Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blogito Ergo Sum, redux

For those of you who have faithfully followed my every post, yes, you have already read this. But I'm reposting it because (a) I'm going to use it as the "About Me" on this blog, (b) it is still so very, very true not to mention heartfelt, and (c) hot damn, it's good. Oh, a nb: my knitting group was merciless when they read this, so I've already taken all the stick they have to give.

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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Redecorating and all....

I'm in the middle of a spring clean, a massive redo of this blog. Some of which you'll see already. Feel free to offer opinions. As in,
  • Whaddya think of the feed from my Google Reader?
  • And the type face--too big? too little?
  • How about all that stuff floating around at the bottom? It's the technical stuff, like my Creative Commons license (not that I really know what that means to me) and my Site Meter. I'd like it out of the way, but it's soooo big-- the font, I mean.
I'm going to start actually fiddling with the template--ooooohhh, am I bold or what? Or stupid, maybe. But I can't resist. I would much prefer it if I could just reach into this machine with my hands and move things around, but I'll settle for template-fiddling.

This is a character trait--or flaw, call it what you will--of mine. That I can't leave well enough alone. I have to fiddle. Even when danger lurks. Even when I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. As is the case here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tasting the Wines

Last night I went to a wine tasting. Such is the state of where I live that the wine tasting was held at the supermarket. Now before you get all snotty and superior, let me tell you that this particular Raley's is a ginormous market with its very own drugstore, post office, and organic/natural foods department. (It is the latter that actually, I believe, spelled doom to the Elk Grove Natural Food Co-op. It is so much more convenient if you can buy your organic produce and your Twinkies at the same place, isn't it.)

The wine tastings are from 5:30 to 7:30. I got there at 5. Not that I was eager for the wine, but more than I had to get out of the house (the night before I went to see Shrek, but that is another story). I bought myself some sushi and the latest issue of US magazine and settled down at a table to nourish my mind and my body. I was only half way through my tuna and a few pages into US when the tasting began.

The wines were Kendall-Jackson. I have no idea whether that is good or not, because I know jack about wines. Which is why I went to the wine tasting in the first place. I want to learn about wines. I want to develop a palate. I want to see if I have a palate in the first place. Thus, I am putting myself forward at every opportunity as a wine weenie, and asking--nay, begging--for help.

Last night that help came in the form of a cheat sheet the winery had at the ready, spelling out in black and white exactly what notes and tones and other foo-fah descriptors ascribed to the particular wine. The first wine I tasted was a Syrah, "heavy-bodied and chewy with black cherry, currant, jammy, spice and tobacco tones." It tasted nice. I liked it.

The second wine I had was the Merlot, "medium-to-heavy-bodied, smooth-finishing with black cherry, plum, raspberry and chocolate notes." It was not so nice. I didn't like it much. It made my mouth pucker at the end.

The third wine was a Zinfandel, "medium-to heavy-bodied with blackberry, raspberry, black pepper and smoke tones with a spicy finish." I got the smoke tones. I think.

Then I had another Syrah, to see how it compared after the Merlot and Zin, but this time it didn't seem so nice. I didn't like it. Perhaps it's a one-glass wine, you know, like a one-date guy. Or maybe one isn't supposed to be mixing all those wines at one sitting. But then, why would they have wine tastings in the first place???

Then I moved to the whites. There were two chardonnays, one by K-J, and the other by an all female winery. No cheat sheets accompanied these, but--hallelujah!--I could taste the fruit in the KJ chardonnay. Peaches, I think. Or maybe apricot. I've never been a white wine person, but maybe I secretly am. Perhaps my palate is a white wine palate. The other chardonnay, what I refer to as the feminist chardonnay (LaCrema, I think) was not, I regret to tell you so nice. I got no notes or tones, just a massive mouth pucker. That made me sad, as I so wanted to be supportive.

Then I went home. With a nice buzz on.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Detritus, not Detrius

One of the final lessons my father gave me, when I saw him for what would be the last time and he was in a hospital bed, was that the word detritus is not pronounced det-tri-us. The emphasis is on the first syllable, which is a long e, as in weed, not a short e, as in eh, whatever. The second syllable is try, as in attempt, not tree as in the oaks and pines. And there's a t at the last syllable. De'-tri-tus. It annoyed him that I never pronounced it correctly, and my father annoyed was quite imposing, even when flat on his bed and at death's door.

