thirft store is just sitting there, calling to me). I guess we know what he won't be buying me for Christmas this year (not that I was expecting anything anyway as we don't exchange gifts, but still...)

I know I am not getting anyone's sympathy with this post, but do you have any idea how annoying it is to have this many clothes and to still feel like I have nothing to wear? I blame motherhood. Back in my pre-child days, clothes were not a problem. But now, well, no matter how informal the black dress, chances are it is still too dressy for the playground.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tarot Card

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.


Ordinarily I would say that this card does not apply to me, that the tarot card quiz was wrong, but here I sit, still giddy from completing nanowrimo, and my pessimistic nature seems to have gone on holiday.

I found this test over on Tammara's blog. You should visit her as she does not lie, she is indeed both mighty and sublime. I owe her a special thanks for her gentle prodding throughout the month of November.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I DID IT!

The title of my novel is "Should The World Fail To Fall Apart" which all you Bauhaus fans will recognize to be the title of Peter Murphy's first solo record. The subtitle is "Not If You Were The Last Man On Earth...And Now You Are" which was a suggestion made by the lovely and brilliant Aushra when I tried describing the plot to her. The everchanging plot. I think I went through at least three completely separate plotlines this past month. I learned a ton doing this and I am feeling overwhelming pride at succesfully writing 50,000 words in less than 30 days. Yeah, some of it is total crap and I will probably just disassemble it and use the good bits here. Tomorrow I will write a post detailing my thoughts on this experience and musing on what I have learned from it. But, for now, I am savoring my victory.

Woohoo.

Is this what people feel when they run marathons?

Another Day, Another Quiz


Which John Cusack Are You?


This is a funny quiz for a number of reasons. The first being that we all love John Cusack. By "we" I mean you, me, and everyone you know. Seriously, do you know anyone who doesn't love at least one character John Cusack has played? Find me that person and I'll bet they just haven't seen Say Anything or High Fidelity or any of the other films that people quote incessantly at one. In fact, the person who does not love John Cusack probably does, in fact, love John Cusack, but they hate having the notable lines from John Cusack's films constantly said to them by people who want to seem hip and cool.

The other reason this is funny is because my brother, Jeff, has freely admitted that he has patterned his life on John Cusack characters and has told me (with a straight face and not a touch of irony) that other people have told him he is so much like Lloyd Dobler and/or Rob Gordon and he then recommends I watch the movies because I will see what they mean. Because, he assumes, that I just must not have seen Say Anything or High Fidelity because I have failed to make the appropriate observation that he is so much like the protagonists of the films. To be fair, it has been a couple of years since he has said anything like this, but you know, as his older sister, I am required by law to bring up stuff like this every so often. It's my revenge for him calling me fat when I was a teenager.

So now that I have the "embarrass my little brother" portion of the post out of the way, I can make my own admission: when I read the book High Fidelity, I felt an affinity with Nick Hornby's main character and said something like "I am just like him, except not from London and a girl," to Fred (the book was set in London, whereas the movie was set, and filmed, in Chicago). We were on the beach in Cancun at the time and I think he just assumed the sun had made me slightly addled. But, like, now I have this online quiz to confirm my earlier statement (and, for what it is worth, I have a pretty alright record collection).

Oh, and for people who are looking for contest clues, no, John Cusack is not on the list.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Boys, Who Would You Rather Snuggle Up To?"

The stunning size 12 model branded 'too fat' for TV competition

Models are supposed to be walking hangers, so is it any surprise that the girl who most resembles a wire figure would be praised by the industry? Yep, if the judges had been making the decisions, the girl with the curves would have been out, but "mother-of-one Miss Hunter triumphed when viewers voted her to the top female slot in the contest."

I am furiously typing away, trying to get the last 6,000 words written before Thursday night. I am happy to have done nanowrimo, but I don't know if I will do it again next year. We shall see.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown is on television tonight. Yay!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Roddy Frame, Birth of the True, London, 2nd June 2006

Despite the lack of synching between the audio and visual on this video, I found myself singing along and kicking myself for not travelling to London to see these shows this past spring.

I first heard this song twenty-one years ago. Just watching this makes me feel thirteen again.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Contest

So a few months back, I had a contest here in my closet. Then I moved and was swallowed by my own stress (which is like a Robyn Hitchcock record, but you can't dance to it. At all. Not even goth dancing.)

But I never forgot about the contest. Really.

For a long time (i.e. up until the very last day) it looked like Heather would win. I mean, her story about dating Satan had both Fred and I cracking up, and she gets extra points for taking Satan to church and him using that as proof of his Satanic-ness. It reminded me of the Rolling Stone interview with Anton LaVey where he claimed to have been responsible for the death of Jayne Mansfield (because on the day Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident, he was going through magazines and tore out a picture of Marilyn Monroe, realizing afterwards that there was a picture of Jayne printed on the other side and he had ripped off her head). Heather's tale inspires the grown up in me to shout "why did you date this boy? DTMFA!" which only adds to the humor value of this all.

Of course, there were problems with Heather winning. She is a real life friend and she doesn't tune in unless I ask her to. I had to wonder if I was just favoring crowning her the winner of my first ever contest because she would like whatever I gave her and I wouldn't have to pay any postage costs.

But.

Then.

I got this email from Stuntmother:

I once met a guy who told me very seriously though not making eye-contact) that he had been taught to make love by a woman and that no one who tried him was ever satisfied by anyone else again.

I once was friends with a girl who yelled at me for no reason one night and then cried and said she had been raped the evening before. Only after I had raised campus hell and got the police involved, therapists, friends and teachers, did she say she had been lying and that it was really her step-father. No, her boyfriend. No, it was an uncle. I never did get the story right. If there was one.

I once met a man who claimed he used to know how to fly but had forgotten.

I did in fact know a girl who was allergic to water. Whenever she showered,she'd come up in an itchy rash. So every day then.

I once met a girl who claimed she had sung back up for Prince before he was formerly known as.

I once knew a girl who said she was so thin she had to buy all her clothes in the children's department.

I once knew a boy who said he knew a girl with three breasts (we were very young at the time but it freaked me out).

I once knew a woman who said she had crashed the Queen's Birthday Party. She might have, really. She was that sort of woman.

I once knew a girl who said she could pull the pain out of my just-broken wrist and put it in the bedpost. I don't know if it helped because I was too spaced on codeine tylenol and marshmallows to tell.

I once knew a woman who said she had great stories to tell but when it came to the crunch, she couldn't remember any of them. Oh wait. that's me.


