Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Over the Mountains

In the last week I have had many posts written in my head but then have neglected to sit down and type them. Thus, due to a stunning lack of diligence coupled with an overabundance of beer in the fridge, these thoughts are lost to the infinite abyss that constitutes the voluminous area where I store the Things I Have Forgotten. There is only an entrance, with no way to retrieve topics once they've gone to this dark place.

I think I wanted to write more about Seattle. I know I wanted to write about a movie I saw. I just finished another book and wanted to talk about that. Oh, and there was this past holiday weekend, some new furniture was purchased a week before that, OC said some funny things, and then there was tonight and that lady who only had bad things to say about the things in my life. I definitely want to share THAT little gem of an experience.

I'm sorry to say that it will all have to wait because it's 10:45 pm and I have to get up and go to Portland tomorrow for a meeting. I'm driving so that gives me 6 1/2 hours roundtrip to come up with a doozy of a post to include all topics up to now. I'll find a way to link the Space Needle to Memorial Day, and how many degrees of separation there are between Kevin Bacon and Ellen Burstyn. Think I can make it in only six?

In the meantime, I'll be trying to narrow down which restaurant I want to go to for drinks and food after the meeting, because living in Redmond means restaurant choices are a little thin unless you have the memory of a goldfish. In that case, Jody's is like a new hamburger joint every time! It's getting better, but compared to Portland it might as well be the dark side of the moon, where I do not think they have any Indian food at all. Just like how they don't in Redmond. I'm afraid I'll be like a kid in a candy store, or maybe closer yet would be like a wayward nun going barhopping after 20 years of the cloistered life. Will Portland welcome me back? Its lost, wayward sister of comestible faith. I hope so. If overabundance of choice be my only complication, I say bring on the hitch, the botheration, the quagmire of decision.

Okay, it's really getting late now and Dictionary.com/thesaurus is getting ready to cancel my free subscription. 'night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In Which I Discover New Body Parts

Today I ran 4 miles. It took 46 minutes, which is a little over 11 minutes per mile. That is very slow, but! I RAN FOUR MILES. It was hard and I wanted to stop, especially when I was about two-thirds of the way through and felt very tired. I kept going until I completed it because I have that 5k race (3.1 miles) coming up in less than two weeks. I kept telling myself that today's hard run will make the next time I do the same distance much easier. That will be Friday. Look here for more whining come Friday.

That's not what is scaring me, though.

I signed up for the Smith Rock Race which has either a 15k or a 7 mile Fun Run (P.S. Just because it rhymes with "run" doesn't mean it is "fun"). I am doing the 7 mile un-fun run, and that is a looong way. I have seven weeks to train for it, but still! Seven miles is a long way!

The good part has been watching my body change. I was shaving my legs today, for example, and I noticed this bump and I wondered for a second what it was. "Oh, that's muscle!" I said to myself, surprised.

That's not the only good part, there's the food part, too. I had to do some research about what to eat before and after a workout. It turns out I have good reasons to get fully crazy into cooking with whole grains now, because a body that works out needs plenty of fuel in the form of carbohydrates. I could live on rice, beans, pasta, and grains, so this is good news to me. Oh yeah, don't forget the dark chocolate with raspberries! One needs protein as well. Ahem.

This week I made chili-scented pork chops with jalapeno quinoa salad. It was not as spicy as you would think; it was a light, sweet spice. There was a lot of olive oil and lime juice, and I left out the seeds of the jalapeno, which helped keep the spice level reasonable.

The Smith Rock Race came about as a challenge from my husband, who is participating in it as well as the upcoming 5k run. I'm looking forward to it (being over) and seeing how well I do. I find that I work best when I have a goal in mind, otherwise I tend to procrastinate. I think my next goal will be: run four miles averaging 10 and one-half minutes per mile and then see how much chocolate I can eat without getting sick. Goals are good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cocktail Party Effect

It's hard to believe that with both my love of books and interest in writing, I've never kept a serious log of the books I've read. No matter, I can start now. I keep a pocket-sized notebook that now lists one book title. In addition to the title I've decided to list the date, author, publisher, and some notes about the book. My first entry:

May 19th, 2007:
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl. Viking, 2006. About an intellectual teenager, her professor father, and their frequent moves around the country. She's in her final year of high school where she attends an elite school and falls in with a crowd called the Bluebloods. Also, there's a murder mystery.

It's well written with many book references that had me googling away, much as I hate to admit it. The books and author references are not all real. The plot is captivating and unusual, although it reminded me a little of The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

(Each of these books are their respective author's first novel.)

