Tuesday, December 11, 2007
One thing: I had the bulk of my manuscript, a hundred and forty-some-odd pages, on the table for a read-through. My cat evidently decided I was neglecting him, and when I got up for a drink hopped on the table and promptly shoved the whole mess to the floor, whereupon the unbound pages did that flutter-scatter thing loose pages are wont to do. (Luckily, they were numbered. Still, it took a while to put it back together.) He is very lucky I'm writing so much lately about stewardship of nature and animals, and that I have an abiding desire to not feel like a hypocrite. Otherwise the offending paw might have been in jeopardy.
(I'm kidding, of course. I'm a huge softy. But I did hold him at eye level and lecture him sternly. Which was exactly as futile and foolish-looking as it sounds.)
Friday, November 30, 2007
Let me just start by saying this. Pink mango-sugar-something-citrusy drink + big cheese sandwich + sudden nausea + absorbent foam couch cushions = not good at all. I think you all might appreciate me not using my descriptive narrative talents on this one. Let's just say that his clothes, my clothes, and two thirds of the couch were in the danger zone.
He's usually really good at making it to the bathroom but this one was, in his words, a "surprise puke."
I spent the next hour bathing him, comforting him, and disassembling the couch to remove the dripping portions. I spent the hour after putting him to bed trying to wash them, which turned out to be not possible at all without contorting my body into weird shapes while I bathed the cushions in the bathtub, because they have covers that zip down one side but not far enough to remove the cushions for some unknown reason (though I would be willing to bet the designer didn't have a five-year-old), and wouldn't fit anywhere else.
I cleaned up the aftermath, and somehow had it in my head that I would sit down and finish the writing I hadn't finished earlier that day. Sure. Instead, I got up every thirty to forty minutes to comfort David (poor little guy), and finally retired to bed, only to get up from bed every thirty to forty minutes. My husband got home after working late, around 3:30 a.m., and proceeded to waltz in, plop down, turn on a bunch of lights, and go about his business as if it were 3:30 p.m. I was less than charitable in communicating my opinion about this. Then I had to get up again with David anyway.
This is parenthood.
Yesterday, feeling much better, David pulled out the card above, announced that I'm the "Best Mom in the Whole Wide World," and hugged me for a good five minutes.
This, too, is parenthood. It's pretty great.
In related news, I just came across this video (it's been up for a long time; it's just new to me), of portions of the Charlie Brown Christmas special dubbed by the cast of the show Scrubs. A few parts, like the show, are not for kids, but I thought the clip was pretty awesome.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've always sucked -- like big-time, industrial-strength vacuum sucked -- at tag. I'm a decent runner, endurance-wise, but slow. So I would perpetually be it, and my friends would get bored of the game and move on before I realized what had happened. The only reason I'm OK at it now is that my tag partner's legs are half the length of my own.
But here's a tag game I can participate in. Blog tag. Yay! Although, maybe I shouldn't be too happy, since I still have endurance (read: I'm long-winded) but I'm still slow (I was tagged a few days ago. I think that's rather a long time to be "it."), and I don't rightly know who to tag next, since most of the bloggers I know have been it already. But here you go anyway.
I got tagged by dirt, who is actually very clean, and whose online name I wish I had claimed first.
1. Write your meme (described below).
2. Include the rules in your post (though you may reword them in your style).
3. Link to the person who tagged you, then link to the seven (7) random people you have tagged.
4. Let those seven (7) random people know they’ve been tagged by commenting in their blog. Also say something nice about the post so you don’t come off totally random. Say, on a blog about a dog’s death, you might not want to come in and go, “Hi! I’m all smiley and stuff! You’ve been tagged! Go to my blog! Yippie!” Instead, you might begin with, “I am so sorry about your loss!” Wait, maybe use a period there.
And now the meme:
Share seven (7) random and/or weird things about yourself.
* * * * * * *
1. Some things I've done: Won a school and then district spelling bee (and was eliminated one place shy of advancing to state; I cried); fired a gun (actually, a Glock, a 9 millimeter, and a rifle, and I wasn't too bad); hiked the Grand Canyon; dove off a cliff; been lost in the wilderness; and met Walter Cronkite, Jesse Jackson, Janet Napolitano and Bob Schieffer in the same day (I worked at the third 2004 Presidential debate).
Some things I've never done: Completed a cartwheel (I can do roundoffs, but not cartwheels); had a short haircut, tried drugs of any kind (I'm not as noble as all that ... I never wanted to, but more than that, I just never really bothered. Except for alcohol, and an incident with Tequila and Jell-O shooters that I'd just as soon forget.); participated in a physical fight (though I was "participated at" once or twice); whistled using my fingers in my lips; understood what those numbers they shout before "hike" mean in football.
2. I used to work with and around explosive powder. It is much, much less exciting than it sounds.
3. I am a science fiction and fantasy nut. I have never, ever come across sci-fi or fantasy stories, in any form, and not felt compelled to watch/read/listen to them. I am aware that there is good narrative and bad in any genre, and there is quite a bit that is quite bad in this one, and I think I am OK at distinguishing between the two (for instance, if Battlestar Galactica and Mansquito were to air simultaneously, I think I would be able to choose rather quickly). But I take it all in anyway (even Mansquito). I have read tens of thousands of pages, at least, of stories that take place in fantasy worlds. I often find them more instructive than "real-life" stories. I also quite like a number of webcomics, though I am trying to avoid them right now for fear of losing untold hours that I should be spending writing my own, nonfictional material.
