Saturday, December 30, 2006

Winge-ing, Whine-ing Blog Posts

I started to write this yesterday, when all I could do was winge and whine. Today I'm better, so maybe I'll write about it.

I hate myself when I get all drooly, drippy, moany on paper. I have kept journals for most of my adult life and they are, in the main, a partial record of my depressions, bad moods, story ideas, and rage at who- or what-ever. I still have most of them, scattered here and there, in leather-backed books (when it seemed like posterity might beckon), three-ring binders, legal tablets, school notebooks, and loose, just floating around scraps of paper.

I say they're a partial record because I've never made it through an entire year. In fact, safe to say, I never made it much past February or March. The weight of all that angst would get to me after a while and I would have to abandon my intention to document my life, moment by moment, as it happened. Sometimes I was frugal (or lazy or damning posterity) and continued from one year to the next in the same book. Like this one, first dated January 3, 1972; last entry November 20, 1979. It goes from the London to the LA-I years; from married to not-married; from bravely unhappy to unhappily brave. Winge-ing and Whine-ing, but whistling a happy tune.

It might be interesting to go through them all and see what, say, January 7th brought me from year to year. Might be interesting; might be boring; might be incredibly depressing, I suspect, to see how little my inner life has changed. Oooops, there I am drifting down into a winge.

Because I hate how I sound in this state, I don't often post in my blog when I'm down. I know there are whole blogs devoted to depression and that they're seen by readers as being incredibly helpful. I dunno. I'll tell you all about it person-to-person, but in a public forum, the best you'll get is my dancing around the subject. Which is what I'm doing here, obviously. Pirouette, plie, grande jete, pas de chat....

I don't even have a label for depression. And that, suddenly, strikes me as dishonest. So here I am, ripping off the costume, shedding the mask, dropping the pose. I'm depressed, bummed, pissed off at my life. There, I said it. And now I want to get off the stage as fast as I can...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sadaam's Death

  • I want to say murder, because I believe that is what execution is.
  • I didn't think it would actually happen. I thought sane minds would prevail.
  • I fear for the world. Something awful will come of this, of that I have no doubt.
  • Some day an American leader will be captured by an enemy country and we will watch him/her be killed, because we did it first.
  • If I, an American, am so horror-struck, what must those Iraqis loyal to him to feeling? Their rage must be unimaginable. And their retribution will be as well.
  • I am deeply ashamed of my country's part in this. We have no excuse for what will happen to us now.
  • There is nothing that the man did to us that warranted what we have done to him. The evil he did others was the evil of political aim and gain. We call it war, when we do it, and think it is noble.
  • May God, Allah, Whoever have mercy on us--and on him.
  • I am afraid.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas is officially over

Did you have a good Christmas?
Yeah, quiet, but good.
Whadja get?
An Ipod.
Which one?
The Nano.
Like it?
So far, love it.

I think I've got to accept that the thirty pounds I gained after the aneurysm were not from the Baskin Robbins diet, as I like to tell people. They were the fifteen pounds you gain when you stop smoking and the fifteen pounds you gain when you stop Hormone Replacement Therapy. Together, that makes thirty pounds. This is an important realization, it seems to me, because I don't think I'm gonna lose them just by watching what I eat. I think maybe they're with me for a long, long time.

When I think about this, I think of my mom, in the last months of her life, looking at her cancer-emaciated body, and saying, "Look at me. Look how thin I am. When I think of how hard I tried to lose weight, and now look at me." I don't want someday to find myself saying the same thing.

I don't like to [mis]quote Wordsworth lightly, but: "What though the radiance which was once so bright/Be now forever taken from our sight/..../We will grieve not,/But rather find strength in what remains behind."

So maybe I should sit shiva for the body I once had. Maybe I'll take a sewing class, so I can learn to alter my clothes to fit the body I now have.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ho Ho Ho...

and a Merry Christmas to all.

Last night's dinner party was a great success. Not the food particularly, since I cooked a prime rib, which I don't think I've ever done before (yes, how sad, to get to my age and be a prime rib virgin). I put it in the oven with the temp probe inserted correctly, or so I thought. But the temp never registered. Then, of a sudden, due I think to a wiggle of the probe, it did. And was at it's pre-ordained internal temp. Or so it said. But when D carved it, it was still a bit blue. So our guests had a choice of rare, very rare, or the outside piece. They didn't seem to mind.

I wasn't too impressed with my latkes either, which I made to honor the evening as Chrismukah. But the pear sauce I made to go with it was a hit, and worth the tedious grating of the pears (I took photos, thinking I'd illustrate, but, eh, it's too late tonight).

My cupcakes were a bit dry. I cannot make cupcakes. I'm okay on the cake part, but when it gets divided into little frilly baskets, something happens to the batter and--I don't know--the result is less than rewarding. I decorated these with fluffy white frosting, flavored with peppermint. I even hauled out my cake decorating tools and did a stylized green Christmas tree on each, with little silver shot balls, which probably sounds better than it looked because I used a green that was better suited to camouflage. And the fluffy white frosting got a bit sticky, more like fluffy white glue. We tried one and D made an emergency run to the store for ice cream. I find ice cream will cure whatever ails a cake, don't you? Of course, he did get spumoni, which he bought because he liked the colors, not because he knew what it was. Still, the guests all ate their cupcakes with seemingly unfeigned pleasure.

So my food, which has in the past been the high point of my dinner parties, was less than sterling. What made this evening so special was the guests. There were four couples and some of us didn't know the others at all. But people came and they drank and they ate and they drank and they laughed and they ate and they laughed and then they drank some more. I got to do all the fun things that I've loved about dinner parties past, like serve port and Stilton. I haven't entertained much in recent years. It just didn't seem worth the work. Can I tell you how many times I've bought port and Stilton in the past and neither got cracked? But last night, lordy lordy, they ate and drank it all. Clearly, I've been running with the wrong bunch.

And now I'm tired (as you can tell by my rambling), so to all a good night....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Buckets of Clams, a folk song in two part harmony

Not really. Well, sorta. Buckets of Clams is a song that the goldminers were quite fond of back in '49. Once upon a time, I knew the tune, which is a familiar American ditty. But damned if I can remember it now.

It comes to mind because of these photos, which I took last Sunday when the NIL (that's nephew -in-law to those not in the know) and I went to Redondo Beach Pier.

The first two are the living breathing clams, awaiting their fate, $7.50 a pound, in the holding tanks of the fish market.
This last, however, is the clams after death, after consumption, with only the detritus of their very existence, sheltering on an outdated Chinese language newspaper, to show for their once and future glory.

See that little thing sticking up in the center of the last photo? That, I believe, is what's called a neck. It is black and wrinkled, sort of like an elephant's trunk--or a penis. In fact, the NIL when instructing me how to eat these particular clams said I should circumcise the clam, and showed me how to strip off the outer layer of the, um, neck. I can't say that this improved their appearance at all, but they were sure good.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Heart Attack

I thought I was having one. There I was minding my own business doing my food shopping at the lovely new Raley's down the street. I was almost finished, making a last pass by the dairy, when I felt this very weird, unwarranted sensation. Like a huge bubble in my chest. Pressing against stuff in there. I tried swallowing, but that didn't help. I tried not to think of all the "women have weird symptoms when having heart attacks" articles I've read, but that didn't help. I wended my way up to the checkout line as the feeling of intense pressure was growing. It almost felt like I was a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon and had been filled almost to bursting.

As I stood in the line, smiling and nodding and barely hearing a thing the dear boy of a checker was saying, the clenching feeling grew worse, went up my neck and into my ears. Am I having a heart attack? I can't be having a heart attack. Thank god I took my baby aspirin this morning. What should I do? Should I go home and see what happens? What if it doesn't stop? Then I'll have to deal with it at home, and with D as well. Should I go to my doctor's office down the street? What can I possibly say to them: Hi, I may or may not be having a heart attack so I thought I'd just hop over and check it out. I almost wished I'd crumple at the cashier's feet, just to save myself this decision.

Of course, whenever something like this happens to me, I always go straight back to the night I had my aneurysm. That was a little more clear cut than this in that my right hand and leg had stopped working, but there was still the anxiety of What To Do. We did call the paramedics and I did get taken to the hospital and I was there for weeks and weeks--and ever since, I guess I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I decided better foolish than dead, so I sucked it up and drove to my doctor's. Where, after an EKG that was pretty damn good, he said he didn't know what caused my symptoms, but he was pretty sure my heart was fine. And just in case, he took blood so they could look at my enzymes or whatever.

