Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catching Rye in the Sky

J.D. Salinger has left the building. The Catcher in the Rye had a profound effect on me when I read it in high school. I'm sure there are millions of others around the world saying the same thing. It was one of the first pieces of literature I really "clicked" with, and Salinger's use of Holden's voice made me realize on some level that it was okay for me to write, to narrate. Like Holden, I wanted to save my younger sibling from the bad words and the scary rides on the carousel. Like Holden, life got in the way and we all grew up.

According to the article, Salinger has 12 novels locked up in a box in N.H. Wonder if we'll ever get to read them?

In related news, Nicholas Sarkozy and the French are arguing over whether or not to move Albert Camus' grave from Provence to the Pantheon in Paris. Academics want him to stay in his grave in the small town where he was buried, as they say those were his wishes. Sarkozy wants to bring him up to the big leagues and inter him with Victor Hugo et al. Critics are calling foul, saying Sarkozy is using the 50th anniversary of Camus' death (Jan. 2010) to generate political capital.

I didn't realize he died at 46 in a car wreck. Makes me want to reread The Stranger, for some reason.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I want one!
But the add-ons add to price--dock, keyboard dock, carrying case and it's $130 extra for 3G network access. Unlimited data for $30/month; no contract required.
Full newspapers, books in color, touchpad interface--sigh.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One look I will be avoiding for spring

I'm hardly a fashion maven, but even I know to avoid pleats if you have a stomach. This model clearly, while admittedly not having a stomach, does not. I can't believe that this "look" is considered hot for spring. Please, please... let's avoid cropped, pleated, tapered pants at ALL costs.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am a machine

According to someone at work.

She probably thought she was giving me a compliment--saying that I work hard, fast, and reliably. That has translated into project managers giving me lots of tasks outside of my "typical" editing work. It's nice to know that someone appreciates my speed and accuracy; being called a "machine" is probably not the best way to acknowledge that. But the woman in question is not an editor and probably doesn't choose her words as carefully as I choose mine.

I know--shut up and take the compliment, right?

Some days I wish I could be a machine and get by on less sleep. These days, I find that I am at my best after nine hours, which isn't always practical with my life and schedule. I was asleep by 10:30 last night and I woke up on my own, without an alarm at 5:15 this morning. It was too early to really be cognizant of anything, so I rolled up and was rudely awakened by the beeping of my alarm at 6:45. I was so groggy! That leads me to believe that perhaps I slept too much--my circadian rhythms are off. Maybe they will reset when we stop saving daylight.

Enough navel-gazing.

My children have two completely different noses. Neither nose is one to be envied. I don't recognize either one as being mine. My son's looks a bit like my husband's. Maybe he'll grow into his nose. I suppose there is always rhinoplasty, if it bothers him. I think it's cute--now. Trying to imagine my four-year-old at 12, or even 10, is tough.

The machine has had its break and must now resume operations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

timoune from the tree

"Oh, Gods
Oh, Gods
Are you there?
What can I do to get you to look down
And give in?
Oh, Gods
Oh, Gods
Hear my prayer
I'm here in the field
With my feet on the ground
And my fate in the air
Waiting for life to begin"

How did I get from waiting for my life to begin to spending Sunday evenings playing bejeweled blitz on facebook and doing laundry, planning menus for the week, figuring out when to schedule workouts, and wondering just how much longer I can put in at this contract position before my brain starts to go and I start to actually care about shit like serial commas, correct capitalization, and fuck-it-all hyphenation?

I miss writing. Or maybe I miss the idea of writing. But the mere thought of starting to wade back through files of crap, fastwrites, my novella, my performance pieces... I shiver. So amateur. It's just bad, right? It's been so so long, and I feel completely invalidated about the whole process. I miss Women Writing and the openness and support of the circle. 

I listened to an interview, or a piece of one, today on my way back from the gym, with Tracy Chevalier, who wrote, among other things, Girl with the Pearl Earring. It was somewhat fated, as I was looking for something else to read--I was biking today and biking=boredom unless there is something entertaining to read--and I picked up Chevalier's book off my shelf, and thought, "Hmmm... this looks light and easy for stationary bike fodder." And it was. And some higher force must have been in action since I randomly chose the book, and the author was on NPR. Granted, it was a Diane Rehm clip show from the week, but still, I was in the car for all of five minutes in driving between the J and my house, and there she was, talking about her process.

It seems Chevalier likes the research part of writing better than the actual writing. She said that once she starts drafting, she has to make decisions such as "Will she be blonde or brunette? What kinds of clothes will she wear? What kind of job will he have?" In the research phase, for her, all of that is wide-open. Well, I suppose as wide open as it can be when you're writing historical fiction. Griete is hardly going to sport skinny jeans and an ipod in 1665. But still, she sees all of that as "open" when she starts to draft.