So I knew, in my heart, that Stuntmother was the winner. Which opened up a whole 'nother box of anxiety for me. I like Stuntmother. I am honored to be part of her blogging world. I think everyone should go and read her blog multiple times a day. What if she didn't like what I sent her? I couldn't send her a black dress because, unlike in real life, you can't go around asking for people's measurements in cyberspace without people thinking you are a pedophile, even if you are asking an adult. It appears I have given away all the yarn with which I can bear to part with at this time. Stuntmother's nanowrimo profile says no music. Which leaves me with books. Lots and lots of books. But what if she has already read the book I send or, even worse, thinks less of me for sending it to her?

I am sad to say that all this led me to pretend the contest never happened. Which was wrong and I apologize to all of you.

After reading Stuntmother's most recent comments, I have come to the conclusion that I am being a big 'fraidy cat. Look at all her favorite writers, it is as if she raided my bookshelves when I was asleep. The title of her nanowrimo book gives me the shivers. We both have a yen for Neil Gaiman and Jeremy Irons, which makes me think we might run around the Humanities Festival giggling like schoolgirls. In fact, thinking about Stuntmother reminded of this passage from C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of The Dawn Treader
Neither could speak to the other and in a moment the Sea Girl dropped astern. But Lucy will never forget her face. It did not look frightened or angry like those of the other Sea People. Lucy had liked that girl and she felt certain the girl had liked her. In that one moment they had somehow become friends. There does not seem to be much chance of their meeting again in that world or any other. But if ever they do they will rush together with their hands held out.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this contest. I appreciated every story you generously shared and promise that if I steal it for a story (I am starting to panic that I won't get to 50,000 words in the next seven days) I will give you credit. Stuntmother, please email me your address.

To those who are desperate to receive a prize from my closet, do not despair. I am currently having another contest of sorts and the answers are all here in my blog. Really, they are. And to those who say they are not interested in a book, keep in mind that the winner will also, eventually, get a post like this written about them. You may not want the books, but who doesn't want the love?


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The List

I realized, last night, that I cannot come up with five people for my list. You know what list I'm talking about. THE LIST.

Hey, I just read Wikipedia's description. I was never told my five were set in stone, for all eternity. I mean, how is this possibly fair? There are so many factors which can cause one to change the makeup of the list. People grow old and die. New celebrities are made every day (every time a bell rings, just like angels) and old celebrities do things which causes them to become less attractive (how many people have crossed Tom Cruise off their lists over the past 18 months?) Most importantly, our tastes change. Not in big ways. I mean, I find the same things attractive in a man now as I did when I was 25; I like height, hair, skinniness, sweetness, good humor...oh, and he better be smart. But in very subtle ways, my tastes have evolved. For example, David Bowie and Jeremy Irons were both on my list when I was 25, but now, eh. It isn't that I find either of them less attractive, just that neither of them are so appealing to me now that I feel they deserve a spot on the list.

So here I am and I can only think of two celebrities I would even put on the list. Two, and they aren't even that famous as celebrities go. And just as I am about to wonder if this is a sign that motherhood has eaten my sex drive or if I really have grown old, I realize that David Bowie and Jeremy Irons are the only two people I can remember from my list of nine years ago. Maybe I'm just a very focused, monogamous sort of girl, even where the list is concerned.

Who is on your list?

Can you guess the two who are on mine? (I'll send a book to the first person who gets the right answer. Which reminds me, I will update you all on the results of the contest from months ago.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Was I Supposed to Throw a Party?

The 100th post to this blog came and went without fanfare. I guess I will have to make it up to this blog by doing something really over the top for the 200th post.

I have a tendency to downplay the significance of events in my life and the lives of the people I love, only to find out that other people get angry about my lack of celebration. For example, we didn't have a huge party for Julian's first birthday, because we figured since it was the week before Thanksgiving, why go to the effort of a gigantic party for someone who isn't old enough to care about such things, might as well save our strength for when he gets to be around five and wants to invite the whole school. However, we found out later (nine months later) that our failure to have a party for Julian's first birthday made my mother sad. Apparently, she ran into an old neighbor, a woman who is renowned for her ability to deliver the veiled insult to which you cannot reply, who implied that she (my mom) was a bad grandmother for not making us throw a party. The Poisonous Ex-Neighbor Lady was on her way to buy a very expensive cake for her grandchild's party, but she only brought up the grandchild fifteen minutes into the conversation after my mom asked her if either of her sons had children. My mom may not have been able to force us to have a party, but you can't talk to her for one minute without her bringing up Julian, so I ask you, which one of these ladies is a better grandma?

People talk about the mommy wars, but no one considers the warfare between grandmothers.

Yes, we tried to explain that she shouldn't listen to the Ex-Neighbor Bitch, but the damage was done. Mom decreed that Julian would have a party.

Can you tell how annoyed this makes me? I mean, I love parties and all, but Julian is only two, he doesn't have many friends to invite, so it will just be a party for the grown ups. Also, it is the week before Thanksgiving, doesn't it seem a bit silly to go to all this effort when we will be having to go to all this effort and seeing everyone in less than a week? I mean, as I said, it would be different if Julian cared, but he would be happy if we just sang Happy Birthday to him and let him blow out candles, he really doesn't need an event to be the center of attention. At least his birthday doesn't fall after Thanksgiving because, I have been told, that would mean we would never want to throw him a party.

It bothers me that people seem to believe that the success of our parenting would be reflected in the size of a party we throw for our toddler. As if it isn't the size of your heart, but the size of the cake which counts.

But if it makes my mom happy, we will do it. And if it makes the evil Ex-Neighbors shut their yapping mouths, all the better.

For those interested in following my nanowrimo progress, click here

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yes, But

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?


That is all well and good, but I still can't seem to write a novel (nanowrimo word count: 13,440), and that is the yard stick by which I measure my abilities right now. Still, it is nice to know my brain hasn't completely turned to swiss cheese.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Procrastination

NaNoWriMo update: I have written 800 words today. I am procrastinating now.

I went over to Karrie's blog and read the article she recommended. It's about the escalation of cool, how in order to be a "cool mom" in today's world, you kindof have to be a "bad mom" and I found myself thinking that I am a good mom and a cool mom (even if those are mutually exclusive terms).
Sometimes we have to sit with that uncertainty, and, instead of thirsting for the cool breeze, surrender ourselves to the heat.
That was the last line of her article.

I think about how much I have been fighting completely surrendering to motherhood, how I still have all these hopes and dreams, leftover from my own childhood, which I feel I have to achieve before I can really be a good mother, that until then, I am just a highly accomplished actress playing a role, but deep down, I know the truth.