And from the point I typed the word aneurysm above, I've been hyperventilating. Because of course, there are two kinds of aneurysms: cerebral, which I had, and cardiac. Oy vey.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm back, and I'm grumpy...

Pissed off is more like it. Something strange happened to my email and then to D's email and it took me almost an hour this morning on the phone with a terrific Comcast techie in Winnipeg to get the strangeness undone. Both of our Comcast email accounts had been forwarded to some unknown ISP with rr in the address. It took that long to figure that out and it took two seconds to uncheck the forward, please command. But now I'm thinking--how the hell did that happen? Were we highjacked? How? By whom? And now what do I do about it?

This was not how I intended to spend my morning. I have mucho chores to do, not the least of which is sending the state some tax bullshit so they don't charge me $500. Yes, yes, I should have done it a couple of years ago, but--that's the way it goes.

I was also going to take Molly on a nice long walk and then work out at the gym for a while. And then I was going to finish my novel and sign up for that new PhD program and then I was going to take a bubble bath, paint the tub, and do my nails. And then I was going to...what an utter load of whatever you want to call it.

The thing I hate about being away is that it puts me off my schedule. And when I'm off my schedule, I'm cranky. Blame it on my mother. Blame it all on my mother.

Monday, December 18, 2006

New post

I thought I had this use-your-phone-to-post all figured out. Ha!

Friday, December 15, 2006

ANTM, or I wish I could tell you...

...that I doing something wild and wonderful yesterday. However, I got caught up in the second season of America's Next Top Model Marathon. God knows when it started, but I checked in at about 2-ish, just intending to keep myself company while I finished wrapping gifts. At 11 p.m., after Yalonna won, we turned the TV off. Yes, we. D, too, was mesmerized. There is something about that show that sucks you in.

First, I love Tyra. Yes, I know. I'm so horribly out of it, but I think she's doing wonderful things in the world; sort of a junior Oprah (who, incidentally, is beginning to annoy and bore me--is it just me, or has she gotten too thin? and too Lady Bountiful? Hubris, O, hubris). And the producers on ANTM have a terrific sense of story. In all the seasons it has been on, there are few times that it's been predictable.

Unlike other reality shows I could mention. As in The Apprentice, which I will not be watching. Or Survivor, which has become my multi-tasking option. And even American Idol has gotten woefully predictable.

I watched a couple of Britain's Next Top Model the other night, and it wasn't the same as ANTM. For one, the production values on BNTM suck, as is the wont of the Brits. I mean, the judges sat at a long table covered with a cloth in front of a hanging cloth and that was the extent of the Judging set. Tacky tacky. The competitions and shows were also much meaner. And the girls, ah, the gels--I spent too long in England I suppose, and my ear is still finely honed to accent differentiations, but the contestants for the most part sounded stupid. Dumb. Like they belonged back at Boots stocking shelves. The equivalent contestant in ANTM's season two was Shandi, who somehow got plucked from behind a Walgreen's counter and make it to the final three. It was fun watching her evolve from homely geek to sorta-confident sorta-model, and she did it with such humility.

Perhaps I needed that day-long fix of ANTM because I was so unbearably, excruciatingly disappointed with the finale of this latest season. I know Caridee was America's Sweetheart, but even the judges in the last test said she didn't hold a candle to Melrose. So how come Melrose didn't win? We wuz robbed!!!!!!!!!!

Server problems

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby....

Two years ago today, I started By Jane on Live Journal. Here's my first post,
in which I expressed the rather mild, nay, weak intention that my blog be a place where my friends and family could go to keep up with my life. Ha! And Double Ha! They refused, outright, sometimes silently and sometimes testily. The only family member who regularly reads my blog is Ratphooey, to whom I am eternally grateful, not the least because if I suddenly conk out at my computer, at least she will be able to tell the rest of the family.

The first year, I was trying to figure out what I was doing here. As I said in my LJ profile

You can also read there my stuttering starts at finding a voice for this blog. I always taught my students that good writing is draped on a rhetorical frame. Thus, knowing your purpose is paramount to effective communication. What I have struggled with over these months is what my purpose is here. In other words, what the fuck am I, a woman of a certain age, doing writing a blog that is read by few people, some related to me, all much much much younger than I am. My own generation, being those who cannot set their VCRs, are blog-challenged and even threatened. So I don't know what the fuck I'm doing here, but I'll keep on doing it--because I want to.
I just went back over last year's posts, and it's fascinating to see my voice develop (not to mention my confidence) . I no longer feel like the wizened old lady of the group, and I know what the fuck I'm doing here. Over the year, I learned that I am, above all, a writer, and this is the place that I write.

I had intended to mark this day by introducing some new features, like Book Club, in which I'll just blather on, as is my wont, about what I'm reading and what I think about it. And What's Cooking, in which I'll post recipes that I've tried or created. And Office Hours, in which I'll talk about things of a therapy nature. I'm going to try to make these regular posts. And if you have any suggestions for them, please let me know.

So, happy, happy birthday to By Jane--may she live a hundred years and drink a hundred beers...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogito Ergo Sum

I take this as my honi soit, to be hoisted on the masts and engraved on the crest. Or at least heat-stamped on a T-shirt. I had planned a rather humorous, lighthearted disquisition on this topic, but some serious thoughts keep pushing their heavy-handed way in. So bear with me, and maybe we'll get to the yucks later. Or maybe not.

I've always been a smart chick (too smart for your own good, missy, some would say) and a mouthy one as well. I have a showy kind of intelligence, the sort that ranges wide but doesn't settle particularly well. As my dissertation director once said to me, "You are good at synthesizing a broad amount of information; you are not good at digging into one particular point to follow it to it's end." Basically, what she was saying was: you're terrific in a class where you see the connections among the works; you're lousy at writing a dissertation. And she was right. As, obviously, my continued status as an ABD (All But Dissertation completed for the Ph.D) will attest.

Having given up on academia, however, I am left somewhat bereft. There is no place to settle the huge respository of [useless] information that one acquires while doing a lit PhD. No one gets my allusions. There are times, it might even be said, when no one knows what I'm talking about. The other night, for example, I sat at my Wednesday night knitting group at Knitique Yarn Shop, and noticed a hand-lettered sign that had a missing hyphen. I felt compelled to inform all and sundry about the missing hyphen and exactly how it altered the meaning of the sign. Around the table were the faces of my friends, looking at me, with that expectant look that signals someone hopes you'll start making sense soon, but for now you're speaking gibberish. Which is fine, and appropriate for that setting, yet it make me long for the times when three or four grad students would have gotten their teeth into that hyphen and argued it until it's head whipped off. I miss that. It's a part of me that is almost never tapped these days.

This morning while brushing my teeth and reading O Magazine (there are few places in which I don't read), I was reading the list of Zoe Heller's favorite books and Amy Bloom's article on poetry, and I felt quite keenly the absence in my life of people with whom I could talk about such things (and if you don't think I'm an unrepetent grad student, check all those prepositions that come rolling off my tongue in exactly their proper place). It's not that my friends don't read. Some of them do (and some don't, it must be said, which to me is unimaginable but I love them anyway). It's that no one reads a book like a literature grad student, with the full play of the critical conversation, past and present, weighing in. I miss that. I miss the intellectual wrangling that is the academic arena.

I have tried to fill these gaps with what would seem to be similar activities. In LA, I was a member of a bookclub. We met monthly to eat, drink, schmooze, and talk about the book. I think at first they liked having me there, because I more or less taught whatever book we were reading. But then I think that they got tired of me pushing far deeper into the work than they wanted to go, and I got tired of them thinking that "I liked it...It sucks...This would never happen in real life....I hated the main character" sufficed as literary criticism.

In LA I was a grad student again, this time in psychology. That wasn't such a far stretch from my lit studies, as one of the areas of criticism with which I dealt was psychoanalytic literary theory. However, psychoanalytic literary theory and psychoanalytic theory are different beasts, it would seem. Lacan never figured in our class lectures or discussion. The French Feminists? Do they have to do with fashion?

So there I am, with this rich inner life, that gets very short shrift in the outside world. Except here. On By Jane. Here I am free to expound and explicate and elucidate at will. Here, I am free to be me, all of me, not just the comprehensible bits. Thus, for Descartes, it was cogito ergo sum. But for me, it is blogito ergo sum--I blog, therefore I am.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bird in Slough...worth two in bush?

