Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
So the order of the day is to be funny, crack wise, amuse the crowd so they won't get too totally bummed out by the fact that we're all here because of--hushed tones, Addams Family music--A Death In the Family. And wasn't that a novel by James Agee? Or one of the Agee's. It sticks in my mind, halfway there obviously, as are any number of other works of fiction. My mother gave it to me on my thirteenth birthday, along with five or six other classics that she now considered I was old enough to read. Hah!
Like Nina (or perhaps that should, grammatically speaking, be As with Nina), I am a dropout from a PhD program in literature. We are, Nina and I, what's known as ABDs. All But Dissertation, that is, standing between us and the world calling us Doctor. I gave up the ghost long ago, admitted I would never finish that damn thing and thus condemned myself to, if I choose to teach, a lifetime of Freshman Comp classrooms. If you read Nina regularly, you know that that is somewhere south of purgatory. I don't know if Nina will finish hers. She might get a growth spurt in the fall and just go for it. Or maybe not.
I think statistically there are more of us ABDs than there are PhDs. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the hell that is graduate school may wonder why that is. Why don't we just get on with the fucking thing and finish it (words that I believe my dissertation director, not to mention my department chair, said to me often). Well, here's the truth of it: the easy part of getting a PhD is the course work. It's structured. There are assignments and exams and deadlines that Mommy and Daddy Herr Professors are setting for you. You go through term after term, picking your courses, buying your books, going to your classes, doing your readings, writing your papers, taking your exams and counting just how many credits more you need until you are Done With Your Coursework. And when you have amassed the requisite number of credits, you get shoved into the PhD Exam stage.
It varies from department to department and university to university, but suffice to say, it entails reading EVERYTHING written by and about and even tangentially remotely related to your topic. And then you get to write these horrendous exams written by faculty who are still sulking over (a) their career disappointments, (b) their age, (c) the horrendous exams their profs put them through all those years and years and years ago. Sometimes you're lucky enough to be in a department that has Orals, when those same sulky faculty are now quizzing you face to face about why you didn't put this or that arcane point into your exam answers. Or, as did actually happen to me, one of your examiners will fall asleep while you're responding. Oh, and did I mention that the chair of my committee was certifiable? But even so, the PhD exams are a cakewalk compared to what comes next.
The dissertation. It is not, as many of our relatives think "a really long paper," like maybe forty pages instead of a mere twenty. It is a book length original work of research. See that word 'book'--yep, that's what you're writing, a flippin' book. And for this, you are almost totally on your own. No Mommy and Daddy Herr Professors telling you what to do and when to do it. Just you. Alone. No deadlines, except what you set for yourself. And no one really cares if you keep them. Or not. No one cares about this thing that is taking up your whole life. And no one ever will. The point of it is that you've done it. It's the final hoop you must vault through before you get your degree. I faltered at the last step. I tripped on the final jump. And thus I am, forever and a day, ABD. A vast repository of now-useless knowledge about one minute speck in the world of literature.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
And here is Rocco, who is every bit as cute and hunky and funny and did I mention hunky as he seems on TV. Truth in advertising is that boy.
Friday, July 25, 2008
In the past, I was never on my own when I moved. I had either parents or husband by my side. This time it's just me--and Molly, of course, but she hasn't mastered wrapping glasses to put into cartons--and it's daunting. More than daunting, it's petrifying. If I was one of those really well organized people who rose at dawn and worked non-stop throughout the day and evening (which is, I am sure, how normal people do things), I might not be in such trouble. But I am a person with ADHD, which means that my attention...wanders. I have great intentions that just fray out in the doing. I start and stop fifteen things, and it's no use telling me to just finish one at a time, because I CAN'T. THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE ADHD.