Of course, the movie rights have been optioned. Producer Scott Rudin - who began his career in theater in New York, eventually casting before moving on to movies - is known for wanting to make high-quality, art films. His work is diverse, including "The Addams Family", "Searching for Bobby Fischer", "Clueless", "First Wives Club", "A Civil Action", "Sleepy Hollow", "Wonder Boys", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "I Heart Huckabees", "The Hours", and "The Queen".

Not all of those are based on books, nor may some be in any way considered an art film, but all in all, not a bad list of titles. I'm always interested when a book becomes a movie. So many movies start as books or plays, and movies are a great way to find out about something new to read.

I appreciate the challenge of taking something from the page where there is all the time in the world for description and backstory, not to mention beautiful language, to the screen where there is about an hour and a half and stories must be totally visual. The transformation can be quite satisfying (Gone With the Wind, 1939; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991). Or, not at all (Congo, 1995). There are instances - very few, but I can think of at least one - where the movie is better than the book (How to Make an American Quilt, 1995). More often than not, the reverse is true (The Shipping News, 2001). There are movies that started as screenplays, and so the writing was never intended to be read, and you never have to worry about seeing the movie without reading the book because there is no book to read (Good Will Hunting, 1997; Finding Forrester, 2000; Lovely + Amazing, 2001).

The only problem is, like any other human endeavor, less desirable forces are at work. Forces like money, power, and who knows who. It's not random at all. Sometimes the system works, and sometimes it doesn't.

It's funny how, when you are engaged in the act of reading, you realize how much more there is that you haven't read. When I come across references to books or ideas I haven't read or am not familiar with, I look them up or jot them down to do it later, always feeling as though my booklist is growing longer the more I books I read. It's quite the paradox. Paradox! Another topic I want to read more about. Vicious circle, this.

Reading, and writing about reading is not exactly the stuff of great literature, but it is good practice. If I can advance my critical thinking and power of description to become something close to insightful (e.g. beyond "...it was a good book. I liked it...") it will be worthwhile. And hey, if it gives me more topics for conversation at cocktail parties, so much the better.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sending Out an SOS

If that reminded you of a song by The Police, then you are of my generation. Or, you have listened to the radio at some point between 1979 - the year "Message in a Bottle" was released - and now. That's neither here nor there. What I really want to talk about is help, and the asking of help when one needs it.

I am in no way a poster child when it comes to asking for help. I would rather do it myself, thank you very much. Why? Oh, there are a myriad of reasons, part of a loooong story. Boring! It doesn't matter why, what matters is that it doesn't have to be like that.

Several years ago, I needed to search out a good daycare for my daughter. The place she had been attending was no longer working out. I felt overwhelmed with the responsibility. It was all on me to research, make appointments, go and visit places and meet people, and ultimately decide. What if I picked a bad place? I would have to take time off of work to do this, which took time away from vacation time that I could spend, oh, I don't know, with my daughter??? Besides, how would I make such an important decision? What if I misjudged and OC was miserable or, what if something bad happened?

I talked to my counselor, and she said to me, "Why do you think you have to do this alone?" I was stunned. I didn't have an answer. There WAS no reason why I had to do it alone, I just assumed I did because....because....well, because no fairy godmother showed up when I needed her. I always relied upon myself, end of story. She suggested I involve a trusted friend, and it was one of those moments where the clouds part and the heavenly music plays. It was also a "DUH" moment because, duh, why didn't I think of that?!?

This morning I went for a run while OC rode her bike. I am training because I have signed up to do a 5k. I've been training since mid-April, and this week is to be my hard week, where I run the longest distances. OC has been fine riding her bike the 4 miles of basically flat, paved, pedestrian/bike path in the dry canyon. Being my usual self, I thought that OC on her bike and me running made sense. Except, it didn't work. She was cold, then she was tired, then she got off to walk her bike and fell. There was crying, I was sympathetic but also, annoyed.

When we got home, I called another mom whose daughter played soccer with OC this spring. I like her. She beads and is talkative and funny. Anyway, I thought I'd ask her to help me out this week by having OC over for the two mornings I need to go running this week. Do you know what she said? You probable knew the answer all along, didn't you? Well, she said yes. Holy Toledo! Now, I can get my long runs in, and OC can play with a friend. Everybody wins! It's an damned ABC afterschool special.

The worst that would've come from asking for help was if the mother had said no. And, so what if she did? I could ask another one of the moms. If no one could do it, we'd try the bike again. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

This asking for help thing is The Shit! In a good way.