Molly's favorite walk--the one which makes me (o, joy) her favorite walker--is down by the slough that runs through our community. I'm not sure if it's really a slough, since I don't really know what a slough is. Maybe it's a drainage ditch, or a tributary of the Feather River. Whatever, it's this body of water that bisects our development north to south.

It fascinates me for a number of reasons. First, because it offers a multitude of Great Shots. Second, because it offers a multitude of Interesting Juxtapositions.

The first here is the water and the marsh grasses and the wild and wooly country versus the row upon row of newly built houses that are always somewhere in the background. The second in this photo is the heron, who just walked into frame--and the half-submerged shopping cart. If both of these don't sum up this area--former ranch and farm land on which thousands of houses have now been planted--I don't know what does.

I think it helps that I took this with my cameraphone, which always lends a somewhat mysterious (I think, but perhaps that just my fantasy) air to these photos.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

On Not Buying A Toyota--Take Two

This morning I got an email from Dealix, the guys who run, wanted to know--Hey, Jane! How did your car buying experience at Elk Grove Toyota go? Didja buy the car?

I thought I would spare them the rather lengthy version you got. For one, they only gave me one of those 250 words or less windows to write my comments in. So I winnowed them down to the following:

The service I got in the dealership was sloppy and inadequate. Although, they knew the model and color of Prius I wanted, the car's battery was dead, and the salesman was unclear about how to recharge it. His explanation of why the battery was dead left me wondering if Prius's are susceptible to this. I thought that by going through the internet, I would avoid the typical sales ploys. I was wrong.
The long version of this is: Chris, the first salesman called last Sunday and left a message saying he had read my blog, taken note of my advice, and was sorry he was busy with another customer when I came in. That's actually the short version of Chris's rather lengthy message, but you get the point. Apology accepted, okay...but hey, wait a minute, you were busy with another customer?

Yes, but were you busy for the 36 hrs before? Did you not have enough time to make sure that the car that I explicitly said I wanted was fully charged. Does it not seem to you that making sure a brand new car is in running order for a test drive is--is--mandatory?

And that got me thinking about my first experience with Toyota, this time Toyota of Hollywood. I got my cute little VW convertible there a couple of years ago. Then, too, I went for a new car, a Scion, but that little Cabrio called out to me. Although it was used, it was shiny black, perfect it seemed, and the salesguys were all over me. Sure, the Owner's Manual is missing, but no problemo! we'll order one for you. Drive it, drive it. And I did, and it was cute, and it did seem to drive nicely, although going around the block in the middle of Hollywood is hardly a fair test of LA driving.

So I signed on the dotted line, and drove it home. I, Jane, was now the proud owner of a convertible. And I lived in LA. Those two facts alone made me a whole lot cuter and a whole lot younger. As I drove down Melrose, the sun shining, my hair blowing gently in the breeze, I smelled something. And my new car started doing something. And then it stopped doing anything at all.

I forget now what the problem was that caused my engine to seize up, it had something to do with a faultily installed ignition switch and fire. It took several weeks to order the new parts from Germany, and, frankly, I never felt the same about the car. I also never got the Owner's Manual. And did I mention that the car was sold to me with a cracked windshield wiper bottle? And those pristine camel seats? I don't know what they did to get them spotless that day, but over the months I've driven it, strange stains have emerged, making me wonder what was done in this car, and by whom.

Thus, I felt compelled to add to my response to Dealix:
The fault is not yours; it's Toyota's. This is the second time I've encountered shoddy and inadequate work at a Toyota dealership, and they are in opposite ends of the state. I love the Prius, but I'm very suspicious of Toyota.

And so I'll wait for another hybrid to get that kind of mileage. Maybe the Saturn will; they're sorta cute. I hate to say never, but now I'm saying it: I'll never buy at a Toyota dealership again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On the Seventh Day of Christmas......

I'm apologizing like mad for having blown the fifth and sixth days' posts. So much for promises to have my own December BloPo. But my excuses may prove interesting, if not amusing, if only I can word them in the right way.

Day Five was Tuesday, and Tuesday was's Mandate for Change Campaign Kickoff. You didn't know about this? Then you are under thirty and have never flexed your political muscles for the progressive cause. I, on the other hand, am way past thirty and marched in my first demonstration back in the Sixties. I have belonged to since it first started, as a grass roots movement telling Congress to Move the Fuck On From This Impeachment Bullshit and Deal with the Real Problems of the Country. Now they're a viable presence on the political scene and as far as I'm concerned, the only real hope for those of us who are Blue.

So when they asked me (and thousands of others) to host their Mandate for Change Campaign Kickoff, I signed on. Thus, Tuesday was a day filled with all the stuff that one has to do when one is expecting guests and one is not a person of regular tidiness. D. vacuumed and I transferred all the holiday shit, unopened mail, newspapers, and magazines that were mounding on the dining room table to their proper areas: under the piano and in the garbage. I also wiped the crumbs of a thousand meals off the table, so that it would be pristine for the several handouts that MoveOn ordered me to have ready. MoveOn is nothing if not anal about readiness and they prepare scripts that account for all exigencies. Thus, I had a number of downloads to print out in numbers that would be sufficient for my group.

Since my RSVPs were hovering around 15, I opted to print for 20. After the first load, for no known reason, my printer got pissed off at the computer (or visa versa) and the two refused to communicate. Oh, and did I mention that earlier that day I realized that my primary email address had gotten no mail since November 27? I was, as we say in the shtetl, fatoosted. And one cannot write a decent BloPo when one is fatoosted. So that was Day Five--and by the way, that was the magic number of people who showed up for the Kickoff. Anyone want some scrap paper?????

Day Six was yesterday and yesterday I had a three hour lunch with a friend from the old place of work. To fit the three hours into her schedule, which is still manic, we had to meet at 11. And you know I'm not the earliest of risers these days, so that by the time I had finished what my mother used to call her Morning's Morning, it was time to get ready. And when I got back--when I got back, I sat down dutifully at the computer, opened the BloPo window, and nothing happened. Zip. Nada. Maybe I was too full of Turkey Ala King over Mashed Potatoes. Maybe if my writing rythyms are interrupted, I can't come, so to speak. Whatever.

My absence has obviously been felt as my numbers are way, way down. So please, forgive and forget?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Internet Is A Dangerous Place...

...for me. I can get lost in it.

When I was about five, we lived in a rural area in Western Pennsylvania, and there was no kindergarten. So my mother took me every day to Walking School. This was her invention, just the two of us, going for a walk and talking about whatever we happened across. Walking School came about because one day I had said to her, "Mommy, you're so mean to me. There's so much to learn in the world and there's no way for me to learn it."

When I surface after a session on the 'net, I thinking about Walking School. There is still so much to learn in the world, and now there is a way for me to learn it. I just want to inhale it all.

But no one is paying me to surf, so it's all gratuitious fun. Isn't that kinda like porn? And thus, the internet is a dangerous place to someone like me whose curiousity is endless.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Political Prediction...Just Because

Al Gore will be the Democratic nominee in '08. Barack Obama is too young and untested; Hillary Clinton is too...too...devisive, at least among Democrats.

Here's how the Dems will think: After all, Al Gore won it the first time, didn't he? And now he's been reinvented, as Time, among others puts it. He's warm and funny and down to earth and passionate and....

At the Victory Party in Sacramento that I went to just a few weeks ago, there was a straw poll taken to determine who the attendees, who are politically active people, wanted for President in '8. Al Gore won by a landslide.

And finally, the last exchange in the Time interview is quite telling, if you're one who believes, as I do, that we say what we mean.

You have stated repeatedly that you are not currently plans to run for President in 2008. Do you have a more creative denial?
I don't have any plans to run. Nor do I have any creative denials. I'm using the same ones. They'll soon be out on DVD.

I think the words I've boldfaced say a lot. Do you?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How To Lose A Car Sale

Yesterday I went car shopping. I knew what I wanted: a Barcelona red Prius with the GPS package, cloth seats, no extra sound system.

Over the years, I've bought a few cars, and I know from experience that car salesmen have well earned their second banana status. They are, in the main, jerks. Perhaps they aren't at home. Perhaps at home they're nice guys who take out the garbage and put down the seat. But at the dealership, they become Macy's parade balloons needing guy wires to tether them to the earth. And they ooze stickey testosterone along with, sometimes, dandruff.

