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Jason, one of C's oldest friends, recently moved to New Mexico. Both C and I are ecstatic. Jason is amazing with kids, handy with everything, and generally cheerful, sweet, and enthusiastic. He was, in fact, C's roommate briefly when C and I were dating. Most importantly to this entry, he has a killer back yard.

A moderate block of a home with no pretensions to anything, the back enclosed patio - perfect for large parties - opens to wisteria on the porch and a broad view of the city. Climb the expansive hill in his very large yard adrift with sand and pretty New Mexican scrub, and there's a second porch overlooking the city. It's utterly brilliant, the kind of porch you're half-tempted to move into. We strongly suggested he throw the annual Independence Day party for our little community of friends, and somewhat terrified, he agreed.

Never having thrown a party (and in his forties!), we jumped to his aid--admittedly rather necessarily, considering we'd put him in this situation. We made bean salad and potato salad, brought salsa and chips and plates and platter and beer and more, helped him shop and prep his list of meals, arrived early and made drinks and served them while Jennifer helped guide him in his first grilling experience on his brand-new grill that C had helped him put together not three hours before. Food piled up as friends dropped in, including K, recently out of the hospital and looking much better.

It was the kind of perfect fourth you dream about: fireworks, kids, old friends and new, even a random acquaintance dropping by to add to the fun of it toward the end. We started with Glenn Miller and moved on to a wild tailored soundtrack courtesy of C while I poked about and took pictures. Koko bounced around ecstatically, enjoying free reign in the yard, scampering in and out and up and down the long and charmingly lit pathway to the second porch. KL turned her dress ruby red with watermelon juice as twilight came in and we sat down to a feast before moving back outdoors to drink and admire the sky. Little cousin Mia nearly burned herself several times with fireworks--definitely not something I'd planned on, unnerving, but admittedly delightful--and everyone else watched as she burned through her pile of goodies, all amused at my fretting.

I went home, disappointed only because I hadn't wanted to leave.
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Coco* Chanel famously said (paraphrased), stand in front of a mirror, turn around, and turn back again. Whatever catches your eye first--take it off. In short, don't overdo it, kid. Too much is too much.

Starbucks is in desperate need of a Chanel intervention. I say this with great love for Starbucks. I do. But as I ordered my peach green today - already a rather unusual thing, to me - they said, with surprise, "Not a Peach Green Tea Lemonade?" at which point I said, "NO. God, no."

*Apparently I originally wrote Chloe. I blame autocorrect.
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My library purchased both books I sent in on their request list.
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Four stories accepted recently; high times! Got to finish setting up my authorial page.

In other news, I did a smashing little photo shoot of my eldest niece during her visit. Quite pleased.


Jun. 14th, 2014 01:50 pm
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Everyone should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourselves in your current incarnations (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

Quick list:

Return to Oz
Rear Window
Clash of the Titans
Time Bandits
To Catch a Thief
Unico in the Island of Magic
Logan's Run (original)
Return of the Jedi
Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson's)

Edit: Probably should have The Last Unicorn and certainly The Dark Crystal. So many great movies.
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A few years ago, maybe 2010, I saw a man watching a movie on his phone in a plane. I remember thinking that was ludicrous; impossible, silly even to attempt. Now, of course, I know about all kinds of apps where I can download movies and play them on all sorts of devices. But I remember thinking, that's absurd. A movie? On a phone? On a PLANE?

Later, I learned people could read on their phones, too. Absurd, I thought. Who is too busy to read a book in its own, personal form? I was still struggling with the concept of e-book, let alone a...phonebook? Meaning was all over the place.

And now, in 2014, I watch movies or read books my phone; in fact, reading or even listening to books on my phone is often the only time I have to read books. My phone is my other hand, my friend and organizer. It is Q and Miss Moneypenny and the great Library all in one.
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I have hardly listened to anything new of Crow's - my fault, not hers - but I am ridiculously attached to her Tuesday Night Music Club. I don't know if anyone remembers Run, Baby, Run, but it always leaves me teary and yet inspired. It's a great writing song; one of those songs that pushes you into a great tempo, a song I know the lyrics to perfectly, so I don't really need to actively listen, just hum softly along with the defiant sadness.

