Monday, March 31, 2008

MidlifeBloggers: The Blog Roll

So--my taxes did not get worked on today, because I've been reading and writing about this Midlifebloggers topic. It seems to be taking on a life of its own. Which is a good thing, because I don't hold out a lot of hope for our seeing anything soon on BlogHer. So I decided to start a BlogRoll here. And maybe down the line we can have something more.

If you want me to add your blog to the blogroll, just send me the url. I don't think we have any requirements. It seems to me that if one considers oneself a MidlifeBlogger, no matter your age, that's enough to be included in the group.

And keep talking...at least you know that we're listening.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

MidLife Bloggers - We're Here!

There's a conversation going on at BlogHer that I've been having with myself for more than a year: Where are all the middle-aged women bloggers? | BlogHer?
Cecelia over at MetaFootnotes started it several weeks ago when she introduced herself to BlogHer. She wrote about trying to find "a voice that I want to hear." That voice is of a woman in her midlife (fill in the age range yourself; these days when 60 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 40--who knows).
"I'll admit it. I envy the mommybloggers. Twenty years ago . . . I would have found those sites a lifeline, a very Godsend. But, despite the obvious fact that theirs are among the most powerful and prolific voices on the Web, the Mommys don't speak to or for me. I have different issues now, and I'd like to talk about them and hear others talk as well."
Cecelia finishes by putting a call out:
"If you are a woman of a certain age (and doesn't that sound better than middle-aged?) and know of blogs that talk comprehensively about this wonderful, frustrating stage of life, please let me know."
Almost four weeks later, we're still talking and the topic is getting stronger and stronger. I'm going to link at the end to all the women who have (thus far) taken part in the conversation, but in this post, I want to highlight a few voices, as well as my own experience.

I've been blogging for, I dunno, four years now (see how the memory goes!) and for much of that time I've felt like I am swimming upstream. Or--here's another metaphor--battering on a door, saying 'Let me in. Hear me. Speak to me.' The problem isn't ageism. There are blogs out there that speak eloquently to and for the Elders. BlogHer has a subcategory just for them and Denise, who's the Community Manager at Blogher, point to that site." However, I am not an Elder. My interests have nothing to do with issues of getting old and infirm and living on a fixed income.

My interests are more in line with Tanis, who doesn't have a blog yet (but should!):
"I'm looking for an arena to be heard and to listen. A place to discuss teenagers, new relationships and a not so new body, a busy career or lack of one. Self discovery, confidence, what to wear, family dynamics, alone time and what comes next in life."
I too want to see myself on BlogHer. I brought it up last year at BlogHer '07, and I was told that someone was going to be doing it. But someone isn't. Debra Roby of A Stitch in Time says that's because it's too broad a topic. Middle-aged women don't blog about their issues "any more than young bloggers specifically blog about what it's like to be a college student, or a quarterlifer." Well actually, Debra, young bloggers do blog about exactly that.

My sense is that the reason we midlifers aren't seen and focused on as a viable community within BlogHer is that the powers that be, the decision-makers of BlogHer aren't in our demographic. That's somewhere down the line, when I get older, but definitely not now, is what I imagine them saying. Now I'm about getting and doing and being and making and--wow! there's the whole world out there to conquer.

A good part of that conquering the world is making BlogHer a respected entity, building it into a viable player within the world of commerce. The Mommybloggers are at the top of the mountain, an acknowledged force to be reckoned with in terms of business, and an advertiser's dream. So in selling BlogHer, it's probably easier to sell them. Except--we, the midlife women, are a big, big piece of the advertising pie as well. We're the ones with discretionary income; we're the bigger spenders. So says Marti Barletta, who's known as the "First Lady of marketing to women" in her book PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders. This was the pitch that I made last summer after BlogHer, and this was the pitch that I guess was a dead ball. But I'm at it again.

As is Gena, from Out On The Stoop, issued a challenge to someone to "whip up a sample post and show folks what's needed." Karen from MidLife's A Trip, took her up on it. You can read her post as part of the comments here. She said something in one of her comments that really resonated with me. "I'm usually one of the oldest on the sites I visit--not a mommy blogger yet not an elderblogger either. It's kind of like being the middle child in a family--sometimes you feel like you don't quite fit in."

That's how I've felt. I'm not done being and becoming. I'm not finished have adventures, going places, trying and failing and trying again and, then, succeeding. In short, I'm not done living, and I want my site, my BlogHer to reflect that.

Here are some other midlife women who feel the same:
Carol at A Different Nest
Jill at Writes Like She Talks
Pundit Mom
Ladybeams
Anali at Analis First Amendment
JanMBSC
Rhonda at Recipe Carousel
Tara at The Princess and The Pea
Diary of a Midlife Crisis
Musing
Tiddlytwinks
Pamela Jeanne at Coming2Terms
Granny Sue

I can't tell you the exact age range of these women. Some are in their 40s, some 50s, some 60s. I can't tell you what all they write about either. There is no essential MidLife Woman, just as there is no essential Mommyblogger. What I can tell you is that they're looking for something they're not getting right now, a voice, and if not at BlogHer, then where?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mrs. Stone Goes to Rome - How does she do it?