It's a good thing that I now pronounce the word correctly, because this morning I have, once again, been dealing with the detritus of my father's life. I have before me just one of the credit card slips he saved: a gas purchase at Hong Ki Han's Arco station in Lomita, CA. He got 10.7 gallons, for which he paid $6.30.

Following Fussy's example, I have been throwing this stuff out. She is shredding her father's papers, but mine has been dead well over ten years, so I don't think there's a danger of identity theft. Is there? I've tried to be firm and analytic about what to save. But I have to save some of it, because I am, after all, my father's daughter.

So I've saved his Cabrillo Beach Museum docent's patch, because it reminds me of his frequent attempts to do the dance of the whales. I saved some index cards on which he wrote things. My father was an inveterate writer of notes and he was extemely frugal with paper. Some of the index cards have been cut in half, because then you get two for one. I've thrown the ones on which he wrote shopping lists and designed castings or created on paper one of his many bricalages out, but there's a couple where I think he may have been writing a poem. I saved the letters he wrote to my mom before I was born, but I didn't read them because she once told me not to and I am, as ever, a dutiful daughter.

This is what I'm doing today, slowly but surely winnowing down the detritus of my life....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's One of Those Days... know, the kind where not much gets done and what does is totally unsatisfactory or unsatisfying, whichever of the two you need. I've spent much of today getting up and sitting down, walking into other rooms, walking out again, coming back to my desk and sitting down and then getting up again. You can tell by this blog entry that I'm having one of those days, can't you.

D got back from Oregon last night. He spent the week wandering around Grant's Pass, seeing if he could fantasize himself into a life up there. Sorta, he thinks. Kinda. But he's not really sure.

I, on the other hand, have no intention of moving to Oregon. Perhaps, you might say, that accounts for it being One Of Those Days. And, of course, you'd be right, as you always are.

It's also one of those days when I feel overwhelmed with my Stuff--the detritus of my life. I would probably feel better if I threw some things out. That's what I'll do. Right now--.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Goodbye Delta, Farewell Dawn

I live, oh, about a mile from the river where the two humpback whales, now named (thank God, at last) Delta and Dawn, decided to swim to Sacramento, instead of San Francisco. I could have gone to see them any time of the day or night. I could have made three trips a day, with breaks to brush my teeth and get a little shut-eye.

I didn't. And I avoided all reporting on them, save the 30 second headline that told me where they were. This meant, of course, that I have not seen a newspaper or watched TV in the week or so that the whales have been in the Delta. Every once in a while, I'd catch a glimpse of one or the other breeching. Or hear one or the other of the reporters waxing eloquent on how majestic these creatures of God are. (Truly. That's how the TV reporters talk here. Especially the ones from the CBS affiliate.)

I would have like to see them, but I cannot bear the hoohah and hooplah that has surrounded these poor fish swimming in the wrong direction. It seems to me that it's more of a modern day public hanging or bear baiting.

Come one! come all! Step right up and see how even the most gigantic of beings is nothing before Mother Nature. Here you go, get your bottled water here and your whale T-shirt over there, sorry but I only have XLs left. Look at little Johnny over there, such an mini entrepreneur: he's selling lemonade. And over there, under the trees, big Johnny is selling dope.

Never mind that the levees aren't made to withstand the weight of ten thousand tourists tromping through. Never mind the expense to the county of crowd control and keeping ski-jets and speed boats from within 100 yards of the whales so as not to--ooops--frighten them even more. Scare them into beaching themselves--but, hey, Bubba, then we'd really get to see the whales up close. Behold the porcine mamas with tattoos on their asses, which I know about because their tank tops don't meet their short shorts, and there's a gap at the waist which exposes several spare tires and their butt cracks. Let's not forget the hairy daddys, who are either fifteen months pregnant or are in the final stages of liver disease, so enormously huge, so whale-like are their guts. And they too are wearing shorts shorts and tank tops that expose the full glory of their man-titties and underarm hair. And crosses. Why do such men always wear the full Jesus-on-the-crucifix around their necks? Goes so well with their Eat Me tattoos.

