Thursday, December 31, 2009

My littlest woman writer

Maia can make most of the ABCs but she doesn't really understand, yet, how to spell things.  She knows that letters make words which make stories, though.  And she can't wait until she figures that bit out.

That hasn't stopped her, though, from being a writer.  This morning, she wrote her first book.  It's about five pages with two illustrations (one a cat, the last a dog).  She had me staple the pages of her "textbook" together for her and then explained to me what each page said.

I don't really understand her explanation, though there was something in there about taking a test and then about cooking dinner with the puppy at the end of the book.

She's very proud of herself.  She should be.  A woman writer when she's still in the under five crowd.  Virginia Woolf would be so proud.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vacation Memories: Florida and Disney

You know it's not going to be nearly as sweet as the misleading title implies.

Disney World.  Yes.  We'll get to that.  But first, upper Florida and my mom needing to be taken to the ER.  THAT was fun.  She smoked for fifty years & has been wheezing for many years and we all knew she probably had emphysema, but refused to see a doctor.  So finally, on the drive over, I got a call from my sister that things were happening.  I got there and basically had to bully my mom into the car by threatening to call 911 if she didn't get up and go.  It took over an hour to get her loaded into the car; I told her every foot was ten bucks of non-ER ambulance fees.  When we got there, the admissions nurse raised her eyebrows at my mom's oxygen levels and wheeled her immediately back, even though the ER was full. 

Luckily, she's doing better and is fighting with the nurses in her rehab for the lung disease she indeed has.  So far so good. I took her a tiny Christmas tree with lights and we left for Orlando.


It wasn't a bad drive, but the kiddos were restless.  We got there, the hotel was nice, etc.  Disney was the next day.  The hotel's advisor said we'd probably like Disney Hollywood because it would be less crowded.  Well, yeah, but Sean hated the shows; they were too scary for him.  He started crying and we left pretty early.  We had to coax him back onto the bus that night to go to the shopping/eating area called Downtown Disney.  After a nice night, it got better again the next day.

Magic Kingdom for Christmas Eve.  It was pretty crowded as the day wore on, but it was nice.  And the actual night was, at times, pretty amazing.  They had a snow machine going on the "Streets of America" section-- little bitty flakes swirled around and melted before hitting the ground.  The fireworks & light show was very nice once we finally found a spot.  We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. 


Maia loved the roller coasters, the rides.  Once we discovered the magic of the "Fast Pass"-- a way to skip the lines with some planning-- things were a little better.  Sean boycotted all rides that were mysterious or scary looking and we ended up on the train that circles Disney several times. 

But the crowds!  Oy!  Our friends had warned us that Christmas was a crowded time but it was way too late for us at that point to change it.  There were so many people, and sometimes parents on their last nerve.  I kept thanking the Disney folks for being there so we could enjoy it; they seemed surprised & pleased that someone actually realized they were choosing to give up their "private time" so we could have the park on a holiday.  There was one really funny girl who ran the Jungle cruise ride who was also sick that day; I couldn't help but think of how the people who work there feel about working in a place like Disney.  A lot of them seemed very sensitive to anything you said to the kids-- if it sounded at all crabby, it's like they wanted to remind you (the parent) why you came there in the first place-- for the kids-- and not to be crabby with them, even if they WERE riding your last possible nerve.  I imagine they see some pretty bad parenting examples there; I opted to not be one of them, but there were moments with a headache, in a long line, where I could see someone really snapping.  Even I, who am usually pretty darn cheerful, needed to leave in the afternoon for that naptime release.   

I kept thinking of my friend Alex, and how much he would have HATED it.  There were moments on the last day when it was absolutely pouring rain and the majority of the crowds were huddled under whatever cover they could find while we cruised the then empty pathways that I genuinely had fun.  Very few people would go out in the rain (it's not like it was cold but it did eventually get to be too much, even for us).  So in spite of getting wet (which, honestly, if it had been ten degrees warmer people would have been paying to do at a waterpark) we were fine.  My toes got a little waterlogged while Andrew & Maia did their last cool ride and Sean & I waited to go.  The Disney gift shops made a killing on rain gear.  They sold out of the adult sizes so we were all wearing kids'.  Sean refused to wear one so he ended up with my soggy flannel. 

The driving there and back again was fine, for the most part. Long. And I am so glad to be home, but not unhappy to have gone there.  I think it was a good time for us to go but it will be many years until (if) we do it again.  It's not that I am inherently opposed to the "corporate Disney" experience but it's a lot of money for something that is not all that different, in the long run, from just your basic state fair, which we had far more fun at. 

Overall, I recommend the experience but only if you do the research and find out when it's actually really not busy.  The crowds are just too much, and it's a nice theme park, but two days would have been enough for us.  I hear summertime, when it's pretty hot, is the best, least crowded time.  If you can stand the muggy Orlando heat, it would be worth not standing in so many lines. 

I'm glad we went, but next year, we're opting for something way more low key.  Maybe a beach with warm water south somewhere, and margaritas, and kids rolling in the sand.  Far, far away from crowded places and gift shops.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Black Holes

There are people who, when you're trying to write, are bad to be around.  They sort of suck your energy and confidence about writing into this pit of dark that makes you think you can't do it.  I realize that one gives them the energy to do so-- they can't do anything to you that you don't let them do.  But if that person is someone whose opinion you want to trust, it's very hard.

Writers need feedback.  I have these ideas, but I do need to know what others think of them. Am I going in the right direction, is the story interesting, should I add this detail, that element?  It's, I guess, a corollary to something I posted on a FB status not too long ago, about how it's much easier to believe the negative things people say about you, for some reason.

I am a glass half full person, most of the time.  And I will keep writing, no matter if I encounter a bunch of vampire-y "I don't like the story this way" types.  I do want feedback, and some of what I've gotten so far has been awesome.  But I can't/won't write the story that someone else wants, that someone else would write.  It is MY story, and succeed or fail, I have to write the one I have here.  It's not someone else's way of doing it.

I feel so different here than I did when writing my dissertation.  All of that was wrestling with the theory gods, sitting down daily to be smart.  This story is here in my core, I feel it there, and right now, I even know which character wants to talk.  It's her turn, and I know, sort of, where she's going.

It's kind of weird, but I like it.   Just gotta stay away from the Black Holes of creativity in our lives, even if we want them to suddenly turn in to supportive perfect writing partners; it's obviously not going to happen, so get over it, right?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Writing and Crying

This morning, I was reading through an old book I've read many times before by Charles DeLint called Memory & Dream. It's a gorgeous bit of magical urban fantasy short story collection that takes place in Newford, a city up in Canada, and featuring a lot of really cool characters. De Lint has also written longer books about a lot of the characters who appear in the book, which is sort of a themed short story collection. While it's not a novel, all the stories have the same feeling of magic and fae beauty.

I was reading one story about a writer who plants a story tree, wrapping it in a poem first and then whispering stories to the seedling. The writer pesters friends to tell it stories and by the end of it, the acorn is a sapling ready to be planted.

I wound up in real tears afterwards. This is SO the way I want to write, this mythic magical fiction that is also somehow realism. Since I'm writing my novel, I am trying to read things that are written the way I want to write, to set the mental mood in that direction. I do that with poetry-- I am most inspired to write good poems when I'm reading Anne Sexton, for instance.

My novel thus far has one full chapter, 46 pages, and 16,905 words. I've started it out with a faux newspaper article, and I have these really cool plans for it. I've been gathering photos of San Antonio and the other important elements of my setting and I have those scrolling through my screensaver. I also made a playlist of songs that work with the mood I'm trying to create.

When I started the novel, it was about a year ago and I think, if I remember correctly, I had just read one of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire books. The beginning tone of it, thusly, was that quirky kind of funny snarky tone. I am now slowly weeding most of the more snarky bits out of the tone because that's not really where I want to go with it.

I want it to be mythic, to make you go into downtown San Antonio and see the magic there, the ghosts. There are a lot of them, in fact (or fiction, however you want to read it).

They are happy tears. I am so glad to be finally really doing this, breaking through that mental block I have had about sitting down and doing something as frivolous as writing a novel. I've put it off for so long, and there are many things I've wasted time on that I could very well have been working on this, far more frivolous things than writing. But I think it's probably a fear thing; if it's all just in your head and you can tell yourself you're too busy to write, then you don't have to risk not doing it right, doing it well.