4. I am an idiosyncratic sleeper. (My husband might use a different phrase, and not just because he doesn't use words like "idiosyncratic." I'm not sure, but I guess it might rhyme with "trucking train in the glass.") I've gotten better though; I used to be a constant sleep talker and sleep walker. I once woke up eating a danish. Another time, I woke up in the middle of taking a shower. I routinely awoke at various locations, into early adolescence, only to spend a good few minutes figuring out where the hell I was. Sometimes I would transport all my bedding to my new campsite -- I would wake up sleeping on my pillow, under my sheet, in the kitchen hallway, for instance. My mother installed a high lock on the front door, for fear I would walk out into the desert in the middle of the night. I would talk all the time too -- although that may not be surprising, seeing as how my father was the king of sleep talkers. (He once told my mom, very urgently, to Anchor the eggs! Another time he spun an elaborate story about high chairs and a trapeze routine in the living room. She alternated between messing with his head -- "Can you tell me more about that?" -- and groggy annoyance.)
Lately, my nuances are less dramatic. I cannot sleep unless my middle is covered, but my feet and from my chest up have to be uncovered. I can't sleep if my head is facing the open end of the pillowcase. And if the mattress feels like it's sliding away from the wall, I have to get up, get my husband up and vigorously slide it back against the corner. But he gets me back. It seems the sleep-talking torch has been passed to my spouse. Some recent gems from him: "If we get a unicorn..." "Now that's what I call a big check." "He won't stop tickling me." "They need to be at either end of the clothing rack [this in his most official retail-manager voice]." "How many alligators do we have to handle?" And a ton of others.
5. I don't know how to dress myself. Seriously. I stress very, very much about this occasionally, like at social gatherings and when I'm about to interview someone, or when I accidentally catch my reflection in a window, but generally just ignore it, since my five-year-old, my equally-fashion-oblivious husband and my computer don't much care. I've found that slightly form-fitting, solid-color tees and khaki pants of not-too-tight cuts work pretty well, so that's pretty much what I wear out of the house. Every single day. I own two pairs of shoes: a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers. I don't desire any more shoes. I went through a brief phase where I tried to get "into" shoes, because it seemed the image-conscious, "girl" thing to do. But I just wore the same sandals every day anyway, and all the other shoes I purchased -- the chunky-heel shoes (they were really popular, but I can't remember the name of the shoe), the rose colored strappy shoes, the red party sandals -- sat gathering dust. I haven't bought shoes in about a year. Now that my trusty sandals are worn clean through, I will. But only when I find the same kind. I also don't know how to do my hair, or my makeup. I haven't worn makeup for over a year, now. I'm very put-together, very groomed. Just not done up at all. I kind of wish I could go on that show, What Not To Wear, where they show you how to dress yourself. But I kind of think that would be more lame than not knowing how to dress myself in the first place. I could ask my mom, but she's never been able to dress herself either.
6. I am the absolute most disorganized person on the planet. With big things and little things. I have lost opportunities, money, all kinds of stuff because I can't stay organized for longer than a nanosecond. And I really, really try. I have about 140 pages written on my manuscript; good, solid, pages; but the story stops and starts again and changes angles and comes back around on itself so many times even I can't follow it all. And the manuscript is in pieces -- e-mails, Word documents, Wordpad documents after the Word documents got corrupted and turned into a bunch of rectangles, notes to myself creatively titled "notes" every time, so I can't distinguish among them. I just this morning put it all together, and it's going to take a lot of finagling and organizing before I know precisely where I am and what more I need to write. I would prefer writing another 140 pages to this organizing step.
But ... for some reason, I never falter with my son. I always know where his stuff is, where he is, what time things are where he's concerned, the names and ages of everyone he's met and where they rank in his estimation, the relative merit-rankings of his favorite shows and what day/time each one plays, how much of this or that we have left, but only if it's something he needs/wants. I figured this newly acquired ability to organize things, born of necessity since I won't allow myself to be an incompetent parent, would bleed into other areas of my life. It hasn't. It looks like parenting might be the only thing I'll ever really, truly be pretty OK at. I think I can deal with that. But I really wouldn't mind being organized, if only long enough to finish this project.
(Well, that one wasn't very random or weird. Sorry.)
(Only one more. W00t!)
(W00t is the only online-ese, acronym-type word I like. I hate all others. "BTW, I'll CU L8R, AFAIK. CTN, coz POS. But FWIW, I think ur PHAT. TBC, ur BFF." (If you readily understand this, please please find something to do, and I mean IRL.) I mean, what the freaking hell? What is wrong with talking? Or even typing, but in whole words, never mind whole sentences.)
(These don't count. They're parenthetical, after all. (Even double-parenthetical.))
7. Since it's a semi-theme among some recent memers, my person to do:
Actually, my husband and I are quite happy, and don't really mean it with our lists. But my theoretical person would have to be either Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson, on Stargate SG-1) or Tahmoh Penikett (Karl Agathon, Helo, on Battlestar Galactica). I told you I'm a sci-fi nerd. But come on. Sci-fi guys are hot lately. Plus, my husband favors Tricia Helfer, and all her varied Number Six incarnations on BSG, so it's all good. Not like I have anything to worry about. I mean, Trish and I are practically doppelgängers. Except for her flawless skin. And height. And body. And supermodel/acting career. And huge fan base. But our hair and skin color are pretty much the same, and she's from Canada, and I used to live near Canada, so yeah, there you go.