But why am I being so hard on these people? This is America, after all. Land of the free, etc. etc. What are our soldiers in Iraq fighting for if not the opportunity we all have to make asses of ourselves. To gawk. To make a buck off of anything one can. To do what we want to right now, when we want it, willy nilly of whether it's right or good or creates a danger for others. Because we're Americans, goddamit, and rampant self-interest is our birthright.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mememememe -- Take Two

I got tagged the other day by Jennifer over at The Verges for the Four Whatever's meme. I did it last year when I was a Live Journal, but since almost no one ever read my blog there (but the someones who did are very important, I hasten to add), I thought I would redo it. There would probably be a nice compare and contrast essay in it for anyone wanting to look at how my answers are the same and/or different (no prizes though).

Four jobs I've Held
Only four? Jesus, I did that sometimes in one month. I have been a tad peripatetic in my journey through the working world. To say the least. How about four jobs I've held in which writing was the gig.
  • Beat reporter for KPFK Pacifica Radio and The LA Free Press (before it became a porno rag)
  • Freelance magazine journalist for lots and lots and lots of national and regional magazines
  • Production Coordinator of PBS documentary, The West of the Imagination
  • Wrote a book published by Doubleday called How to Get Your Child Into Commercials and Modeling. Yes, I know, sterling title--I called it The Commercial Kids, but Doubleday renamed it. This was the single most disgusting experience of my life. I am still bitter.
Four Movies I Can Watch Over & Over
I mostly can't do that anymore, but when I could it was
  • Gidget, Gone With The Wind, An Officer and a Gentleman, Gone With The Wind. Oh, I said that already.
Four Places I've Lived
  • Pittsburgh, PA - born and raised there
  • London, England - and some other smaller cities in England for short periods of time while I was traipsing after my actor husband
  • Los Angeles - twice, and now probably a third time
  • Elk Grove, CA -the fastest growing city in the US in 2005, the year I moved here. It is a veritable ocean of beige and brown and tan and ecru and chocolate and sand houses. Scary what can happen to farm and ranch land when the developers get a hold of it
Four Categories of TV Program I Watch
Why don't I just give your my current DVR slate
  • American Idol, Survivor, America's Next Top Model, Work Out, Final Cut - I do not watch any programs where they are handing out roses or losing weight or raising houses for needy families
  • The Chris Matthews Show - the weekly half hour featuring four journalists, not the daily scream fest
  • Grey's Anatomy - and I read the blog, which is unbelievably wonderful because each week the writer explains the ways and whys of their script,
  • Boston Legal - hysterical, not to mention funny, provocative, political, and did I say makes me LOL?
Four Places I've Been To On Holiday
...or vacation as we in American like to call it.
  • Majorca - playground of the common European
  • Paris - je t'aime
  • Sag Harbor - my cousin takes a house there every summer and when I go, I get to pretend I am in the playground of the uncommon New Yorker
  • Texas - I once honkytonked my way from San Antonio to the Texas border, and then on to LA. George Strait on the radio. Long neck in hand. Wanted to bring back a cowboy. Failed.
Four Favorite Dishes
These are what I like to call my Dying Convict's Meal. In other words, they're what I'd order the night before my execution.
  • Whole lobster, maybe a 4 pounder, with drawn butter
  • Garlic fries or baked potato with sour cream
  • Heirloom Tomatoes mixed with chopped sweet onion, Balsamic vinegar and crusty fresh bread
  • Profiteroles - some with ice cream, some with whipped cream
Four Sites I Visit Daily
I have an ever-growing list on Google Reader, so whoever has updated gets a visit from me.

Four Places I'd Rather Be
I'm working on mindfulness, so I am right where I want to be at this moment. Even if I'm really not so much.

Rather than tag four more people, I'll leave this up to you. If you want to do this Meme, let me know and I'll tag you in an update.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cringe: May 17, 2007

Dear Diary,

It is now 2:30, 2:31, 2:32 p.m. and I have spent the better part of today doing sweet fuck-all.

Last night I went to a neighborhood meeting about a shopping mall that They want to build in Elk Grove. I should not have gone. First, because I don't intend to be here long enough to see the damn thing built. But second, and most important, because I HATE GROUP GROPES. I am allergic to them. I get internal hives that make me (a) twitch, and (b) say rude things in just a loud enough voice to annoy (or in some cases amuse) those sitting near me.