Neck is out. Tears are happy.

I so want to be Charles De Lint when I grow up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Funny Thing

is that today, after having finally made it real to leave the Ivory Tower, at least my small place in the servant's quarters of it, I had a former student stop by to ask for some advice. He is thinking of changing his major to English from (shudders) Computer Science.

About a year ago, I would not have been able to feel very enthusiastic about counseling a smart young person to change to English as a major. It felt pretty hopeless to even contemplate getting a good job in the field that I have devoted much of my life to.

But today, I felt really happy for his thinking. I came up with a few options that might work for him, and was almost sorry that I am not going to be here next semester. That, coupled with a conversation with another bright student who wants to be a nature zoologist later in the day about food, and books, and seeing that beginning place they are at makes me happy.

Happy. I'm still anxious, for sure, but now my enthusiasms are closer to those of the ones starting their quest, instead of me feeling mired in a place where I am not going anywhere.

Bridges

So I just sent off a letter to interested parties (department head types) that I am no longer adjuncting, here or anywhere. I'm still a little freaked out by it because on the one hand, it feels a bit like leaping into the void.

I've always planned to work in Academia. However, standing on the outskirts as an adjunct after working forever to get a PHD is NOT an acceptable way to do it. If I don't go Tenure Track somewhere, I'd rather not do it at all. It's too much of a ghetto, too much of a "not good enough". Even at a school where people are nice, (and there are plenty who are) I just hate not being a real part of the department. Things I tried to do to contribute were seen as weird, or "pushy" so I quit doing them. Adjuncts just don't Do that sort of thing.

So I am done. I will work for Andrew & myself on our Real Estate empire (and let me tell you, the pay is better & I am desperately needed to do the work). I will also start in January on the five or six novels that I already have written out in my head. (One at a time, of course). I will be a little house-wife-y-- keep the place a bit cleaner. No matter how few hours a week one teaches as an adjunct, it's always just enough to make it hard to do the other work in your life. With a "real job" (read, tenure track) it would be different, in part, because I'd make enough money to pay someone to do the laundry, clean the floors. But adjuncting just doesn't cut it. One of my friends figured out that when she was working the way she should, she literally made 4 cents an hour. Nope. Not gonna go there.

So I am done. I don't plan to say I am never coming back to adjuncting, perhaps at another local school, perhaps even here (if I don't piss everyone off by leaving now--which I hope I haven't done, haven't tried to do...). But for now, this bridge is crossed. I don't know what's on the other side. Maybe literary fame and fortune, maybe teaching somewhere else someday (like Paris!) but for now, it feels pretty good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pigpen Boy: 1 of 150

It took a long time for me to agree with the school that Sean had what they like to call "a touch of Autism." I know he is speech delayed. I knew sometimes he likes to spin in the light, play with particulates, eat mud, taste the world. For me, this is being a little boy, just magnified a bit.

I do admit, now, that it is a touch of actual Autism. He is super duper sensitive to certain things, very very particular about his shoes, for example. YOU cannot get him in a pair of shoes that he does not like. Sorry. Not gonna happen. I get looks sometimes when he throws a fit about something because he simply does not understand me; people think at his age he ought to behave "better." But I shrug those off. Don't get me wrong: I get a little mad, a little indignant. But it does no good to explain to those people giving me the stink eye, and besides, I'm too busy trying to catch my wild little boy.

When Sean started school, he communicated far less effectively than he does now. It is amazing what his teachers do for him and he loves them very much. I appreciate them a lot because while I struggled to figure out ways to communicate with my bright little boy, they already knew things that work. From mostly non-responsive a year ago, he can read the ABCs on starfall.com better than his sister can. He actually is sounding things out, reading simple phrases perfectly. Again, better than Maia does. Now, if you ask him a direct question, he still might not answer you, or his answer might be a phrase from one of his favorite movies "Don't scare Insectasaurus" is one of them or "Scarey" another.

Yesterday, he went to school a little ratty. He is a DIRT MAGNET sometimes. I didn't know this, as his dad was escorting him to the car, but he dipped his hand in the firepit ash on the way out the door and swiped it across his shirt. If I had known that, I would have insisted on a shirt change and hand washing. In the car, he also had a do-nut, so his face was a bit dirty when we got to school. If I had caught it, I would have tried to make it better; however, I cannot be on top of it 100% all the time. It's impossible for me to be perfect; I am not a Stepford Wife. Sorry.

After school, his teacher explained to me that "they" were looking at Sean because of his messiness. He goes to a school that wears uniforms, and while he usually has a nice clean one on when we leave the house, even that five minutes of driving can wreak havoc on the cleanliness considering his dirt magnet-status. He just doesn't understand what all that fuss is about-- why does he have to have his hair brushed, face washed? That's just parents being annoying.

THEY means other teachers, who have, apparently, been saying things to his regular teachers. These regular teachers, who love Sean quite a bit, are frustrated, because while they understand that's just the way Sean is, and we try super hard to work on it, it's not a sign of him not being cared for. But if the "They" of his school are saying things, then it's very upsetting for me, too. Andrew's first response is to go talk to the administration: the principal. If teachers are critiquing an autistic kid's clothing for not being finely pressed, I really want to invite them to care for him for about a day. They'd understand, then, I imagine. But that's pretty much impossible to do.

Anyway. MY solution is to talk more to his primary teacher, see what we can do to increase an understanding of the reasons why my boy is a bit of a Pigpen. But I also want to say something about Autism.

I wish as a culture we would cut parents ALL a little bit more slack, a bit of LESS JUDGEMENTAL understanding. We look at a mom or dad struggling with a kid and we figure "well, they're just not trying very hard" or "why don't they get a babysitter" or "if that were MY kid, I'd...." Sometimes, I'll grant that the clueless parents of the world are letting their kids run rampant and crazy and not paying any attention and not trying very hard. And I'll admit to having been a person without children who sometimes wondered what the heck those parents were thinking, and figuring, smugly, "my kids will behave better." Ah, so karma bites us all on the ass eventually, doesn't it?

But there are 1 in 150 children today being diagnosed with a dose of autism. How many of those kids you click your tongue about are being loved dearly by parents who DO have a clue, but who have a little bit of this growing disorder? And let me tell you: if your kid is a bit autistic, it's really really hard to get a babysitter. They mostly look "normal" (whatever the F. that is). But they might be behaviorally a bit different from your expectations of a "good" kid. And usually, the parents are trying, really, really hard.

There really are mixed feelings about "curing" Autism, as the Autism Speaks website advocates. But there really needs to be some understanding about this issue, because otherwise, you're blaming parents for something even the so-called "experts" don't really understand. These kids are wired a little differently from others, and if your kid is a calm, easy to handle kid that listens to you most of the time and doesn't like to dig in dirt and run faster than you can possibly imagine a four year old can run then count your blessings. You are one of 149 who drew the short straw.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wheel of Time series finale

About 20 years ago I started reading Robert Jordan's series known as the Wheel of Time. I guess it has about 12 of the books into it now, and it's been cruising along for all this time, sometimes a book out every year, sometimes longer between. Jordan himself died about two years ago with the series unfinished. But he had dictated serious notes and his wife found an author to finish the series for him.

The first of the three finale books,the Gathering Storm, came out recently. I had decided to "re-read" all of them before the book came out but I only got up to book four before giving in (I couldn't wait once I saw the book at Sam's) and buying the new one. They are BIG books (some run to 700 or more pages). They are seriously detailed. Sometimes, in the later books, that detail would get on my nerves. I just wanted something to HAPPEN. Some conclusion, some closure. It felt like Jordan had written himself into something he couldn't let go and we'd be strung along forever.

Now, with the deft writing of the new guy, Brandon Sanderson, the books are going very well. New guy balances the tone and characters nicely, and the story has progressed seriously in the last book. Part of me thinks it may be possible that Jordan himself could not have finished it. Sanderson does a good job, mostly because he doesn't get bogged down in the minutiae.

I could not put it down; all I wanted to do was read it. I am sad, now, that I'll have to wait a while until the next one. (I think the author said he was working on book 2 of the finale this June, so that probably means at least a year, probably more.) I don't know if I'm going to read the other five or so books again. I discovered while reading this one that I had actually skipped, for some reason, the last one to have come out. But I read the summary on wikipedia and caught up well enough, I think.