Like I said, I'm not sure who to tag. I would've tagged dirt, but there's no tagbacks, on the playground or the blogosphere. A couple of others have already been tagged; one even twice. And most of the remaining bloggers I know have strictly business blogs. But here are a few, some fairly new to me but a pretty good bunch. Check 'em out if you get the chance.
Hotash, who takes seriously awesome pictures.
Daniel over at Singin' & Singin'.
Leigh at Sanity Not Included.
David, who happens to have my favorite name, at his family blog.
Sphincter at Sphincterhood, who definitely gets points for the best blog name of the day.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
But let me back up. My life, as most of you likely know, revolves around a small set of activities. Playing with my son, going out in nature with my husband and son, and reporting on playing with my son and going out in nature with my family. That pretty much covers it. (I have the coolest job(s) ever, no?) So the other day when my son helped with the decorations while baking, I had to take a picture. He was a perfect model, of course. But he decided the next day that it was my turn to model for him. Not one to copy the pose, I plastered the sugary (and quickly-dissolving-into-paste, I soon discovered) sprinkles on my face and struck a pose for him, as you see above.
After allowing him to take a series of shots, the sprinkles were turning into rainbow goo on my face, which wasn't nearly as bad as the ones at my hairline, which had turned into this paper-maché-feeling goop of hair and water and sugar. I decided it would be a good time for a shower, and headed toward the bathroom, pulling my shirt off. David stopped me here, complaining that SpongeBob was starting on another channel and if he didn't catch it right now, life as we know it would surely end. I walked back out in a bra, which was a big, huge, sports bra number, comfortable and about as revealing as many shirts, so I didn't worry. But, it was clearly a bra, and it was at this moment, in this state -- wearing a red bra, gooey sugar sprinkles covering my face, hair wet and sticking up like antennae from my forehead, remote in hand and myself catching the first minutes of SpongeBob ("Patrick, I'm gonna blow the biggest bubble ever") that I remembered I had earlier opened the blinds and window to let in some air. The window looks directly into our living room, and of course it was at that moment that my neighbor walked by and did a double-take, and a triple-take, and a what-the-hell-take, before shrugging and walking into the laundry room.
I was scrubbed clean, and clothed, when she returned to fetch her clothes. I waved, and she waved back. But she looked pretty uncertain.
I'm baking a pie in a few. I think I'll remain clothed and unsprinkled today.
But you know what? David loves the picture. And that makes it more than worth it.
(Yeah, I'm getting cornball. I'm a mom, and it's Thanksgiving tomorrow. Give me a break.)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
My first reaction was Weird. But then I thought of the "celebration of life" service we held when my father died. People wore shorts. We played Queen, Frank Sinatra, Hakuna Matata. We remembered and cried, sure, but we made light too. We laughed.
OK, I still think they're weird. But I can see people using some of these for those purposes. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have used one or wanted one for himself, but I can see my father grinning at the Star Trek and MLB products.
The cat and dog ones are kind of weird, though. And Precious Moments? Somehow very creepy. Making light or no, it just seems like "precious" shouldn't be ascribed to a vessel holding anyones' remains.
In the end, I guess, as long as the person's wishes are met as closely as possible, I would get a silly urn, or shoot someone's remains into space, or even put a bag over my head and get a Precious Moments casket. It's just a body, after all.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I was talking with my husband the other day about parents medicating kids, and the pros and cons therein.
I mentioned that my parents struggled while making the decision to not medicate me for ADD, and that I was happy with it, even though I have a pretty non-small case of it, which has carried on into adulthood.
"You have ADD?" my husband asks.
Now, it didn't occur to me to think of stigmas associated with conditions, or anything like that. I was flabbergasted because, if you spend two nanoseconds with me, this news will probably come as no surprise. It was like him asking "You're a writer? Really? And a mom?" I don't revel in it, but like it or not, it's a big part of who I am day to day.
You know that dream where you realize you're at school with no pants on? It really happened to me. I once forgot to put on my pants after P.E., and walked out.
I can hold my own against PhD physicists in logical debates, but my 5-year-old can now give me a run for my money at Blue's Clues Memory.
I interrupt my while talking to myself.
I plan the rest of my life, every Sunday evening.
In the shower, I often shave one leg but somehow forget the other.
I have written reminder notes on my hand, figuring it's the one thing I won't lose, only to take a shower and realize the reminder note has washed off.
I routinely begin to make an impassioned point, and between my rampant verbosity and my ADD, by the time I reach the all-important pivotal zinger, I've totally forgotten what it was. This is also why I don't tell jokes more than two sentences long.
I constantly forget why I went into a room once I get there. Worse, I forget which room I'm going to in mid-stride. Or, I have to stop and really think to figure out whether I was going into or out of the room.
My mom felt the need to hold my hand until I was 12 when crossing the street. Oh, that's right. Cars drive through there.
I'll go to put something away and on the way I see something else out of place so I stop to do that, but before I can do that I see something else that needs doing and the first thing never gets done. And I wonder why I can't get things done.
My cell phone has far more calls from my husband than anyone else, but not because he calls me -- it's because I have to call my phone from his to find it every single time.
I buy identical, cheap pens in bulk and scatter them on every level surface in my home so I can find something to write with when I need it. This leads to writing notes and messages on every paper or paper-like substance around (receipts, old pizza boxes, napkins, unopened mail, old newspapers, a big something-with-a-face that my son drew, magazine subscription cards.) These items now contain vital information and can never be thrown away. The can also never be found again.