This is a post about what happens when you want to travel and your better half doesn't because:
  1. You don't have one. You never had one, or he/she is long (or short) gone, or (sad to say) deceased;
  2. Your partner has no interest in the places and things that appeal to you. In fact, it's his highway or no way when it comes to travelling;
  3. He/she simply can't get the time off.
So what do you do? I'm asking this for a reason; specifically because I've answered #1. I'm mate-less and I've got wanderlust. But I'm also somewhat trepidatious about the whole single woman traveling alone thing. I'm going to start researching (that's what we ever-grad students do) the topic. Will you help, please.

Send along any sites, stories, suggestions about traveling alone when you're a mid-life woman. That last modifier is the important one. I know what it's like to travel alone when one's in one's twenties and thirties. I've done it and had the requisite adventures. And I'm sure that there are various tours for elders that are gentle and protected. But for those of us who are between those two poles, what can we expect? what should we look out for? where should we go--and how?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fashion, Farce, the Economy and my teeth

When I brush my teeth in the morning and at night, I read a magazine. I tell you this not so you'll have more information about me than you ever wished to have, but to explain how I came to be analyzing the layouts in last month's Vogue. I was brushing my teeth and staring at the layout below: How weird, I thought. John Galliano has taken that familiar fashion trope--the sweater-as-scarf where the sleeves are knotted casually at the neck--and turned it into a skirt. It's senseless, I thought, a creative whim perhaps. Or boredom, as in 'what can we do next that isn't what we've done before,' which makes sense in an industry where season after season, they're duplicating season after season from, oh say, twenty or thirty years before. I spit, rinsed, flossed and went to bed.

The next morning , I turned to this, another in the same fashion feature, as I brushed. This made even less sense. Louis Vuitton's version of Eliza Doolittle--after the Fall? At that point, I was still seeing the layout as a fashion feature. I snorted at the idea of some little Beverly Hills cutie taking the ensemble en tout and wearing it out clubbing.

That night, I squeezed the Colgate, turned the page--and came upon these two as a double spread.

At first I was shocked, appalled even. But then, brush still in mouth, I stood back and took a longer view. Suddenly I saw something more. Marc Jacobs has given us here a vision, a nightmare perhaps, of what will happen to the Ladies Who Lunch when the economy has finished its deep sea dive. This is the Depression 21st Century. This is what happens when the money runs out. Beautiful material, fine fine workmanship, but only bits and pieces of the original garment remain to be put together any which way. And the shoes--the heels have fallen off and gotten restuck on sideways. They're wearable, but only just, a vestigal remain of pre-Depression glamour. They are, in fact, what Scarlett O'Hara might have worn with that famous ball gown dress she fashioned from the living room curtains.

The title of this feature was "Magical Thinking," and the blurb spoke of the "audacious wit and inventive craftsmanship from some of fashion's favorite provocateurs." Yes, perhaps, but fashion doesn't happen in a vacuum. These looks are extreme, but I think they're a prognostication. And coming as it does from some of the premier and priciest designers, it's a bit like some hairy-headed, babble-beaked bird eating its young.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A , I'm Adorable...B, I'm so Beautiful...

C, D, blah blah blah...and E, I am Excellent. So sayeth no less than Average Jane. She named me as one of her Excellent Blog Awardees. That means I get to put this on my site. And I get to swell my breast with pride, which will, of course, result in a massive bursting of buttons.

The Excellent Blog Award was started by Kayla at Project Mommy.
And in addition to sending her some linkylove, I must now annoint my own Excellent Blog Awards. They are:
Mad Marriage
Awalkabout's Weblog
Communicatrix
Death Chic
Honea Express
Jew Eat Yet?
Nanny Goats in Panties
Not What It Seems
Punk Rock Mommy
Reader
The Passing Parade
Thursday Drive

What do they all have in common? They're writerly blogs. The topic of the day doesn't matter; the quality of the prose and the depth of insight is what attracts.

Not An Afterthought, But A Forgotten Bit of Info: Awardees, you need to link to Kayla, as I did above, and then link to your own ten (or more) nominees.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seems Like Old Times

Tonight I went to a Reception (big R) for a group of Knesset members who are visiting the California Legislature. It was held at a nice restaurant, Spartaro's if you want to be specific, with valet parking and an open bar. I used to do this sort of thing all the time in Los Angeles. I had my dress up clothes--Tahari suits if you want to be specific--and once or twice a week I was out and about at this meeting or that reception. It was mostly part of my role as a Director of the British-American Chamber of Commerce, which was due in no small measure to my relationship with the Executive Director of the BACC. That is, I went to these things as his date, but soon enough my winning ways and stellar intelligence had won me an appointment to the Board. My fellow Directors were the President of this bank and the CEO of that, the head of Rolls Royce in the Western States and...well, you get the point.

My life in the years after I left the Board of the Chamber were a little lacking in glamour, albeit long in love. Getting dressed up then meant a clean pair of Wranglers, which was the only brand that a country girl or guy could wear. Boot cut, of course, and none of this sissy stone washed crap. Just jeans and a shirt and a belt and boots--.

