Jan 27, 2011

Rule #

How can I waste so damn much time?  Let me count the ways:

Computer games!



My blog!

Checking whether I have comments and/or new followers of my blog!



Checking my email!

Typing exclamation points!

Solving crossword puzzles.

Working kenken puzzles.

Reading the paper.

Making lists.

Crossing out things I've done.

Making updated lists.

Thinking up reasons why I probably shouldn't do something.

Watching Zombieland again.  Okay, that's not a waste of time.  It's just fun.  Zombies, Twinkies, an amusement park, Bill Murray, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin as a con artist, even Woody Harrelson.  And a list!  Always check the backseat.

Jan 24, 2011


We're left wingers, far left wingers, and so it makes me very sad that some of the people who bug me most in this world are the Democratic and left-leaning groups that I support now or did in the past.  I'm not talking policy here, I'm talking phone calls.  Ever since we put our phone number on the do not call list years ago, we have had delightful, precious silence from aluminum siding companies, hot water heater companies, long distance service providers, and all the other phone solicitors, fly-by-nights, and those looking for a sucker willing to buy a satellite dish over the phone.  We had uninterrupted dinners for several years after the do not call policy was put into place.

But about two years ago, the political calls started: Emily's List, League of Conservation Voters, the Democratic Senate this and the Democratic House that.  I hate these calls.  They're annoying!  They come at all times of the day and night (we are on the west coast and sometimes get Sunday morning calls).  The people on the other end of the phone are often paid employees, not actual zealots for the cause.  They are pushy.  They want me to know how important it is that I send money NOW!  By credit card. Over the phone.  Just give us your numbers and we will a) stop the Republicans, b) save the environment, c) save the world.

So my big question is: why money?  Why is it always money that is needed to a) stop the Republicans, b) save the environment, c) save the world?  Why do 'my' Democrats need so goddamn much money to be lobbied into voting the way they should have in the first place?  And why does my money need to be sent right now, number over the phone, the security code on the back, expiration date please? Why not an old fashioned check?

These should be the good guys.  They are my team.  Why do I hate when the phone rings?  If I'm one of the good guys, shouldn't I be trusted to send that check?  Why do I wish I'd never given to a single thing I believe in?

It ain't right.  It just ain't right.

Jan 18, 2011

Things Add Up

Do you keep a mental list of everything you get done in a day or a week?  Does your head keep track: five loads of laundry, three loads of dishes, one trip to Safeway, one trip to Costco, a stop at the vet for cat food, wrapped two packages, took them to Fedex, searched for daughter's car registration, made turkey meatloaf, and on and on. Obviously, I make such lists.

Sometimes, I keep an actual, on-paper, list.  On a slow day, I keep track of everything.  "Made the bed."  Making the bed takes ten seconds but if the list is thin "made the bed" goes on the list, even if I write it in at night, long past the actual making of the bed and as obvious filler.  Sometimes "called the plumber" goes on the list, as does every call I made that day.  A list of five phone calls looks like five actual tasks, whether the call was five seconds or twenty minutes, whether the call accomplished anything or not.   I imagine if I had a very, very,  slow day "brushed my teeth" would make the list but I've never fallen that far.  I'm wimpy but not that wimpy.

Sometimes, when I make an actual, physical,  list and I look back at my week's accomplishment, I am actually impressed.  I did get the car serviced, plan the vacation, arrange to have the trees trimmed, take the old clothes to the Goodwill, design a rooftop windmill, make bread, cook three dinners, pay all the bills, cure cancer, and cut up the boxes in the garage for recycling.  Whew, what a week.

Now that I'm in an MFA program, I imagine that "read five pages of poetry" will make my lists on slow days, and "wrote five poems" will go on the list in full weeks. Maybe I should vary the type?  Sixteen point bold for big jobs, 14 point for medium jobs, ten point for my little fake jobs like making the bed?   Would creating the system make the list? You bet.

Jan 15, 2011

A fun site to check out

Hello all:

A fun site/blog to check out is Catalog Living, the creation of L.A. based Molly Erdman.


Erdman has created two characters, Gary and Elaine, and uses home furnishing catalog photographs as backdrops for their lives.  Gary and Elaine are never seen but you will learn all about their lives, their disagreements, their tastes, through catalog living.  If you've ever wondered who places a giant wooden pear on their dining room table as a centerpiece, you have to meet Gary and Elaine.



Jan 11, 2011

We Need a Sign

Boy, stay away from the blog-creating keyboard for a few days and the readers get restless (you know I'm talking to you, Ray.)  I don't want to have a blah-g so I am back at the keyboard, putting my random thoughts and untested theories to the cyber page.