Therefore when I go car shopping, I go girded for battle (albeit with, perhaps, a small chip on my shoulder). When I enter the arena, I'm pleasant but wary. I'm prepared. In control. Ready to deal. I search for a salesman who looks like his IQ is in triple digits, and he passed high school English.

This time I thought I'd weighted the battle on my side a bit by starting out on the Internet. I plugged in all my specs, hit Enter, and fifteen minutes later, Vincent of Elk Grove Toyota was on the phone. We had a nice, longish conversation, that focused mainly on our LA connection and the fact that both of us were new to the area. He recommended Capital Christian Church's Singing Christmas Tree as "one of the biggest things to do in Sacramento," which didn't do much for my longing for LA. We didn't talk a lot about the car because, after all, he had my specs in front of him. He knew the car I wanted; he had it; all I had to do was come in and do a test drive.

Ten minutes after I hung up, Chris of Elk Grove Toyota called me, and we had a pleasant, although shorter conversation. He too had an LA connection, some cousins in the San Gabriel Valley (which is not really LA, as everyone knows). Maybe that's something they teach them in sales school--find a common reference point and hit it for all it's worth. I told him too that I would be in the next day.

Which I was. Primed to drive and buy. Looking forward to dealing with either Vincent or Chris, who seemed to be the new model of car salesman: internet guys, relatively intelligent, Modern Men, as it were. Perhaps they are, but in that tired old ploy, the bait and switch, they said hi, shook hands, and then brought out Brian, who was the salesman I would actually be dealing with.

Brian was definitely an old model car salesman. He put my teeth on edge like chalk on a blackboard. He was alternately patronizing and cutesy. He whined and pleaded like an overtired four year old. He told a sexist story in which he was the star. He vastly underestimated my intelligence, not to mention my ability to add and subtract. He would not take me seriously. He did not listen to me. And consequently, he lost the sale.

Here's my advice to car salespeople:
  • Think! If the enquiry came in via the internet, assume a certain saavyness. The people I know who are woefully ignorant and most likely to be conned are Luddites when it comes to computers. You can figure that the opposite is also true.
  • Listen! Forget the script, the ten techniques sure to make a customer buy, the five foolproof ways to close a sale. You're dealing with a human being; act it.
  • Don't hand off or consult with multiple colleagues. Think of the picture you present: there you are, bowing before the great god finance manager, leaving the customer alone with nothing to do but think ill of all of you.
  • Don't wear a leather jacket with a shirt and tie, especially if you're overweight. It's cheesy, and you want to avoid anything smacking of that.
  • Don't tell a sexist joke to a woman who's buying a car for herself.
I don't know where or when I'll buy my Prius. When I got into my car to drive off the Toyota lot, my little VW convertible seemed a whole lot nicer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

My Name Is Jane and I'm Addicted to Magazines

Yes, I confess. I am a magazine junkie. I love them. Can't get enough of them. The smell of a new magazine, the glossy (or not so glossy or even matt) paper excites me. I want to touch them. Fondle them. Flip quickly through their pages and then slowly, slowly go back over each one.

I see magazines as repositories of everything I might ever want or need to know; the cover lines say so. How to deal with my belly fat. What the newest tech toys are. Why Hilary may not be running in '06. I believe what they tell me. Even though when I was writing for magazines, I know how I could work with words to make them seem to say far more than they actually did.

A room is never painted. There's no prep or primer that goes into it. You "merely use your roller to apply a coat or two." A perp never says something. He alleges, which inserts that element of doubt, reminds you that we're talking about legal matters, which are never, after all, totally true.

Here are the magazines that are in my house every month or, god help me, week: Allure, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Hadassah, InStyle, Los Angeles, Money, Men's Best Life, More, Newsweek, O, People, Rolling Stone, Sacramento, Time, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired. And those are just the ones I have subscriptions to.

And I've just found a new one, which prompted this post: sactown. I got the premier issue yesterday. It's lovely. The cover stock is heavy and dull, sort of like brushed metal. The fonts are varied, as is the way today, but still comprehensible (as is not the way for some mags I could name). I've only done my first flip through, so I can't offer a full J-school analysis, but I will say this: it's the first time in years that my journalists' buttons got pushed, and I started thinking story ideas. Perhaps I'll write them a love letter....

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last Post for NaBloPoMo...

...but, like the Mississippi and that Titanic song, I shall go on. I feel a quiet pride, a small satisfaction, a WAHOO! that I posted every day this month. I hope I win a prize, I hope I do, I hope I do, I hope I do.....

But I probably won't, since I'm notoriously bad at winning contests. Even when I enter, I have no faith that I'll win, which is probably not the message to be sending into the universe, I know. I try to think positively. When I'm hitting the send button on my phone Messaging to pick a suitcase on Deal or No Deal, I try my hardest to channel warm and fuzzy thoughts That's the problem. Should I be imaging some NBC minion pulling my name out of a hat? Or should I push my positive energy down the phone lines? Or just cut to the chase and focus on the call to tell me I've won? I can never decide and generally the contest is over before I've gotten my psychic powers in order.

So my reward for NaBloPoMo will have to be small, silent and personal. I can live with that. I've loved this month of posting. I haven't found it tiresome, tedious, tendentious (?) or tricky. As I said at the beginning, I am never at a loss of something to say. So I shall continue posting regularly. I may miss a day here or there, but I'm making December my own BloPoMo. No badges, no prizes, just ByJane every day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Badge

Not sure exactly what this Twitter thingie does, except that Toady Joe invited me, and I never turn down an invitation from a friend. Then I invited 150 of my closest, not that many. But going through my address list on Yahoo was sort of like an architectural dig: oh, there's that person I was friendly with about five years ago...who the fuck is old niece....a person I was friendly with about three years ago...someone I went to grade school office mate from Lehigh...who the fuck is that.........

To those of you who did make the cut, if you would prefer to be in the 'who the fuck' category, let me know.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The 28th Day of NaBloPoMo and My True Love Gave to Me.... drive back from LLLLLL-A.

T'was a good trip. I am well and truly a city girl, and LA is my city. However, when I walked into my house here in Sacramento, the familiar smell was so sweet. I love my house. I am absolutely content in my house.

I'm just not content that my house is not in LA.

I am working on this conundrum.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Santa Flying Through the Night Sky at The Grove, Los Angeles

The Grove is my spiritual home in LA. I was there the first day it opened back in the spring of 2002. Then I had my aneurysm and spent the rest of the summer in intensive care at Cedars Sinai. If I looked real hard and imagined real well, I could see The Grove from my hospital bed. When I was finally unhooked from all the machines, they put me in rehab. I remember the physical therapist who came to do my first interview.

"What are your goals?" she asked. "What is it that will motivate you to work hard and get out of here? Your family? Friends? Your work?"

"The Grove," I answered immediately. I could see I had thrown her a curve ball, and I needed to explain. "My goal is to go shopping at The Grove."

The look on her face was of utter dismay: such an unworthy goal. But I never wavered and I persevered and several months later, there I was, shopping at The Grove.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

If I lie on their clothes, then maybe they won't leave me

Molly took up this position and stayed in it through thick and thin. She would NOT be left behind again (once, just once, Molly).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What I Like About Blogging

I just was roaming 'round the Internet and thinking how cool it is that I get to play on it. There are so many places it takes me; so many 'me's' that get spoken to.

I read Avocado8's latest post on dealing with her son's willfulness and I got to think about developmental psychology and how kids' need for autonomy conflicts with parents' need for control. When they're born, we vow to do everything we can to nurture their self-esteem. But then they actually have some sense of self and that's fine, as long as it rears its willful little head only when we want it to. It's so hard to balance that line between necessary boundaries and squelching the kid.

And then I was flipping through Flickr and pulled up Dooce's latest photos and thought how her post about going to her mother's cabin for Thanksgiving made me so envious. And I realized that it provoked the same feelings I used to have when I watched Thirtysomething: I want that life. In my eternal quest to deconstruct blog popularity, I'm now thinking, maybe Dooce is the new Thirtysomething. The attractive family with flaws exposed, yet dealing with life and having fun--goddamit--a beacon for all of us who do not feel attractive or whose flaws seem too raw for exposing or who don't have families or who don't have the talent to write as well as Dooce does.

Then I looked at Andrew Sullivan's blog, Daily Dish and he has posted photos of Mormon undergarments. I was fascinated. I remember seeing someone, I think at BlogHer'06, wearing a little white shirt under her sun dress. As a fashion statement, I thought it missed. Now I think it was her undergarment.