I've moved on from that as well. My wardrobe is less, shall we say, regulated by the sartorial demands of the dominant culture (just slingin' the lit crit talk--because I Can). Tonight was the first time in a long time that I was out and about as in those Cocktail Party days in LA. My Tahari suits have gone the way of the rest of my size 10 wardrobe, but in honor of them I bought myself a pair of Tahari shoes (when did they start making shoes?) I've been lusting after some Really High Heels and these must be five inches at least. (Actually, this photo doesn't do them justice, but it's late, and it'll have to do.) I started out to write a post about the Knesset reception. I mean, Knesset! Israeli Parliament! Think of the political stories I could tell. Instead I'm doing a fashion report. Where's my sense of seizing the moment, of working the world? In the back of my closet, I guess.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jury Duty - The Penultimate Post

I've done my civic duty. By the skin of my teeth--and enormous good luck--I managed to escape without being sat on the jury. Even the judge, as he dismissed me, said that such was my luck he advised I buy a lottery ticket immediately. Forty-eight of us were empaneled yesterday morning. This afternoon, twelve relatively good men (and women) were sitting in the box, plus two alternates. Thirtytwo had been seen, questioned and found wanting by one or the other of the attorneys. You do the math: two of us were left.

I'm not done with this topic. I've got some, ahem, "observations" about our justice system. But I'll leave them for tomorrow when I'm, shall we say, fresh and ready to joust.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jury Duty Will Turn Me Into A Fat Drunk

I just got back from the supermarket. Both there and at home, I tried to lock my car with my house key. One is a simple brass key; the other a big chrome one with a thick black rubber handle. I went to the supermarket to buy milk. While there, during several wanderings around the relevant aisles, I put in my cart: a novel, the name of which I can't even remember right now; a bottle of chilled Reisling, because I've recently discovered that I like it; a cute little cup of almonds and some other crunchy stuff that is made to go in the cup holder of one's car; 2 bags of salad, complete with dressing; 2 bags of salted peanuts, 2for a $1 Planters; a good sized chunk of white cake of the birthday genre, two layers frosted and sprinkled with multicolor somethings; and, oh yes, the milk. After the clerk had checked my food through and put it in the paper sack, as requested, I went for my wallet. And came up with air. Checked my pockets--nope. Went out to the car--nada. Went back into the checker to tell her I was going home and I probably wouldn't be back that night. At home, I discovered my wallet.

So what's going on here?
  • a. Jane is discombobulated
  • b. Jane is nuts
  • c. Jane spent the day sitting in a court room doing her civic duty

Correct answer: a & c, although there are some who would argue for b as well.

I'm on jury duty, for the umpteenth time. If my statistics winning the lottery were anywhere near my stats getting called for jury duty, I'd be a rich woman. As it is, I'm fried from sitting and waiting and listening to nothing and sitting some more and waiting some more and eating bad food and breathing recirculated air.

I consider misplacing my wallet God or someone's way of say, Whoa, Jane...there must be a better way of dealing with your frustration. There must, I'm sure; there is, I know. But what, right now, I cannot say.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Test of My Personality

My Personality


Neuroticism
17
Extraversion
43
Openness to Experience
96
Agreeableness
57
Conscientiousness
22

You are a calm person who is considered almost fearless by some, however you don't usually get angry too easily but some things can annoy you. You are not prone to spells of energetic high spirits. You are a moderately imaginative person who enjoys a good balance between the real world and fantasy. You find helping other people genuinely rewarding and are generally willing to assist those who are in need. You find that doing things for others is a form of self-fulfillment rather than self-sacrifice, however you feel superior to those around you and sometimes tend to be seen as arrogant by other people. You have a strong sense of duty and obligation, and feel a moral obligation to do the right thing.

Take a Personality Test now or view the full Personality Report.

PureAwakening Jewelry.

Of course tests like this are only as good as the nut case answering the questions!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Moleskine -- and Jane's addiction

Jane's addiction--small 'a', people--is my addiction. I love Moleskines. I can't not fondle them wherever they're displayed. I lust after each and every one of them, and I own three, THREE, three of my very own.
The one on the left is a cunning little accordian file, just the right size for--whatever is 3-ish x 5-ish.
I've used it over the years to carry with me whatever stuff I might need, but don't know when. Like a credit card for Robinsons-May, a department store which no longer exists. And my Express card, a reminder of the days when I could wear those clothes. And my Women's Shoe Club benefits card from Bloomingdale's, last used on 4/29/98. As I said, I've used it over the years...

The one on the top is a vertical lined notebook. See.

And the one on the bottom is a sketchbook, in which I--sketch. Until today, I thought I was alone in this addiction. No one else I know even thinks of Moleskines, and if they do, it's probably only to say--what for? But today I was idly browsing my Google reader and came across this post from Communicatrix on getting stuff done. I believe she put it rather more creatively than that, but suffice to say, I'm a sucker for any kind of organizational information. I firmly believe that all that is standing between me and great success at whatever is the correct organizational mode. So I read her post, and then there at the end, she had a photo of a Moleskine. Eureka! I followed the link and learned there's a whole world of Moleskine-lovers out there. Flickr even has a category for them! And oh what riches following that link produced.