I've got all those boxes that I bought (buying, I'm good at) and now it's time to fill them. One I've already got loaded with all of my knitting projects. It's a large carton, marked WIP, for Work In Progress. Some of these WIPs have been with me for several moves, from Amador to Pennsylvania to Los Angeles to Elk Grove, and those are just the ones I really do intend some day to finish. I've been quite stern with myself, so about half of the rest of my stash is being giving away or sold (anyone wanna buy some yarn?) or just--horrors!--tossed. I've gone on at great length about this carton because it has been my sole achievement in the packing department. I know myself; this could be my state in two, three, four weeks, forever.
This afternoon I was determined to get another box done. But which one? I put together a Medium box. But what should go in it? Okay, I'll start with a Small carton, because that I know should be filled with dishes. I get out the flattened carton and damned if I can figure out how it goes together. Must be a defective box, I decide, and go out to the garage for another. They're all the same. A defective design? Some secret of the moving box that I'm not privy to? And, of course, everyone else is, because I'm the only schmuck who could be so dense.
I wandered around in circles, literally, getting more and more frustrated and, it's also true, feeling more and more sorry for myself. And this is where I end up in tears, for good reason I think. In my family, we did for each other. If my sister and I knew nothing else, it was that our parents would always be there to help us in whatever way they could. My mother was with my sister for all three of her babies. My parents spent their vacations with the grandkids, so that my sister and her husband could get away for theirs. That's just how I was brought up. When my nephew had surgery as a kid and was in the hospital for months on end, my parents and I took it in shifts to be with him at all times so that he wouldn't be alone. I've taken care of my sister's kids and of their kids for weeks at a time--because that's what families do. That's what my parents raised me to do. But somehow that message skipped my sister. And it totally skipped her kids.
Knowing that I would be totally alone for this move, I asked my niece if she and her family could come help me. The response I got didn't actually say the word No. It was a breezy note about how August is just such a busy month for them. There's their anniversary to celebrate and their kids day camps to go to, and she's got some minor medical procedures that need taking care of. And she wishes me good luck with my move.
So I really am alone in this. And I'm mad and I'm sad and I'm incredibly hurt and disappointed. And even more, I really know how very pissed my parents would be. That's not the family they thought they created. But it's the family that I have.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
1. This was the best BlogHer conference for me. I've said before that I went to the first two in a state of neediness that almost guaranteed I would not be satisfied. This time, thanks to the many stern admonitions I gave myself, my head seemed to be screwed on right and, goddamit, I could enjoy the thing.
2. I feel fiercely protective of the three Founders and of BlogHer itself, so the bitching that I'm reading from PEOPLE WHO WEREN'T EVEN THERE just pisses me off. And you know how I get when I'm pissed off. I would say to all of you who have issues with the conference being "like high school" etc. etc. etc., Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, you're projecting your own shit onto other people. Don't do that. It makes you unhappy and causes frown lines that no Botox can resolve.
3. My favorite session was "Women Without Children and the Blogosphere." I wasn't going to go because I thought I had said on my blog everything there was to say, but Suebob Davis is a friend so I went to support her. And I ended up staying through to the end and being fascinated by the rush of warmth that came from a lot of women talking about how they really, really felt. For years, I thought I was the odd person out because I don't have kids. At that session, I found my tribe--and learned that I do have a lot more to say about it on this blog.
4. My experience--and what I heard from others--is that the breakout sessions were the most successful because they were more focused that the general sessions. For example, I went to the "Writing Workshop", but left because it seemed to be Writing 101 (and I'm at least in 301!). The same for the "Photography" session: I left when I realized it was mainly about taking pictures of your kids.
5. I do think that this year the conference was much more mommy-centric than in the past. It wasn't just that there was an entire Mommyblogging track. The emphasis among the sponsors and the exhibitors seemed to be on moms, particularly moms of young kids. Last year I spent a lot of time in the Exhibition Room, looking, listening to spiels, signing up for stuff. This year after a couple of circuits round the room, I had run out of exhibitors that offered anything I could use or relate to. I'm wondering whether this conference is going to continue that focus and the BlogHer Business conferences will end up being an equal, but different partner. I hope not, because I love the idea that all of us get together this one time every year--but really, from what I hear, even the mommy's are not wanting so much mommy stuff.