I live on a silent street in a suburb. Sometimes the Internet offers the only life around.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Day 24--A time of corrections and other stuff

First, I have not just celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary. It was my 18th. I figured that out several days after. See how time passes when you're having fun.....

Second, please remind me that I don't like turkey. Rather, I like turkey, but only the dark meat. So the idea of cooking a breast for leftovers was a generous act for D who loves turkey of all stripes.

Third, my NaNoWriMo project is coming along nicely, thank you very much. It will be ready for publication sometime in 2008.

Fourth, we're going to Los Angeles on Sunday. I am so missing living there. I feel, I must say, like a fish out of water here in Sacramento.

Fifth, can you tell that I'm babbling?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Originally uploaded by By Jane.
Me!!!!! Full of food. On the way home from our Thanksgiving meal with the Bs. We had grand plans this summer, W and I, to rent a cottage at the beach and all the families would come. But my family couldn't come and her family couldn't come, so we ended up Thanksgiving dinner for four at the Club they belong to. Actually, make that three, as W is sick. So D, J, and I had a nice meal and a nice glass of wine, and I didn't have to cook.

But I did...couldn't not, so I bought a turkey breast and cranberries and now we have stuff for leftovers. Should either of us ever want to eat again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Did I Miss The Book of Rules?

I've been visiting various blogs, thanks to the NaBloPoMo Randomizer, as well as Commenters on blogs I normally go to, and it seems to me that I've missed some rules about what a blog post should be. A number of people have apologized for their less-than-legitimate posts. Is there a gold standard? Or a minimum lineage? Fussy got tons of comments today from people talking about how hard it is to do this post-a-day thing. It is? Am I not doing it correctly, then?

You can see how my insecurities rear their nasty little heads at every opportunity (if I get a whiff of bad car smell when I'm driving, I assume it's my vehicle--how sick is that). I would like to be the kind of person who has the confidence of the gods, who says what she thinks, does what she does and be-damned to those who object. I'd like to have Rosie O'Donnell's balls (although not her mentality). I wish I was fearless about putting myself forward.

The funny thing is, as I'm writing this, I'm aware of a lot of people who would read this and say, what the hell is she talking about. They see me as someone who doesn't know how or when to take a back seat and shut up. They object to my predilection for saying what's on my mind, even when it's not the popular, read polite, thing to do. They should only know how often I squeeze my throat closed, squelch the comment, bury the opinion, repress the anger/annoyance/whatever. I've learned over time to say to myself, "this person doesn't need to know that you're sure they would be better off doing it another way."

I think the difference is (for I can see I'm positing a kind of schizophrenia here) that I can put myself forward in small groups (which, funnily enough, can be large audiences), but I'm timid when it comes to really, really big crowds. Like the world. I'm aware of that in posting on By Jane. I hold back because I fear the wrath of the internet. My Sally Fields mentality definitely kicks in here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hunched over in a corner

groaning in pain. I ate something. Or somethings. I haven't felt like this since I did the prep for the colonoscopy. O woe...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Today is... 19th anniversary. Can I tell you how that shocks and scares me. It's not that I never thought D and I would get this far; it's that I never thought I would get this far. And I don't know what I mean by that. I don't think it has to do with the D word, as in divorce. Nor do I think it's that other D word, dying. No, I think this anniversary is another crashing reminder that--holy shit! I must have grown up! Because only a grownup could be married for 19 years, right? So how come I don't feel any different from November 20, 1986?

This is the thing about aging that is so peculiar, not to mention wondrous and amazing. You are all of your ages in one and the 22 year old gets to comment on the 54 year old who is sharing a moment with the 42 year old who is amazed that she looks better than she expected when she was 32, but jesus, at 60--at 60, shouldn't I feel different? Except I don't, not really.

It's peculiar and wondrous and amazing to me in the same way that a pregnant woman is. She's standing there, whoever she is, but inside her is another person. Weird. And this too, the fact that I am inside myself all the Me's that have ever been. Weird. And exceptionally fun. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sari Ribbon Scarf - mid-knit

Scarf - mid-knit
Originally uploaded by By Jane.
I fell in love with this yarn. It's Louisa Harding's "Sari Ribbon". The colors don't show up here, but it's a varigated yarn in black, loden, and cream with a silver thread shot through the center. I'm doing it without a pattern. I cast on 8 stitches and I've been doing a double or single wrapped drop stitch, interspersed with stockinette, and the occasional line or two of garter. Somehow, somewhere the eight stitches grew to nine, but what the hey--the more the merrier when you're making the pattern up yourself. It's $10.25 for a skein, 66 yards, so my scarf is going to be just as long as one skein goes, which probably isn't much more than a couple of feet. So I got the fringe to add on at the end. I'm going to wear it on Thanksgiving, with a white silky blouse (which I don't yet own). I will post my photo (or one of Molly wearing it) on the day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another gratuitous post...

...because I'm wiped and it's almost 9 pm. I spent the day shopping with Wendy, and I bought boots and makeup and a blouse and more makeup and then more makeup and a lamp shade. Then we went to a Mexican restaurant where I had White Steak. Anybody heard of it? Here's a hint: it's a favorite at bar mitzvahs in Israel. Now I'm going to bed. I'll be more fascinating tomorrow...

Happy 2nd birthday, Bonji Harold!!!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Day Seventeen...

...and I'm definitely flagging. Not so much as this fellow or Stacy over at Jurgen Nation, who bailed from NaBloPoM in part because she realized that she was losing readers. But I find myself posting later and later in the day, and with much less zest or enthusiasm or whatever the hell you want to call it. It's a tough nut, writing a daily column. Ask anyone who does it. It really is a job, and since this month that's how I'm trying to treat By Jane--hey y'all, I gotta go to work.

I can't say if my numbers are down, because I just got my counter. But really, any above four would be an improvement. In terms of building an audience, I am working counter to all advice, which is to specialize in something. However, I truly, as my header states, have never been able to focus on one thing. My attention is multi-directional (doesn't that sound important). It's the reason, actually, that I became a journalist.

I never could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up--a doctor loomed large until I proved miserable at science. When that became clear, I was already in college and it seemed more important to be succeeding at a social life, rather than any profession. Not, you should imagine, that I was particularly good at that--my mouth has always proceeded me--but I tried, goodness me, did I ever.

My lack of focus was apparent in my choice of majors. I was for three years a Theatre Arts major and then in my last year, switched to Philosophy. I just kinda took the courses I was interested in, without any sense that they were supposed to prepare me for something. So I ended up with a bunch of English courses, a clot of Creative Writing courses (thank you, Monte Culver), all the Theatre courses I had amassed, plus the Philosophy I had to take for the major, and then there was that lump of Studio Art courses. I am nothing, if not well-rounded. That has served me well in life, even if it's meant I never have Fulfilled My Potential. Which depending on the day, either depresses me or pleases me.

Given that history, it is obvious I am incapable, no matter the well-meaning advice, of limiting this blog to one or two topics. I'd bore the living daylights out of myself, let alone the four of you who are faithful readers.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

...on this, the fifteenth day of November, I submit: my Flickr badge. Consider this as fulfilling my commitment to NaBloPoMo today, as well as my promise above that By Jane will offer Amateurish Photography.

Eyes right, ladies and gentlemen--

EDIT: Okay, it was late, post Grey's Anatomy and I got the date wrong. Any fool can see that it's the 16th of November!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gone--one well-crafted rant

I was mid-rant today on a topic of great interest to me--aging and ageism--when, poof! my post disappeared. This verily pissed me off since I had gone to great lengths to do links. In fact, it was a link that caused the loss (I'm on a roll of Ls here). I was searching my LJ archive for a post I thought was on it, only to find it wasn't. And when I finally accepted that, my well-crafted, albeit unfinished, rant was gone.

What to do what to do what to do????????????????? How about a little soft shoe? Or a few bars of My Yiddische Mama, a song that never fails to make me weep. Oh--you'd rather have something a bit lighter, appealing to a wider audience, a little more commercial?

How about my report on NaNoWriMo? Do I have anywhere near the 25K words I should if I'm to make the deadline? Have I posted anything I've written? Have I written anything? No, No, and yes.

