June 20, 2008

friday confessions - "it's quite simple"

My first 'Fess Up Friday post. This week, on the scribblage front:

I have done too much superfluous blogging and not enough substantial writing.


On deck: I thought this was eight years ago. Turns out, it's right now. Stay tuuuuuned.

(Pic: From life on the non-writing front. When the salad greens froze over in the refrigerator, the roasted bell/sun dried tom vinaigrette I made from scratch was tossed with pasta and called dinner. A rare success for Wifery 101's cooking delinquent.)

June 18, 2008

bloggers take ... heart?

Feeling tranquil but not quite sleepy, despite the flight and the fact that we're three hours ahead so my brain should feel like it's 2 a.m. I started another of the books from my stash - the one I thought would go down smoothest, but I'm twelve pages in and already turned off.

Maybe it's because Diablo Cody suggested that 30 is the cutoff for sowing one's wild oats - and being less than a month shy of 30, I resent that. Not to suggest I have a long shopping list of Wild Oats Left to Sow - there will be no skydiving, no Peace Corps, and no career changes that involve learning to undulate in undies - though I did feel slightly affronted when my Peahen asked in some exasperation where this latest flurry of body modifications had come from. "Aren't you a little late with that?" asked she, who pierced and tattooed everything imaginable about ten years ago and is starting to have things taken out.

I still order off the Kids' Menu whenever and wherever I can (better cover up that tattoo or that's not gonna work for much longer) so psh, I say.

I have had a slight fascination with the candy-girl life since I met the stripper ex-girlfriend of one of my ex-boyfriends in '02. He kept nothing from me, so I knew all about her before we had that bizarre run-in at the movies. I listened to the stories with morbid curiosity - what a life, to be paid so much money to turn yourself nightly into what Diablo Cody calls "brown goop" at a "girl buffet." I didn't see it that way then - I saw the ex as an adventurous (if not slightly crazy and very opportunistic) girl who in turn saw dancing as an opportunity to make a lot of money while she still had the goods. But when I met her that day (which must have been five years after her dancing "career" ended), she just looked ... old. And I don't think I was seeing her through rose-colored, I'm-the-girlfriend-now eyes. She looked about 45 (I think she was about 30 at the time) - and an old 45. Run-down tired. She talked like a chipmunk, and was cute like one, too. A cute, old chipmunk. I would almost have felt better if she were gorgeous - but here she was, the tired brown goop, and I wondered how much the buffet had had to do with it.

Anyway, I guess I'll keep at the book. She has a tendency to overmetaphorize (as I have a tendency to make words up) and I almost threw up at the part about open menstruation at Amateur Night (although I'm sure the experience was heavily embellished), but the girl got her start in blogging, after all. She got a book offer based on her blog. That in itself is awesome. She also wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Juno." (And may I just say I totally approve of quasi-animal prints on the red carpet. Rawr.)

Earlier today I was contemplating The Writing (I would call it The Nonexistent Writing but ... self-fulfilling prophecies and all that) and decided that I need a group. Some years ago I had a group, and even if we sat around talking story and tasting each others' coffees for the first 3/4 of any given meeting, we did get some writing done, and that was the point of Us. Little by little we disbanded, and now I am an orphan with a leaky pen, an itch to write, and a summer break that stretches itself out before me. The Writing is like The Running. I need mates.

June 14, 2008

long lomita nights

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

How is it that I never read this book till now?

June 9, 2008

nostalgia, travels

When I was about seven, we went on the first of our trips to Yellowstone. My mom bought me Naya Nuki from a park gift shop, and I read it cover to cover countless times, wishing more than anything that I was that girl: shrewd, resourceful, and so loyal that she trekked through sickness and snowstorms, past grizzlies and enemy tribes, over mountains and through valleys to get back to her family.