Great song. Just great.

High heels

Jan. 25th, 2014 10:57 am
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There's a Bloomberg special that focuses on a company, and one of their quirkier company "perks" is a conference room with treadmills instead of seats. They trumpet this, noting their focus on health. In the video, it shows women precariously walking in very high heels as they discuss critical company issues.

Doesn't it say everything.
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Why is it that people say, how wonderful, the Swiss speak 3 languagues!, yet so many people react badly to the concept of having to learn a second language in the United States, or the increasingly prevalence of Spanish in the southwestern U.S.?

(I think this is obvious why; perhaps mostly rhetorical. Alas.)
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I saw the other day this scintillating message on the back of some person's shirt:


I am admittedly unreasonably irritated. It just seemed like so much doggerel you hear: pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Get a second job. You Can Do It!

I know that it's meant to be motivational; inspirational; even supportive (behold! you're working! it'll happen!). And I do that; I mean, I work full time, and I have a child, and I squeeze in spare seconds to write and take pictures.

But I can't help but feel it's part and parcel of that greater absurdity at work in this U.S. culture, where all problems are yours and any failure on your part could never be blamed on the system. This underlying fallacy that we are all universally healthy; universally without small children; universally able to somehow create time and afford to do all these things we long to do. That in general people are not subsumed with finding a way to pay for shelter, afford decent food, care for their children. That somehow if you pushed just a bit harder you could squeeze in time to do...great things. (Interestingly, this article shows that knowledge of how bad your situation is--poverty-wise--may actually interfere with your ability to think clearly. I would add that it also strangles creativity.)

It's this idea that we are all our own islands, that the great American way means that, like with Laura Ingalls' father, true happiness is when our neighbor is far enough we cannot hear his gun when he goes hunting. Neglecting to remember that she and her sister nearly froze to death, nearly starved to death, and that her sister, for lack of modern medical care (and even had it existed, the inability to afford it, I think), went blind.

I so wish we were less blind.

Then again, maybe the t-shirt's font had something to do with it.
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A bit back, I read R's entry about her feelings about Superman, her identification with him that ran on a deep level. It was perhaps not too surprising that she linked to an article discussing the disservice the latest Superman movie does to the character, as it links him with violence as a solution for the first time--basically the antithesis of Superman--and shortly thereafter discussed her renewed respect for and commitment to nonviolence. It made me think about my own heroes. Unsurprisingly, I feel very proprietary about Buffy.

It's a little funny that my chosen character is, at least on the surface, pretty much Superman's opposite. Sure, they're both committed to saving the world, and there's a certain amount of superstrength in common and a longing for a normal life and human connection. But it pretty much stops there. Buffy's not just accepting of violence, she's committed to it. She works in a team, not alone; she worked under the tutelage of a teacher for much of her Slayer career; and she has a habit of sleeping with the enemy. Even in the mythos of TV and comics, Superman is forever rebooting, forever young; Buffy has steadily aged, and death is always around the corner.

But almost from the first time I saw her, she's been my girl. Not because it's my formative fan experience, though it is, or because of the actress (SMG frequently drives me crazy), or even because of the writing--after all, I don't even think Buffy is Whedon's strongest series. It's because Buffy, the character, is an incredibly rare creature in fiction.

Buffy is everything Superman isn't: average. She's smarter than she seems at first glance, but not by too much. She's not the most compassionate, either; in fact, Buffy's selfishness often bites her in the end. She's not even the best leader; she makes many bad decisions (partly abetted by some strange writing decisions). Buffy is the could've-been-popular girl that wasn't, and pretty, but not beautiful, with a hit-and-miss home life that's not ideal but not so bad you can really applaud her for overcoming it. Even her superpower life is unexceptional: she's strong, but never strong enough that it really helps her in a fight against the Big Bads. Sometimes it's hard to see why she's a hero at all; certainly there was never any indication she was chosen because she was tougher, braver, etc.

Which is the point. The real reason Buffy is a hero is because she shows up.

I love that. For all that she's supposedly the chosen one, she could pretty much walk away. She doesn't. Buffy shoulders the responsibility, takes the blame, and fights the battle. Not because she's the best person around to do it, not because she's the smartest, and not even because she's the bravest, but because she sees the need, and she shows up.