Anyway. Now that I don't have this book to look forward to for a while, I don't know what to do with myself. These kinds of books are the reason I became an English major, the reason I like to teach reading. They enrich my life in many ways (I see people and think of their motivations, sometimes, related to the mythic archetypes Jordan wove into the story).

If you've never read the story, I recommend it. If you were reading it and gave up on it, I also recommend revisiting it. Now that there is an end in sight, the length feels like a gift, rather than an irritating way to draw the story out forever.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pirates & Tributes

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all, you've seen it all...


My sister's first husband, married and divorced in her wild wild youth, and the father of my oldest niece, passed away yesterday. He wasn't that old, but these things sometimes happen. He had been ill for a while, but that's not what I want to focus on.

What I want to write about is him being the closest thing to a real "pirate" I ever knew. My sister met Eddie Dalton when we lived in Louisiana when I was still a kid myself. He was a little older than her and quite dashing... long cut blond hair, blue blue eyes, muscular. He was a Marine who served some time in the tail end of Vietnam and the discipline he learned there meant he was also one of the neatest men I knew, but neat in a somehow military way. Neat like cowboys, precise, and spare. Tough guy neat.

This is one reason I think he was kind of a pirate. He was the man who once told me that John Hinkley Jr. was the only "ex-Marine"--because he missed his target. He thought that was pretty funny; he had that kind of sense of humor that people don't always get, but I can see the humor in that joke now.

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late


He called his car "La Bamba" and I would sing "here comes La Bamba" when he would drive, fast, into the driveway, loud music playing. I remember he always had cool things from Asia-- a puzzle box I never did figure out. I remember how he drove that car off a dead-end highway and a fencepost landed squarely in the passenger seat through the window. He was fine-- and the car was mostly fine. He thought it was funny. He lived fairly wild, too, and that's why he was not the man my sister stayed with forever. But he never did marry again. I don't know if he carried a torch or if he just never found anyone else ornery enough to take him on. Even so, he helped out our family many times when I was in high school, even when my teen enthusiasms bugged him, a man who mostly wanted to be left alone.

When Sara was born, he was so excited. Back then, I guess people didn't find out the sex of babies as much as we do today, so we didn't know what she was until birth. He brought her a football-- a nerf one-- and held it up to her while looking through the nursery window. That was her first toy. He loved her so much-- and she is probably his best redeeming grace, that face, those blue eyes of hers, the narrow face that looks so much like him. She is a kind, gentle person who cares sometimes too much; it hurts her and she worries a lot. I wish she could take a teeny bit of his strength like that; the ability to tell the world "he wanted to be buried facedown so the world could kiss his ass." It's not a bad lesson to learn, sometimes.



He was an amazing carpenter of boats and this is the work he did most of his later years. He called himself a "fishhead" because of his work in the Destin, Florida, area with fishing/charter boats. The fiberglass he installed is probably one of the things that caused his poor health, but I think he would have found that funny, too. I imagine he built a number of the boats that you would go on if you went charter fishing in Destin. Probably from scratch. I wish he could have done that without the demons that sometimes haunted him. I think he would have been rich if he could have capitalized on that gift-- not that he would have had that as a goal.

And I have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I got stop wishin', got to go fishin'
Down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends...


He once got into a fight with a police officer who had pulled him over and the policeman ended up with the worse end of the fight. It is not something to brag about and at the time, I was really mad at him. But here's the twisted pirate logic: he and his buddy had been drinking too much. Eddie figured he was the MORE sober one so was driving. My niece was in the car (was pretty young) and he wanted to protect her. The policeman who picked the fight, by the way, was the one who got in trouble-- not Eddie.

I'm not going to pretend he was a saint now that he's gone-- oh, no, far from it. In fact, I imagine he would be pissed if people started that. He was a hard man to like sometimes, but Sara loved him dearly. It is fitting that she was the one who had to make the decision to let him go, yesterday. He didn't suffer long, and he wouldn't have wanted it to be a big long ordeal.

I've done a bit of smugglin', I've run my share of grass
I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast
Never meant to last, never meant to last


He wants his ashes scattered across the gulf of Mexico, and they're working on setting that up. I think that is fitting for him, because I think he was most truly happy when he was building a boat or sailing out there in the salty air.

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I've found
My occupational hazard is, my occupation's just not around
I feel like I've drowned, gonna head uptown.


I have always thought of him when I heard this song. I also have thought it would be kind of cool to be drunk now for over two weeks--just to tell the world to piss off and do what you wanted to do. This is something I think of Eddie with. I probably always will think of him when I hear this song.

May you find fair winds and following seas on your final journey, Eddie.
And perhaps a pirate ship to crew and sunny days ahead.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Roller Coaster Life

It's always amazing to me how fast time flies by. I will be waking up on Monday, tired and not ready for the weekend to be over and then I blink and it's Friday. Where the hell did that whole week go? Why is there another ton of laundry to fold; who is wearing all of these clothes?

And don't get me started on all the things I do not get done in that time. It was a freakin' blink, already, how could I have gotten anything done?


What we've been doing around here is fairly simple.


  • morning routine.
  • daytime stuff-- rental property issues, lunch with Andrew, LAUNDRY, trying to stay half a step against the mess in the house. Teach on Tues & Thurs.
  • pick up kids
  • snacktime for kids
  • grocery for dinner/cook dinner
  • sit outside with firepit.
  • watch the kiddos (yes, both of them) play on starfall.com and learn ABCs and computer skills. Be amazed.
  • Watch them run around outside in the dark chasing each other with their Nerf Swords. Be amazed, again.
  • Relax for a little while.
  • Enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio. Attempt to keep it to ONE glass. It's a big glass. ;)
  • Bath/Bedtime
  • rinse. repeat.

Our trip to Texas last weekend was both good & sad. Andrew's cousin Wil was an important part of his life and he's gone, and the funeral events lasted all weekend, so we didn't get a lot of other stuff (visiting with friends, my birthday) done at all, really. But we DID get to spend a lot of time with family members. The old family cemetery was beautiful. And the hill country was amazingly gorgeous-- Fall leaves, sun at that time just before it goes down, hills like roller coasters and happy kids.

This weekend, we're actually having some company over, our houseguests are probably going to start moving into their own place soon and I suspect life will suddenly seem a lot quieter (and that's not altogether a good thing; I've enjoyed having the company).

But I doubt this fast forward button will slow down until far away into the fast forwarding future. Just throw your hands up and enjoy the roller coaster and try not to toss the cookies. It doesn't matter that I don't particularly LIKE roller coasters and prefer the quieter, simpler rides. I'm on this one, so I may as well try to live in this moment and enjoy the parts I can.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pina Coladas Don't Do It For Me Anymore

Waiting, again.
There are magazines and soft music
but the chairs are not soft.
And the conversations
of others
grate.

If there were more or less time
then we could
we could
escape this place.

With people we don't know
who don't know us
who don't want to really anyway.

Waiting, for this, for life,
for fulfillment for
escape?

I remember a song
about the meek
and flip another page.
Waiting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tribute to an Era

Early this morning, Andrew got a call from his cousin that his father's cousin Will had finally died. He's been fighting for the last few weeks or so with a heart & lung condition and apparently had just had it. We weren't surprised, although after we had visited him two weekends ago we thought he may have rallied.

Wilford was an ornery old coot. He made that character from that 90s movie City Slickers, played by Jack Palance, look like a wimp. He was a geologist in the oil business and he could tell you long, boring stories about the Earth-- Andrew's dad once asked "why those rocks were black" and the explanation started "well, back when the Earth was formed....." and went on about an hour later.

Andrew's dad & Will had a funny relationship. They'd been together their whole lives-- both growing up on a dirt farm in Central Texas and pulling themselves out of there at the first chance they got. Once, we were out to a fancy dinner and Wilford started to recite some long poetry of the 19th century sentimentalist for "men's ways" sort (huntin' and shootin' poems, you know) and Jim said "Willie, I didn't like your poetry back then and I aint gonna listen to it now".