I have a particular spot where I put the items I need to take with me each morning. I know that if I put one of the items ANYWHERE but the Magic Spot, I will absolutely and without fail leave without it in the morning.
Someone (I won't say who) pointed out to me recently (well, semi-recently) that I constantly use parentheses when writing articles, stories or letter (or just about anything). And I suddenly realized with a (and it's about time!) that not only do I interrupt other people, but I also constantly interrupt myself.
It's 2 a.m., I have to be up at 5 a.m., but if I go to bed now that would be ridiculous, because I might miss finding something on the Internet or hey, what was that book I was trying to find and wait, this show clip here looks really interesting, and then OH MY GOD is it really 4 a.m.? Okay, if I go to bed now, I can still get one hour of sleep, right after I read this blog.
When I'm baking I usually have to measure and remeasure before adding each ingredient, because I keep losing track of how many cups/teaspoons/etc. I've added.
I decided to finally clean my car the other day, because it looks like I've moved there. After bagging up several bags of either trash or take-in-the-house stuff, I panicked when I couldn't find my keys. After untying and rooting through most of the bags, I realized the keys were in the ignition because I had been listening to music.
And, I started this post a while ago, and abruptly abandoned/forgot it.
So we heard, from a classmate of my son's, during the morning procession from parking lot to classroom door this morning.
Walking hand-in-hand with my son just a few steps behind (and thus well within earshot), I mentally chanted: Please don't say anything. Please don't say anything.
"Mom? Mom!" he said in a stage whisper, audible throughout the parking lot and likely down at the street corner.
"Yes, David?" I said, not bothering to whisper.
"I'm not supposed to talk about things like underwear and butts and stuff until we get home, right?"
"But I can ask you about it then?"
At least he's trying. My son understands the impropriety of seeing and talking about "private" matters, but at the same time, we're trying to raise him with a healthy sense of the matter; we don't assign shame or the word "dirty" to anything. Hence, his tendency to usually, and I stress usually, follow the sanction against public panty discourse, and his utter lack of comprehension when Mom and Dad are red-faced when he slips up.
While none of us run around half-dressed at home, a recent fascination of his is bright colors and anything he considers "fancy"-looking. Lingerie departments have become an adventure.
On a trip to a department store, I went in the dressing room to try on a few items. The dressing room, like most, is located seemingly in the heart of the lingerie department. To get there, you go through a corridor of bras and nighties and shorts featuring SpongeBob SquarePants in places SpongeBob was never meant to be.
According to my husband, while I was in there, the dialogue went like this.
"Dad! Mom should have this!"
He looked over to find my son with a fist planted inside a fiery red satin bra.
"Mom doesn't need that, sweetie."
"But she would like it! It's like her other fancy red one!"
"No, that's okay. She doesn't need one. Try to be a little quieter, please."
"But she likes to wear her fancy red one! And she already has a pink one that's fancier, so the red one could be her new one."
"She doesn't need it, David. It's not even her size."
"What is her size?"
"Never mind. Just don't play with those, please. We're not buying any."
"Is Mom buying any?"
"No. Why don't you look at something else?"
"Okay. Hey! SpongeBob is on those underwear! Are those for girls or boys?"
"There's some for both. They have a kind for girls and a kind for boys. But these are for adults."
"Why? SpongeBob is a kids' show."
"I don't know. We're not getting any."
"So is that where the penis goes on the boys' ones? Why is SpongeBob right there?"
"David, I don't know. Please be a little more quiet."
At this point, I came out to ask his opinion on a pair of slacks.
My husband: "Hey! There's Mom! They look fine; they both look fine. Let's go." I got two new pairs of pants that day, with absolutely no discussion or protest.
A few days later, I came out of the bathroom to find David waiting patiently to show me something.
"My snake has babies, and they're using a lacy blanket!"
Your ... whaaa? I had no idea. All I remembered was that I had left the laundry on the couch to fold, so I figured he'd grabbed something out of there. It didn't really register.
He led me to the love seat, where he'd brought a stuffed snake he's had for a while. He had nestled the snake's midsection inside a particular intimate article of clothing, which is pink and is indeed lacy. Next to it was a neat row of tampons ... the babies.
We have a new rule. Except for laundry chores, no one is to touch anyone's underwear except his or her own. I never really thought I would officiously lay down such a law, but it seems to be working.
And the lady from the parking lot, according to my son's friend, had a "string coming out of her pants." Gotta love whale-tails in the elementary school parking lot.
Monday, October 15, 2007
(Thanks goes to Otis Redding for the ripped-off post title; "Tramp" is the last song I heard.)
Today - October 15th – is the very first annual Blog Action Day. As the international dateline passes over the world, over fifteen thousand bloggers will be posting about the environment on their blogs.
As you might know, I'm writing a manuscript for my master's thesis about children and nature, and so I've been pretty big into the environment lately, especially concerning kids and their connection to it. I believe this is at the heart of environmental issues as a whole. Because however we have to do it, if we don't get the next generation passionate about some aspect of nature, they won't care to save it -- and won't have the first clue how to do so should it occur to them.
OK, so we all know that already. But what I didn't realize until very recently is that I needed my son to help me remember how to appreciate the environment.