6. More technology next year, please.
7. The best part of the conference is--that it exists. Thank you, Jory, Elisa and Lisa.
THE END -- until 2009.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
To be honest, I tried not to think about what the Room of Your Own (ROYO) might turn out to be. I'm too much a child of the '60 and '70s, when we knew (and this was pre-Oprah) that what you visualize, you will actualize to even chance a negative vibe. However, in that corner of my mind where I didn't want to go was a glimpse of me and maybe one or two other loyal friends, sitting in a meeting room, trying not to notice that we were the only ones there. Consequently, I did very little prep for the event, which is why, if you were there, it was less than well-organized. I had the swag I had brought with me
but I just tossed it on the tables anywhichway so that no one, god forbid, should think that I cared. And I had the MidLifeBloggers Giveaway prize in all its orange glory, but I never stopped to figure out what the contest actually was or how I'd give it away. I really did think that I'd end up handing it to Merlot Mom or Average Jane as the three of us shuffled our lonely way out of the empty room.
My refusal to visualize must have worked because, in fact, the Room Of Your Own was pretty nigh full. Too many, I think, to do the "go around the room and introduce yourself" which is always a good way to get a group going. The ROYO only went from 1:30 - 2:10 and we might still be there (!). So I talked (yes, can you actually imagine that), and gave a brief history of the genesis of MidLifeBloggers, explained the overwhelming orange (which is easier to do if one can wave one's hands a lot), and that this site lives and breathes by its members. My question to everyone there (and to those who weren't) was: What do you want MidLifeBloggers to be for you.
Here are some of the points that were made, in no particular order:
- We are about inclusion. If you identify as being midlife, whatever that means to you, then you're one of us!
- Some of us love tech stuff; some don't, but wish they felt more at ease with it.
- Most of the posts are and will be written by MidLifeBloggers. I will be writing more about this, the how to's, later in the week.
Of course there was more said...but if I didn't prepare to say it, do you think I prepared to remember it? I took no notes and I was amped on adrenalin so you're lucky I even remembered to take these:
I can see in the photos that some people were taking notes, so maybe they'll comment and fill in the
gaps gaping holes in my recitation.
And who won the MidLifeBloggers Giveaway? I don't know. I thrust it in the arms of someone as she left the room. Maybe the Mystery Midlifer will identify herself soon and tell us what she got....
Cross-posted from MidLifeBloggers.com
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I meant to go to the Guy Kawasaki/Kirtsy party on Thursday night, but it was a tad difficult to get to. They had hired buses to take us from the St. Francis to Guy's house in Atherton. Good thinking, that. Not so good was the rush hour traffic, the 30 mile trip, and the bus driver who got lost. I got to the appointed pickup area at about 5:15 or so. Evidently I just missed a bus. The one with the bus driver who got lost. At 5:30, someone came out and told us the buses were "running slow and late." The earliest the next one would be there was 5:45, if then. And it would take, oh, another three quarters of an hour, if not more since it was smack in the middle of rush hour, to get to Guy's. Why didn't we wait inside, it was suggested, since this was San Francisco, and it was cold and windy outside. I did some mental math and decided that no matter how much I wanted to meet Guy (and thank him for putting the Midlife category on Alltop), I probably wouldn't be all that pleasant when I finally got there. So, yeah, I bagged it. And it was my loss, as I hear from those who went.
The two parties I did make it to on Thursday night were BlogHer's Newbie Party and The People's Party. The Newbie Party was quite lovely. Open bars...waiters passing endless amounts of finger snacky things--which was good, since I'd missed dinner. I feared, this not being my first but my THIRD BlogHer Conference, that I would be turned away from the Newbie Party. But would BlogHer do that? No way. I wish there had been a Newby Party the year I was a Newby, although that year we all hung out by the pool at the San Jose Hyatt, so meeting people wasn't that much of a problem. Still, it's nice to have the weekend begin with a celebration. I was with Melissa Silverstein at the Newby Party and we talked to Stephanie Klein, who told us about her new book, Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp. Clearly Stephanie has mastered forever the days when she needed Fat Camp, and she is now working on the tele- (or is it screen-?)play of her first book, Straight Up and Dirty. However, Melissa, who blogs about Women and Hollywood, was itching to meet some radical feminist BlogHers, so we went to The People's Party to see if the bra burners were hanging out there.