A Quick Update

NaNoWriMo count: I wrote 31 pages (longhand) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I would feel better about this if so much of it wasn't, um, how do you say? oh, yeah, crap. Yesterday, I read a book instead of writing on the plane home. Anyway, I have no idea how many words I have written, but I changed some crucial plot points and think I need to spend some quality time with my characters. I thought about getting friends of mine to improvise little chunks of action with me (i.e. I would give them their character breakdowns and we could see what might happen) but then I thought that was probably cheating and I wasn't sure if I wanted to give them any opportunities to offer artistic commentary at this early date.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Verbose and Verbosity Enfleshed

I wrote another 300 words this afternoon. Of course, I only have the bare bones of plot, but as y'all know, I'm the sort of girl who never says in two words what can be said in twenty. What is the point of speaking the english language if not to revel in all these words we have? We don't usually consider ourselves a subtle people, we speakers of the English tongue, but look at all the different words we have for wet. Or fast. I could do this all night. However, I must pack as we are going away for the weekend (to a resort no less). I will not be blogging and I will be writing my NaNoWriMo project in long hand. Which may rein in my verbosity a little bit.

Of course, we have so many words for some things, and really no words for the act of love (because there are some things for which frack just can't do justice.)
Kitten Poster Megastore!

My apologies for not posting this sooner, but I have been trying to resist You Tube's siren call. However, I have found myself singing this all morning, so I must share the love.

Now that I have set it up, I fear that posting random videos will be my way of blogging for the month of November.

NaNoWriMo Word Count (for those keeping track): 1,502

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween


We aren't dressing up for Halloween this year, so I am including a picture of the family from last Halloween. It was nice that Julian got to be the cow for once.

Last Day of Freedom

I am not sure how much blogging I will be doing in November. I would like to think all my creative energy will be going towards writing a novel and that I will be so spent by my own brilliance I will be spending the few free moments I have lying on ravaged on the sofa (I know, it sounds dirty when put like that, it's supposed to).

So, this post is really just a clearing out of the mental inbox before a really big project.

A few days ago, Kristen posted a meme on her blog and called me out. She knows I am a sucker for a good meme and a sucker for someone saying they expect/want me to do something; try as I might to rebel, my good girl nature takes over and I soon find myself typing out all sorts of infor about myself that, if I think about it, I can't imagine any of you really care to know. so, without further ado, let me present

If This Blog Were Harper's, This May Be The Index

or

Alimum Answers 47 Questions For Your Amusement

  1. First name? Alison
  2. Were you named after anyone? Yes, actually. The film Love Story came out a little over a year before I was born and the name Jennifer was extremely popular among girl babies (why parents would be so desperate to name their daughters after a woman who dies of *cancer*, I am still not sure about). So my mom wanted to name me Jennifer and my Dad said, no, absolutely not. Other names that were suggested were Gretchen (too German, especially when paired with the surname of my father) and Abigail (too many Bs when paired with the aforementioned surname). A friend of my parents suggested Alison, spelled with one L, sortof after Ali McGraw (star of Love Story).
  3. When did you last cry? Yesterday while reading the book Love You Forever to Julian. I always get choked up at the part when the son sings to his dying mother. Heck, I am getting teary just thinking about it now.
  4. Do you like your handwriting? I like writing things out, but I do not like the way my handwriting looks. The cursive looks sloppy and the printing looks too neat. I wish I had really funky handwriting. I type very fast and I think I have gotten spoiled by the computer (sometimes, when I am writing, it is sometimes hard for my brain to slow down enough for my hands to keep up).
  5. What is your favorite lunchmeat? I don't really think lunchmeat is the sort of thing one would pick favorites of...um...turkey, I guess.
  6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? It really depends on the circumstances under which I met me. There are days when I would think I was the most helpful, friendly, cool person in the world, and other days when I would think I was the biggest, most pretentious geek, snot, dork I had ever met.
  7. Do you have a journal? Yes, but I have fallen off the journaling wagon. Having a child did that. Now I have this blog to, at least, try to force me to write stuff down.
  8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes.
  9. Would you bungee jump? I haven't thus far. It doesn't sound terribly appealing to me, but who knows, if the stars and moon were aligned just right, I may.
  10. What is your favorite cereal? Cold cereal: Cheerios or corn flakes. Hot cereal: steel cut oatmeal.
  11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes. You will stretch out your shoes prematurely if you don't unlace them first.
  12. Do you think you’re strong? I am deceptively strong. Seriously, ask me to lift something.
  13. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Butter pecan or rum raisin. But really, most flavors are good (I am talking traditional flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry...if presented with flavors like tutti frutti and bubblegum, I will just go without).
  14. Shoe size? 6.5/7 American (depending on the manufacturer), 37 European
  15. Red or pink? Pink, but it depends on the shade.
  16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? I can only pick one thing? Alright, my perfectionism and the subsequent lack of confidence caused by my inability to be perfect.
  17. Who do you miss the most? I really can't begin to answer this one.
  18. What color pants, shirt and shoes are you wearing? White t-shirt with black cats on it, black pants, navy blue slippers
  19. Do you want everyone to send this back to you? Sure, why not?
  20. Last thing you ate? Kiwi fruit
  21. What are you listening to right now? The sound of the fan in my iMac.
  22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I'd be a dark colored crayon, probably one of the reds or purples, one of the ones which looks darker than it actually is, but is still a lot darker than most of the other crayons in the box.
  23. Favorite smell? Depends on the time of day. Chocolate, coffee, curry, baking bread, sandalwood.
  24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Fred
  25. The first thing you notice about people you are attracted to? SMART. But, usuallythe whole package which hits me all at once: smart, funny, kind, talented, physically appealing.
  26. Do you like the person you stole this from? Well, of course I do. Would I read her blog if I didn't?
  27. Favorite drink? Water, coffee and red wine. I can't pick just one.
  28. Favorite sport? Baseball
  29. Eye color? Brown
  30. Hat size? I think I am a 7 1/4. I think.
  31. Do you wear contacts? Sometimes. But 98% of th time, I'm wearing glasses.
  32. Favorite food? I don't have a favorite food. I eat a lot of Trader Joe's granola bars, avocados, and peanuts, so maybe that qualifies.
  33. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy. I generally can't stand suspense-I have been known to hide in a closet during particularly tense scenes in films/moments in ballgames. also, I have a very good imagination and don't need anything to encourage it in the middle of the night when I hear a creak.
  34. Summer or winter? Both.
  35. Hugs or kisses? Both
  36. Favorite dessert? Depends on the day. Tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake, bread pudding.
  37. Who is most likely to respond? I dunno. I hate tagging people. Um...Jill
  38. Least likely to respond? Everyone else. I'd love it if you did, but I won't hold my breath
  39. What books are you reading? I've been trying to read Versailles, but it may be too post modern for me right now.
  40. What’s on your mouse pad? I have a Persian rug mouse pad.
  41. What did you watch last night on TV? Daily Show/Colbert Report (How cool is Barry Manilow?)
  42. Favorite sounds? All thing watery-waves, rivers, rain.
  43. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles
  44. The furthest you’ve been from home? India, in terms of geographical distance. In spiritual terms, there have been moments when I have been so depressed I didn't think I'd ever find my way back.
  45. What is your special talent? I am an emotional virtuoso. Which is another way of saying I am not very good at hiding my feelings and I am very good at taking things personally.
  46. Where were you born? Chicago.
  47. Who sent this to you? Kristen. Evil, evil Kristen.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Makeup and Mirrors

Confidence is a strange thing for me. I tend to believe that if I am not perfect, than I have failed. All I see when I look in the mirror are my flaws (the acne which is worse than any I have ever seen on an adult woman, the five leftover pounds from pregnancy that won't move off my thighs, the jawline which really should be less strong, the shoulders which should be less broad). It isn't just my appearance over which I obsess, I also am highly critical when it comes to my abilities, my intelligence, my personality, and, yes, I always find that any and all flaws are grounds for self critique and hatred. It is exhausting, this exacting standard by which I measure myself (and to which I can never measure up) and the subesquent lack of faith this inspires in me.