Here's the deal--commitment I believe we were calling it in an earlier post--I made to myself about NaNoWriMo. I never intended to even try for the 50K word count. I know myself as a writer too well, and that kind of a goal is certain writer's block for me. Instead, I promised myself that I would work on my NaNoWriMo project every day. I would make no judgments about it--the quality of the work or it's potential or even whether I was interested. I would just keep on writing every day for thirty days and at the end of that time, then I'd see what I have.

This I have done. And a funny thing happened on the way to Day 15. Something is taking shape here. There's a story that I'm telling that I had no idea I wanted to tell about people I've never thought about before. It's wonderfully weird this feeling of sitting back and reading what happens next.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pomegranate-glazed Turkey Whatsits

Actually, you can call this dish whatever you want, as I made it up. Today I went shopping at the Co-op and they had on sale turkey pieces. I guess you'd call them cutlets, or maybe tenders. I call them turkey pieces, from the breast. Because they were on sale, I had to buy them, but what to make with them? I saw in my mind's eye (and tasted in my mind's mouth) a Middle Eastern-ish dish, with some sort of dried fruit and couscous. I went to the Buy by the Pound section and got a little of what looked good: dried cranberries, pepitas, and goji berries. I can't explain my choices; they just seemed right. When I got home, though, I found that I didn't have any couscous in the cupboard; but I did have brown rice.

So here's what I did: sauteed chopped red onion and garlic until soft. Cut the turkey into bite size pieces and browned them with the onion/garlic. Added the berries and pepitas and doused the whole lot in about a cup of pomegranate juice. Then I waved a bottle of pomegranate syrup over the whole thing, maybe a couple of tablespoons (maybe more). I'm big on pomegranate these days as IT IS EXCRUCIATINGLY HEALTHY AND I NEED ALL THE HELP I CAN GET. Cook the mess for a while until almost all the liquid is gone, the turkey is cooked and it looks all caramel-y. I cooked the brown rice in a broth made of pomegranate juice and water. Serve the Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey Whatsits on the rice. It is delicious: sweet, savory, crunchy, meaty...and excruciatingly healthy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Did I Not Promise You Mediocre Art?

I give you (in an order that is obvious only to me and Blogger) Exhibits A, B, & C. On the left is A, a tile on which I have done a freehand ink and colored oil pencil drawing of a row of houses. I like this just as it is. But then I think--what's the point?

So to make a point, I laid down a green wash on the small canvas board and using the same media, did a field by a stream. I kinda liked this, but it still looked unfinished. As in, again, what's the point? Clearly something was missing that would pull it all together.

The tile is a three dimensional object and stuck out on the canvas, so I decided something was needed to balance it. That's when I got the idea to do a kind of mosaic using seed beads. I had a hank of multicolored green/brown beads that seemed to me to be perfect for simulating grass. So I attempted to artfully scatter said beads on the canvas.

But not before I truly fucked up the whole thing by drawing a big yellow sun. Why did I do this? I am so not a big yellow sun type person. I think I felt for a moment that as the houses were stylized, the sun would be stylized. But it wasn't. It was just big. And yellow. And it had rays, for christ's sake. Something had to be done.

So I glued gold E-beads to the sun. I hoped this would miraculously pull the entire thing together. It did not. I still had a tile with a freehand drawing of houses stuck on a small canvas board on which were now patches of glued on beads. I fiddled with some green wire, thinking perhaps some simulated grass would do the trick, but even I knew it wouldn't.

Then I spied some fancy pale blue very thin paper in my stash. And I decided, for ill or not, that I would cover the whole canvas with this. But because I wanted the tile, which I still like, to show through, I would wet the paper in the hopes that it would go translucent on the tile and give only a glimmer of the rest of the shit I had wrought beneath. On top of it all, I stuck some of the green wire I had been playing with

My hopes, as you can see by Exhibit C, to the upper right of this post, were dashed. And here's where the analysis begins: how long should one continue working on a project that obviously isn't working? I wrestled with this for a while, before deciding that I would let the Internet decide.

When do you say, enough is enough?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

NaBloPoMo - What Day is This????

This is a gratuitous post, just to satisfy my commitment to the cause (think I'll win a prize????).
Spent last night at a party to celebrate The Victory. A lot of happy people. Got up very early this AM to go to the monthly flea market in Sac. Very tired. Goodnight.....

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wysocki's Cats - or how I spent my Friday night

Wysocki's Cats
Originally uploaded by By Jane.
I bought a jigsaw puzzle as part of my tool kit for playing with kids. Actually, I bought a thousand piecer, but the one client who was interested in working on puzzles suggested I get the hundred piecer. She and I did that one, and I liked it so much, I made myself a promise to do another on my own. Not for any reason, just because I enjoyed putting the puzzle together.

It's actually quite therapeutic--if you have to spend time with a prepubescent girl who is angry and refuses to talk, jigsaws are the way to go. And it's also a diagnostic tool, at least as far as I myself am concerned. I like small projects that I can finish handily. I like the process of figuring the pieces out, as long as I'm feeling competent. Once I get frustrated, however, I want to pound that piece into place willynilly of whether it fits or not.

The only problem, as far as I can tell, is--what do you do with the thing after it's finished? I know there are people who pour some glue substance on the puzzle and then hang it as art. Ummmm, I don't think that's my style. I could throw the whole thing away, but that seems so wasteful, especially when I know there are legions out there dying to do Wysocki's Cats. I did what I always do in such cases: saved it. I broke it up, put it back in its box, and shoved it in the back of the closet. When I find one of those legions, I will gladly give it to them/him/her/it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Front Door

I made this wreath, and I'm quite proud of the fact that I used stuff I had bought for Fall decor last year. I'm trying to curb my art supply buying habit, which I last spoke about here.
The only new items were the grapevine wreath itself ($3.99 at Michael's) and the ribbon ($1.50 at Michael's). I am so thrifty...

Odds & Ends, Bits & Piece, Thoughts & Meanderings

Today is one of those days where my mind is all over the place. Okay, more so than usual.

1. I just did a tour through my new and revised blog roll and learned that Dooce is probably picking the person of the year . Jeeze, why isn't that me? Okay, never mind that I'm years past the tall, blonde, beautiful stage--and Esquire's "Thirty Under Thirty" will never toll for me again. Still, I have opinions. Ain't that worth something?

--Sure, Jane, and who would you like to see as the person of the year?
--Um, um, um...

2. M. Kennedy aka Mrs. Kennedy aka Fussy was a philosophy major in college too. And it did her every bit as much good as it did me.

3. I loves my little Counter. Not that I'm real clear on what the numbers mean. Every day I get to go and see where My Readers are from. Plano, Texas. Serbia & Montenegro. Atlanta, Georgia. Fleurieux-sur-l'Arbresle, France. Hey, guys, give a shout out for the smallness of the world!

4. Last night I had a dream in which I gave the following fully realized explanation of why I am not on a diet: Understanding the psychodynamics of overeating as I do, I know that artificially restricting my intake of calories is useless until I understand and deal with the issues that lead to the overeating.
Don't you just wish you were in my dreams.....!

5. Understanding dream analysis as I do....I realize that this dream is a reworking of yesterday's post on commitment.

6. Um, um, um....


Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Writing - Advice to Myself

Yesterday's post was a neon sign flashing !!!Alert!!! Blockhole ahead!!! I hear the sirens and know that if I don't act now, I'll slide down that fog-filled tunnel into a very familiar place. So I'm picking at the knot, as it were, of my writing issues.

Two words came to me yesterday after I posted, and I was trying to figure out what was different when the words and ideas flowed. Commitment....Courage. When the writing is going well, I am committed to whatever it is I'm working on. And when I'm committed, I have the courage to say it my way, willy nilly of censors in my head.

Courage can be forced, I think. It can be as chain mail that one puts on, an act that enables one to go into battle. But commitment? How is it possible to make a grim determination to be committed? I must, I must, I must increase my...commitment. This is what I've done in the past, stayed at the computer, glued myself to the seat, hoping to break through. I can't bear to go through that again. It only works intermittantly, and it leaves me feeling such a failure.

So, how else to get 'round this commitment issue. Are there breathing exercises I can do? Yoga, perhaps? I've tried the gamut, it seems to me. I've done Morning Pages from The Artist's Way and zen sitting from Writing Down the Bones. I've taken Bird by Bird as my mantra, used it as a screen saver, in fact. They all work as well as they work, which is to say that they can't infuse commitment. It has to be there or the writing just fizzles out like a day old soda.