I've wanted to recycle, protect the environment, adopt endangered animals and save the rain forest since I was five. And I guess I did, at least as much as I could. My fourth grade class adopted a humpback whale and I stared at the pictures they sent us in the donor packet for days. I crushed and collected more cans than I can count, trading them in for approximately 1.5 cents per zillion cans, but not really caring, because money's not the point. I reminded anyone who would listen that rain forests are home to two-thirds of all the living animal and plant species on Earth, and even knew the save-the-rain forest rap-jingle ("Welcome to the jungle; it's so exciting/ Exotic, mysterious: we are inviting/ You on an adventure, so pay attention please/ Pythons, macaws, all the other species." Put it in a jingle, and I'll remember it.)
Of course these are all necessary efforts, and, I still think, essential issues to get kids interested in. But the one thing that was missing in these efforts was the constant, hands-on contact that allowed me to really get to know nature.
As author Richard Louv wrote in his awesome book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, "A child today can likely tell you about the Amazon rain forest but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move." This, I think, sums it up perfectly.
As enlightening and crucial as global-environment understanding is, it wasn't while adopting humpbacks or singing the Rain Forest Rap ("Where living things vary from jaguars to ants!") that I really got to know nature.
I got to know nature in my own backyard, mucking in the dirt.
When I was in elementary school, some friends and I decided we were going to save the world. Or at least the world's snails, scorpions and horned toads. I'd read plenty of books on the topic - did you know that in Greek mythology, the scorpion is conjured by the gods to hound and punish Orion? Or that with the tail, containing neurotoxic venom, is removed, one can eat a scorpion, if chewed rapidly? Or, that horned toads can squirt blood from their eyes, for a distance of up to three feet, or that all land snails are hermaphrodites? I did. My two friends soon did, too. We decided we were on a mission to educate the world. Because how can you not think something's worth saving that shoots freakin' blood from its eyes?
I spent many a weekday afternoon idly roaming, catching geckos and horned toads among scrub where the Sonoran Desert met quasi-developed land while waiting for my dad, a teacher, to finish school business. One friend would con a teacher of hers into allowing us to appropriate classroom supplies to house the critters, and my other friend, a talented artist, would sketch the animals. Add to that an obscure 1948 paper, Snails of the Sierra Ancha, Arizona, that I'd come across in the American Midland Naturalist journal (my hours not spent traipsing through the desert were spent pestering librarians); a covered irrigation something-or-other I discovered at my grandma's apartment complex that doubled as a haven for perpetually mating brown garden snails; and a piece of plywood that resided outside the west end of our home for a decade, whose purpose was never revealed to me but which I assumed was there to shelter the scorpions I visited each night -- and you can't help but have the makings of a naturalist, specializing in yucky stuff.
This -- the comparatively mundane, until you account for the hands-on factor -- was what got me into nature. And it's what excites my son.
Today, I'm back into research papers; exotic creatures; and political moves that could alter, or destroy, or save, our planet, on a planetary scale. And of course it's important. And of course I've grown up, and should move beyond only mucking around.
But while I haven't ever forgotten that we need to save nature, I think I forgot how to be stoked about nature. And kids. thus stoked, tend to remember the innate facts of nature better than adults.
Nature is fragile. Grown-ups revere the grandeur of nature, imagining that the natural world operates only on the scale of the immense and in slices of time so monumental as to approach eternity. But kids know the split-second rain starts to fall, or the fragility of a bird's egg fallen to the ground.
Nature is connected. Everything is connected. "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" might not be biologically accurate, but kids have the right idea. From the bacteria upon which all life depends, to a virus sixty times smaller than a red blood cell destroying the life of a young woman, to the star exploding across the galaxy, witnessed by an astronomer eons after the fact. It's all connected. My son's a lot better at remembering that than I.
And nature is funny. David's reminded me, for example, that the nature-show narrative "The boobies come in great numbers, as far as the eye can see," is good for an afternoon of laughter. I know the simple joy that comes from pulling up to the stop sign beside the neighborhood horse stables at the exact moment two mares engage in synchronized defecation
And nature is experienced in daily, almost mundane vignettes of life.
He's in kindergarten now. I pick him up from school, and after a snack of cheese and juice, he wants to paint. This has become my favorite part of the day: the sun is nearing the horizon, dinner is cooking, and the house is calm. I get the watercolors and an old margarine dish for water, and we sit at the dining room table and begin. I used to coach him, try to guide him to use the correct colors -- cardinals are red, not purple, and there really is no black or brown in a rainbow.
I've learned better.
He finishes his painting. It's a rainbow -- this one features, top to bottom, red, yellow, purple, black, yellowish black, green, brown and orange -- surrounded by cerulean blue sky over an emerald swath of grass. A yellow-ball sun breaks through patches of sky in the top right corner, and in the bottom left he's written in red crayon: "David loves Mom" and "10 + 20 = 30" (he's proud of his mathematical prowess). Later he uses a black crayon to add a conglomeration of rectangles, circles and triangles with appendages. "That's you and me walking in the wild," he announces.
Or: I pick him up from school another day. He clearly is bothered by something, but he doesn't reveal it to me for a few minutes.
Finally: "I did a really sad thing. There was a cricket, and Matthew was hurting, it, and I didn't stop him, and I think he squished it."
His inaction clearly bothers him more than his classmate's action. I have the urge to tell him that it's okay as long as he tries next time, that maybe the cricket is okay if he didn't see it get squished. But I know we're past that stage.