Sometimes I didn't really like him. He could be an opinionated bastard, and I recall him hounding me about a year before I finally got pregnant about my "biological clock" and I told him "Willie, my biological clock is MY business." He shut up, but he was a little smug when I told everyone I was having not one but two kiddos

Anyway, he was a one of a kind guy and even though he could be a pain in the ass to go out to dinner with when he started loudly spouting off those kinds of conversations, he is one of the last of Andrew's dad's generation. They were all a bunch of tough old coots, in the long run, and we owe a lot to them.

We'll be going to San Antonio for the funeral this weekend, and see family. We're glad we made the trip a couple of weekends ago to see him when he was in a rallying period, too. That's important; see people when they're still here as much as you can.

In honor of him, I recall a cool cowboy poem by Wallace McRae called "Reincarnation". I'm not going to reprint it cause he specifically says not to on his website, but go check it out; it's the second one on the page.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spitting in the Face of the Void

A friend wonders in his FB status update "if blogs are dead." Nah. I don't think so, but they've "moved on". Few people really comment here-- I import my blogs to FB and most of my comments happen there. So perhaps the technology of blogs w/ Twitter w/ FB w/ whatever has shifted and people have a 200 letter attention span. It's possible. But I deny the end until it's over.


But I do read a couple of blogs that I am not connected to on Facebook. The Writing as Joe blog, for example, seems a vibrant and wonderful as ever. I long to write more like Joe, to go to a quiet retreat at a lovely monastery once a year, to take such amazing photos. But I'm not as good a blogger as she is, I don't have her amazing rock star life. But I can aspire. :) Maybe that's why her blog lives on-- because she is the kind of writer that inspires us to be better (writers, people, etc.)

I have always written my blog for me. It's my journal, my record of days. For a while, people other than myself read it on a daily basis. And that was kinda fun. And that's mostly over, here, yes. And I probably have put things too personal up on it sometimes because it feels like a personal thing, and I probably have sometimes seemed really self-centered (because right here IS about me if nothing else in life is). But daily life is sometimes fun, sometimes boring, and sometimes worth writing about. *

I'll keep this going until I am bored with it, but since I like the daily or weekly (sometimes) grind of thinking about things I doubt that will ever happen. I don't think, like I once did, about certain events in my life "I can't wait to blog about that". But I do still like this space.
Keep watching. Or don't. I'll be here one way or another.
****************************************************
* these links are to my old blog, from the "golden age" of blogging.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weird Googling


So, for some reason, a bug to google former professors of mine from days of yore hit me tonight. I found a few; one has a super duper cool website that makes me want to tweak the heck out of my professional vitae/portfolio page. Looking at pictures of some of whom I haven't actually seen in years (almost 20 for one) and seeing the changes time has wrought, and the things that are exactly the same. Seeing time having been kind, or cool. What books have been written, lives have been lived.

I looked at the Honors Program page that I was a huge part of (president of the student organization, in fact) at the first University I attended. They looked so young and yet so familiar. Back when I was first in school, the Internet was not what it is today. I played a lot of Carmen SanDiego in the Honors office, and a lot of Tetris. But today, what are they up to?

Next thing you know I'll be googling former students whose names I remember. There aren't a ton of the ones who I can totally remember first & last names of from the top of my head, but there are a couple. I mostly remember faces, and that doesn't help.

But why am I feeling so nostalgic and weirdly googlish?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Eyes Have It

So last Friday I finally had the LASIK surgery I've been thinking about for a while. I had intended to get it back when I finished the PhD finally but put it off. Not for any particular reason, just mostly lazy.

It was really cool. Jokes about getting Jedi Laser surgery, my friend Michael joking about getting "eye boobs" from the eye steroid drops. The surgery itself took about ten minutes per eye, and was not any more traumatic than getting a quick dental surgery. I could probably have used one more Valium because I didn't really feel too anxious beforehand but during the actual procedure I was a bit nervous/freaked. I used some meditation strategies & recited "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" (the part I can remember which is just the first stanza) in my head whilst being lasered. I ignored the slightly burning smell (kind of like when your dentist is drilling your teeth and you can smell that, too). Thought hard about the light I was supposed to be looking at. By the time I thought they were just getting started, they were done. It was just that fast. And I got a t-shirt, so there you go.

And almost instantly my eyes were 20/20. I had some minor irritation the first day-- like an eyelash in my eye. And it was kind of hazy/cloudy. The best comparison I can give is like if you have opened your eyes in really salty Gulf of Mexico water for a few minutes and then afterwards gotten some sand in there. Not too bad!

It's been three days and I've had to keep up with eye drops & wear these super fashionable eye shields taped to my face when going to bed. Oh boy do I look ever cool with those. My eyes are still kind of droopy and I have a creepy red blood blotch in one of them (Hello 28 days later!) Heh heh. I'm still having "halo" effect around bright lights but to tell you the truth, even if that never goes away (and that is one possible danger of the surgery) I would be good with it. Considering how my vision was, and that my night vision wasn't awesome to begin with, I can totally live with it.

All in all, I am super duper happy. If anyone is considering doing this, I recommend it. But make sure you research your doctor and like them and take TWO Valiums.

I will still likely have to wear reading glasses in the next ten or so years as I get older but I'm good with that. I wore glasses for close to 30 years! I am all fine and dandy with not having to wear them now.

I am not super duper vain but I like the fact that I don't have to worry about scratched eyeglass lenses, or searching around like Velma on Scooby Doo when I can't find the glasses that have fallen to the ground. It will really help with my crime-solving activities with those darn kids and their meddling dog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pointless Blogging & 20 years of living

So I really have nothing to post other than a general feeling of tiredness & nothing to say. So does that stop me!? NO! I don't let not having anything to say stop me! That's the mark of a true blogger! Hah!

Anyway. I was thinking about 20 years. I am turning 40 soon, and it's been 20 years since a lot of things. I could make a list but I'm just too lazy & kinda tired. But I can't believe how fast that much time can go by.

Inside I feel pretty much the same person, with a few softer edges here where worn down, a few harder, sharper edges there where things have rubbed the angles and ridges into me. I'm sometimes kind of startled when I see myself in a mirror and I look different from my own mental image of myself. Who is that person? I mostly like her, but there are a few things I would change, if I could. And I know that this happens to everyone, and I think about the things I know are rubbing or wearing other people and sometimes I can help, sometimes I can't.

I hope, though, that when I'm looking back at 20 more years I have done more help than not. Making the world a better place, even if only a little bit, is STILL my goal, even if I'm not as blasé about how easy it will be to do so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pet Peeves

I, like everyone, have a few of these. Buttons that if you push can make me kind of crazy. I'm not going to list the one that is currently pushing my button because. Just because. Maybe it validates the irritation, maybe it points out to said button pusher that it's a thing for me.


But I will say that when one of these things that bug me happen, it's very difficult to be a grown up. I want to say rude things and devolve into an immature kid. I, therefore, resolve to get over it and be a grown up. However, I kind of hate being a grown up sometimes.


So "there" in honor of one of my biggest pet peeves.

Seasonal Blah

I love Fall. It's the time of year of my birthday, and cool weather & sweaters. I am not a "shorts wearing" kinda gal and love layers of long lumberjack shirts and wearing my hair down where it doesn't get all sweaty and gross on my neck.

It's finally Fall here. I even am fine with the copious amounts of Fall rain. Fall rain isn't as annoying here as Summer rain cause Summer rain just makes it hotter & muggy. Fall rain makes me want to make crock pot soup & drink warm beverages while reading & sitting under a cozy soft blanket.

HOWEVER. Right now, I'm totally in the blahs about it. Last week Sean was sick and today Maia is home with a croupy cough. Last night she had a fever, and she just is whiney and full of "whys". (Why is the deer's antler's white? Why do I have to take the WHOLE medicine? Why Why Why?)

And also, I think whatever bug both kids are wrangling with I have a touch of, myself. I'm a little achey, and tired, and have just the slightest tickle of a headache that never quite fixes with normal headache meds. I would just like to lie in bed & veg, which I can't really do with a kiddo home from school, supposedly sick. (But too energetic, really, and wanting to sit on my lap while I type, something I cannot abide.)

And I have chores to do and a doctor's appointment for my later this week LASIK surgery. (Yay! But still, a thing that is harder with a kid around).