Or--can it be that one can fake commitment until it's real? Is it possible to commit intellectually and wait for the emotion to follow? Isn't this how arranged marriages work? Isn't this actually where the grit and hard work of any relationship lies?

I'm still trying to figure this out...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NaNoWriMo Journal

I can't get into my writing these past few days, and I'm not sure why. Which makes it difficult to solve the problem. I'm impatient with creating these characters because they've lost a lot of their luster for me. Not for any reason, probably, other than that I'm actually writing them, rather than thinking about them. I'm always better and more eloquent in my mind than when I have to put the thoughts into words.

But even with my blog, I'm not totally there. I'm pushing the writing. And second-guessing myself. And erasing/deleting a lot.

What's going on? Here's what I think. Getting invested in the writing is too scarey for that part of me that always wants to be in the future, about to happen, all potential. That's why I would lie in bed at night thinking great thoughts, planning great deeds--only to wake up in the morning and forget the details. That's why last week, before I stopped working, I was full of energy for my NaNoWriMo project. Now it's put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is time -- and my defenses are in full sway.

You will not write, Jane. You will not have another interesting idea. You will not come up with that perfect turn of phrase or that on-spot metaphor. When you sit down to write, a hazy brown smog will float in front of your computer screen. Your back will hurt. You'll be hyper-aware of the heat your laptop is emitting. You will write through all this, hoping to break the spell, but to no avail. You will write in shortish, bluntish, tedious paragraphs. You will bore yourself. And ultimately, you'll give up. You'll wander off to do something else. Pay bills. Clean house. Pluck your eyebrows.

Cheney Next?

If only.

Victory is...

...not as satisfying as I'd thought it would be. But that's because it's not victory in 2000 or victory in 2002. Victory in 2006 means the people rose up, yes, but maybe a little late. We've still got that thing in the Middle East going on. We've still got most of the world hating us. We've still got a National Debt that is insane. We've still got, in short, all the shit that Bush and Co. foisted on us over the past six years.

I'm thrilled that the Dems took over the House. I'm ecstatic that Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker, and I'll be fascinated to see what happens when a strong, gutsy woman runs the place.

But can we ever repair the damage internationally that the Republicans have done???? I fear not.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Revising My Blogroll...

I'm about to do it, and if your blog isn't on the new one and you want it to be, let me know and I'll put it back. Is that clear, at all? I don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt, and that I even think that way calls into question my notion of a blogroll.

So let me deconstruct it: Blogrolling: A Meta-analysis of the Psychoanalytical Constructs of the Uber-literary Weblog List.
1. The Blogroll as Popularity Contest
2. The Blogroll as Identity Construction
3. The Blogroll as Advertisement
4. The Blogroll as Paybacks
5. The Blogroll as Recommendation

Respondants may offer their own chapter subheadings. All papers will be available for analysis before the conference.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What I'm Doing...

...I'm sitting here munching oatmeal and mulling over what to write.

1. Why should it be 'what to write' rather than 'what to right'? What makes write right and right wrong in this context? Is this not what makes English neither wrong, nor right, but difficult?

2. Artificial flavoring sucks. My oatmeal has something in it that I think the manufacturers assumed would make it 'buttery'. My ass!

3. Yesterday I did my civic duty for my country and travelled to a nearby town in California to make phone calls to Maryland concerning their choice for Congress. I was not particularly successful as my cell phone got almost no signal and kept cutting out just as I was about to begin my spiel. I sense a conspiracy: Sprint must be a red cell phone service.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How do you blog?

By which I mean: what is your physical stance. By which I mean: what the fuck do you sit at, on and where is it?

I ask because I am, even as we speak, twitching and twisting and writhing. Adjusting my pneumatic chair (which has lost a lot of pneu, if you ask me, since my 255 pound husband started using it). I don't ever remember having such difficulty getting comfortable. Is it because I'm getting old??????

In one room of our house, the one known as The Office is the family PC sitting on a glass-topped dining table from Pier One. In another room of our house, the one know as The Third Bedroom is my above-mentioned office chair and a laptop deskie thing. I give you Exhibit A and B, above.

The dining table is too high. I tried to get a keyboard slider to put under it, but they all need to be screwed into something, which is a wee problem when the something is glass. The laptop desk does adjust but manually, which is awkward to say the least. There is something about this arrangement that forces me into a troll posture, all scrunched up like a player on the Yellow Brick Road. It is painful. And not conducive to creativity.

I imagine that all of you are quite comfortable and therefore effortlessly pouring the prose on the page, so to speak. Where are you doing it?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

In Which I Confess...

...that I've been unfaithful these past months. To ByJane, that is. I have another blog. But I've only posted twice, I swear. Does that make me bad????

It's called Looking For Libby. I started it right when I was looking for a job and there were whole bunches of things (tell me that's not articulate) I was feeling that I didn't want to put in ByJane. It think I explained why in the first post of LFL, so if you're interested, you can read it there. So why am I now coming clean? It has something to do with the level of comfort I now feel revealing myself here. And that's a function of my sense that I'm part of a community of women doing the same. And part of it is a function of my having gotten to that age where "I give a fuck" is a more ready response.

LFL is the place where I'm going to talk about two things: aging and mothers. If you're interested in either of those topics, check it out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jane's Award-Winning International Best Pecan Pie

The awards were all self-given. But truly, this pecan pie is the best ever. I make it every year at Thanksgiving and every year, people go nuts (!) over it. It's truly easy and almost foolproof. I tried to find a photo of it from T'givings past, but I think it disappears too quickly to be memorialized. One year I made two, but that was the year an alleged gourmand came and inhaled the second one all by himself (gourmand = pig, as far as this fellow is concerned.)

Okay, gather 'round while I give you the secret to Jane's Awarding-Winning Best Ever Pecan Pie: it's in the pie plate. Don't use a regular pie plate. You have to use a fluted tarte pan with a removable bottom.
and you'll need
1 unbaked pastry shell (You can make your own, if you like, but Martha and I, we prefer the Pillsbury pre-made dough.)

Now, take your pie dough round and lay it on top of the tarte pan. Gently, gently pat it down in into place, so that there is dough in all the flutes. Cut off the excess bits all the way around. Place the tarte pan on a cookie sheet for ease of handling.

Now, go forth and make the pecan stuff.


1 C granulated sugar
1-1/4 C dark corn syrup
4 large eggs
1/4 C butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 C pecans, broken
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

1. Oven gets preheated to 350.
2. Cook sugar and corn syrup in a pan until the sugar dissolves.
3. Beat eggs lightly and pour into syrup mixture gradually and keep on beating while you do that (or else the eggs will scramble in the corn syrup).
4. Add the butter while beating (I cut it up before hand into bits so it melts easily)
5. Stir in the pecans.
6. Stir in the vanilla (did I mention that you should never ever use anything but Real Vanilla as the Imitation stuff tastes like shit and why would you want to spoil your cooking thusly?)

Here's the second part of my secret: You're not going to use most of the syrup. Yes, it will pain you, as it does me, to throw that which you have labored over away, but that's the trick of the trade. So, to continue

7. Use a slotted spoon to transfer all the pecans to your waiting pie crust.
8. Ladle the syrup onto the pecans until it just tops the crust.
9. Balance carefully on your way to the over and bake for about 45 minutes or until set.

Cool pie. Remove the pie on the removable tarte pan bottom and place on a serving plate. Maybe put a doily under it. Maybe not.

Serve with whipped cream (the real stuff, not the aerosol shit). Portion numbers depend on how big you slice it, but this is an 8 or 9 inch pie.

Whew! That was not easy. My hat is off to cookbook writers. It takes less time to make the damn pie than it did to give the instructions. Next year, photos will accompany each stage.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fixed it...

T'was a gizmo in the whatsit that quite plainly said to block all photos from
Now why the hell would I want to do that? So I hit 'unblock' and, voila!

What's Missing?

Pictures. Or as my old friend GeorgeAnne would have said (before she got her M.A.): pitchers! She also used to pronounce wreath, wreaf, and never knew where to stop with alumininininininininininium.

But I digress. As is my wont.

Something happened to either my computer or my template or my blog or (pick another)about a week ago and graphics that I upload from Blogger are not appearing. Or at least they're not appearing on my laptop. Which does seem to indicate that it's the problem of this Toshiba laptop, doesn't it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Day One - NaBloPoMo

...and day one of NoMoWriMo...and day one of my back-to-being-my-own-boss life.