Whenever I get down about my physical appearance, I try to remind myself of one very simple truth: beauty is not merely skin deep, it is pretty much achievable by almost anyone. Of course, I have my doubts about this some days. And then, sometimes, I mention my belief to other people and get a resounding "so not true" and then wonder if maybe this is just massive arrogance on my part.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to read (in an article about the proliferation of same-sounding, blonde-girl pop records) the following sentence:
If there is one thing we have learned from great Hollywood makeup artists like the late Kevyn Aucoin, just about anyone without severe craniofacial deformities can look TV sexy with enough lighting, spackle, tweezing and shellac, if they are properly blow-dried and in a comely mood. Add D cups, rhinoplasty and peroxide, and the world is your birthday pony.
What I find amazing is that anyone takes much pride in their appearance at all. Or rather, I can't imagine why anyone would think their "hotness" means anything more than their willingness to invest in maintenance to a degree that others are not, it's like taking pride in having a really nice lawn--sortof understandable, but do you really think it makes you different from other people?

I wear glasses most days and really only wear makeup if I think it is professionally necessary (i.e. will I be dropping off headshots at my agent's office that day or will I be running into someone who may cast me in something a few months from now?) Some days when I am getting ready for an audition, I look in the mirror and I almost see what other people tell me they see and I think perhaps I ought to make the effort and do myself up regularly. However, deep down, I am not sure if it would make a difference in how I see myself.

When I was younger, I was made to understand (by my high school drama teachers) that I was a character actress, that roles like Juliet and Portia would be played by pretty girls so I should just forget about even auditioning for such roles. It didn't matter that some people called me "beautiful" because, you see, I wasn't "pretty" (which in the 80s meant too ethnic and too goth-though we didn't call it goth back then). Add this to my flat out fear of auditioning and my lack of confidence in my abilities and suddenly my lack of motivation as an actor makes quite a bit of sense. I tend to beat myself up when I think of all the things I didn't even try to do as a teenager and young adult because I was so afraid of failing, so afraid of being told I had no talent or that talent was superfluous in my case, I still could never get the role. So here I am, at 34, realizing that not only are there roles I will never play because I am just not right for them (Blanche Du Bois, for example), there are roles that I, perhaps, could have played when I was younger if only I had believed in myself, but now I have grown too old for them.

I envy the girls who believe so much in their own beauty that it doesn't even matter if it is true or not, their belief makes it real (even if an objective look at reality would reveal their lack of pulchritude). I wish I could have been like that twenty years ago, ten years ago, yesterday. I can't help but wonder how many more opportunities, doors I will not even recognize as such except when I look back and see they have closed, I am denying myself because I still can't find it in my heart to take that leap and have faith that I may fly.

Friday, October 27, 2006

MMMMM Doughnuts

I'll admit, when I first heard about deep fried coca cola, my response was, "Ouch! My teeth are hurting just thinking about that!"

But as I think about it some more, I am having a change of heart. I mean, I can't be the only person who has noticed that sometimes chai tea has a spice profile that is oddly similar to coca cola. It may be the cloves. So how bad can a dessert made from a batter of sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, whipped cream, strawberries, wheat, and butter be? It actually sounds oddly appropriate for the holidays.

I till can't say for sure that I would try it. The idea of Deep Fried Coca Cola makes me pause in a way that, say, Holiday Spice Doughnut Holes does not. So the problem is really semantics. However, since language is what makes us human, I can't change the fact that I get caught up in words.

Of course, the idea of how sweet these things must be still causes my teeth to ache in sympathy. I imagine that compared to these, Krispy Kremes taste salty.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A is for Alimum

Which Gashlycrumb Tiny are you?


A is for AMY who fell down the stairs.
Take this quiz!


I think this is the best quiz I have encountered thus far. I found it on Bookshelves of Doom.

Of course, it does not bode well for me as we have two flights of stairs within our living space which I must navigate often (I counted, I climb between 30-40 flights of stairs every day).

For those who know the home in which I once lived, people who are saying at this very moment, "But you had those concrete stairs in your old building. Not only were they steep and forced even the most in shape of us to pause in order to catch our breath, those were the same stairs at Ignatius, only these were painted green whereas those were red. Things must be so much easier now", I say to you in reply, "Yes, it is true, I no longer live in a catholic church on the school floor, and while it is true that I am no longer having catholic school flashbacks (because the stairs were red underneath that green paint and it was chipping in spots) and no longer have to haul a squirming toddler and two bags of groceries up 57 stairs, those stairs in the old place were not in my home, they were in my building. On an average day, I only climbed between 6-10 flights of stairs. I am doing way more stairclimbing now that stairs separate the computer from my bedroom from the kitchen. I am having to see a chiropracter to address the chronic hip injuries which are exacerbated by all of this up and down."

The really sad thing is that Julian is a total daredevil and does not learn from his falls. He thinks the stairs are the coolest thing ever. Even the promise of Gymboree cannot lure him away. I'll bet if he took this quiz (if he could read and all) he would get the exact same result.

As a postcript, I should add that I just went and took the test for Julian (I had to guess on some of them, but as his mother, I felt pretty confident about answering that he has no history of fits or epileptic seizures). This was his result:

Which Gashlycrumb Tiny are you?


D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.

Which goes to show that you never can guess about these things. Fred will have to take the test and we can better determine what is going on here. It is interesting to note that my child, like me, has difficulty with movement and gravity.

Please, no comments about how I am a bad mother for taking this quiz for my child. If you only knew how accident prone I was or how much time Fred spent in the emergency room (or a full body cast) as a child, you'd be curious about this as well.

Beanstalks and Bedtime


Right now, Julian likes having Jack and the Beanstalk read to him over and over. We have a few different versions. The one in the photo comes with little cardboard figures that you can use to "create your own story"--we usually just look at them and say "oh, there is the giant, what does the giant say?" At which point Julian says, "Fe Fi Fo Fum" before descending into a fit of giggles. It is pretty simple (Mom tells Jack to sell cow, Jack sells cow to old man for magic beans, Mom throws beans out window, Jack climbs up beanstalk that has grown overnight, Golden Goose begs Jack to rescue it, Jack goes down beanstalk and chops it down, Happily ever After).