Me, I'm the opposite. My characters are mostly formed in my head before they ever hit the page. They "tell" me what they look like, in the nonverbal, noninsane way that characters talk to their authors. They yell at me when I force their hand in the desperate attempt at plot construction--always my downfall. Maya, the main character from one of my pieces actually stopped me cold in my head and said, "I would never, and I mean never, ever, do something as stupid as that. I might be forgetful and I might have ADD, but I would never lock my keys and my cell phone in my car." I had to disagree with her because it was a key plot point for her to do so. I think she eventually forgave me, but last I wrote, she is languishing in a female jail, trying to figure out where she went wrong, if she still has a marriage, and who is picking up her 22-month-old daughter from the sitter. And she's going through caffeine withdrawl with a cellmate who runs some organization called "PUTAIN," which is a joke so far inside that I'm going to have to cut it and rewrite because the only people who will get it will be the ones I explain it to, and where's the fun in that?

But maybe that's the key. Maybe I've been too linear (now, there's a surprise. I'm always linear in narrative and nonlinear in drama, and I write drama much better than I write narrative. Hmmm.) and maybe the plot should start in jail, and the central conflict is how to get out, and it's only by looking backward that she can begin to move forward. Trite, maybe, but as a character, Maya is anything but. She's completely wacked out and insane, but in a loveable way. I initially modeled her after Leopold Bloom but decided I liked her too much to go that route. Bloom jangles keys. He's a little boring. And he's stuck in his own head. And she can be too, but she dialogues outwardly to her BFF in the way that Bloom stays inside. And instead of alcohol, she's always looking for the next caffeine hit.

Okay, maybe I'm unstuck now. Maybe, for the first time since the whole "moving to D.C." process began, my life is settled enough to write. Maybe I can carve out an hour or two between workouts, preschool and school commitments, errands, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and work (I shouldn't have listed it all out) I can do this. Maybe this "settling" into the groove, where I'm processing subconsciously by playing this dumbass game, is just what I've needed to acclimate and to get ready for my next big step.

Thanks, Gods, I needed that.

What I Read in 2009

I wish I had kept a list during the year, but it became too tedious to do so. I will try to recreate, just to get an idea for myself. These are in no particular order. I may add annotations later.

Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs--bizarre fiction. Definitely like his memoir stuff better.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown--predictable, inhalable, forgettable

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson--Cross becomes human. It was nice to see.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde--love his stuff. Prefer the other series (Thursday Next) but he's so damned clever it doesn't seem to make a difference.

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde--read this out of order but still liked it.

Couples by John Updike (didn't finish)--couldn't finish. too boring

Swimsuit by James Patterson

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

The 8th Confession by James Patterson

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull--so good. I could really relate.

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy--indulgent and fun.

The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs--loved it. He is so freaking funny. Can't wait to read the rest of his stuff.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout--weird story but I like the style and the set-up. That's why she won the prize--not because of the content.

The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman--I liked this series better than the Golden Compass series.

The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman

Secret Lives Of The First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About The Women of The White House by Cormac O'Brien--the book on the presidents was better

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld--poor Laura Bush!

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Run for Your Life by James Patterson

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde--loved this one. It had Hamlet as a major character, which is always a plus in my book.

Why I'm Like This: True Stories by Cynthia Kaplan--meh. just okay.

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire--felt like filler between Wicked and the next one, which I have yet to read. Kinda like the second Matrix movie.

To My Dearest Friends by Patricia Volk--I should read it again in 30 years. I was too young this time.

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell--second time I read it. Didn't remember reading it. There's a reason for that.

The Night Villa by Carol Goodman--beautiful

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs--funny

Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris--I love him. Everything he touches turns to funny.

I'm sure there are others, but this is a start. Thirty-two. I expected more. But again, I might be missing some.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


can't believe we're heading into the playoffs with a 37-0 loss (and wait, it's not over yet!). and it's going to be the same team. in less than a week.

ran tonight. only marginal stiffness. put together kitchen pantry-like cabinety things. yeay. logged more than 14,000 steps today. drove to ikea for the second weekend in a row to get pieces that were missing for the new bed.

oh, and found this pic of the fam while i was browsing for pics for dd's time line assignment:

it's from last summer but still cute, i think. we all look shiny and happy. i wish it were beach weather here. it hasn't gotten above 30 in days!

and this one of me and my dad:

happy times all around!