So I have the blahs. They will pass. And we will have cozy firepits and warm cups of stuff to drink and many, many delicious soups. And soft fuzzy sweaters, too magical to touch. Just Not Today.

(and while it doesn't look nearly as cool and autumny as in the picture above, it will, here in La, eventually. We actually get seasonal leaf changes, unlike in Texas where the seasons are Hot and Not Quite as Hot.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meyers Briggs Type

Have you ever taken the Meyers Briggs test? A real one, not the facebook style ones you can get, which I am not sure are completely done right. I took my first one when I was in college many moons ago, and I am an INFP.


A lot of the times, I fit just fine into this profile. Sometimes, I suspect my blog personality is not as "I" as it could be, and I think that's because for the most part, especially lately, I tend to consider the blog a private place (I know; that's silly because it IS NOT actually private. It's a disconnect of blogging for me). The big difference is that generally, if it's on this blog, it's not really something that reveals that much of me, in reality. I've put details on past blogs like parts of my body that were sore or getting into an argument with a friend over drinks or something that might seem super private but those are details that, to me, don't mean all that much about who I really am. I can be super-sensitive, and get my feelings hurt (and sometimes never totally get over it) over small things to other folks, and I think, because I don't always talk about it and definitely try to not bring it up every single time we fight, people forget about this aspect of my persona.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to talk about my hubby & I. Andrew tends towards a flip flop on the first two categories, but then on the last two is a TJ. Totally opposite of me, and sometimes we rub up against friction for those reasons. I don't particularly notice the teeny tiny toys scattered all over the floor; Andrew sees them and goes nuts about it because he worries about whether someone will fall & hurt themselves on them. I would worry about the falling part if I thought about it, and that's a really good way to point it out to me because then I DO care, and will, from then on, attempt to fix the issue.

I suspect that if we really looked more deeply into descriptions of this kind of thing it would help, at least me, be more aware of how to compensate for those moments in marriage, (or even in friendships) when personality type issues make us fail to see each other's points of view. I want, very much, to make things better, and try most of the time to be an ideal of myself, and try very hard to be kind, as often as possible. But when I do FAIL, I'll bet it's because something just hasn't registered as important to a bigger picture, and that teeny detail (to me) seems huge to someone else.

I take comfort in the fact that AA Milne, the man who wrote Winnie the Pooh, is supposedly an INFP. Yeats, Shakespeare, and Keats are supposedly INFPs too. So a lot of writers, and good company to be in, apparently. I wonder how often Shakespeare's wife yelled at him for leaving his quills all over the place.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Breath of God

I feel poetry stirring,
delicate white feathers with a gentle touch of
lavender on their tips.

Sweetly soft music plays, colors swirl...

Then my son flings an entire ream of paper into the air.
he laughs and twirls and scatters it across the floor.
twirls, lies his entire body in the papers,
eats a quick snack.

This has happened before.

My delicate feathered Muse
flits, hummingbird like, away in horror;
she is not a "kid person." Decidedly not.

My daughter wants to sit on my lap.
Begs for a mama snuggle,
asks me to draw her a pumpkin.

The Muse locks her door, refuses to come out.
Renews her resolve to never marry, have children.
Shakes her head and purses her lips at my ineptitude as a rule-maker.

I know that there are people out there with hardier inspirators
that roll up their sleeves and write Nobel-winning books
with children on their laps.

I know that it only takes time
and energy and
perhaps
a good set of earplugs.

But for the life of me, I can only coax my Muse out to write poems
about writing poetry and
this
moment
of simply not wanting to clean up a floor full of empty
white
paper.

KAW Oct 09

Monday, September 28, 2009

Empathy

Sometimes, it's so easy to forget to be empathic. People piss us off, and we want to reach out and hurt them back. And it can be so easy-- a word, an action, and that person can be nailed and part of you, the tiniest, meanest part, is happy about that. And sometimes the people we love the most are the ones who it's the hardest to cut some slack.


I was thinking of this last night as I was trying to fall asleep, remembering my Empathy How To manual last spring that helped get me through a rough patch in my life. And how much that "found moment" of information and pretty pictures made me focus on practicing niceness, kindness to everyone-- including myself. That's why, I guess, in yoga it's called a practice, because you never really get it right.

So today's empathy quote: Scott Adams: "Remember, there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Remodeling and other Silly Updates


I went to Lowe's today where I think I have a "rep." Actually, I was impressed the chick at the commercial desk did seem to recognize me as I bought my seven gallons of paint (four in "Mark Twain Oak," one in "Sand Swept" (kinda yella) and one on "Utterly Blue." And two rooms of ceramic tile, and a new cool retro diner-y looking light fixture for the kitchen, and some paint (yeah!) for the countertop. They make countertop paint now! I hope it works. It'll be cool like dat if it does. And copper paint for the over the stove cool old fashioned vent thingy. We also plan to paint the outside of this currently a blah primer white with ugly green shutters and I picked out a pretty blue for that. It's gonna be purty. We aren't, on this one, pulling up the carpet like we usually do because the people who might rent like carpet (I hate hate hate it. But I'm not living there.)

Anyway, the point isn't so much to talk about all the painting but my Fangtasia T-shirt, which I am wearing. It's got an address, right here in Shreveport, which, if you follow the True Blood series or Charlaine Harris books, you know is where the vamp bar is. On Industrial Loop. I got a TON of attention for this shirt at Lowe's today. I've worn it before and only had one person notice, but apparently the show is better known now and people were all excited. One guy said he was gonna go "check it out" (the place where the shirt says Fangtasia is.). I told him to be careful; there's vampires there.


Now for lunch and prep for a friend to maybe come into town later today. Which equals: cleaning the guest bedroom. Not a hard job, just gotta do it.

Silly updates. What's for lunch? Will someone bring me some Monjini's?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ya-Ya

I'm doing the "housewife" thing today and cleaning my messy, messy place (amazing how much two determined four year olds can trash a place). That also means folding the 3/4 ton of laundry I have piled up. (I hate hate hate laundry. If I could afford to pay for a maid to do my laundry I would be in sheer heaven. One can dream.)

While I'm doing that dreaded chore, I'm watching TV. Flicking around, I found the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood on HBO. I read the book a long time ago; it was my Christmas present for everyone that year. I've read the sequels, but that first one is really the best. I saw the movie when it first came out with one of my oldest friends on a rainy day in Birmingham.


Things have changed so much since then. When I saw it the first time, I cried for the little kids that were being beaten in one scene but then, I cried as the child. As a child who identified with the children. Today, watching it, I cried as the mother who saw her children being beaten. It's a different place, and it sucks almost as much as the one getting hit. I am grateful that I have a husband who is supportive and there-- because one of the major problems in the Ya Ya world is that there husbands were NEVER around (it was a different era, yes, but I never ever did not notice that aspect). I also have never been that sad/depressed or on the edge. Not even close. But I am very aware of how much the day of folding laundry WITHOUT kids around means, how much it costs, and how much it is a saving grace to a tired mother's sanity. Just to have a chance to watch twenty minutes of a movie I've seen before, have memories of other times and other places with close friends, and cry a little girly cry.

And to think about the way life changes, and things we never saw coming will happen, and yet, as in the movie, there is always a chance for redemption and even sunflowers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ampersand

&.

I like the ampersand. It's a very pretty piece of--well, it's not really punctuation, nor is it a letter. I must google it. OOh. It's a logogram. Cool. Learn something new every. single. day.

Anyway. A lot of fonts go curly and fancy on ampersands. I include it in my page title, although not in the url (I don't think you can in blogger). I remember using it a whole lot in an early draft of my dissertation and having my advisor ping about it. I know, I know. It's not formal and academese-y enough.

I use it a lot in poetry. ee cummings used it a lot, and perhaps that's one place his poetry has continued to influence mine. Since he was one of my first favorite poets (still is, in fact) I know his work has resonated on my brain since high school. So perhaps it's all his fault.

& then...

I hear a child messing with my other computer, the computer is pinging "help help help" at me. So my not-saying-anything-really blog post is now officially over.

&

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rainy Days Make Me Bloggy

Well I obviously haven't been writing much here. I've been so busy that it just doesn't seem like five minutes of blogging time gets factored in very often. But it's mostly good busy.