I feel as if I've found My People.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Knit a little, drink a lot...

...or is it the other way around? No, it snot. I am home now and in the mild state of pleasantness that makes me wonder what exactly I'd blow on a breathalizer. I'm walking okay (I think) and I'm talking okay (yes, I'm sure) but the world has a wonderful golden glow about it. I took the most boring, pedestrian piece of knitting I had--a chemo cap that I'm doing for charity. I'm trying to think good thoughts as I knit it, but damn, it's tedious. I don't think I've dropped any stitches, but I'll wait till the light of day to determine that. We were a very large group tonight, about twenty plus knitters. I knew about four. No, that's an exaggeration, but it seems that there's the day crowd at Knitique and the night crowd at Knitique. I'm with the night crowd (you're surprised?) and the day people...I wasn't quite sure who they were. I organized this thing but clearly, it has grown way beyond me. That makes me happy. I see what roots I'm putting down in this community, and that too makes me happy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Olympic Sport Announced In Elk Grove Today

The monthly Knit & Drink heats will be held tomorrow night at Jennings Wine Bar, 8351 Elk Grove Blvd.

Contenders will be perched on high stools, sloshing back some very good wine, and seeing who can knit the most while imbibing the most. In fact, the sobriety tests for the evening will have nothing to do with puffing into a little balloon. Rather, the road test will be based on how many stitches the various athletes have dropped.

Contestants include many of the gang from Knitque Yarn Store as well as drinking knitters and knitting drinkers from all over the map. And you? Will you be coming too? The gates open at 6 p.m. Who knows when they'll close.

Crossposted at Knitique

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What I Learned From My Last Post

1. That my regular readers were struck dumb. I can't believe it was the quality of the post--oh no, never that. Perhaps it was the quantity. I have long questioned just how long a post should be before it is too long. There are some bloggers, not present company of course, who do go on and on and on and on and on, etc. etc. ad infinitum. One might say they have bloggorhea. One might--and I just did. I suggest a firm editing hand to those bloggers, but then I thought Emerson (as in Ralph Waldo) needed a good editor. And Leibniz as well.
2. That I am not the first to remark on Chikezie's gums. "Chikezie and gums" is evidentally a relatively popular search term.
3. That another popular search is for "Amanda Overmeyer and Jewish". I don't know why, since I'd be willing to bet she isn't (mainly because Jewish girls don't ride Harley hogs) and how it is that so many people who wrote about her also wrote about some Jewish thing. I did, yes, but in two completely separate posts. Which leads one to wonder just how and where that Google worm is crawling.
4. That I needn't hit Vegas with my American Idol bets. But in all fairness, I was calculating on a popularity contest result and America, this time America did the singing thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol - by Jane

Yes, folks, I actually took notes while watching tonight. And now you, you lucky things, are the beneficiaries of same. To begin, then:

1. Amanda Overmeyer: she of the two-toned hair. What is it with this black and blonde thing--she's the third person I've seen it on and forgive me if I say, I don't like it, it looks cheap and tawdry and tatty and rocker chick. Oh, yeah, she IS a rocker chick. Okay, on her it's skunk chic. I got all caught up in her hair style tonight, because I was BORED. Here's what I wrote: "If she doesn't change up her singing style, she's going to lose because all that rock is boring after a while." Here's what Simon said (and I swear he said it after I wrote my note): "Predictable...in danger of being boring..."
2. Kristy Lee Cook: I like her. She's a plucky gal in her underdogdom, and that appeals to the bleeding heart in me. I also like her voice; it's smokey. Simon's take: "not a good performer." I think he's right. She seems to have a quirky personality in there, but it's not coming out when she sings.
3. David Achuletta: I'm a heartless bitch, but I don't like him. He's a kid, a twirp and however big his voice is, he doesn't have the life history to put into his singing. However, there is a resonance in his voice that is just incredible. I keep hearing that he's the frontrunner. Why? Because he's got these chubby cheeks and is a cute little boy? He's the tweeners heartthrob, which makes him a good matchup to Miley Cyrus. Is this what the music world has devolved to: wet dreams for eleven year olds?
4. Michael Johns: I want to like him, but somehow he never comes through for me. He's sorta damp in a moldering kind of way. My notes on him were, and I quote: "Eh." Simon said his perf was a "mess".
5. Brooke White: If I could look like anyone and sound like anyone, it would be her. She's so beautiful in a gangly, fey way, and when she sings, her voice gives me the chills. She's the only one of this lot who I can see up there with Kelly and Carrie. Simon said she was "terrible."
6. David Cook: Another "eh", but in all fairness, I was fiddling with the DVR when he was singing. But that counts, I think, that I thought the DVR was more important than his performance. Also, and you can tell him this, I HATE his hair.
7. Carly Smithson: If you're the sensitive type and/or you like Carly, skip to the next bit, because I am in my Simon Cowell mode here. She sang "Blackbird" and I thought it was a terrible, awful, horrible performance. Her interpretation of extreme emotion is to hunch over, a stance that was ghastly with that red maternity top she was wearing. It had big poufy roses all around the neck, which was not only ghastly (am I using that word too much?) but so incredibly unflattering. It made her look like a turtle who's shell is a tad too tight. And it was sleeveless. Which meant that the big poufy roses were competing with the extravaganza she's got tattooed all over her arm. Bad, bad move. It's one thing to proudly show your tats but (a) we KNOW she's got them, and (b) sometimes less is more, ya know. But I'm not done. In addition to the hunchback, Carly shows extreme emotion (and she was extremely emotional in this song) with three expressions. First, is the pop eyes, which surely is what she'd look like if someone gave her a good goose. Second, is the closed eyes. Third, is the smile which reveals her teeth. Maybe the dentist who came through with caps for Jason guy last year do something about Carly's fangs. Simon's verdict: he didn't like it, said it was "indulgent."
8. Jason Castro: Another "eh". He sang "Michelle" in the most pedestrian manner. Boooorrriinng. Simon said if he'd heard the perf on a radio, he'd have changed the station, but that Jason's "face sold the song."
9. Shyesha Mercado: She sang "Yesterday," a song that can make me cry when McCartney sings it. Not tonight. She said she wanted "to touch everybody the way the song touched" her, back in Middle School. She didn't touch me. It started off too high and her voice got all wispy. Midway though she got better, and Simon said it was "your best perfomance so far." Not for me.
10. Chikezie: There's something very sweet about his face and I want him to do well, but I dunno, not an "eh" but not a bra burner either. Also, when that dentist gets done with Carly, he should do cosmetic surgery on Chikezie's gums, which need to be foreshortened.
11. Ramiele Malubay: Who the hell is styling her? They've got her looking like some Phillipino Cholo girl. The outfit was dreadful, the hat was ridiculous and she was tottering around on shoes that were about as big as her head. She's got a terrific voice, but she was all over the place tonight. She sang "I Should Have Known Better" and it should have sounded better.

Because this is a popularity contest more than a singing contest, I think Kristy, Michael and Chikezie will be in the bottom three. Who goes? Probably Kristy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dancing With The Stars & The Bachelor

You get two for the price of one, fans.

Here's my critique of the first: Gosh, it takes forever for these people to do their little dip and sways. They could have cut the music by a half as far as I'm concerned. Maybe, where Penn is concerned, by three-quarters. And totally erase that goofball who's manhandling the lovely Julianne. I know the real bloggers give a play by play of each couple, but I'm not one of the real bloggers, so I'm just going to give you highs and lows, with an emphasis on the latter, because that's just how I am. So here's my prediction: Jason will last until almost the end, but he won't win. Adam will go on Tuesday. Steve will go to week five or six. And that sexy, sexy, R & B boy--he'll take the trophy!

First, a confession: I have never watched The Bachelor before. There is something too totally twee about some guy handing roses to the "lucky beautiful ladies"--well, frankly, it makes me want to spew. (Isn't that an evocative word, spew? It sounds just like what it is). However, this time I got caught by the Bachelor himself. He's a Brit, an Oxbridge man, who's now a banker and, as all good Brits do, wears brown shoes with his gray suit. He seems exceptionally down to earth and focused. The not so sub-text of his interview was that he had a messed up love affair, his father had a stroke, and thus, the Bachelor is trying to get bewedded and befathered before dear old dad dies. Good luck, mate. I left after the first umpteen Lovely Ladies exited their stretch limos (here's a gig for you--drive a rock star around by day and a reality star by night), and truly, they are a motley crew. It didn't help that they were meeting the Bachelor in the chill night air of Los Angeles in winter (note to all: there is a reason why Angelenos always take a sweater or jacket with them at night). Oh, and it was raining, which didn't do much to their blow-outs--and that only serves as a testimony to the hair care products the show is using. No, what drove me from the television was the utter insipidness, the vacuous, vacant, vapidity of almost all of them. Except for, I think her name was Amanda. She has possibilities.

That's a wrap for tonight. I'll tune in again to DWTS. And The Bachelor? eh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Tale of Two Holidays

So Queen Esther was there--I saw her walk in wearing a pretty pink dress and, of course, a crown--and Haman undoubtedly lurked behind a door. Today's group of screamers was not quite so, shall we say, screamy as yesterday's. Yesterday they were wearing lots of green as they screamed. So does this prove that Jewish kids are quieter than Gentile kids? Perhaps.

Yesterday I was at a St. Paddy's day event. My host served corned beef, a brisket that he corned in brine for some seven or eight days. He also served this tidbit: that corned beef as a tradition of St. Patrick's Day is as Irish as the Pope. Seems the Lower East Side Irish immigrants borrowed the corning of a beef brisket from their Lower East Side Jewish neighbors. The Irish saw it as a cheap substitute for ham; the Jews, well, the Jews just liked the taste. Or maybe there's another fanciful story to go with it, but my host, who is a Yiddish-speaking Scotsman didn't say. He also made, from scratch, some Irish soda bread. It was--firm. I brought the cheese. In that family, they call me the Queen of Cheese because, I dunno, I buy good cheeses. But then I'm a Jewish girl and if there's one thing they say we know how to do, it's shop.