Last night's meeting was an exercise in oligarchy. Ostensibly we met to view our concerns about the shopping center. Actually, we were enticed (with promises of individually-wrapped cookies and Macy's gift certificates) to listen to a promotional presentation by GGP, the corporation that is hoping to get their plans for this whizz-bang mall okayed.

It was incredibly boring and incredibly disinformational (is that a word?) and, for me, incredibly maddening. I spent most of the morning trying to write about it in a reasonable manner. Report on the matter, as it were. If I tell you that that post was titled, Democracy Devolves to Dog and Pony Show, you'll get a whiff of why I'm struggling with this.

I hate stupidity. I loathe even more when those in charge assume those not in charge are too stupid to know when they're having a fast one pulled. Rather than an open airing of citizens' thoughts, we had to endure a host of woefully inadequate generalizations. We were told several times that GGP is a "high end mall developer" and is not in the business of building strip malls. I thought I saw Lady Macbeth wafting through the chamber at that one. The presentation was so short of specifics that I thought perhaps Louis, GGP's main guy, was more than a tad unprepared. In fact, were I to grade him, he would have gotten a C in presentation. He waxed eloquent on the "beautiful water features" whatever they might be and assured us more than once how excited GGP is about the project (well, yes, I guess so, since it's a profitable business for them). But his only response to the various issues we had about the project was, "that's what the retailers tell us they want." As in, go ask your mother. No, go ask your father. No, just do as I damn well tell you.

Instead of a democratic give and take, question and answer, We, the People were made to write our questions on a form and hand them in. Then They, the Oligarchs got to cherry-pick and edit, revise and summarize so that the builders could do their own cherry-picking of questions they would answer. That resulted in some breathtaking exchanges, like the response to the question about security. Seeing as we are perched on the edge of the Sacramento's gangland, what considerations have the builders given to mall security. Answer: Security is very important to us. We will hire our security from LA. Oh, good, because LA has such incredible security that they have had no problems with security at their malls. Hell, no. Well, maybe a little. Maybe a lot.

There was also a concern that the retail businesses would post objectionable material on their billboards. Oh, no, we won't allow that. We're very concerned about family values. Here's where my mumble turned to a hiss, "You're going to control Abercombie & Fitch?! Purveyors of the most sexualized and/or controversial ads in the marketplace. Good luck."

My question concerned who did their demographic research that resulted in only second tier retailers like Macy's being willing to come in. Answer: We hired a market research firm in Sacramento. They set up four focus groups, two of those who have lived in EG for over five years and two of those who have lived here for five years and under. Sounds fair enough, doesn't it. Until you consider that the vast majority of those living in Elk Grove fall into the second group. Was that inequity of demographic taken into consideration? Can't answer that one, because the oligarchs chose to edit it out.

I didn't mean to get into this rant. I meant to write a Cringe worthy diatribe against myself at public meetings. But that's not what came out, is it.

I flew out of the meeting to get home in time to see Melinda bounced from AI and my favorite blonde not even make it to the finals of America's Next Top Model. T'was not a good night for me....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shopping For One

I've just come back from a trip to the supermarket. The larder is bare, D is away, and I can indulge myself. Here's what I got: 10 for $5 cups of yogurt. Eight varieties of frozen diet dinners. Apples, Orville Redenwhoozie Popcorn, a Cantaloupe Melon (as opposed to a Cantaloupe What???), toilet paper, and an InStyle AtHome magazine. The last two items belong quite properly in the bathroom.

This is how I eat when I'm on my own. Quick and dirty, as it were. Without any thought at all. For much of my life, eating bored me. Food was fuel. I was pleased if it tasted good, but generally, I resented the time it took to eat. I had much better things to do. I can't remember what, but I can remember thinking so.

Then, sigh! as happens so often, life intrudes and food became--well let's just say we have had a rather too close relationship at times. There was the period when I couldn't go to sleep without a glass of milk and five Hershey kisses. I broke myself of that, but then when my mother died, I took to toasting marshmallows over the gas burners. My own little campfire in the privacy of my own little kitchen.