That weekend, it looks like rain. We pop in a SpongeBob DVD and eat a lunch of French toast and eggs, and hear the beginning patter of rain outside. We smile. It hasn't rained for months, and we've missed it. The sentence "The weather is nice," here, means rain, not sunshine.
"I want to go outside," he says. "I want to see if there are any puddles yet."
I say sure, let me get my sandals on. But he is already up and at the door, barefoot and resolute. We forgo shoes.
There are indeed puddles forming, and I flash back to when I was ten. The retention basin by our church would fill up during monsoon season, forming an overnight swimming hole. The puddles here are much more shallow, but the rain is coming down steadily now, an insistent pounding and susurration instead of a patter. The puddles cover David's bare feet and he pounces into them, splashing mud and water up to his shoulders. Several minutes later, winded and soaked and smelling of rain and soil, he dances, dislodging arcs of droplets as he flings his arms and spins.
I used to be mortified if I attracted attention. Now, despite the odd glances from a couple walking their dog, I dance with my son in the rain. Later, we go cricket hunting. (We let them all go, of course.)
Perhaps, in introducing nature to my son, I'm not merely passing down a legacy. I'm preserving it, reawakening it, in myself. There's nothing more humbling, after all, than the constant bombardment of questions from a child. Take this recent exchange:
My son (pointing to a tarantula we'd discovered on a walk): Is that a boy or a girl?
Me: I think it's a girl.
Me: Well, she's larger, and ... You know, wait. I think some male tarantulas actually are bigger.
Me: I'm not sure. But anyway, this one is hunting, I think.
Him: What's it hunting?
Me: Well, maybe insects, or rodents, or a centipede like that one we saw back there.
Him: What about the centipede?
Me: What about it?
Him: Why do you think it's called a centipede, when it doesn't have a hundred legs? And why does the tarantula hunt it, when it's hard to catch and eat? Why doesn't its body eat plants?
Clearly, the wonder, in both senses of the word, is thriving in at least one of us.
All this comes at a time when the latest generation needs, perhaps more than ever, to become acquainted with nature. Icons that even the most casual and disconnected couch potato could name -- the Everglades, Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park, the Rocky Mountains, saguaro cacti -- may not survive in their present form much longer. In our back yard, my son and I might be looking at the last sentinels of a dying breed: within five years, scientists say Arizona's iconic saguaros will face a substantial increase in the threat from fire, thanks to the expansion of the insatiable, invasive buffel grass, introduced in south Texas and now taking over vast swaths of the Southwest.
Nature is meaning. It is reincarnation, and life, and words, and laughter and heartbreak and alliances and pride and shame. It is where things have begun to make sense to my son. It is where motherhood has begun to make sense to me. It is where I will continue to teach my son about life, although I'm sure, in a few years, he will pretend not to care. I hope he will rediscover, as I have, that he loves it.
I am not saying that everyone will find magic and salvation in snail slime, or in a stream, or in the crazy-fragile spiral dance of monarchs. I am only saying that it is there. And those who find it are better for it.
On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in his or her own way and relating to his or her own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
A recent trip to take out the garbage drove the point home for me. As I carried a particularly large armload of trash to the Dumpster, I balanced an old can of baked beans on one finger. My husband had been so kind as to leave the quarter-full can out, so I'd sequestered the spoiled remnants to the front step and plucked it up on my way to the trash, my arms already loaded with bags. As the smell of brown sugar and bacon wafted from the can and I lurched unevenly across the parking lot, I felt a poking-creeping on my hand. I figured it to be an insect, or even a spider, and glanced over fairly unperturbed – the only spiders I tend to worry about around here are black widows, which are much smaller than the sharpish prickling I felt along my pinky and ring fingers now, inching toward the back of my hand. But when I glanced along my right arm, I saw a tawny, gold tail exiting the can after its owner.
I didn’t think about biology, or habitat, or the desert in all its awesomeness. I thought: Bug. Hard. Exoskeleton. Tail. Scorpion. Venom. Fling.
And fling I did, sending a bag crashing to the ground, baked bean remnants flying up over my arm, hand and shirtsleeve; the can clanking into a nearby curb – and sending the hapless arachnid spiraling briefly into the air. Its tail extended and curled; its claws splayed out ineffectively. It landed on the pavement, its carapace making a soft clack, righted itself and scurried into the bushes.
It was, of course, at this point that my landlord chose to pull up beside me. I’ve chatted with the landlord a grand total of two times in the past year, but as I shook-wiped the lumpy mass of week-old baked beans from my right hand and forearm, she approached and extended her hand.
I waved and smiled. She didn't stay and chat for long. I wonder why.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Which shouldn't be a problem, really. Except that, this being my second year, things need to be really pulling together now. We're past the planning phase. The honeymoon is over. Write write write.
See, the writing is not a problem -- I love writing, which is good, or I would not only have made a seriously wrong career choice, I'd now be several thousand dollars in debt training for said wrongheaded career. But maybe the honeymoon/romance analogy is not all that absurd. You know how, in the beginning of a relationship, everything is great? How the other person looks at you, that little tilt of the head, and laughs (endearingly, of course) at the most inane of things? Or how planning -- where you'll go that night, what movie to watch, how your wedding will look, what excuse to use on that annoying couple when they suggest a double date, how to cover when said excuse falls apart, how you'll both be better at sticking to the story next time, any planning -- is fun?
But you know how, eventually, it's not exciting and it's not planning anymore because all of these things are foregone? The same couple is still calling even though you've been working-that-weekend for two years now. Your partner is tilting his head again. And if he laughs at the damn Geico cavemen again, you just might have to shoot the television.