Everyone was hanging out at The People's Party, which was in a smallish room. Consequently, the noise level was ab-so-lute-ly unbelievable. The People's Party was loud, people. Make that LOUD. Make that Ear Assaulting Pain Inducing Loud. I must confess that I was somewhat embarrassed, nay humiliated even, that a room full of my fellow female bloggers sounded like the aural definition of the word cacophony. Our voices hit a decibel register that, well, that approaches a cackle, as heard through a superbowl sized megaphone. A Superbowl Cackle, a chorus of Cackles.
This noise level issue was a problem at the St. Francis all weekend. I cannot believe that a room full of men sounds so dreadful. If it did, I'm sure the acoustical engineers would be trotted out instantly to do whatever was necessary to amend the problem. But since it was just a room full of women--like, how often is that going to happen? Let them eat cake, as it were. Let them go deaf listening to their shrill selves. Let them.....whatever.
Monday, July 21, 2008
BlogHer08: There were too many people (ONE THOUSAND of 'em, count 'em) to do the traditional BlogHer shoutout post where you link to everyone you met, or at least gathered a card from. Instead, I'm visiting all of you wonderful women, and I shall post on your sites in the next day or two. There were also too many experiences, impressions, whatevers to do the traditional BlogHer Recap Post. Instead, you'll get this piecemeal, whenever it hits me. Think of it as the Continuing Saga of Jane at BlogHer08. Don't know if it will last two days or two weeks. Stay tuned to find out.
I have uploaded the photos I took to Flickr. Done it quick and dirty without titles or even making sure they're the right way around. So in the next day or so, I'll be using Picnik's amazing (truly, I've tried it) photo editing service, which just coincidentally happens to be bundled with Flickr to make some silk purses of the sow's ears that I shot. Really, I am a good photographer...artsy even (see my pic of clams at Redondo Beach that Schmap.com is using for their LA photo Guide). But stick a camera in my hand at an event like BlogHer and I might as well be shooting with the back of my head, using my left foot to hit the shutter. Yes, that bad. Part of the problem--maybe the whole problem--is that I forget to take pictures. Just don't think about it. And then when I do, well, the scene in front of me seems so boring and predictable and couldn't we buy a postcard that does a better job. So I rush to focus on something vaguely visually interesting, but then I'm somewhat embarassed to be taking pictures in public, so I don't focus properly or frame well, and the results are something like this:
If you crank your head sideways, you will surely see the cookies from Day One's Cookies and Milk midmorning snack. In my mind I had an image of a closeup of all the cookies, but that image never made it to my viewfinder. Whatever.
I did eat one of those cookies, but did not take the milk because I'm lactose-intolerant but very tolerant of the well-being of those around me. I ate a cookie because I did not eat breakfast. I did not even see breakfast. I can only believe, because others have told me, that the hotel provided breakfasts on both days, but damned if I knew where. Breakfast began at 8:30. I got there about 9:15. Is it possible that they cleared the whole thing away by then? I asked one blogger who was carrying a plate full of croissants (as well as a belly full of baby) and she graciously shared one with me. So Stephanie Precourt of Adventures In Babywearing, if it was you who took pity on me--thank you.