Life is--can I say 'extruding'?--these days. I'm not sure what I mean by that but I like the symmetry of the verbs. Whatever. At least for these days, I'm eating quick and dirty again. Yogurt, Lean Cuisine...and, yes, I admit it, Hersey's chocolate in bed at night. With milk. So sue me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pitchers of flowers - pick one

Which one do you like better? You can see that they are framed slightly differently. Can't you?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Review: Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat

Today, the day after Mother's Day, which was the day when my post consisted of a disquisition on being a non-mother, seems--take a breath, this sentence will eventually end--like a good day to write up the book I was sent by Harper Collins. It's called The Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate -- Bring Your Family Together With the Friday Night Meal. We will, for the sake of simplicity and sanity, refer to it henceforth as TMJMGS. The author, Meredith L. Jacobs, is a writer, columnist and the founder of the website,

I asked for this book as part of BlogHer's Virtual Book Tour, and I must confess I'm not quite clear on why I wanted it. Not being a mother and all, you know. There being no family for me to connect with a Friday night meal. But I did want it and when I got it and read it, I was glad. Even more, I'd say that I think that narrow focus of the demographic is probably a misguided publishing ploy, for TMJMGS is really a book for anyone wanting to pay attention to or honor or celebrate the Sabbath, no matter your religion.

She's got chapters on history and tradition and lots of practical information. Basically, she holds your hand and leads you through the process of making Shabbos, celebrating the Sabbath. She tells you how to make a challah, roast a chicken, bless the candles, involve the kids and the husband and whoever else might be wandering through. She does all this with a strong sense of yiddishkeit, a word that means imparting the feeling of Jewishness. Yet she is inclusive of non-Jews and of those of us who are unpracticed in the stuff of our religion.

The push to get Jews back to the Shabbat table is common these days, and Jacobs gives a very good reason why. By honoring the time of the Sabbath in these traditional ways, she says, "we eliminate the distractions that prevent us from connecting with one another, with ourselves, with Shabbat, and with our spirituality." This, then, is the central message of her book--and it seems to me a very worthwhile one.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

On Being A Mother - Why I'm Not

I never set out not to be a mother. I always assumed I would have kids, along with the obligatory husband, 2 car garage and white picket fence. That’s what people did, wasn’t it.

When H & I were in college, before we were married, we planned on having six children. I don’t know why six. I do know that one of them was to be called Megan; the other five were name- and genderless, I suppose. I recall sitting at dinner in the dorm cafeteria one night and he/we were playing house with our imaginary six kids. Suddenly, I don’t know how, he had all six of them in league against me. About what? I don’t know. I just remember the searing feeling of injustice, of being odd man out, without a recourse. It’s interesting to me now that I can only recall that emotion, the strength and taste of it, but no other details of that night. When I say ‘interesting’, I mean ‘telling.’ It’s telling isn’t it that all I can remember is the feeling and not the facts.

When H and I got married, the time for kids never seemed right. First he was in drama school and then a lowly rep actor. I supported us with a variety of secretarial jobs, menial labor of the female sort. We lived in furnished digs, bedsitters where we shared a bathroom with sometimes fifteen others, none of whom ever washed the tub, some of whom refused to even pull the plug after they’d bathed. I couldn’t imagine bringing a baby into that; it was so antithetical to my understanding of motherhood as to be beyond belief.

When we finally got a real flat with real furniture, albeit 2nd hand, there was a real mother with two real kids who lived downstairs. She was my role model for what not to be. Her life was an endless cycle of lugging huge garbage bags crammed full of dirty towels and peed-on sheets, kids clothes stained with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and her husband’s work clothes to the Laundromat down the street, bringing them home still damp, hanging them out to dry in whatever-weather-London-was-offering and then starting all over again the next day. It was her oldest son, the six year old, who nightly wet the bed. The three year old was potty-trained, but exhibiting what I now recognize as symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (that’s the one that often leads to sociopaths). His mother, who had become my friend, was his captive slave, running after him endlessly to right the death and destruction that went in his wake. “There’s a good boy, Peter,” she whined endlessly, uselessly, feebly.

In the six years that I was married to H., I don’t believe the subject of children ever really came up between us. Friends started having kids and I would say, when they get Pampers in England, I’ll get pregnant. Maybe they already had them. Maybe it was just an excuse because I knew that this was not a marriage in which to create a family.