That's how planning a project seems to me. And right now, I'm feeling pretty post-honeymoon about the whole enterprise. I love starting projects. I love envisioning the project, exploring new avenues, expanding potential, making new contacts, writing snippets to be tied together later. But I seem to have this pathological inability to focus on one thing for longer than five minutes, which makes a two-year project something of a challenge. I am the absolute worst follow-througher in the universe, so a great many of the issues that were knocking around at the start of my project are still knocking around. And while the topic never ceases to excite me to the point of breathless verbosity, I'm pretty darn tired of those things. And they paralyze me. I need focus. I need devoted, daily, constant attention to the things I don't want to address, or they will drown me and my awesome project with me.
So I have hammered out a write-daily-unless-you-are-deceased ultimatum for myself, and have told my husband and son that I need to stick to a schedule. I believe in my project, and I believe in myself, so I guess it's a matter of not letting the fact I have the attention span of a goldfish get in the way. Hey, goldfish are actually pretty cool. Did you know they can grow up to... Uh. Anyway. Attention. Right. I can care deeply, passionately, all-encompassingly about something, but unless it's my son (who is impervious to my uber-ADD, which I can only guess means I have an even stronger case of motherhood), I seem distracted by the tiniest, most irrelevant little ... Oooh! Shiny!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
"Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Mom!" he exclaimed. I just stared quizzically at him -- I'd never read or mentioned the book, to my knowledge. Turns out he picked up the line from a character in the Nickelodeon cartoon Danny Phantom, about a teenage hero who's a kid-turned-part-ghost. The vice principal at his high school, Mr. Lancer, uses book titles as exclamations in nearly every appearance, i.e.: "Gulliver's Travels! I'm losing my mind-- and my pants!" or "War of the Worlds, creature, get away from my youthful charges!" or a recent one, when the local burger joint was attacked, simply, "Fast Food Nation!" He had uttered the Traveling Pants comment after inexplicably finding himself in the women's bathroom.
I limit David's television time, but if he's going to repeat lines and principles from the tube, he could do worse than literary references. Or my personal favorite cartoon influence, Jimmy Neutron. David gets most of his research from actual nonfiction reading, but from this show he's gleaned the number and relative size of Mars' moons, Thomas Edison's role as an inventor (although he also knows Edison didn't "invent electricity" as the episode claims but rather invented the long-lasting light bulb -- blame his nit-picking mom), and what a leptictidium was (a prehistoric mammal).
And I know the shows both portray highly unrealistic scenarios, and that they don't always get the book stuff right, and are pretty flippant at that. But who cares? Regarding the unrealism, I love a little smart fantasy in my stories. And painstakingly accurate or not, what I really like about shows like these two is that the main characters are interested in meaty things from time to time. I gripe about shows getting worse and being stupid for stupid's sake, but I think at the same time some cartoons are better than some I had as a kid.
And copied or not, I thought David was pretty clever to employ the Traveling Pants comment at an appropriate time. He's a smart one. By the time he's 6 he'll be outsmarting me (if I'm lucky to make it that far).
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
I was beat the other night, and my husband Aaron was playing a computer game (and therefore wouldn’t have noticed if I had burst into flames, shed all my clothes, grown a second head or all of the above), so I picked up a novel for a few minutes of mental vacation. Surprisingly, Aaron asked about it. I started describing it, telling him something like how it was fluid and poetic and was an interwoven story about the lives of several women linked to two central characters, touching on theater, the biblical narrative of King David and an eccentric family life. I got all excited and began telling him about a particular writing strategy she employed that I wanted to try with a current work. In fact, I said, I have to go make some notes – and at this point I bounded out of bed and fired up my computer.
He looked at me as though I had just finished enumerating the merits of cleaning the port-o-heads at the State Fair.
Now I am unimaginably fortunate to have an intelligent, long-suffering husband who is willing to discuss with me (or listen to me discuss) just about any issue under the sun, even when I feel compelled to hold forth on my political passions at 2 a.m. But it’s at times like this that I really appreciate the connections I have to other writers. Who else gets honestly excited about parallels I see between the novel The Hours and tactics I’d like to use in my current nonfiction work? For that matter, who gets so abjectly offended at misuses of grammar, or bemoans tired plot devices, or understands why I had to ask an interview subject what color his coffee cup was or what, exactly, he said to the friend who just betrayed him? I may be overstepping boundaries to put myself in league with some of the writers I know, but I do know it’s darn refreshing to spend time talking shop.
The coffee cup, by the way, was orange with green stripes. He didn’t remember what he said in that life-altering moment, but assures me it was memorable.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Apparently the procedure's been around for quite a while -- I did seem to remember something about it from the dredges of memory -- and is gaining some momentum among pet owners who want to neuter their pet dog but feel they are depriving the poor pooch of doggie masculinity, or are making him feel empty, or perhaps they feel guilty endorsing the removal of such a clearly enjoyable licking diversion. I'm not sure. At any rate, the procedure is done after an animal is neutered, and replaces the real deals with silicone lookalikes. They've sold over 250,000 sets since 1995, costing up to $1,800, "for implantation in animals as diverse as a rhesus monkey in Arkansas and a water buffalo in Colorado." Most vets seem slightly bemused, some disapproving but some willing to humor eccentric owners if it encourages the control of pet populations.
The thing that got me the most was the statement that Neuticles are "marketed for their 'real' shape and feel."