I know Buffy. She's pretty average--but she tries anyway. And that is great.
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I can't say I knew Ebert's body of work particularly well; I know I religiously watched Siskel & Ebert growing up, but I can remember almost none of those reviews. I've read more than a handful online when I was curious what he thought (even when I disagreed, I always liked his point of view), but certainly have read less than a hundred. But in a strange way, he was remarkably influential on me.

I remember seeing him give his thumbs up to a ridiculous lampoon, Hot Shots: Part Deux, I believe. I remember how amazing that seemed, and how I realized that it was okay to like silly things and like grand things, too, even as an adult. I loved his openness to a variety of film, and like many, I read the magazine article provocatively trumpeting the last words of Roger Ebert - at the time, years ago, referring to the fact that he could no longer speak - with great interest. I was deeply impressed by his ability to move past the loss of his jaw, and his fundamental cheer.

Even when I disagreed with him, I liked how he articulated himself. He seemed like he was on the side of art; like one of our team. He really cared about making good film, knowing good stories.

In short, I liked him. Late to say it, but Ebert: I'll miss you.
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Unfortunately, most days go like this:

- Baby wakes. Breastfast for her. It's 5amish.
- Get to work by 6.
- Work until 5, 530.
- Make dinner until 6, sometimes 630. (Takes full hour or more as many baby interruptions. Fussy time starts around 5.)
- Eat dinner until 6:45.
- Get baby ready for bed/nurse to sleep 6:45-7:30/8.
- Clean up house, dinner 730-830.
- 30 minutes to self, then bed.

In this 30 minutes, sometimes hour if I'm wild and stay up late, I try to writeeditreadcleanorganizeplan. Then I brush my teeth and wash my face and go to bed and start over.

Sometimes I get stuff done by simply staying up until midnight and working on virtually no sleep. But that's rare. I like sleep. Mostly I just wait for the weekend, where I might get 2 hours a day to myself when she naps.

I'd like to write interesting things, but as you can see, pretty much every spare bit of time and talent I have is spent elsewhere at the moment.

I'll be back when I can be.


Nov. 26th, 2012 06:31 pm
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I am a parent. I sometimes think this should be more astonishing than it is; in general, it seems very normal and part of the flow of things, and I occasionally forget to mention it when I speak to an old friend, as if she has always been there, and it is everyone else that is new.

What is new is my tremendous lack of time. Again, it seems rather normal; I am also not worried as I know it will get easier. But I do find myself flailing rather like a wounded octopus every single time I have a few spare minutes; it is impossible to do laundry, write, clean the kitchen, catch up on email, write email, write a journal entry, make dinner, play video games, read, and spend time with family simultaneously, but I do sometimes attempt it. Occasionally I find myself literally panting with anxiety as I try to figure out what to do because I have a full ten minutes free. Time off is more unnerving, in some ways, than time not off.

Still: things are good. I just do wish I could back to a few unparentish thoughts, as I begin to wonder when I will ever have a little free time and brain for something besides diapers.
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One of the most fascinating aspects of having a child has been seeing everyone's response. From gawkers at the grocery store (ranging from touching smiles to fear responses - perhaps they think I am going to go into labor suddenly?) to stories shared in line at the post office, people respond immediately and sometimes fiercely to a child in the making. Although I've never been surprised at the intensity of the debate over reproductive rights, certainly I can see even more now where the intensity comes from; I've hardly met a single person who didn't have a notable reaction, whether negative or positive, even just in passing.

One of the sweeter, and stranger, oddities I've come across is clothes. Not only the curiously quaint pink-or-blue issue, but the fact that almost literally every gift we have been given has been clothes. In fact, at our two (generous, loving) showers, only one person gave us anything off our registry.

This wasn't a problem; we simply moved our budget from clothing to other items (we literally have more than enough clothes for her for the entire next year), but we were a little confounded. Certainly, baby clothes are precious; but the gifts we were given were not all delicate dresses, but in general, hard-working onesies, blankets, and pajamas, chosen with an eye for practicality. This suited us quite well - a few darling outfits, and a wonderful selection of everyday clothes - but how exactly did this universal decision come about?