The other copy of the tale which we have is a bit more complex. The Goose never asks to be rescued, the Giant seems far more terrifying and ominous, and there is a Singing Harp which calls out and alerts the Giant of Jack's thievery. In this version, Jack is chased and the beanstalk breaks as the Giant is climbing down (so instead of being trapped in his castle in the clouds, he falls to the ground and is swallowed up by the earth). Then Jack's mother says "oh, this is your father's Harp and Goose which an evil giant stole from us long ago", Thereby making it okay that Jack took these items which were not his (because they were supposed to be his and would have been his if the Giant hadn't stolen them first) and alright that his actions caused the untimely death of the Giant (because he was an evil, thief anyway).

As you can probably tell, I am not a huge fan of either tale. Really, I prefer tales that don't involve trickery ("magic beans for your cow"), thievery (the Goose, the Harp), or death (the Giant). So every day I try to read Julian Miss Spider's New Car or The Color Kittens, but he isn't interested. Of course, that is this week, next week, it will be something else.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Crazy Ambition


You know, I hate the fact that every critic praising the new Battlestar Galactica makes such a point of saying that it is "not really science fiction", as if they need to prove to their readership that they are too cool to watch science fiction, because, you know, no one cool likes science fiction. At least, that is the fiction of American society, that only loser geeks like science fiction. We have to stress that Star Wars, The X-Files, Star Trek (all its incarnations), Quantum Leap, and now Battlestar Galactica, are all "not science fiction" in order to maintain the fiction that "no one cool likes science fiction".

Yeah, I totally hate that. Except I am having problems of this sort myself right now. Not with regards to my television viewing, but with regards to my writing abilities and what I plan to do for NaNoWriMo.

My problem is that I want to be the next Salman Rushdie. Or A.S. Byatt. Or possibly Mary Gordon. Or Alison Lurie. Or a whole bunch of other writers who write what could be referred to as "serious fiction." In addition to the writers I want to be, there are a whole slew of writers I do not want to be: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Agatha Christie, to name a few. Why? Well, because I suspect that people wouldn't respect me, that they would call my work stupid and facile, that they would make a great show of telling people that they were too "smart" and "cool" to even bother reading my work, that the opinions of anyone who read my work were less valid because of their declasse tastes.

Except for one thing. All those writers have written many books and have tons of fans. Yeah, it's true, the literary community doesn't respect them, but is that so important? Isn't that just the literary version of "I'm too cool for Doctor Who"? Why wouldn't I want to be one of them? So there would be a lot of people (many of whom will never actually write novels of their own) who looked down on me and said I wasn't a "real writer", big deal. Is writing "genre fiction" such a bad thing? Do I really care if literery snobs think they are too good for my work? Wouldn't I just love being Terry Pratchett, Ursula LeGuin, J. K. Rowling, Holly Black, Sara Paretsky, Douglas Adams? In fact, wouldn't I pretty much sell a limb to be any of those people?

If I could deal with being a chubby, ugly, brunette, sci-fi fan in high school, I can deal with being the writer of genre fiction.

All this assumes I can actually complete something, and that is a pretty gigantic assumption at present.

For those of you who are just desperate to read more of my work, I wrote this piece of Harry Potter fan fiction awhile back (around 35,000 words). Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Who New

Julian is almost two, which means in 8-12 years, he will be embarrassed by me. He will want me to drop him off at the corner so his friends don't see he had his mom in her 20+ year old car (because there is no way our car won't live that long) drop him off. He is going to feel this way regardless of what I do, even if I am a cool mom (because no matter how cool I am, I won't be cool enough to overcome the fact that I am his mom), even if I am a smart mom (because we live in America, smart is embarrassing), even if I am a hot mom (especially if I am a hot mom!) So, I have been thinking, maybe I should actually give him a reason to be embarrassed. I mean, if I think my behavior is embarrassing, I won't be hurt if he does too, right? I'll become a vegetarian (the sort who goes on and on about how evil meat is, the sort that makes you want to go eat a raw cow out of spite), I'll start wearing really ugly handmade sweaters (think Toni Collette in About a Boy) and, to top it all off, I'm going back to basics and embracing my deep and abiding love for science fiction.

Of course, this is just my way of rationalizing all the time I am spending watching the Sci Fi Channel. Here's how it happened: A few weeks ago, I was home on a Friday night.

Digression: Doesn't that sound so offhand and casual? So blase, so cool, and, yet, by adding the "few weeks ago" modifier, I make it sound like "home on a Friday night" is an uncommon occurrence for me, an occurrence so rare it is worth blogging about in its own right. Whereas the reality is that I am usually home on a Friday night, it is the rare Friday night when I am not home, and even then, we are probably having dinner at my parents' house which is practically the same thing except the food is better.

So where was I? Oh, yes, that's right, home on a Friday night and looking for something to watch on television. Of course, being a Friday night, nothing seemed to be on.

Digression: Who makes programming decisions at television stations? I swear, you can just hear these executives saying "No, people go to parties and out on dates and to bars on a Friday night. No one but losers and families stay home on Friday nights. Why not just schedule a Full House marathon for every Friday from now until the end of time and call it a day?" I mean, yes there are some people who actually go out on Friday nights, but a lot of people don't. It is nice that Monk and Psyche were on on Fridays, but those were not on this Friday night of which I speak.

Alright, so we were home on a Friday night and the only thing which was on which looked interesting was Doctor Who.

Digression: I used to love Doctor Who when I was younger. My love for Doctor Who is one of those things that falls into the "goes without saying, not even worth mentioning" category, like my love for Monty Python, Ursula LeGuin, and chocolate. (Yes, I just compared Doctor Who to chocolate.) I can talk for hours (and probably will at some point-consider yourself warned) about the social, cultural, and philosophical implications of Doctor Who. My favorite Doctors were Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker (in that order). I feel one of the meanest things that Public Television has done is ceasing to broadcast Doctor Who.

Of course, it wasn't the old Doctor Who, but the new Doctor Who. Fred asked if I had known about the new Doctor Who and I said I did, but since I had seen the strange tv movie on Fox ten years ago, I was a bit afraid to venture into any new Doctor Who experiences, preferring to live in the seventies and eighties. They could keep their swanky special effects and high production values, for all I cared. But, as I think I have made abundantly clear, nothing else was on.