We're still fixing up old houses in the Highland historic district in town & then renting them out to folks at a reasonable rate. That still feels really good to do, in spite of the few bad eggs as tenants we've had. But it takes up a lot of time, because we don't cookie cutter the work. I go to Lowe's, pick out cool light fixtures that match the house's personality; we paint in colors that are comfy. We have handymen that jones to live in our places. That's gotta be good.

The kiddos are doing fine. Right now, in fact, they're napping, and needed a nap very much. They, and I, were both crabby earlier but we're better. Their dad is just now opening the door downstairs, and we're all good on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

That's the news & the weather.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Salamander Alert

Opening my campus office door, flipping on the light, I see something tiny scurry across the newly illuminated white floor space.

Um, what was that?

Could have been all kinds of things; we live in the Swampland, and those big roaches are never entirely gone from a building. (Palmetto bugs).

Instead, I see, on further peering about, a teeny tiny baby white salamander scurry under my desk.

Since we're on the second floor, and very concrete-tile-frigid-sterile 1970s Cold War Era building, I can't even imagine how that little fella' got here. Maybe there are entire colonies of salamanders that have never seen the natural sun. Existing on dropped cookie bits & copier toner.

Welcome, little friend. Stay off my toes, please. I think I'll call you Charlie.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Week Two

School this semester looks like it's shaping up to be a mellow, not so crazy with piles and piles of essays to grade constantly fun semester. Which is good. I need a bit of a break.

I have tons of stuff to do. Workout, housework, go over and do some work on our current remodeling of the house in Highland. I will not be able to get everything done. Wednesday I'm going to get my hair done. Dammit. I will I will I will. Take a few hours for just me. I'm even going to skip my morning workout for it! I will have to find something active to do later, with the kiddos.

Anyway. This ^ is my week ahead. But on a less crazy busy more visiting with family side we are planning a trip to Texas this coming weekend. It sort of came up suddenly but I looked around and realized we could, if Andrew took Friday off, score a freebie four day weekend. So there you go.

And I swear, if Sean doesn't stop pulling keys off my laptop keyboard I'm going to scream. I have four keys pulled off and too damaged to fix, but they aren't essential keys, really. But I think he's done something to my control key. I can't get it to work this morning. Screamz!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Don't Lie Meme

Since it's been so busy around here and I haven't had time to blink, I'll post this meme to the blog first. It'll wander over to Facebook when the RSS feed updates. :)

RULES - Copy, paste, and fill out in your notes section (created on your profile page). Then, tag your friends, including me.

******************************************************
Can you fill this out without lying?
Yeah. It's not really all that deep, honestly.

What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Coffee

Last person you rode in a car with under the age of 20?
Sean & Maia

How do you feel about Dr. Pepper?
I drank it a ton as a kid but don't drink soda any more. Sean LOVES it.

Have you ever kissed anyone named Matthew?
Nope. Is this meme by McConaughey tryin' to get some play? :)

Where was your profile picture taken?
Joanne's house, just before going to see Wicked. About 2 months ago.

Name someone that made you laugh today?
It's too early. The cat was funny running in after a long night out... I don't think I laughed though.

How late did you stay up last night and why?
About 9:30? When we put the kiddos to bed, we usually fall asleep ourselves.

If you could move somewhere else, would you?
San Antonio. Maybe Florida (panhandle).

Ever been kissed under fireworks?
Most likely. It's not a "special memory"

Which of your friends lives closest to you?
Hmmm. Mandy. But she's moving. :)

Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Nope. Not in my experience.

Calling or texting?
Calling

When was the last time you cried really hard?
Hmmm. I don't really remember.

Where are you right now?
Kitchen

What bed did you sleep in last night?
Matthew McConaughey's. (Just kidding. I guess I lied, huh? Does that mean I'm not in the meme club?)

What was the last thing someone bought for you?
Uh, Andrew bought me super good dinner last night.

Who took your profile picture?
Myself, with the webcamera on Joanne's computer.

Was yesterday better than today?
So far, nah. I had to work yesterday so it ought to be relaxing today.

Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
Yup. They're what make us human.

Are you a bad influence?
Definitely.

Night out or night in?
In

What items could you not go without during the day?
My cell, blue gum, contact lenses!!

What does the last text message in your inbox say?
Hmm. I think it's the one about Artspace burning in Shreveport. :(

Do you hate anyone?
I try not to. Sometimes it's hard when they have caused you so much pain.

If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
A lot of things from friends closeby planning kid events this summer. Some art activities around town I'm trying to do more of.

Can you easily tell if someone's fake?
McConaughey, that's personal info. Nah. Probably not if they're good actors.

Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Yes.

Has anyone ever called you a perfectionist?
No. I'm not one; kind of more of a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal.

Can you whistle?
Yes.

Do you sleep on your sideS, stomach, or back?
Most of the time on my back anymore. But I like it on my side. I used to love tummy sleeping-- can't do it anymore.

When is the next time you will see the person you like?
In a sec. Hubby is washing up his breakfast dishes and he'll probably come over and say bye in a minute.

What song is stuck in your head?
none... I refuse to think about this question too hard.

Someone knocks on your window at 2am, who do you want it to be?
Santa Claus.

Who was the last person to tell you that they love you.
Andrew, most likely. Maybe Maia.

Wanna have grandkids before you're 50?
Unlikely. Because of my situation with adoption, it's possible, however. (Not with Maia & Sean, but if the birth kid shows up, he'll be 18 this year!!)

Name something you have to do tomorrow
Relax. Don't do it.

Do you think too much or too little?
WAAAY Too much

Do you smile a lot?
Yes.

Who was your last missed call on your mobile phone?
Andrew

What was the last book you read?
Last done with: Hands of Flame by C.E. Murphy.

What book are you currently reading?
Reading the first cyberpunk book... can't remember the name.

Is there something you always wear?
My diamond earrings. My wedding ring.

What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Sleeping.

Did you have an exciting last weekend?
Nah. Although I did go to a hula hoop class, and that was fun.

Have you ever crawled through a window?
Yes.

Have you ever dyed your hair?
Yes.

Are you wearing a necklace
Nope.

Are you an emotional person?
Yes. Too much so, really.

Can you handle the truth?
Thanks, Jack Nicolson, but usually, yes.

What's something that can always make you feel better?
Having a little time to myself to think.

Will this weekend be a good one?
Hopefully. Most likely since hubby will be home.

What do you want right now?
A sip of coffee. Ah. Wish granted.

Are you mad about anything?
Not currrently, but I could over think something and manage it I'm sure.

When was the last time you were disappointed and why?
Uh, I don't know the last time. I have been disappointed with my job prospects. Oh-- I know. When Andrew told me we might end up living in S'port forever. :(

Would you share a drink with a stranger?
You mean, drinking out of the same cup? Or just getting to know someone? Depends. But yeah, as long as I'm not sharing cooties.

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
Andrew's Grandmother.

How many times have you been pulled over by the police?
A couple. Not too many. Last time was for an expired inspection sticker. Doh!

Have you ever worn the opposite sex's clothing?
Yes.

Where is your biological father right now?
I think, since he was cremated, his body is back in New York with his early family. I'd have to ask, though, cause I'm not positive. But technically, I hope HE's somewhere happy-- heaven, reborn, peace. What have you.

Whats on your schedule for tomorrow?
to be honest, probably REAL ESTATE CRAP again. But I try to have fun with it.

Look behind you, what do you see?
the stairs.

Can you live a day without TV?
yes. But I don't know if my kids could.

Does anyone of your facebook friends know your password?
Andrew probably.

Would you like some cake?
Definitely. But I shouldn't cause I'm being GOOD.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Resolved

I thought this week that the kiddos were both going back to school, but it turns out Sean doesn't start until Friday. Which is fine, but I have him home still. But when I thought he was going back, I had plans for this week to be my "New Year" of sorts. I was planning to start the diet, start the going back to the gym plan for losing 30 (at least) pounds by Halloween. Which I still am doing-- it just starts next week, instead. (Well, the formal workout part of it at least).

When I was in grad school I had scooted my weight up about where it is now, actually, even without the help of having two kids in the middle of it. "Giving birth" to the dissertation was labor enough. But I lost most of it; 50 pounds of fat to be exact (I gained a bit of muscle during that time so it didn't necessarily round out to a total loss of 50 lbs). During that time, I even became, for a short while, an aerobics instructor. Certified and everything. Really. That lasted, oh, a few weeks. Then I was pregnant. And I could have kept doing it until that day I got a flu-ish bug and my boss at the gym basically was going to make me lead a class while pregnant with twins and flu-ish. I told her to get bent.