When H and I finally split up and I moved back to America, I brought with me my prescription for birth control pills. I was a single woman now, and this was---hey, hey, hey! The Seventies! And The Eighties! But somewhere along the way, I stopped taking the pills. I was in a Long Term Relationship that I Thought Was Going to End in Marriage. Maybe I thought getting pregnant would make that day happen sooner. Maybe I just wanted to see if I could. I couldn’t, it didn’t, and when D and I got together, I just didn’t bother with birth control. Que sera sera, was my mantra.

What would be was zip, nada, not even a smidgeon of a pregnancy scare. In the back of my mind, I always kept an eye out for telltale signs: the swollen breasts, the darkening line down the belly. Nope. Not for me. And so it went until it was past the point of no return. Until it was, as they say in Yiddish, fahfallen, which is what they say to a bald man who is hoping for hair.

And now here I am, lo these many years later, a woman with no children. A non-mother. I’m ambivalent about that fact, and maybe I always will be. I don’t know what I’ve missed; I only know what other people say when they wax eloquent about their children. I started this as a post with the subhead, Why I'm Not & How I Feel About It. But I don’t really know. I would have to stutter and explain and maybe wave my hands a lot. And that seems to me to deserve a post of its own. So consider this Part I and Part II will be, even as my progeny were not, forthcoming.

Friday, May 11, 2007

BlogHer '07

I'm going--as you can tell by the badge at your right. And I've got a room at the W. A double double. Any of you want to share with me??????

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making Myself Sick

I cannot stand cute. I abhor twee. Don't give me any angels, please, and unless I sneeze, don't bless me. As a recent post of mine attested, I call things as I see them. Dead is dead, dumb is dumb, and bullshit is bullshit.

So why is it that whenever I want to refer to a friend that I have made through blogging, I keep wanting to say bliend? Pronounced blend, as in blog + friend. Omygod I'm gonna puke....

So--one of my "bliends" is offering this month an easy summer recipe/hint/treat a day, and I'm addicted. She lives in Napa and is in the Food & Wine Trade, as they say, so she is nothing if not au courant, etc. etc. with all things Foodie.

The other day I made HelenJane's Tomato Avocado Salad. I seeded and sliced chocolate brown Rosso Bruno tomatoes, peeled and sliced an avocado, cut up into--yep, you guessed it--thin slices some Vidalia onion, poured olive oil on it, salt and pepper and the juice of a lime. It was, in a word, exquisite (and you know that if I say it, I mean it). This is exactly HelenJane's recipe, and she has lots more. Go visit. Maybe you'll make a new bliend, too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

In Search of a Title which expresses the meaning of t his post...

...which is actually a compendium of topics, or--as I prefer to think of it--a bunch of shit that has occurred to me which I am sure you need to know.

  • Award for the Dumbest Name of A Business: a local massage/spa type business called Massage Envy. This is not a massage parlor in some seedy backwater stripmall whose offerings are euphemisms for blow jobs and the like. Which is definitely what the name references for anyone in the Western world who has heard of penis envy. But maybe that's the problem. Maybe the owners are not of the Western world. A lot of the businesses in our area are small operations run by Asian immigrants grabbing onto the American dream, and that, at times, has led to some strange names for businesses. Like ChopSuey ChopSuey Bar. Or Get Your Hair Cut Beauty Shop. I imagine, when I come across such names, that the owners have translated from their own language to English and aren't comfortable enough (a euphemism of my own) with American vernacular to know that their well-thought-out business name is just, well, dumb. Or, as in the case of Massage Envy, is a really loaded piece of language, a word bomb of sorts.
  • AP reported today that the CBS Evening News last week had its lowest audience since at least 1987. ABC's World News is, as Nielson likes to put it, the ratings winner. The AP report that the numbers "add to the sense that Charles Gibson is eclipsing Brian Williams as the nation's favorite network news anchor." My kneejerk construction of the results was--and listen to all of the pundits who fling their legs in the air with me--that Americans prefer an older male giving them their news. But then I thought of what Evening News I watch and why: ABC, because (and I'm about to shout now) I CANNOT STAND the local news leadins on my NBC and CBS affiliates. The NBC affiliate in Sacramento has a news reporter who has clearly gone to the Geraldo Rivera School of Journalism, and this would seem to be the same place that spawned the entire news-team of the CBS affiliate in Sacramento. They so offend me that I want to throw sharp objects at my flat screen television, and that has only ever happened before when Cheney is on the tube. I can't afford to kill my TV, so I simple refuse to watch these two local news programs. And I'm wondering if there are others in other cities who feel the same about their local news? Is there a Sense of The News vibe that is ordained by the networks? Is the local CBS news so inane because it is following in the Katie Couric happy news programming?
In the past I have called these kinds of posts "Potpourri", but really, that's pretty lame, not to mention dumb and etc. Some people call them "This and That", which is equally ditto, IMHO. I tag these posts as Yadayada, which really says it to me--but what about you? Can you come up with a snappy title for posts of this ilk? There is a prize in it for the best entry....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