Today's event was a Purim party of sorts. An ad went out in the Sac Bee last week, kind of a Calling All Jews who are interested in having some sort of Jewish community in Elk Grove. I responded, of course, because--gee, I can't imagine that there's more than me here. But guess what! The room was full. (Yes, Virginia, we are everywhere--and we vote.) I got so excited, I forgot to eat my hamantashen. That's a lie. I don't like hamantashen; that's why I didn't eat it.

So I was hungry when I got to Trader Joe's and looking for something nice, you know nice, for my dinner. But there was an abundance of ham and pork in various forms and formats and having just left the company of a rabbi, I couldn't stoop to such tref. Instead I had a salad, and then ate all the candy that was in my Purim giveaway bag

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

First do what you have to, then reward yourself...

This is my cousin's advice, and today I followed it. First I walked; then I had coffee and ! at Starbucks. But what a walk that was. I'm going to drive it this afternoon, so I can know to the nth of an nth just how far I heaved my body. It took me 40 minutes, door to door.....

Something over a mile, it is. That means that I'm a 40 minute miler. It also means that I walked over two miles today. Hey!

And my reward was the coffee and the ! (which, okay, was a Bearclaw--but sheesh, two miles, guys!). And I got to read someone else's copy of the NY Times Arts & Leisure section. From yesterday, true. But since I'm not in NY, that made no difference to me.

I am feeling so very very GOOD, as in noble and pure and very well exercised.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Quit

At ten something this morning, I called up the Boss Lady's boss. I didn't know what I was going to say until I said it. "I can't do this anymore." I elaborated a bit, a short version of my post last night. She was neither surprised nor upset. In the least. Clearly I saved her some disagreeableness of her own--like telling me that I would not be continuing to teach the Parent/Teen class the next time. I said it for her and she agreed, "Yes, we are going with another teacher next time." I knew it when she pulled in Patty Pigtails two weeks ago, but when I asked her then, she just said that Patty P. needed more hours.

Permit me a short disquisition on how much I FUCKING HATE THAT SORT OF BULLSHIT. Christ, if people who counsel others on "keeping it real" can't keep it real themselves--! But why should I be surprised? I know that most of us (present company definitely included) got into the therapy business because we once sat in the client's chair and thought, "Hey, I could do that." That being the case, it makes perfect sense that most of us still qualify for the DSM in one way or another.

So--now what?

Well, that's the end of my career as a Marriage & Family Therapist Intern. I've burnt enough bridges and there are so few of them here that I can say, to slightly change the title of the Julia Phillips book, I'll Never Work As An MFT-I In This Town Again. Knowing that was part of my calculations as to how I wanted to handle this situation. Am I sad about that? Somewhat. But relieved as well. And excited. That I can say, for the first time, stand up straight, breathe in and admit: I failed at this. Despite my best intentions, I couldn't do it. Instead of being humiliated, I feel liberated.

I'm in one of those periods in my life when the pieces that have been hurtling through the air are beginning to slow down, to seem to be wafting into some sort of discernible pattern. Call it the jigsaw puzzle of the rest of my life--and doesn't ByJane seem a good place to work at solving it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday's Child Is Woeful

It's a tough day, my Wednesdays. The weekly meeting. I dread it. I go in armed to the gills with good intentions to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I'm successful. It doesn't matter, though, because somehow the boss lady will find a way to shoot me down, and invariably I leave feeling like a two inch piece of crud. She doesn't like me, the boss lady. Perhaps it's some atavistic thing; maybe my pheromones clash with hers. More likely, and this too is atavistic, I'm too much of an alpha being for her. Only one strong dog allowed, and she is most definitely it. The rest of us must fall in line, chorus our yelps in concert with hers and bare our necks from time to time to show submission. I would do it if I could, but with me, it's just not believable. One of my colleagues told me she's deliberately played dumb, so the the boss lady won't pick on her. That's smart--but somehow it's beyond the range of my dramatic skills.

And/or -- I don't want to. One would think that in the business we're in, authenticity would be prized. One would think that, wouldn't one.

Tonight I came home, squeezed my dog, and had a glass of wine. Wine definitely helps. My chin is not scraping the floor, as it has in weeks gone by. I don't expect to be immobilized for the next 36 hours by a deep, dark depression--as I have been in weeks gone by.

Tomorrow morning I'll get up and decide how to deal with this situation. Suck it up? Cry uncle? What would you do?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Writing...

...and Not-Writing...and why.

Because I take myself too seriously. Because I don't take myself seriously enough.