...and at MidLifeBloggers, there's a new post up on Bodysnarking. Do you know what that is? Do you do it? And I'll be posting about MidLifeBloggers at BlogHer'08 tomorrow...and that's a promise, I think.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I have nothing to add to the BlogHer noise that is rampaging over the nets. It's great...all the excitement, all the men trying to do a dick wiggle virtually (check Twitter and you'll see what I mean), and on the actual BlogHer site, a blogger posted a looonnngggg Abortion is Murder post. It ended up on the front page (just proof that BlogHer isn't all a nest of commie liberal babykillers) -- and when last I looked, there were 90 comments. I haven't read through them all--or even some--because, frankly, my mind is made up. As it has been since long before Roe v Wade. How long are we going to keep arguing this shit????
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friday, July 18 - 1:30 - 2:10 pm
Register to win
Talk to us
Get some more schwag!
Have a say in planning the direction of MidLifeBloggers.com
Edited to add: We're scheduled for the Essex Room and there will be signs
Monday, July 14, 2008
Like yesterday, when appropros of a nectarine and some cheese and crackers, I bit down on something alien. It was, it turned out, the crown from one of my lower teeth. I have lots of crowns because I have lots of implants because of my mispent dental youth and bad genes. And here one was, on my tongue, a vision in porcelein and gold. If I were in LA, I would have called my dentist and he would have told me to come right over and I would have and he would have glued the thing back in my mouth. But I'm not in LA...
...and I just happen to have some dental glue that he gave me a while back. So late last night I mixed it up, troweled it onto the crown and shoved the little bugger back in my mouth.
This morning I called my dentist. I've got good news and bad news, I told him.
Please, he said, give me the good news first.
I'm moving back to LA at the end of the summer--and you know that last crown you put in my mouth last year well it fell out yesterday and I glued it back in place. Backwards.
I could hear him sigh--and laugh, because he does know me!--and then he proceeded to give me step by step instructions on how to get it out and please please please call him when I do. The process involves a lot of wiggling of the tooth until the glue loosens. Which it hasn't yet. But it will, goddamit, it will.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Do I have too much on my mind, or not enough on my mind? Vote A or B...
Time's up; the correct answer is A. So let me just clear my cache, which seems to involve some sort of purge.
- Considering that I still have multiple many things to do to prep for BlogHer, not the least of which is decide what to wear, why then did I spend much of yesterday and today playing with my wire and bead stuff?
- Is this a good thing--as in, I have ADD and the scattershot attention is one way in which it manifests itself and so what, I get stuff done; it just takes me three times as long as most people.
- Is this a bad thing--as in, this is how I'm dealing with the pressure of BlogHer, by ensuring that, yet again, I am not fully prepared to do the best job that I can?
- What actually is it about this conference that is tweaking my already twirpy sense of well-being?
- Am I feeling ambivalent about it because I am ambivalent about participating in a gigantic group grope?
- Is it that I fear I will be overwhelmed by the mass energy of a thousand people, each of whom has an agenda, both practical and emotional, that is somewhat or a lot different from mine?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
You're all bloggers. You know what it's like to just not want to twist the words and turn the ideas into something at least vaguely interesting, if not outright scintillating.
So tough. Deal with it.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
However, unlike some foofoo awards, such as the Bloggies or the Oscars, the Aypa comes with some serious responsibilities. They are:
1) You must choose 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of language.
2) You must publish the name of each award-winning author as well as a link to his or her blog.
5) You must post these rules.My winning blogs, all in English I regret to say (for the sake of diversity, doncha know), are:
Good & Plenty
It's A Mad Madge World
MidLife's A Trip
Twentyfour At Heart
Have at it, you lucky bloggers; long may be reign....
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Well, the first new thing is my new BlogHer'08 badge. I got rid of the "I'm Wearing Cute Shoes" to BlogHer because "I'm Drinking At BlogHer" seemed much more appropriate to my intentions for the conference. The more I look and listen to the one thousand people attending--ONE THOUSAND, Jesus, we'll tip the boat!--the more I realize that my focus is a tad more narrow than what I'm hearing from most people. I'm not going to find out how to improve my blog or get more readers. I won't be giving any elevator spiels because I don't have one. I don't really know what sessions I'll be going to because--I don't really know what sessions there are. I'm just going for the sake of going--and for the schwag.