In light of our preterm labor concerns, I was reading up on preemie clothing (note: almost impossible to find in brick-and-mortar stores, with the exception of Babies 'R' Us), and there was a sentence that caught my eye on a hospital website. Specifically, it noted that premature babies could be placed in clothing, and staff in fact encouraged it because it helped to normalize the relationship between parent and child, allowing the parents to focus on the baby as a baby, as opposed to seeing the medical situation, in addition to helping them feel more secure.

It is humanizing, in short. Clothes are a visible act of protection, and of recognition. It came to me then that my friends and family know the child's feeding needs are taken care of, and they know that we have a home. Of the fundamental needs of food, clothing, and shelter, only clothing remains, something that not only comforts but, as with a name, is a fundamental acknowledgement of a human being's humanity. It is, in short, both a physical and spiritual blessing.

I feel quite warm indeed.


Jul. 12th, 2012 06:26 pm
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C & I both left the theater feeling rather stupid, and somewhat hesitantly confessed to one another we simply hadn't liked the film. We kept trying to figure out if there was more to it than what we were seeing; if we were missing something; but mostly it was very beautiful but neither deep nor sensible. I was comforted by revisiting Return to Oz and The Secret of Kells, reminded that not all children's art is pixel-deep.


Jun. 16th, 2012 09:42 pm
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C has wisely pointed out that I've been burning the candle at both ends lately - or the baby has been for me, anyhow. Since the first always-sleeping trimester, the varieties of pregnancy issues and the baby's fierce kicking means that I've getting, on average, about 6 hours a night, when I should be getting 10. I've gotten so used to being tired and pushing through the pain that I was stunned yesterday when I took a long nap and actually woke up feeling human. I did the same again today and, while I don't feel perfect, I feel shockingly okay, and my back pain is almost unnoticeable. Even my food sensitivities seem dialed down again.

If only I could find a way to squeeze in three-hour naps every day, eh?


Jun. 8th, 2012 12:15 am
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She is dancing in my belly.


Jun. 7th, 2012 10:20 pm
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So the pregnancy and preparations and life in general meandar on. Pregnancy is such a bizarre thing. You're a human egg, carrying around another person, a person who is in the process of becoming – well, becoming. The pain has continued, although in general I feel much better. I struggle a little, but it's now in the realm of normal.

What has really fascinated me is the improvement of my outlook. You hear people say about how having a baby reorganized their worldview, but so many people say it in a negative way, that they no longer have time for things that they used to love or somehow act less a person and more this alien mother creature. Instead, C and I find ourselves working to meet a higher standard. We are keeping the house even cleaner. We are more forgiving with one another. We are working harder and better together.

And it is the little things, too; like realizing the yard isn't a burden, but a blessing. Which is obvious, but a great comfort and strangely relaxing to realize when I look out over this utter disaster of a yard that is about to get the city called on us, that I don't want to fix it just because it's embarrassing, but because I want to have back my beautiful yard and my little garden. Because it makes me happy. It's remembering that I have to take care of myself so I make time to read, and cook well, and to work on editing and writing and doing things that make me happy.

It is ridiculous, that it would take 32 years to learn to put myself reasonably first. I think what shocks me most is how most people don't care. On occasion, someone will be surprised, usually at work, that I'm not willing to put in the extraordinary superhuman effort, but not often. I can't decide if it's encouraging or depressing to realize that I've been killing myself for decades years for absolutely no reason. But there it is.
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Beautiful dinner at La Casa Sena in Santa Fe last night. It was a chance to meet up with an old friend of C's, meet her fiance, and generally chat with her friends. We were seated at a lovely, long table in a beautiful old-style plaza courtyard lit with faery lights that took over delighting us when we could no longer see the flowers as the sun set. The company was equally lovely, a variety of intelligent and interesting people; I adored the older woman across from me, her stories of visiting Paris in the fifties and interest in the world. I even think I may take her up on an offer to visit her garden, a garden so lovely and big it has been listed on house tours. Everyone was wonderfully dressed as well, and the food was quite good (and C's latte genuinely divine; I stole a sip); one of those beautiful evenings that felt plucked from a movie and sprinkled with stardust.