Let me explain: I take myself too seriously in that I want it to do more than mere words possibly can. I want my words to be as true to me as they possibly can be so that they can burrow into you and make you feel what I feel and see what I see. On occasion, I can manage this. When the wind is right and the stars are aligned, what's in my heart and head comes through my hands and onto the page. Then, my writing sings. I can feel it, I can see it, and I know it. Hot damn, I think, that is good. I should do that some more. But I often can't, because, as even I know, the wind and stars have wills of their own, and without them together, I'm afraid to try. This is what is know as waiting for the muse to descend, and we all know that it's the foolish person who buys into that game.

Writer's write. Every day. No matter what.

But maybe I'm not a writer. Maybe I'm just someone who has a way with words from time to time. Maybe the things that I've published are not flukes but of another time. Maybe they, and their genre, are as far as I can go. Or maybe not.

Here's what I'm scared of. That feeling of abject failure when once again another writing project has died through my inability to follow through. I get an idea, I get excited, I plan, I write and then at some point, something happens and what I have before me is a house of cards. I see it. I know it. I feel foolish for having thought it, this time, could be more than that. I cannot seem to power through that stage. I do not take myself seriously enough, perhaps, to do so.

I got started thinking this when I read a post on writing by Jennifer at Thursday Drive. She quoted a couple of writers, successful ones, who seemed to be talking about clearing out the censors when one writes. What I want to know, though, is how to clear out the censor that is me?

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Martian Has Landed: A Post About Nothing & Everything

...earth to Jane, earth to Jane....

I must confess that I have been a less than constant blogpal lately. I went away and then I came back and somehow I just couldn't work up that much interest. And looking at my stats, the feeling must be mutual. Is it me? Is it thee? I dunno. My SOM* is OK, better 'n OK I'd say--and certainly my alliterative, not to mention rhyming powers are intact. So what gives?

For one, there seems to be an awful lot of babble on the net these days. Blog babble is one thing, but Twitter babble--that's just plumb ugly annoying. You know, we have monkey minds, as the Buddhists say. Thoughts, large and small, important and inane, are forever to-ing and fro-ing through the jungle in our heads, leaping and swinging and making incessant noise. Those who practice Mindfulness (hear monks chanting; smell incense burning) work to quiet that Monkey Mind. So what's with the Twitterers who are gleefully sharing each and every leap and swing, burble and belch with those of us who for whatever reason are their Followers (you asked me; you like me; you really like me). They must be practicing Unmindfulness.

I could work myself into a whole rant about this, but then I'd probably insult people, and, jeeze, that's not something I ever want to do. At least not on purpose. Unless one (the ubiquitous One) has pissed me off. Nah, not even then. I have a sharp tongue, but a soft heart. So, I've turned my Twitter phone messages off. That's what we call "taking care of oneself."

It is also called "taking care of oneself" to only read people and posts that interest me. This is a new tack: formerly I read just about everybody I had ever met or wanted to or thought I should. But it was taking me ages every day to work my way through this one and that one's whatever. In fact, some days it became the One Thing I Did: read every blog on my Google Reader. Good girl. Well done. Go fetch. What I'm finding with my new discernment (is there such a word? there is now) is that the blogs I am really attracted to are those where the writing (a) is really really good, and (b) the writer lets me in to their life. Right now these are the blogs I don't like to miss: Thursday Drive, Mad Marriage, A Walkabout's Weblog. Is it any coincidence that they're all writers? Hmmmmmmmmm? I think not.

*state of mind

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Night, What's on TV?

I watched Dexter tonight. Wow. I haven't had much patience for dramas these past few years. Don't know why: was it them, or me? I watched this one because, well, for the same reason that people climb Everest. It was there. It is one weird show, and I do love weirdness.

I did not watch Oprah's Big Give. Phew. I am so over Oprah. I look at her and I think: hubris, the gods will be descending soon to give you your big pie in the face. I look at her and I think: girl, get rid of some of that makeup. Par-tic-u-lar-ly the mega false eyelashes. They are so, so very false. I look at her and I think: Jim Jones. Watch out for the Kool-Aid, people, because it's sure to be doled out somewhere down the line.

I watched the first fifteen or so minutes of The History Boys, Alan Bennet's movie of his play by, hey!, the same name. T'was ted-i-ous in that way that most pretentious Oxbridgey quasi-intellectual Brit comedies are. Actually, I may just not like Alan Bennet. I recall seeing something of his way back when and not liking that either. So, sorry Mr Bennet, you're just not my cuppa.

And when I wasn't watching TV, I was cooking. I bought some blood oranges the other day, and I've been using them in all sorts of dishes. Well, two really. Both of which I made up. The first was a cold dish of lentils, roasted yellow beets and parsnips and blood oranges.
The second was lambshanks and blood oranges...and a bunch of other stuff too, of course.
The cold dish was quite excellent, thank you very much.
I have not tried the lamb shanks yet, but shall report on them tomorrow.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

This 'n' That

whatever...yadayadayada...ho hum, wake me when this post is over.

Sorry, gang, but I'm just not in the mood. Maybe I have a headache. Maybe I don't love you anymore....

Did I tell you I decided not to buy a new car?