OCD & Me

I am cleaning out my filing cabinet for reasons that shall remain private, but not the least of which is because it overfloweth. With shit that I've saved. Or, in some cases, that my mother, now dead these past six years, saved. Which also included stuff my long emparidised father (which is how he referred to his father at his Bar Mitzvah) saved. But I've told you all that before, haven't I. Or some of it, anyway.

So I am cleaning out my filing cabinet and here's my problem: file colors. What should they be? Or, actually, should they be? I have a masterfiler box of those army green ones that are ubiquitous. But at some point, I got a tad daring. And went with color. At Lehigh, I had red. My psych stuff is in dark blue. And sometime between those colors, I bought a box of multi-colored. For no reason. Because they were pitty, pitty, pitty.

[A Note: what's with all these phrases, these non-clausal clauses? Can I not. Write a Full. Sentence. With correct, like, ah, punctuation.]

Consequently, my file drawers are a mishmash. They are a color catastrophe. They make my retinas hurt, and they confuse my already beleaguered frontal lobe.

Any suggestions????

Friday, May 04, 2007

For Ryan Seacrest, an Ode...

I was going to do this is pentameter with an ABBA CDDE rhyme scheme, but damned if I can remember what all that shit was about.

I used to know it. I used to know not only the common parts of speech, but those uncommon--and therefore kinda cute. A friend told me the other day that her son could use my help because he was studying metaphors and similes. All I could think--it popped into my head like a blinking neon sign--was FOS. Figures of Speech. And then the next blink: Tropes. Which is what FOS actually are. I kept silent, though, because she's a new friend and I didn't want to scare her away.

So I was going to do my encomium to Ryan Seacrest as an ode. But first I had to Google odes and when I saw all the stuff about meter and rhyme schemes, I was like: Oh, yeah, vaguely, I remember that. It was not unlike the time I had to write an article about orgasm during a multi-year dry (um huh) spell. Oh, yeah, I remember that, vaguely.

Thus, my Ode to Ryan Seacrest has died aborning, and this rather pedantic piece of prose will has to suffice.

In all of the huge keffuffle (now there's a word they taught us in grad school) over American Idol, no one ever mentions Ryan. Other than to quibble with his clothing or the closeness of his shave. The focus in AI is always on the contestants and the judges. Who was good, who should be sent home. Or the relative merits of Randy and Paula as judges compared to the great god Simon.

True, all of these people are elements of what makes AI the success that it is. They are the characters in the drama that is played out each week. But a play takes a playwright and since AI is live and unedited, that dramaturge to a great extent is Ryan Seacrest. His script is minimal; timing and segues are probably all he has in front of him. He's got to take each moment of drama or trauma and make it entertaining. Do you know how hard that it to do? How quick-witted he has to be? How aware of all aspects of the show, past, present and future? How verbally apt and psychodynamically able he has to be?

Take the other night, for example (no, you take it, no you--). I think it happened when Jordin finished singing. Randy has done his "Yo" thing and Paula had clapped her pitty pitty hands when Simon, in full roar, absolutely eviserated Jordin. Not that what he was saying wasn't true. Not that Jordan didn't already know it. But for some reason--and who knows with Simon--he felt the need to grind it in. Take his thumb and really pulverize to a paste.

It was, to say the least, an awkward moment. And that is one of Ryan's tasks--to smooth over the awkward moment. To save the contestant, to make the audience feel comfortable with the tension. He did it this time by making some comment about Simon, that tangentially maybe sortof could be assumed to allude to his girl friend. And Simon smacked back.