Today's subject: signaling while driving.  We seem to have signals for so many movements and situations in driving. Like: I-want-to-cut-in-front-of-you-is-that-okay-with-you?  In stopped traffic, this involves pulling right next to the car you want to cut in front of, (sometimes with a bit of your car jutting into their lane so there is no actual need for discussion), getting the attention of the driver and giving questioning looks while pointing repeatedly to the space in front of their car and smiling as though you actually know this driver, until he nods his head expressively, sometimes adding a shrug and the mouth movement shrug. Sometimes you bite your lip as though there is real money on the table. After he lets you in, you give another universal signal, a big wave aimed at the back window to thank him.

There is the head shake, sometimes accompanied by a finger shake when someone tries to take the parking space you're waiting for.  There is often verbalization, heard only by you, but it helps, doesn't it? "Nuh uh, you are not taking my parking space.  Oh no you don't, you little ____." And we all know the sorts of signals that arise when someone takes that parking space, does not let you merge, or is generally a jerk.  That is a well-established gesture we don't need to go into here.

There even seems to be a universal and well-choreographed routine for your-coat/belt/scarf-is-hanging-out-the-door-and-maybe-even-dragging-in-the-sludge.  This involves following the driver in question, tooting your horn, pointing energetically at the bottom of their door, acting like a mad stalker, more honking, ignoring their puzzled and annoyed looks, finally deciding they will wish they had listened to you when they get home and see their coat/belt/scarf in its new state of ruin, and driving on your way, irritated as many good Samaritans get.

So, with all of the above signals and more not mentioned here, why don't we have a universal signal for I'm-really-sorry-I-almost-killed-you-fellow-driver?   Haven't we all pulled in front of innocent strangers who were in our blind spot?  Innocent strangers driving 65 to 80 miles an hour?  Haven't we all cut across a lane of traffic we thought was empty only to hear the horn of distress and see the terrified faces in the other car?  Turned a city corner just as the ancient woman with the walker entered the crosswalk? Haven't we?  Or is it just me?  Yikes.  I think we need a warm, fuzzy signal that says life is short and I'm truly sorry I almost shortened yours.  I am really, really sorry.  Forgive me, stranger and accept my universal signal.

Jan 5, 2011

I've Got You, Babes

I'm still in Vermont and I'm really busy attending workshops and lectures and readings and I didn't think I could get to my blog.  But then I realized, I have followers who count on me. There are ten of you out there! That's more than a softball team, more than many town councils. It's nearly a dozen.  We are approaching the head count of an egg carton!  So don't worry, Alan, Molly, Marian, Kate, Jacqueline, Cindy, Maggie, Woody, Carol Ann and Tina, I will not let you down.  I will blog on.

By the way, this thing I'm doing in Vermont is wonderful.  I'm enrolled in the low residency MFA program in Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. This is my first residency: ten days of back-to-back offerings on the craft of writing, getting published, reviewing, what have you.  We attend workshops where we discuss our writing and the writing of others.  We go to readings of other students and big name writers.  It's all too much for my slow, old ass, but I attend everything I can and I'm learning so much.  Meeting great people, too, from as far away as Australia and Vancouver.  

I've been assigned a mentor, Jen Bervin, who has given me a list of thirty plus books to read between now and the semester's end in late December.  Didn't she get the memo on me having a slow, old ass? No, she did not and that is a very good thing.  She will challenge me and encourage me and she is also just a very nice person so I think I'll like getting to know her.

As an aside, a great thing about Vermont is the maple syrup.  Of course you know that; Vermont is known for its maple syrup.  But I come from another part of the country, where I often have to ask for and pay extra for real maple syrup, where I have sometimes found myself staring into the blank eyes of a waitperson who is baffled when I ask for 'real' maple syrup, and who seems to think I am asking if the container they are holding exists, as though I may be in the middle of a bad acid trip or am just one strange customer.  Being in Vermont’s maple-syrup-friendly zone is like stepping into a world one hoped existed but hardly dared wish for. Yum.

Jan 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  I'm staying in a hotel in Montpelier, Vermont this week and raucously celebrated last night by staying in my room, writing reports on lectures I'd attended, and drinking alone, as I've heard real writers are obliged to do. Don't feel sorry for me; I'm not much of a New Year's Eve kind of person.  I never cared much about the symbolism of the fresh start or the noting of time passing.  Now, Thanksgiving, that's my kind of holiday.  Food, family and friends.  Bam, you've got a great day. No staying up beyond my bedtime to watch a ball in another city slide down a building.  No confetti.  No noise.  No silly hats. No kissing strangers. And I repeat, no silly hats, unless you're into pilgrim reenactments at your house, but we try to stick with contemporary clothes at ours.

Drive safely, everyone.