Didn't I say all this before? Yes, I did. I'm saying it again. For myself. Repeating it. To get it into my head. So that I don't get shoved off course and end up miserable. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's knee jerks when someone in the know starts talking about how to Build One's Blog. I become like a little chicken pecking after my mama hen, "tell me...I'll do it...tell me...." But I end up not doing it and then I feel like a failure, a deflated balloon of a blogger who is listing aimlessly about.
In moments of sanity, however, I realize that I end up not doing it, because I DON'T WANT TO.
I think I've said this before here (god knows I've said it often enough elsewhere): the greatest lesson I learned as a freelancer was that just because I could write a piece didn't mean I should. Then, too, I was like some baby chick, but the mama hens were my editors. Oh you want me to write 3000 words on Blech for next month. No problemo. Can do. Hideyho and pip pip.
So I know there are lots and lots and lots of things I could be doing to make my blogs other than what they are. I'm just not interested. If I was, I would. That's another thing I've learned along the way: we really do do exactly what we want to do. Even when we think we don't want it.
So this is a Memo to Myself, which you are just reading because you're along for the ride, lucky you. And in other news--
The contest, the contest--yes, we have a winner. The first correct answer was MerlotMom's, but the fullest correct answer was Jan's. That was a photo of the 25 plus boxes I bought (for $50 + dollars) yesterday nestled in the trunk of my car. I am indeed packing. I am indeed moving back to LA. Send me your addresses, ladies, and your prizes will soon be wafting your way.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
They're funny, these animals that we have half civilized and half not. This is a photo of Molly eating a crunchy. Crunchies are nuggets of dog food, Science Diet mind you, that are always in a bowl by her water. She doesn't eat the crunchies at the bowl, as she does her wet dog food. No, each crunchy must be personally selected and brought to the Crunchy Eating Pillow. That plaid thing is the Crunchy Eating Pillow. The process is this: she trots off to the other room to get a crunchy. She returns to the office with her crunchy. She deposits said crunchy on the Crunchy Eating Pillow. Then she circles the crunchy, going 'round in several circles until she finds the best angle. Her goal is to bury the crunchy and she works mightily at nosing the fabric of the Crunchy Eating Pillow over it. This is, of course, impossible. The crunchy remains in view. She tries again, nosing more aggressively. Still, the crunchy will not be mastered; it sits there like the cherry on top of the sundae. What to do? What to do? What to do? Aha! you can almost see the thought bubble above her head. To get rid of the crunchy, she must eat it. Right now. Yes, that will definitely deal with the recalcitrant crunchy. Which she does, and it does--whereupon she trots off to the other room to get another crunchy and begin the process all over again.
Atavistic dog behavior: she knows she must hide her food from the rest of the pack. And she knows how to do it. She just doesn't know that she's totally in the wrong setting.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The advantage to being out of the movie circuit these past almost-three years is that the films HBO and Comcast are showing gratis? I have seen nary a one. So whenever I want, it's movie night for me. And, yes, I do have popcorn.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
In honor of the day, the mailman brought me a thick envelope with a cover letter reading, "Dear Jane: Enclosed is a copy of the letter we sent to D today, serving him with the commencement documents...." Commencement documents? Is he graduating or being divorced? Lawyer-speak is so odd, isn't it.
Also in honor of the day, I bought myself a huge whipped cream and fresh raspberry with chocolate cake confection at the Nugget's bakery. You will no doubt hear me speak about the Nugget often as it is now the sole reason why Elk Grove is worth living in. Think a privately-owned Whole Foods where the service is so good that they are something like the eighth best company to work for in ALL OF AMERICA. Which is why I wasn't surprised when after I told the checker that it was my birthday (hey, I've been singing to myself all day), he closed his register, said "don't move," and came back a couple of minutes later with a huge bouquet of flowers. Not surprised, but very very pleased and honored. I even put them in water when I got home.
I am, I must say, a happy camper.....
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
What a hoot!