OH MY GOD! We came in about ten minutes into the show, there was a huge trampoline like thing with a face talking to a blonde girl with a nice bum. I know enough about the world of the Doctor to know that the chick with the cute figure had to be a companion, but that was pretty much all I could figure out. Alright, so then trampoline thing manages to get her soul into the blonde girl and looks in a mirror and says "Oh No! I'm a Chav!" Which cracked me up. Then she goes and meets up with the Doctor and within minutes she is kissing him. Kissing! On Doctor Who!

So obviously, this is not the Doctor Who of my teenage years. I mean, with all due respect to Lalla Ward, the idea of anyone kissing Tom Baker is, um, yucky. But this Doctor is pretty cute.
Digression: Maria and I talked about this new Doctor and she agreed he is cute. I had a brief moment of panic when it occurred to me that this actor may, in fact, be younger than me. Maria pointed out that it will eventually happen that they will cast an actor who is younger than us to play the Doctor. True, but not this one. I have to accept the higher production values, some plot choices that are influenced by the X Files, and a cute actor playing the Doctor. Is it so much to ask that the cute actor be older than me? Apparently not, as David Tennant is slightly older than me. Crisis averted. Of course there is the other crisis, the crisis that some Doctor Who fans grow up to be successful actors and actually get cast as the Doctor. But I digress from this digression and, really, we don't have time to talk about my acting career, or lack of it.

Anyway, the episode takes place in a hospital run by the nurses, who are nuns and also happen to be human sized, bipedal cats. They can cure every disease, so it seems, and we soon find out it is because they are growing people who are infected, people who are trapped in pods (just like the Matrix), but from these experiments they learn the cures for many diseases. The lab humans are covered in pustules which can be passed by touch and, of course, they break out and mayhem ensues throughout the hospital. We find out (because Trampoline Lady's brain takes a brief foray into the body of one of these (dare I say?) lepers) that all they really want is to hug someone and be loved. The Doctor saves the day by drenching himself in all the cures concocted by the Sisters of Meow Meow Healing and then, I swear to you I am not making this up, he cures the lepers by touching them. Time Lord as Christ figure!

Of course, I am totally hooked. The problem is that Sci Fi isn't merely showing the new Doctor Who, they are showing the second series with the new new Doctor. Which means I am a year late and a Doctor short.

I'll admit, the fact that the sets don't look like they are old refrigerator boxes is going to take some getting used to.

And you thought I was going to do what everyone else is doing and talk about how great, fabulous, culturally relevant Battlestar Galactica is, didn't you?

Monday, October 23, 2006

That Time Of Year, Again


Last November, I unofficially tried to do the NaNoWriMo with the Black Dress piece. In addition to it being unofficial (i.e. I didn't register) there were other factors which made the whole thing not count, in my opinion. It was non-fiction, it was a piece on which I had begun work in the spring of 2005, and it had already morphed into a multimedia project by that point. Unofficial though it may have been, I now have many photos (I have quite a few I haven't edited yet, so let's just say I have around 100) and 41,159 words for the Black Dress project (really, come visit the blog, if you leave comments I may be encouraged to upload more photos and text as a means of procrastination) and I wrote another piece (this one fictional) which I had briefly considered interweaving with the story about the black dresses (though I have since changed my mind about that) which has a word count of 13,863. So last year's NaNoWriMo gave me two unfinished pieces (though not everything was written last November) which desperately need to be rewritten and edited. But finishing can be so hard. In fact, for me, finishing is damn near impossible. Even if I didn't have a toddler, even if I had time, I am pretty sure finishing would be difficult. For example, I wrote a play in the spring of 2001. Had a few readings. Got ideas. Did a complete rewrite. Had another reading, got some criticism which was not terribly constructive and decided I shouldn't be writing plays. Or rather, I decided to wait until I was inspired. And here we are, five years later, the play is nowhere closer to being worked on than it was back before motherhood took over my life. Anyway, my point is that writing 50,000 words isn't really my problem, it is knowing what to do with the words once they are written.

So we are days away from another November and another NaNoWriMo.

I tell myself that it would be different if I registered and made it official this time around. I am telling myself that I can totally write 1,500 words a day even though, lately, I can't even seem to find the motivation to write on this blog. It isn't like I don't have ideas. I have too many ideas and, often, can't seem to make them all fit. I remind myself that it doesn't have to be linear or make sense, at least, not to anyone else. I am telling myself that these 50,000 words will be different.

Time is a bit of a concern. My mother recently suggested that I would make myself a lot less miserable if I put my acting and literary ambitions on hold until Julian starts school. She pointed out that this time is fleeting and, really, I am just stressing myself out too much. Of course she is right, but I know that I will do this anyway and I will still time from somewhere in order to do it. Then I remember that we are going out of town the first weekend in November. That is a few days gone right there. Julian's birthday is the 18th and I have to plan the party. And then there is Thanksgiving.

Who decided November was a great month to write a novel?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fog



It is too painful to write right now. Or rather, life is too much and I can't find a way to make it sound witty, charming, intelligent.

Moving was overwhelming. I tell people that it nearly killed me and I am not kidding around. There were moments when I was positive I would never recover from the experience. The violent sneezing alone had Fred worried.

But slowly everything is beginning to adjust itself into a semblance of real life again. The books were taken out of wine boxes and placed upon bookshelves. The clothing which had been piled in a mound in our bedroom found itself folded in the emptied wine boxes (we still do not have the drawer space which we had in the built in closet at our old place, and while we have lots of closet space, most of it is not in our bedroom). Fred and my mom planted bushes which will someday grow tall in our front yard (I do not care about gardening, but it is nice to check stuff off our list of THINGS TO DO). The things we have left to do which do not impact on our life in an immediate way, so it is possible they may not get done for some time and that will be okay.

But as things shift into normalcy, I start to let go of the panic which has kept me going for the past month and a half. It becomes painfully obvious that I am exhausted. I realize how raw my nerves feel, as if I can literally feel the endings are exposed and my skin almost tingles with the constant irritation of the air brushing past. I find myself bursting into tears for no reason. Even the simplest request or suggestion shatters my veneer of calm and I literally don't know what to do.

I haven't been running or doing yoga. The show I am understudying has opened and the whole experience has made me realize I am not ready to be acting again (in a nutshell: the experience isn't worth the time commitment at this point in my life...but maybe that is this show, maybe I would feel differently if it were a different show? Hard to say). I can't blog or write anything meaningful (but I am still having ideas, which in some ways is even crueler than just having nothing at all). What little energy I have is saved for the job I can't put on hold and Julian is quite the little task master.