While we stayed in cabins and lodges (and not makeshift shelters of fresh buffalo hide), those were always my favorite trips: Teton, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon - but best of all, Yellowstone. They were unbeatable experiences: A caravan of bison ambling through a lodge parking lot as if they owned it (because actually, they did); sneaking many a marmot my leftover dining hall breadsticks after dinner; witnessing a shimmering myriad of blues, purples and greens within one small hot spring. I've never since felt quite so at home among absolute wilderness. (Okay, the wilderness wasn't absolute - we were tucked into the sturdy Old Faithful Inn, which featured modern plumbing, a gift shop that sold polished geodes, and a cafeteria that featured processed breadsticks perfect for feeding twitch-nosed marmots. But animals roamed in abundance - buffalo by the side of the road, squirrels and marmots underfoot at a geyser stop, so many deer and moose that I grew bored of stopping to take pictures of them.) I keep urging S to consider Yellowstone for at least one leg of our honeymoon - because I know if we are fortunate enough to experience half that much wildlife, I'll never again take it for granted.

I always liked pretending I could hold my own in the Wyoming wilderness, like Naya Nuki and Sacajawea - nevermind that I have been known to get hopelessly lost on my way back to the table from the bathroom at Buca di Beppo. I wish I had the book with me (it's packed away - locked away - in my recently-cleaned classroom.) It's one of those books that had the power to sweep me away from a long car ride, a long time-out, a long afternoon back home in my rainy valley when none of the other kids on the block wanted to take out their bikes or play Wilderness Girls or build things out of wood and scrap metal in the garage.

It must be my personal connection with the story that made it so readable for me. Every year I do a book talk on it - read the opener, give sporadic teasers, bring photos of my own trips. The kids haven't bitten yet. They seem to prefer the made-up worlds of Eoin Colfer, K.A. Applegate, and C.S. Lewis - worlds I, too, love - but I want to expose them to natural beauty and history beyond their backyards, as well.

Speaking of science fiction and fantasy, Gregory Maguire's children's biblio is high on my summer reading list.

In terms of reading material, I always overpack for a trip. Currently shoved into the nooks and crannies of my purse, carry-on, and check-in luggage:

Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe, Bill Bryson
I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
September Vogue, InStyle and a wedding mag I grabbed off the rack last night
A couple of Archie comics for my nerves

I'd rather be overloaded than underprepared, I guess.

We're going on a sentimental trek (loosely entitled "Ms. D_C's Last Hurrah") - the final Las Disney and Vegasland circuit "just the four of us" will make.

I should try to get some writing done, too ...

June 6, 2008

summer kickoff

Currently reading: This Boy's Life - maybe I'm on a growing-up-in-the-'50s memoir streak.

The final weeks of teaching shrank rapidly into the final days, and the finalest of the final was today. Many hugs, promises, and forgotten items that I had to walk down to the office in a gigantic bag (explaining apologetically that my kids obviously take after me) later, I opened my cards and gifts (this is always a melancholy ritual for me. Parents are so generous at the end of the year, but the kids are so heartbreakingly frank in their wording - "Thank you for everything," from a certain kid, is loaded with a year's worth of memories packed into the word everything - and every gift or card is a reminder that they've left you.) One of my students (we'll call him Milhouse van Houten) gave me a $40 Barnes & Noble gift card as a farewell / thank you ... Tonight, after a year-end-hooray-for-summer celebratory dinner (floating away on one too many mango iced teas from Chili's - I am in a state of bliss right now, despite already missing my kids), I spent it (and them some) on:

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
This Boy's Life, Tobias Wolff
Candy Girl, Diablo Cody
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Stellaluna, Janell Cannon
The Beach Ball, David Steinberg / Liz Conrad

The last two are board books - birthday gifts for Meimei, Scott's two-year-old niece. The board book edition of Stellaluna was a nice find. I was thinking that come next educator week at either of the two Big B's, I should add Janell Cannon to my classroom library. I am a huge fan of Pinduli and Verdi.

A funny aside: Normally they'd just throw all the books into one big bag, but I think the clerk couldn't bear to put Diablo Cody in the same bag as Stellaluna. So I got two medium-sized bags instead. It's okay, I felt the same way.

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