Someone answered my SOS, and it would not have happened if I hadn't asked. My counselor would be so proud.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bits of This and That

Don't you hate bloggers who don't post regularly? It's so annoying. What is their problem, anyway? Do they think we have all this time on our hands to refreshrefreshrefresh just to check if they've added another overly analytical, self-important post to their overly analytical, self-indulgent blog?

I don't have any pictures of our Seattle trip because I forgot to bring my camera. Yes, we have crappy cell phone pictures but I can't be bothered to figure out how to transfer those to my computer. When I think about the time I would spend figuring that out, versus the quality of the pictures I expire like postdated yogurt. My husband's cell phone takes pretty good pictures...Nope, still can't be bothered.

Today, the contractor called 30 seconds before the workmen came to begin tearing the old shingles off the roof. Thanks for the notice, buddy. Anyway, the roofer is a nice guy. His crew speaks no English, at least that is what I gather from their conversations and from listening unwittingly to their radio station of choice which is blasted from my rooftop. I would like it better if he spoke to me in Spanish as well, since I need the practice. We haven't been going to Spanish conversation group lately, what with jaunts to Seattle and lazy, better things to do-ness. Why does that make me feel guilty, as though Spanish conversation group were necessary to keep me sober? I'm off the wagon, with nothing spoken but pure English these days. With the exception of offering popsicles on a hot day in exchange for an extra-good roofing job. Quieres una paleta?

Also, I have a blister on my foot. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Just wanted to whine, over my Merlot wine. HAAAA! Am funny drunk person. Bye now....

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Meme Time

I was tagged for a meme a few months ago and hadn't posted. I found a partial list that I had started as I was digging through saved drafts today, so I thought I'd finish.

Here we go, six weird things or habits about me:

1. I write the occasional letter on paper and send them through the United States Postal Service. Weird!

2. I can rationalize anything. Anything. A.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. Seriously. You want cake for breakfast? It's got milk and eggs in it = go for it.*

3. I am hopelessly optimistic, yet at the same time, cynical. This means I can see the positive in most people and situations but still find things to complain about. It also means that, instead of being a cute quirk, it more often manifests as psycho nutjob who can't make up her mind what with seeing ALL points of view ALL the time. *sigh* It's so HARD being me...

4. I read magazines from back to front. Why? I don't know. I didn't even notice it until one day I did and thought, "huh".

5. Piles of things is one form of organization I employ with enthusiasm. I know where everything is (except the futon hardware) and hey, I know the dishes need to be washed but did you see how neatly they are rinsed and stacked on the counter, all ready to go into the dishwasher? Surely, that counts for something.

6. I feel that doing something in some part is better than doing it not at all, and yet I have the hardest time doing said thing in entirety (see #5), and I think it's because it means I have to do it and when I have to do something it looks like no fun at all and so I don't. Maybe that's why there are piles?

* agreeing with Bill Cosby

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Notice Anything Different?

The new template came about because I accidentally deleted, in near entirety, the old template when I was making edits late last night. I learned a valuable lesson or two from all of this and now I will share them with you.

One, don't think that while editing in html mode that you've selected part of your template because you probably haven't. And two, that fancy preview button is not just there for looks, it can actually save your fanny if you make a mistake before you make your stupid mistake permanent by saving your changes. Dummy.

The change is good. I was getting very tired of the old blue 'n orange. I was holding out to switch to another format entirely, so I didn't want to go to the trouble to change my template. I don't know why, it's not hard to do. In the process I learned that you can recover your old template if you do a search for your blog name and title of a recent post. I tried that but couldn't find anything that used my template, only sites that changed it into their own (e.g. Bend Blogs) which is fine except for when you need a cached version of the old one that includes colors and links and all that crazy css.


And then I remembered how I used to keep a text document of my template with all my special color settings and super-special sidebar witticisms - not to mention a kajmillion links - saved in a location that, apparently, only God knows. I couldn't find it anywhere. Oh well, I made a new text document with the new template and it's on my desktop. The template is easy to replace, it's the links that take F-O-R-F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G-E-V-E-R. I only made it up to the m's so far, because I am a lazy slut.

I also learned that I can probably learn CSS faster than I first imagined. I also need to advance my html/javascript knowledge, which is, at the moment, pathetic. I haven't used it in nearly a YEAR, which technologically speaking means I know the equivalent of how to code Pong on a Commodore 64. Well, maybe it's not quite the same. Oh well, as Nelly Furtado would say, no hay igual.