Anyhoo-- I digress. The point is this: today, in spite of the fact that I am not as I had planned going back to the gym yet I am starting my diet/exercise plan. I actually AM going to bellydancing class tonight, and that will give me a little bit of a workout (probably a bit more than last week... and I was even a little sore then). I'll try not to over load the blog/facebook with too much diet talk; that can get really boring really fast. But this is the official start of the quest to look like my anarchy cheerleader by Halloween again. (If you know not what I speak of there, look in my facebook old pix file). I can do it; I will do it.

Of course, the added bonus is that in order to lose all that weight I'm not drinking for at least 6 weeks, and there will not be any more melancholy too much red wine posts like there was last night. Oy! What a silly head sometimes! Tell the whole Internetz, why don't you? So this resolve is strengthened by this morning's not silly but icky head.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blog Post Left IntentionallY Blank

Sometimes, I write a blog that I then decide to not make live.

It doesn't happen often. Sometimes I think about posting it on the now locked up, never written in, anonymous blog of yore.

But right this second, I'm feeling a little bit p'od. A little bit-- lied to. A little bit too compromise-d.

And I won't publish that blog post for now.

But I am going to go get another damned glass of Red Wine. Screw the headache. It's better than the heartache right now.


Ars Poetica

When I was a senior in college, up at the lovely lovely Bellingham Washington campus of Western Washington U,* I took a "Critical Theory" course. It was summer, and the warmest it ever really got in Bellingham was the mid 80s. The sun was like the friendlier, more cheerful, less vengeful cousin of the one here in the South.

A group of us took this course together, taught by one of the profs in the department who, while he exuded professor-ly-ness, was also a really nice guy. (Not that those two things are mutually exclusive, but this one was particularly neat.)

We started with Plato, ranged through the years up to Showalter & Fish & Derrida. It was super interesting. A lot of writers write about their "Poetic Arts" and those writings become theoretical grounds for other artists. I think that a dominant trope still for most artists (at least the ones I come into contact with) is the Romantic idea of the artist as someone in a fluffy poet shirt who quaffs red wine and communicates directly with the Muses (or perhaps angelic women with too white face & rosy cheeks).

Anyway. The point of this is: what is my poetic art? I love to write. I love poetry, the confessional poetry is my favorite, probably. Anne Sexton, in particular. I wish I crafted my poetry more, created sonnets, formal verse. I usually don't, and I write too many poems about writing poetry. For my fictional art, I am really interested in a type of Magical Realism. I thought I was going to write Urban Fantasy, but this summer, I've been reminded of the roots of my favorite things, and what I want to do is a lot more like what Alice Hoffman and/or Charles De Lint do. This kind of dreamy reality where it's entirely possible for the dragonfly buzzing around you to turn into a fairy, but that fairy doesn't necessarily then want to "do you." (Which is kind of the "urban fantasy" place that scenario would often go....)

My short short fairy tales this summer were partly inspired by a book Alice Hoffman wrote, called The Story Sisters. In it, she frames chapters with a fairy tale version of the real characters' lives. I often write about myth and fairy tale in my poetry (see. there's a connection intended in these paragraphs) but I felt less like shaping these journeys into poems than I sometimes do.

In Bellingham, the campus was just lovely. Up on a hill, towers peeking through tall trees. There was a small road that went through part of the campus, but I think the only thing that drove down there (if I'm remembering correctly) was the city bus. In front of the bookstore. There was a steep slope, and at the bottom, a bank of trees. In the middle of that bank of wild looking trees was an old fashioned street lamp. It truly looked, for all intents & purposes, like a waystation to Narnia or some other faery land. I used to imagine seeing someone magically appear beside that lamp. Perhaps, someday, I will, and I'll find my fictional place nearby.

********************************************************************
*And it never snowed when I was there, and this picture isn't exactly the location I'm writing about-- it's quite nearby. You can see one of the lamps I'm talking about, though, and this is such a cool picture I had to put it on here. Such a nice campus. Looking at pictures of it just now reminds me and makes me super nostalgiac.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer's Final Days

This summer has been fun, if really crazy & busy. As the first summer where I had a kid home most of the time, I have had to be patient in a new way. Learn to find things to do. Thank goodness we have a pool, cause the kids have been in it A Lot. Now that it's starting to cool off a little bit, they're spending more time in their play fort, and the pool has gotten a little more boring. We've played at the parks, gone on trips, boat rides, played with puzzles, watched scores of movies.

Right now I'm watching the flickering of afternoon slanted sunlight on the blue of the water. Maia is scheming to catch something that has fallen into the pool, crouched like a little monkey with a stick in the ant pile. Sean has had enough and is inside watching Bolt. (Again.)

It will still feel hot, for a while, here. But summer is officially on its way out the door. So the world spins and my garden grows. Sometimes a little weedy, sometimes too tall. Sometimes not what I expected. But thriving, even.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Next week planszzz

Who wants to come with me for pedicure + tattoo + martini lunch day? Say, Wednesday?? Cuz next week is my summer vacation in like, four days.

And I realize this day negates my earlier post about diet week starting next week. Maybe diet week starts Thursday, after PTM day.

Heat

I'm thinking about poisons. The type that go on apples, the type that go on spindles. Or perhaps the best kind are the curses-- you don't have to put a stopper in those, add the skull & crossbones. They are ultra portable, no?


Curses. Spite. They're always part of fairy tales; bad faeries seem ready to drop one at the slightest offense. Leave me off the party invitation list, will you? My RSVP will be on its way as a few words that will blight your fields, leave you asleep for an aeon, keep you from being fruitful.

But then, too often, the poison comes back to you, doesn't it? The stepmother swings from the heights in her red-iron-hot shoes. Dancing to the victor's music. The mirror is smashed. The dwarves dig, and dig, and dig, and the wicked fairies find themselves bound in iron and salt water and tossed deep. Deep.

The spite that gets unsaid, though, that poison eats at you. If you keep it inside, you find it resurfacing, so often you need a warning label on your own thoughts. Easier, perhaps, to let a young couple into your house, pretend to linger near the oven door, let yourself be pushed in. Easier to surrender. Let your wickedness finally be a cautionary tale to others.

Who, after all, really mourns the wicked?

Sleeper

Even as long as she had been asleep, her eyes still moved with dreaming. What could you dream about after 100 years of sleep? Did she dream life, that she was awake, brushing her hair, doing the dishes? Ah, but princesses never do the dishes.

Perhaps in their dreams? If serving girls dream of life in the top floors of the palace, is it the opposite for those who have never touched real, hard life?

Probably not. She probably dreams of balls, dancing. Champagne in crystal glasses and kisses stolen on close embraces. Softness and furs and the flash of a chandelier.

Fine music, laughter. Or maybe spinning thread, fine silk, over and over into cloth. Into tapestries of history, life, unicorns in woods, or tigers dancing. Lovers meeting under apple trees while white peacocks look on, aroused. Life. Fate.

If she wakes from her dream, will that universe end?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wicked (Step)Mother

Us
Anne Sexton
I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our own bodies
(that room that will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room that will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed your
feet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.
Princess!

Oh then
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o'clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
we harvested


I am only human. And not really all that old, as time is reckoned. And once upon a time, I was a princess.

You laugh. All you can see are the crow's feet, the blotches on my hand from too much sun. Hair with a few white streaks, right there, where I always said I wouldn't dye. Say, of photographs, "that can't really be you."

Men lay at my feet. Wrote my name on walls with spraypaint. Beat their chests as I gave them up. I was worshipped; a goddess.

Now, I see this girl, who looks like me. So much like me but better. No Oil of Olay could ever get me back there, no Age Defying makeup slant my eyes or highlight that color.

And this girl, I love, with an ache that eats my heart. Licks its fingers afterwards. Leaves me alone in a woods with wolves and red cloaks if I even imagine her not smiling at me. A tiny piece of me; the best bits.

What am I to do? They made me a step-mother. A little distance, makes it seem easier.