I decided not to buy a new car. I did the math. A new car would take multiple thousands out of my account plus multiple hundreds every month. For a mere one thousand, I can get new air conditioning. Such a deal. Right? Plus, why would I want to buy a cute little convertible when I already have a cute little convertible? So, it's a little shopworn. There's that chunk missing from the bumper (where did it go--and when?). And it's dirty....yes, soiled, perhaps beyond the scope of all but the greatest of detail experts. Still, it runs, so what am I complaining about? Ungrateful wretch.

Maybe tomorrow I'll arrive at my blog dashboard full of vim and vigor and piss and vinegar, but right now--pfffluey.

Friday, March 07, 2008

SXSW

Sure wish I had a reason to go. Sure sounds like fun. The appeal of this is different for me than BlogHer. Broader, to be sure, but also, less political.

I've not been quiet about the fact that something about BlogHer turned me off. It extended in many ways to the people I met there. They seemed to me to have created a universe of their own and I don't feel welcome there. I haven't written a lot about this because it seems to be my issue, but I've been quietly pulling away. I thought perhaps this all spelled the deathknell to blogging for me, but now I'm thinking, maybe not. When I read about SXSW, my nose sniffs the air, and I get real curious: what's out there? what can I do with it? what can it mean to me? That says to me, there's something there to track--and I'm glad.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Project Runway - The Finale

Gillian...Christian...Rami

I love Gillian's clothes. They're so incredibly wearable. But Christian's are outstanding: wild, dramatic, gorgeous. Rami's? Not so much. As the judges said, he's got a problem with color--as in, yucky blue and pidgeonblood red.

Yeah!yeah!yeah! Christian won.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Buying A Car, a Tragedy in Several Acts

I've been trying to buy a new car for the past couple of years. Without much luck. Due, in no small measure to the witlessness of the salespeople. Remember my disaster at Toyota. Now I'd like to introduce you to Volkswagen. I thought I should compare the VW Beetle with the Mini Cooper, which makes sense since Consumer Reports compares them as well. Being a saavy computer person and all, I like to make my initial forays on line. Here's the response I got from the local VW dealership:

Hello Jane
As the General Manager of Elk Grove Volkswagen, I just wanted to thank you for your recent Internet Inquiry for information on a 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle.

If there is any problem or difficulty that you feel needs my attention please feel free to contact me personally.
It has always been my aim to provide honest and genuine value in all aspects of our dealership. Currently it is my understanding that we have not been able to contact you. Please let me know if you are still interested in the information you originally requested, regardless of your timeframe. We will contact you with specials from Volkswagen.


If I or my team can be of any service please don't hesitate to contact us by simply replying to this email or call me at the numbers listed below.


Sincerely,
Gina Parr
General Sales Manager

Nice, right? Here's what I wrote back:

Hi Gina, Thanks for replying to my query. My current VW has 77,000 miles on it. The air conditioner is busted to the tune of $1500. The driver's side window stopped functioning: $500+ to repair. It used to be that VW was the workhorse of automobiles. Clearly that is no longer the case, and I won't be buying another. Jane
If this blog offers me nothing else, at least I get to vent in public! The problem I feel needs Gina's attention is the cost of repairs to VWs. Last year's airconditioning problem was bad O rings. Okay, that sounds like something that might go after 70,000 miles, and I paid up without complaint. Now less than a year later, it's the compressor that's gone. And then there's the window, the driver's side window, which has a broken plastic something or other that will cost $500+ to repair because the only people who make that plasticsomethingor other are VW. I have to have it fixed because the alternative--well, let's just say I'm not one of those people who is willing to drive around with plastic sheeting taped to her car door. Call me a snob, whatever. So VW once again has me by the short and curlies...damn them to hell.

By the way, FYI, and heads up: Consumer Reports picks the Mini over the Beetle

Monday, March 03, 2008

Home Again...

I'm back. I've driven over a thousand flippin' (I'd say the other, but I'm watching Barbara Walters special on the Queen and it's made me a bit careful about my p's and q's and f-bombs) miles, what with the trip to LA and back PLUS the many, many tours from the South Bay up the 405 to the Westside. You've heard no doubt that one never wants to be on the 405 at 4:05, but that has now extended to...whenever. I'm exhausted. Good night.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Missing Posts

So I owe you all a couple, don't I. The 28th and the 1st--right? 'Cause the 29th was a freebie. I'm just going to continue on as usual and sometime in the next year, you'll get TWO EXTRA POSTS. Yeah! For nothing. Yeah, again.

I am writing this from the computer room at the Best Western Sometingorother in Redondo Beach. I don't know if it's me or them, but I cannot get my computer, which is upstairs in my room, to hook into their wireless system. Thus--no posts. Well, actually on the 28th I sent a post, but clearly it's floating around in Bloggers ether, because it sure as hell ain't appearing on ByJane.

But ne'er mind; I'm here now...until my cousin returns from her bike ride. I started out on that bike ride too, but the bike, she was too big for me. I needed a ladder to climb on. Not a prognosticator of a fun ride, a relaxing ride, which is what we were meant to be taking, meandering along the bike path at the beach.

For those of you not in Southern California , yes, the weather is glorious today. But I'll be back in Northern California tomorrow night and maybe it's raining there. Or maybe not.