Tomorrow we're hopping a private jet to sip champagne (read: small commercial prop plane which serves complimentary northwest microbrews) to Hong Kong (Seattle) to watch baseball (actually, yes) and shop (hell, yes!) and check out that new sculpture garden park by the waterfront I read about in a recent Sunset magazine, the one with the Alexander Calder sculpture(s). I can't remember if it was one sculpture or multiple, but who cares? It will be cool to see just one towering, geometric wonder.

Two trips within one month? I really am the Occidental Tourist.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Spheroid Fruit Does Not Plummet an Extensive Length From Its Apogee of Origin

In other words, my daughter is just like me.

...just like me...just like me... I can hear that sentiment echoing off the canyon walls which are near my house and followed closely by my mom's joyous, cackling laughter, not unlike the track meet announcer's voice which was carried on the winds to our house last night and made me think there was an unseen riot in the street until I realized riots don't generally involve a 400-meter relay. Or bullhorns.

Wednesday is library day. Every week, we take our library cards and a tote bag and head out the door to walk the six blocks or so to the county's branch library. Each week, we take a stack of books to return and then check out a stack to bring home. Today - and every day - I have to remind OC to brush her teeth and hair, locate her tote bag, pack the books to be returned, and to bring her library card. Today was no exception.

Wednesday is also the day I have SMART (and exercise great restraint when I answer the question "do you have any paper to color on?" with a resounding "no" four or more times. In a row. Asked by the same child.) and there are special nametags for SMART volunteers so you don't run around the school unidentified, a system I wholeheartedly support. However, I often forget that I am wearing the name tag and wear the thing home, every passerby able to know that I am SMART VOLUNTEER OCCIDENTAL GIRL. Hello, nice to meet you.

And so, I see where OC's forgetfulness comes from, and am reminded that patience is a good thing - also, a virtue! - since none of us are perfect, either. After all, I'd hate to get grounded because I was too preoccupied to follow simple protocol.

It rained today. Yay! Big, fat drops that splattered and made it look and smell like western Oregon, although it felt a lot colder than western Oregon. The cold here is a nastier, meaner older sibling to western Oregon's cold, the kind that warned you not to touch it's stuff, now you're going to get it.

It didn't rain this morning, though, and on our walk to the library OC noticed a mudpuddle and said to me, "Mama, look! You can see the sky right there, it's a reflection in the water!"

Hello! My child is a science genius. She's talking about reflections, at age six!

And then, she looked down and read the words "No Parking" that were painted on the blacktop.

Can you be any more proud of your kids at times like those? I know I complain a tiny little bit about the challenges of motherhood, and I maybe sort of exaggerate her level of genius, but I get so excited about these things and it's only fair to share these along with the, uh, more annoying aspects that I've rambled incessantly about already.

She is quite a girl. She may have a few traits both admirable and challenging that are like me, but she is 100% her own person. I'm nuts over her.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Larger Than A Horse's Ass, Lower Than Pond Scum

When you think of mothers, you generally think of women who self-sacrifice and are ever-mindful of others. Other words that come to mind? Thoughtful. Considerate. Concerned. Mothers are women who inquire of other mothers when they know, for an entirely random example, that Another Mother had an appointment last Friday with the pediatrician because she has an appointment with a neurologist but not for another month because that's the soonest she could get an appointment. In the meantime, this Other Mother talked about how she was uncomfortable doing nothing for ONE ENTIRE MONTH without knowing WTF was going on with her young child. Possibilities included seizures - again - like the seizures he had as an infant, right after he came back to life after being clinically dead for two minutes. He needs physical therapy several times a week, and now something is not quite right but no one knows what and this Other Mother wanted to be proactive and seek medical attention even from a general practitioner so she could better wait out the month until the appointment with the specialist.

Guess which Mother was me? Totally not hypothetically speaking.

If you guessed: The Idiot Who Went On and On Talking About Her Walk in Town This Morning and Seeing the Art Gallery, Not Asking Other Mother About the Doctor Visit Because She is a Huge Ass.....you would be right. I am THAT mother. I felt less than two inches tall after someone else walked up and asked her about it as we chatted about the stupid art gallery. This mom - and potential friend if I don't muck it up too badly - was very gracious and said it was okay and even gave me a ride home. I could better describe the feeling as more lowly than pond scum to be so entirely thoughtless and forget to ask about something so important. I know I forget things, but good grief!

Methinks I doth dwell too much on my own pathetic problems...

Speaking of which, have you read this article about Joseph Democko, California's youngest foster parent? A truly inspiring story. Makes me want to stop being the gunk that is lower than pond scum, develop into a multi-cellular being, and be a better one at that.