Then there is the sneezing. I may have mentioned it. Around the first week of August, I started having pretty extreme congestion. I thought it was because our old place was dusty and packing up our belongings was kicking up a lot of the stuff. Then my eyes started to itch, even when I was outside, and it just seemed to be getting worse. We moved into this house and we tried to clean up all the dust, but I didn't seem to get better. I would open a box of moldy smelling yarn and feel my throat begin to itch as I was stopped by a fit of sneezing. Clearly something had to be done. So today, I went to see an allergist. I told him everything (my history with eczema, the way my throat itches whenever I drink carrot juice, the way I have felt congested since I got pregnant, the constant sinus infection) and I had my skin pricked and poked. And the findings? I am not allergic to anything. I have non-allergic rhinitis, which is the medical way of saying "you are clearly congested, but we don't know why." Maybe I'm congested because of the move, the change of seasons, breastfeeding, but really, there is no clear explanation for what is causing me to go through so many boxes of Kleenex. I get to try some nasal spray and see what works.

So, here I am in the new house and I seem to have lost my groove and I don't think running off to some tropical island is going to help me get it back. However, I still have lots to talk about (Dr. Who, the book I just read, Tithe, and mean people, to name a few things about which I have some thoughts) so have no fear, my need for attention and my love of expressing my opinion, not to mention my lifelong romance with the English language, will have me right as rain in no time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things I Have Learned In The Past Week

It takes more than nine days to move out of a place where one has lived for nine years. Although the bulk of our possessions are now in the new house, we still have stuff in the condo which we have to get out before we can paint it, fix it up, make it pretty for potential buyers (hey, wanna buy a condo?) I am living in fear that we will never get the last few things out.

It takes three times as long to pack up one's things and move them out of a three story walkup than it does to actually move them into a house and unpack them. Provided you know where you want things to go. If you are at all confused about this (or fear you lack the closet space for all the black dresses you never wear) you may end up with lots of unpacked boxes.

Oddly enough, square footage means nothing. One can double the square footage of one's living space and still fill a place up with all one's stuff. It is nice that we don't have to much new furniture, but disturbing because I never thought our place was so crowded, but obviously, it must have been. Of course, I didn't have boxes of clothes sitting in the living room and I actually had books on the bookshelves, so perhaps things won't look so crowded a week from now. Perhaps.

If someone offers help, take it. I am the sort who feels awkward about accepting any sort of help, but moving has pretty much smacked me upside the head with all that I am unable to do on my own. My mother has been doing lots and lots of babysitting. Our friend, David, helped out on Sunday by offering boxes, an extra car, and an extra set of arms--we moved a lot of stuff out of the old place and we couldn't have done it without him. THANK YOU DAVID! (And thanks to Kristen for letting us borrow her husband for the afternoon.)

This is the house we will die in. I am leaving Julian with the task of moving my stuff out of this place sixty years from now. I can't do this ever again. I realize that all my talk about moving to London, Paris, New York, Mars is just that, talk. I am never leaving Chicago because just moving two miles pretty much kicked my butt. Attempting to relocate to another city would probably kill me.

I have some pretty impressive allergies and will have to get tests to find out precisely what is causing my mucus membranes to itch this much. I am thinking dust mites. I will have to adopt new house cleaning habits (i.e. I will actually have to clean house) in this new place. We bought a Swiffer, but I am suspecting this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you for all your kind words of support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thank You For The Moon, Thank You For The Stars


Tonight is the last night we will sleep in this place. The movers will come tomorrow to take the furniture to the new house.

One of the many irrational feelings I have had, with regards to moving, is the sense that I will become disconnected from my memories. This is where Jenny and I did the bulk of the creating and rehearsing of Submission and this is the place Fred and I came home to after we became engaged, married, parents. In leaving, I lose the physical, tangible connection to my past, am left to rely on the unreliable brain cells and synaptic relays. What will remain after we move? how can I leave this place?

It is overcast and gray today. I can only see my neighbors' rooftops from my window. The skyscrapers are hidden from view, but I believe they are there, behind the clouds. Another completely irrational thought I have with regards to moving is that I stand like a guard and keep watch over the city. I watched the world end (or so I thought) in this house and I remember looking out our window, thinking the buildings of downtown Chicago would be the next to fall. I know, intellectually, that I couldn't stop something from happening, that all I could do if disaster did strike would be to watch, but on a deeper level I feel my presence has had an effect. The act of watching changes the result. Over the past five years, I have watched the skyline. So who will protect it when I go?

I love the house into which we are moving, but I can't help but mourn all that I feel I will lose when we leave this house I have also loved.

I will miss the buildings. I will miss the sunrise. I will miss the sky.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Whose Land Is It Anyway?

When we first found out I was pregnant, my dad's business partner and his wife, John and Dorothea, gave us This Land Is Your Land, an illustrated version of Woody Guthrie's classic song. We have been reading it to Julian and I always get a little choked up. The song has always done that to me, even as a child, probably because I grew up watching so many members of my mom's family trying to come to the United States because they believed in the American Dream, so the words "This land was made for you and me" ring true in my heart. However, there are other reasons the book gets me worked up.

The book illustrates the words, so when we first arrive at the chorus, the picture of California is of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge and the picture of the New York Island is Manhattan with the two towers of the World Trade Center in the skyline. The first time we opened the book and saw the picture, both Fred and I were stunned, rendered almost speechless by the image. It is so hard to see those buildings, knowing what we know, remembering what happened that day five years ago. And then, it is hard to sing the song when we think about what has happened over the last five years since that day, because of that day. It feels like we have been moved farther away from the vision of inclusion, that our circumstances more closely resemble the sentiments of exclusion expressed in the snarky school yard parody which I recall from childhood, "This Land is MY LAND, it is not YOUR LAND, so go on leave here, you cannot live here" (As it turns out, someone has written a parody for our President to sing which echoes the childish variation). We now are a nation which refuses to recognize the rights of our own citizens because of their religious beliefs. All in the name of keeping us safe.

There have been a lot of tragedies over the years. I worry that, years from now when we look back, the real tragedy of September 11, 2001 will not have been that planes were hijacked , buildings were toppled, and thousands of people died. I worry that the real tragedy which we will all recognize is the one which our government continues to perpetuate. We responded exactly the way the terrorists had hoped we would, by violating human rights and by ignoring the values upon which our nation was founded. All in the name of keeping us safe.