He took, as the Brits say, "the hump" and got all "pissy" (as they also say). I'm not going to answer your question, he told Ryan, because you were just rude about my girlfriend. I want you to apologize for insulting her. They got into a bit of a pissing contest what with the no I didn't yes you dids flying back and forth for what seemed like forever. Would Ryan apologize? Would Simon back off? No, and yes.

The easiest thing for Ryan to do would have been to apologize. Everyone could have gone back to breathing and nothing would have been lost. Except for Ryan's ability to control Simon, which is mandatory to the success of the show. Ryan has to humanize Simon for the audience, and he has to do it while not alienating Simon himself. It's a tricky tightrope wire he walks there, and he does it admirably.

Thus, my non-ode. Ryan earns his money, and probably more. The show, without him, would not be AI, as is true, of course, of Simon as well. The contestants will come and go, Paula and Randy may fade away, but Ryan and Simon: without them, AI would be just another amateur hour. Simon gets the accolades for this all the time. Ryan doesn't. So I wanted to say so.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Is the Goal the Blog or the Blog the Goal?

This is a real question. It follows on from a conversation of sorts that we're having in the Bloggers on Blogging section over at BlogHer's Forum. And it is added to by cce's post today in which she bemoaned the amount of time it takes to do her blog.
And this blogging thing is becoming a bit of a drain too because I’m the type of person who goes at things full-bore. I wake and read 25 blogs so that I can make comments and attract blog traffic and then I write the next day’s post and then I check my traffic report several hundred times during the day and find that I’ve fallen off the radar and must read more blogs and leave wittier comments to lure new audiences and this leaves little time for anything else including real conversations with people I actually know, like my children.
My response to her was: how about half-bore? But then I thought, "smart alecky, Jane-- perhaps the essence of her plaint is in the clause "so that I can make comments and attract blog traffic...." That sounds to me as if she is looking to professionalize her blog. And then I thought, what does that mean?

On the BlogHer thread, Phat Mommy said something similar.
If your goal is to become a "successful blogger," I think you do need to have a focus. Bloggers that wander all over the place can certainly attract fans, but probably will not attract as much traffic on a consistent basis as a blogger who is dedicated to one specific topic.
I'm not so sure that statement, which is the conventional wisdom, is true. In fact, I could argue it mightily with cites and footnotes, but that perhaps is more a function of my need for this bit of conventional wisdom not to be true. Because there's no way in the world that I could have a single focus in my blog, as the masthead for ByJane makes clear.

However, I too want to be a successful blogger. Yes, of course I do, with lots of fans and, as yesterday's post detailed, some accolades as well. But what do I mean by successful blogger?

I dunno.

What does it mean to professionalize your blog?

I dunno.

Well, I know if you're a food writer or a travel expert or someone who blogs about their business. But if you're blogging about your life, your kids, your hopes, your fears, your everyday happenings and what gets you through the night--then how do you answer the questions?

I dunno. Do you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Clever Post, by Jane--

--or not. You decide.

I've been touring the blogosphere and am cowed by the number of Really Good Writers out there. They write Very Clever Posts. And they are nominated for--and sometimes win--blogging awards (which seem to be proliferating at an amazing rate...sort of like penicillin...or athlete's foot...or that stuff that's always coating the cheese in my refrigerator). I read these blogs and they inspire me. I too want to write a Very Clever Post. I too want to be nominated for one of the awards. I too want to be able to stand before you and cry, "You like me. You really like me."

Of course, the blogosphere has also turned up an amazing number of Not Very Good Writers. I see why Maggie Mason called her book, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch. Really, no one does. At least, I don't. Unless you're inviting me to join you or dining with George Clooney and Co. I also don't care about the state of your bowels. Or your sex life. Especially if your sex life is impacted (shall we say) by the state of your bowels. Of course, if you write a Really Clever Post about the state of your bowels and/or sex life, then I'm right there for you.

The thing is--I like good writing. I don't care what I read about, as long as it is well written (this is why some cereal boxes have been so enticing). Similarly, I don't care who has written something if it's not good writing. If it doesn't move me in some way: make me laugh, think, feel, want to know more. Take me into your world with your words, and I'm forever yours.