I'm curious to see how the six month (six month?!) stint of regular employment has affected my freelancer sensibility. For one, I got up at 7:30 this morning, and it's now 9:30 and I've started my NoMoWriMo stint, read some of my favorite blogs, stripped the bed, and here I am, both fingers and brain at the ready.

I don't anticipate a real problem with NaBloPoMo (except getting my fingers to untwist when I type it), since as everyone knows I am never without something to say about anything and everything.

It's the NaNoWriMo that I'll have to push my nose to the whetstone about. (Yeah, I know, that'd give me one helluva sharp nose.) I have deliberately ignored the word count as too intimidating. When I did it last year, I spent half of my writing time figuring out what my word and page count had to be. And when I fell behinder and behinder and behinder, I just mentally hung myself and gave up.

In my defense, I must say, however, that I only learned of NaNoWriMo last year at the end of October. So I'll remove the rope from my neck and admire my courage in throwing myself into a freakin' project that called for writing a novel in a month. As if I haven't been trying to write a novel in a lifetime.

This year I come to the project prepared. I have characters, I have plot (ish), I have tone, I have setting--and now I have some 300 words already. My goal is to write every day. Not to rewrite. To see if I can use the deadline to quell all the critics in my head. If I end November with a first draft that I may or may not want to revise, I'll be happy.

And if I end November on NaBloPoMo with an Audience that justifies the capital A, I'll be happy there too.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Asleep at the Wheel, again...

This time I'll blame not only Molly and D, but DST. It is 7:49 am and I am dressed, fed, over-coffeeed and much too early to leave for the penultimate day. This feeling is so familiar--it's the way I felt after a night of dexs staying up to study for finals. This could--and maybe will--segue into a brief disquisition on Drugs I Have Taken.

Not a lot. Mainly uppers in college and uppers at work and uppers while writing get the point. I had a massive, headbanging explosion on grass once that scared the bejesus out of me, so I never tried harder stuff. But I did drink. A lot. Does that count?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

it's called A Tie Dye--and it's not as lethal as it looks

Celebrating the Ultimate Sunday before the Final Monday and the Last Tuesday. This was like a giant slushy margharita/bluemoon/dacquiri/somethingsomething. It was very good. And extremely thirstquenching. And didn't make me do anything more stupid that go right out and spent $19 loading a peck (or was it a bushel?) basket with this kinda taffy and that kinda lemon drop and oooooooohhhhhhhh over there are the peanut whatzits that I couldn't get enough of as a kid. Nineteen dollars buys a lot of penny candy, even these days.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In Which I Correct Myself

I misspoke. This isn't my penultimate free Sunday. It is my penultimate Sunday that I go to bed saying, "oh, shit, I've got to get up and go to work tomorrow..." It is the penultimate Sunday before all of my days are free--once again.

I gave my notice two weeks ago. My final day is October 31. I lasted just over six months. This seems to be about average at my agency. In my letter of resignation, I carefully worded it thusly: "I cannot do the job in the way I believe it must be done without putting in considerable overtime, and that is something I'm unwilling to do." What I tell people is this: "The thing about working for a non-profit is that what you give up in pay, you get back in emotional rewards. This job can't be done in a way that would give me the requisite emotional rewards without putting in considerable overtime, and that is something...yadayadayada."

The reality is that the people in charge are clueless about how to engender loyality in their employees. They talk the talk but don't walk the walk. I wonder if they're even curious about why they keep training people who quit in a couple of months. My manager says, "It's a very hard job and a good fit for few people." Well, um, might you want to change that a wee bit? Because Sacramento doesn't have an endless pool of therapists and social workers--and, guys! you're quickly working your way through all of us.

So come November 1, I shall return to my former state of being, not much older, but a whole lot wiser about me and my place in my world.

My Penultimate Free Sunday

Does everyone know what penultimate means, class? Because I am always being accused of using words no one knows. How can that be? Just because I am an over-educated former English major, does that mean I talk funny? Evidentally. Or is that, evidently? I'm never sure.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Leaves They Are A-Turning

If you click on the little square, you'll see my oak tree. I think.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why A Wife Leaves Her Husband's Bed...or Kicks Him Out

I am so groggy, I can barely keep my nose from plunging into my keyboard. I want sleep. Good sleep, kind sleep, silent sleep. The kind of sleep I last night did not get (the Latinate form, I do believe).

Molly, the world's best dog, last week began a bout of wee small hours shitting on the living room floor. For those of you who have dogs, you know that this act is always accomplished on the carpet, even when pristine tile is so readily available. And you also know that one pile is never sufficient, when multiple drops will do. We had to break her of the habit fast. So last night, we closed her in the bedroom. Our bedroom. Where she normally spends the night, or so we thought.

A word about dogs and their nocturnal habits. As with so much about her, Molly's sleep style makes us smile. It is based on we know not what. Here's how it goes. She starts off the night stretched out between us on top of the covers. A part of her body must be touching a part of each of us. At some point, she goes to the bottom of the bed. At some point, she goes under the bed. At some point, she gets into the bed, on D's side. All of this is done silently, effortlessly, even I would say delicately, for I am never waked/woked/awakened by her journey.

If I were, she would not be near the bed. This was a condition of getting her, that she couldn't keep me up at night jumping on and off the bed. As our last dog, the beloved Pupi, did until the point when I could no longer take it and left our marriage bed to her and D. For a number of years, we had separate beds. Sometimes separate bedrooms. Yes, dear reader, we were that kind of couple.

But at least I was getting a good night's sleep. Which at my age is no small thing and much to be grateful for and more important than lots of other things one once thought was crucial.

Last night, Molly channeled Pupi. Tonight if she doesn't go back to her former sleep habits, I'm off to the guest room.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Them Boys Do Love Me...

Last week Bonji called me; this week, it was Alexander. My guys.

Just wish they'd speak when they call.

And that it wasn't 5 a.m. my time.

And I guess their moms wish their boys wouldn't play with their cell phones.

But they're only two. My guys.

Monday, October 09, 2006

My Tidy Whitey Drawer

As I was pulling a pair of what the Brits call knickers from the chest of drawers the other day, I saw with a start that all of my underwear is white. How did that happen? Am I really that old? Before anyone rushes to judgment, let me say that my knickers are bikinis. I do not wear those huge old saggy things referred to as Old Lady Pants. But really, Jane, what's with the white underwear? I mean, it's not like you've got a lot of menstrual blood that you're looking to bleach out.

Actually, the tidy whiteys just sorta slipped up on me, in a manner of speaking. My first pair of bikinis--ah, I remember them well--had big black polkadots and a matching bra. Life was never the same after that, and I moved on to pastels and prints and even bold colors (I wore magenta to an interview at the MLA just so at least I knew that I wasn't some boring old professor).

Notice how the word old keeps creeping into this conversation.

The fact is that my knickers are white because...because...because that's how they came in the package of six at Target where I bought them. And now that I've noticed, there's so no way in hell that I'm not going out tomorrow to buy a new lot of colored ones.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Making the move

I'm about to make the move from By Jane at Live Journal to By Jane at Blogger. I hope my faithful fan will find me.

I haven't done all the legwork. My web site is paid for but seems locked into MoveableType hell. I don't know if I'll be able to get my LJ archives onto this site.

Why am I doing this? I dunno. 'Cause I enjoy making life hard for myself?

Somehow I have it in my head that as long as I'm at LJ, no one will read me (other than relatives and coerced friends from time to time. I want to spread my wings, as it were (does saying 'as it were' signal to you that I know I'm committing the sin of triteness?). Blogger seems much easier and friendlier than LJ.

And too, what one writes on and with is crucially important to most writers. Just ask Steinbeck, who once wrote a whole book on the topic. Or George Plimpton, who created the Paris Review Interviews, which always included details of preferred writing instrument, paper, etc. (I do realize you can't ask these people, because they're dead, but you get my point.) I have long been convinced that it is only the lack of the perfect paper and instrument that has stood between me and a vast canon. All of this is to say that Blogger pleases me in a way that Semagic never could.

So I've moved. And now, here I am.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Under Construction...

I'm just starting to move my blog from Live Journal to this site, and I want to do it slowly so that ByJane looks the way I want it to. And that will take a little time. And study. And figuring things out.

So bear with me, be patient, and go to to read my blog (which I update every couple of days) until I make the grand switch.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knit 1, purl 0

This is my latest knitting project: a scarf.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

this is a test post