I avoid mirrors. They are only out to lie. I don't speak to fairies. All that wing-span makes them flighty. I sew buttons; I sew tapestries; I sew the entire history of my people. And I watch as she replaces me.

And I smile. Because, contrary to the Grimmest interpretation, it really is okay.

Out of the Woods

After a long time, the princess made her own way out of the woods. Perhaps she no longer attracted the attentions of unicorns, and she had not worn flowers in her hair in a very long time. Her hair was not entirely red anymore and the wine in her basket for grandma was long gone. She carried her own pack, and knew that often, the heroes with the shiniest armour are the ones that can be trusted least. She knew how to handle wolves and never danced in fairy rings at night. She even knew that woodsman can sometimes come to your aid but more often than not, it's better to have an axe handy yourself.

When she made her way to the village she remembered as a girl, it was smaller, somehow, and there were heartsick memories lurking in shadowy corners. She ignored them and kept moving.

She didn't expect any fairy godmothers to help her. They were busy with their own lives, figuring out how to stop their wings from drooping, how to clean pumpkin carriages, or the best key for a song to get mice to sew little garmets for themselves. That sort of thing.

She found the house of her mother, long empty, cleaned it, chased fat dimpled spiders out of corners, lit a fire, mended curtains, cooked stews. A cat that had been living off the mice in the nearby woods took up a perch on her stoop, courteously ate rodents, sometimes leaving a bit of tail for the princess in payment for the scratches he deigned to let her give him.

If, sometimes, a young girl came to visit her, and they drank tea and talked of possible futures with handsome strangers and fate's change, if, sometimes, those young girls took away vials of hope and left a little money behind, well, that's small business for you. Time spent in dark woods with wolves and heroes will teach you a lot about fate, and futures, and the comforts of a small house with comfortable chairs.

But she never, ever, fed them gingerbread. That sort of thing only leads to trouble.

A-social networking

Dang it. It looks like both Facebook & Twitter are having some kind of problems this morning. I thought maybe it was me at first, perhaps something had happened to my password but I checked on Twitscoop, which is independent of both but tracks what is trending on Twitter, and it does look like people who can post on, say, their iphone, are getting through but otherwise, there are connection & other problems.

Probably some kind of viral attack, I'm guessing, if it hit both sites at once. Funnily, there are no news stories about it that I can see. I would think that it would at least hit the tech news. Ah well. Maybe I'm just more observant than most newsies.

That's okay. I've scrolled through the news, found several disturbing stories, and now will go read my book. So Old Skool.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fairy Tale 2: The Rain

When the rain started, the world was dry. The plants surged upward, grateful, basking in the needed moisture. Children splashed in the puddles happily, kicked water on their parents, who laughed.

But the sprinkly storm turned heavy. The heat was moist, like a laundry room. The rain did not refresh anyone; people stopped splashing playfully in puddles and instead, began to fill sandbags with mucky brown grit. The domesticated flowers began to droop from too much water. Their leaves grew yellow, then brown at the edges, then, inexplicably moldy and finally, turned to mush.

It kept raining.

Vines dormant since the age of dinosaurs started to grow. Tiny green shoots, at first, they covered outbuildings, eclipsing their square shapes, then crept into the yard. Nothing had sharp edges anymore-- it was all soft, green, masses of tendrils. The tendrils grabbed at the children's ankles as they ran past, on their way through the downpour into the rapidly growing smaller houses. These vines had beautiful, giant flowers that smelled heavenly to the small birds and insects-- who hovered near and were snapped up, eaten by the flowers, slowly digested in slimey juices.

Still, it rained.

People forgot what lawnmowers looked like, left them to rust in the yards. The gasoliney smelling machines began to look like old art projects as the vines covered them, turned them into topiary of an ancient world. New indoor lives were found, forgetting the heat of summer, the heat of lemonade and ice cream and beaches and dry sand that sticks to the backs of legs.

The rain did not stop.

It dribbled. Drizzled. Poured. Torrents came down and then became gushers. Ditches filled up, overflowed. Sidewalks became small rivers. Doghouses floated away, some with the dogs, forgotten, perched on top of them, howling.

And the water and green kept flowing, flowing, flowing, until people forgot the words for "dry" or "dusty" and even "desert."

Hot & Rainy


hot and rainy hot and rainy.


Ugh.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fairy Tale

Once upon a time a young, redheaded princess found her way into the woods. It doesn't matter which woods, it doesn't matter how she came to be there. What matters is that these woods were dark, and the paths were unclear, and there were small animals hiding under low branches as she passed. There were larger things, too-- the reason the small animals were hiding.

The redheaded girl did not wear a red-cloak, carry a basket for her grandmother, smell gingerbread, or hear fairy music leading her on. She simply walked. She was alone, and at first, she was not very afraid. She figured she would find her way out, and knew she had a good head on her shoulders, and reasoned that where she had been lost she would eventually find her own way out.

There may have been monsters. There may have been encounters with magical beasts-- perhaps dragons, with fiery red eyes. Perhaps unicorns, lulled by the sound of her singing into resting their heads upon her lap. Perhaps there were heroes so entranced by her beauty that they threw themselves into her service and found her to be worthy.

Perhaps not. Perhaps she was just lost, and never found, in a woods far from home.

Which story would you write?


*******************************************
p.s. this is not a metaphor for my life. It is fiction. Don't read anything into it. I'm just thinking about fairy tales.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peas in Pod

So I go into the bedroom to check on a squawky kiddo. (Probably Sean who works up to being awake like this.) They were sleeping so closely piled up that for a second, adjusting my eyes to the darkness of the room, I couldn't see Maia. They were like one kid, attached at their back with legs scrawled to each side. Eternally twin.

They used to sleep like that all the time when they were infants-- bundled in their blankets, with head hands face in same exact position. I even have some cool photos I'd put on here if I wasn't too lazy to go find them.

I just thought it was kind of cool to see that again. Whenever they are in the bed together, they gravitate towards each other. This is just the most extreme example of it I've seen for a long time.

Feels Like Autumn Already

Not to be a totally banal weather blogger but the last week plus week ahead here in the Swampland is rain rain and then more rain. With brief periods of muggy heat. Right now, in fact, as I sit here, it's dark and feels like earlier than it is. In our bedroom, it's super dark, and if I want the kids to wake up before noon, I'll have to turn on lights and make noise. I'm blessed with kids that will sleep in the morning (it wasn't the case when they were infants, however). But if I let them sleep too long, they won't nap and will be crabby all afternoon, so it's a fine line.

But the point is that because of all this rain and no sun for so long it really has started to feel, this week, like a turn towards Fall. I know it's not that long now until I'm taking the kiddos to "real" school again and going back myself. I have the syllabus I created last year for a new class I've never taught before, and there are about 8 students per class registered already (since it's mostly an all Freshman class, it's unusual for it to fill up before late Drop/Add).

I have big plans once this Fall semester starts. Academics tend to do this: the Fall is another "New Year" for us. We get new clothes, new students. Some of us try to clean up the office space at work. Me, I'm going to renew my efforts at the gym. I was being really good at the start of the summer but then when Sean went to his sporadic summer school schedule, I just lost all the extra time in my day. But I am recommitting seriously to the plan to lose 30 pounds of extra and re-muscleify re-aerobicize, re-tone my flabby tired almost 40 year old body. It will mean an actual diet, I think, this time. Complete with "nutrition shakes" for breakfast and light meals. And NO liquor for at least the first 6 weeks. I may quit altogether forever except for special occasions. It seems to me that it's half (perhaps even more than half) of the weight loss problem. You drink your "just one" glass of wine with dinner, and it tastes really good so you want another, then you figure "I'll just have a bowl of ice cream too" and then that is a BIG bowl and then there's an extra 500 calories in your day. That's more than a total hour's worth of walking on an elliptical, at least. If you're really killing the machine. And the most fit of people over 40 that I know, most of them don't drink much at all. It's a youthful thing. (Except for the French. And I seriously think they're tricking us somehow...) :)

Anyway. That's a long blog post to say: it feels a bit like the renewal of "back to school," back to work back to being something other than a slacker in PJs again. Just because of a week of rain. It'll go back to sunny & too hot, I'm sure, before summer really gives up the ghost but it's a tease, and I, for one, am looking forward to it. Even with the pain of working out and weight loss goals.