As hopeful as Woody Guthrie's song is, we should never forget that it is a protest song. That is still a right I have as a citizen, the right to respectfully protest, to say that what I see happening is wrong, to question whether this land still belongs to all of us, and to say that I will not accept my grief to be manipulated and used to commit acts which violate human and civil rights. That is, unless the government decides that blogging my displeasure will somehow make us all less safe.
In the squares of the city
In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office
I see my people
And some are grumblin'
And some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking
That freedom highway
Nobody living can make me turn back
This land was made for you and me

This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California
To the New York Island,
From the redwood forest,
To the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me

Monday, September 11, 2006

Some Thoughts on Tuesday Morning by The Pogues

Too many sad days
Too many Tuesday mornings
I thought of you today
I wished it was yesterday morning
I thought of you today
And I dreamt you were dressed in mourning

But I knew that you
With your heart beating
And your eyes shining
Would be dreaming of me
Lying with you
On a Tuesday morning

I fell through the window
And I found that I was still breathing
I thought of tomorrow
And the fear that you might leave me
I thought of tomorrow
And I wished it was Monday evening

But I knew that you
With your heart beating
And your eyes shining
Would be dreaming of me
Lying with you
On a Tuesday morning

Turn your face from me
I will cover myself with sorrow
Bring Hell down upon me
I will surrender my heart to sorrow
Bring Hell down upon me
And I will say goodbye tomorrow

But I know that you
With your heart beating
And your eyes shining
Would be dreaming of me
Lying with you
On a Tuesday morning
In truth, I don't think I knew what the song was about, or understood what it meant. Not when I first heard it in 1993 (or perhaps earlier-sometime in those late-college/early-adult years). Not back when The Pogues released it and we all looked puzzled and said, "this is The Pogues?" because it sounded so gentle, it sounded so nice. We were all so young then, love was still new and the only way a person died was by their own hand. The song made no sense to us then. Maybe it wasn't meant to. Maybe the song fell through some time wormhole and all the confusion stemmed from the simple fact that the event it described hadn't happened yet.

I remember a warm, late summer evening. It was the Sunday before it happened. I had just finished rereading Stranger in a Strange Land and was thinking about Heinlein's ideas of water brotherhood, which I would translate for our Earth sensibilities as "you love the people the people you love love." I remember asking Fred to read the lyrics to the song off the computer screen and tell me what he thought it meant.

"I think he, the guy in the song, almost dies, but remembers there is this girl he loves and stays alive for her."

"But," I asked, "what about the "dressed in mourning" line?"

"Well, maybe he does die, and this song is his way of telling her he loves her and she should go on with her life."

I don't remember if I concurred. I remember, later, when we were lying in bed, looking through the Williams Sonoma catalog and pointing out the thousand-dollar Capresso coffee maker. I remember mentioning how Jenny's friends, R and B, had one and how Jenny kept offering to make me a cup of coffee the afternoon we were at their apartment (Jenny had to feed their cat) because she wanted to show it off (the coffeemaker, not the cat who was perfectly capable of showing her own self off). I don't remember if I told Fred I saw their wedding pictures from the previous spring or that their cat had ringworm. I don't remember if I mentioned how gigantic and amazing their apartment was (by all standards, but especially for Manhattan) and how when I asked Jenny what B did for a living (because I knew R was a writer) she just waived her hand in the air and said, "Finance." Which explained everything, in a way.

Fred left that Monday morning for some week long training session in Vegas. I was restless that whole day, feeling empty and pointless. I did manage to get the passport information in the mail, but otherwise accomplished nothing. My mom had come over to borrow the computer (she needed a non-Macintosh computer for something or other) and we talked a bit about the news on NPR that a rebel leader in Afghanistan had been killed. I listened to a show on unemployment and was resolved to spend my non-working days doing productive things, kicking my own butt into writing more. Tomorrow, I decided, I would take advantage of the free day at the Art Institute. I called Jenny that night, woke her up, and she said, "I have jury duty tomorrow. I'll call you when I have a break."

I overslept that Tuesday morning. I heard the news and thought that someone in air traffic control had made a colossal error. As I made my morning latte, the bizarre chaos on NPR (they kept breaking into a piece on European film to give an updatee and then replaying the exact same piece on European film, only to break in once more) led me to try and call Fred. The hotel switchboard kept misdirecting me. Finally he called me and we tried to piece together what we were hearing. I turned on the TV set, but didn't really pay attention because they weren't actually reporting any information, just broadcasting images of damaged buildings with smoke billowing from the point of impact. I told Fred I planned to go to the museum and he said, "That sounds like a good idea." Later I would tease him for this, for our mutually naive belief that the museum would still be open, that the day would be like any other day, that the world was still the same. I said good-bye and told Fred I loved him. Then I actually looked at the images and the phone began to ring.

I only drank coffee that day. I kept switching between TV stations, or watching the images with the sound off and NPR on. I remember how we all thought that once the fires died down, rescue teams would be able to send helicopters to pick up people stranded on the roof. I remember the closeups of people on the window ledge and thinking how high up they were and how terrifying it must have been for them. Then the image on the television screen turned to dust. At first, no one could say what had happened. But then we knew and we all spent the next half hour waiting, reasoning that if one fell it was only a matter of time before the other came down as well. When it finally did happen, I sat on our sofa, crying, "All those people." People called to make sure that all my loved ones were safe, but since the phone lines to New York were jammed, all I could say is that I didn't know. We kept hearing fighter jets flying overhead (we knew they had to be military planes, commercial traffic having been grounded). There were so many confused reports, of the mayor of Cleveland reporting a hijacked plane requesting to land, of airlines not being able to locate their planes, and, finally, of a plane crashing in a field in Pennsylvania. It felt like the apocalypse had begun and was heading west with the Sun. The sky was so blue and cloudless, here as well as there, so the distance of a thousand miles seemed illusory. My view of the Sears Tower, Aon Tower, and John Hancock Building looks every bit as distant and as immediate as the images of the New York skyline on television. I looked out at our own scrapers of sky and thought "You're next."

A persistent busy signal kept answering my attempts to locate Jenny. I knew where she worked, but I knew she wasn't at work, and I had no idea where jury duty would have sent her. Maria came over and suggested I locate Jenny's mother, which I did, and she said the words I need to hear: "She's okay." Jenny later told me she was only a block away when the first plane struck.

After dark descended, I got through to Jenny's apartment and her roommate told me about B. He worked on one of the top floors and had an early morning meeting. R must have known the moment she saw that gash in concrete and steel and glass.

I spent the week sitting on the sofa, holding vigil, somehow believing that if I watched every story of someone looking for their loved one who was missing, they would be safe and sound. Sleep seemed impossible. As did the future. I remember looking at books and magazines published before and thinking that they had been rendered useless, that nothing would ever be the same, that our lives would never move past that point. Fred didn't come home until Friday, his being the first flight cleared to take off from the Las Vegas airport.

I feel like I dodged a bullet that day, that the husband who died could so easily have been mine. It isn't a "better her than me" feeling of relief. More the sense that it came so close, the circle drew so tight, it really could have been me, why wasn't it me? I can't help but feel awkward when I see R, I can't help but feel uncomfortable for the extra years of life with my husband that I got, and I feel ashamed for my relief that I did not lose my husband that day. I hardly know her, but I know so much about her. I imagine she doesn't like me all that much, yet I am connected to her through Jenny, because we both love Jenny, so in a way, we both love each other.

It feels like it happened just yesterday, but then, it feels like a lifetime ago. Has it really only been five years? Half a decade went by so fast. The world should have changed more than it has. I keep wishing things could be the way they were before.