Huh? Feel? Assuming dogs aren't too discerning while licking their nether-regions (and I think we can assume this is the case), who is feeling these? I guess I can sort of, kind of, almost see how someone overly concerned with manliness or gender in general would appreciate Neuticles as a sort of showcase for the dog's alleged mettle. But who's conducting tactile examinations? Another guy said he liked the procedure because otherwise it "just wouldn't look right." I don't know; I think I generally engage pets via the other end.
In related news (yes, really) we recently took our new cat in to be neutered (sans Neuticles request). After a cursory examination, the vet called me back to tell me there was nothing left to remove. Something of an animal person and (I thought) pretty observant, I felt fairly stupid to have overlooked this. I asked: "So, uh how can you..."
"Tell? Like this." At this point he received a considerably peeved look from the cat as he demonstrated how he arrived at his conclusion. "It's not receded at all, so you wouldn't really know unless you palpated the scrotal sack. See?" I assured him I did not, in fact, make a habit of palpating such things.
The cat continued to shoot reproachful looks at me the whole way home.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Thanks to everyone who (offline or online) has already offered help, support, thoughts, prayers, kind words or just warm fuzzy vibes. We certainly appreciate it.
I might have more to say about this in the future (as I do about a great many things) but I think at this time I'll just let the reality of it sink in, and take solace in the love of my family and my privilige to love them back. Cheesy, I know, but very true, and very treasured, especially now.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
We're all pretty excited about the new addition: my husband and I about welcoming another child, and my son about being a big brother. His list of things to introduce to the baby grows daily, and he already plans to pass on a love of animals, hiking, music, SpongeBob, astronomy, and probably a few hundred other things.
Actually, my husband was really excited, once he figured out what was going on. I had to tell him during a day he was sleeping (not off nights yet), so our conversation went:
(Me clearing my throat loudly)
Me: Oh, are you awake?
Me: Hey, I just wanted to show you something.
Him: Hmph mmmrpx.
Me: Hey, check this out.
Him (prying eyes open) Mmmp; whuss that?
Me: It's a pregnancy test.
Him: What does the plus mean?
Me: Plus means the test is positive.
(Me leaving in slight disgust.)
Him (5 hours later): Did you tell me you were pregnant?
Sunday, June 3, 2007
So a scammer called me today. Again.
I've gotten dozens of calls from the "Windows technical support" guys (it's almost always guys, and this one seemed peeved with me for being in possession of both a uterus and a brain), and usually it interrupts my day for a minute or less, and I hang up on them. I know I should always hang up on them, but sometimes I just can't help it. I want them to at least know that I know they're a scam. (I succeeded with the tactic once with a different scammer. They got scared, hung up, and never called back. It was very satisfying.)
I'm always polite, however long the conversation. Even with the scammers. I always say no thank you; please don't call; thanks for taking us off your list; have a nice day. I figure some of these people might be duped into the scam themselves (though I'm probably being way too generous there); and besides, I really am trying to make a point. They're the jerks, not me. But sometimes I engage in a conversation, like I did today. Call me a futile-causes moral crusader.
This issue particularly gets me because I know several people who have been taken in by scammers just like this guy -- pretending to be computer support, or banks, or repairmen, or guys protecting you from the "other" scammers, or long-lost relatives or probably a million other guises I can't rattle off at the moment. People I know and love have lost money to these losers. They (the loved ones in question) might be naive, sure, but so what? These scammers play on people's willingness to trust other people. Pretty evil.
And these guys are nice. They're deferential, complimentary, respectful, and cheerful. They'll tell you what a wise decision you're making or how there should be more compassionate people like you in the world. Until you don't do exactly what they say. Then they get mean. One recent call told me "Your computer is going to be all messed up and then you're going to be in big trouble," before yelling at me.
I only regret that I didn't have my recorder handy today, but below is a near-verbatim transcript of our conversations (there were two). I'm sharing it in hopes that maybe people will realize just how nasty these guys are. I'll try to have the recorder running next time. Maybe I'll even troll one. That seems fun.
If you're inclined to trust anyone when you didn't solicit the interaction, just don't. Hang up and call the organization (your bank, say, or Microsoft, which is in no way associated with these guys). If the issue is geniune, the organization will understand your caution, and if it's not, you've avoided a scam.
If you're still inclined to trust scammers (and I've had conversations with people who remain unconvinced that others could be so calculatingly devious), newsflash: They're not nice. You don't have to be nice back. Proof? Here's the conversation (warning: F words near the end):
Him: Hello; this is Dustin from Windows technical support about your computer.
Me: Hi, yeah. I've talked to your "department" (the sarcastic quotes were definitely implied) several dozen times before. I'm not interested.
Him: Ma'am (he called me "Ma'am" no fewer than 20 times, but I'll omit some for brevity -- do they think this somehow magically makes me like them?), how can you be not interested?
Me: Because I know what you're offering. My computer is fine. No thank you.
Him: No. Wait. Wait ma'am. Please, ma'am. Ma'am, you don't understand.
Me: I think I do. And no thank you. Please don't cal...
Him: Ma'am! Wait, ma'am! You don't understand. Your computer is send...
Me: Yes. I know. My computer is "sending reports," and you need me to download software that hooks you up with it. No. Thank. You. Do not call...
Him: NO! You don't understand! Your computer is sending us reports...
Me: Mmm hmm...
Him: And we need you to turn on your computer...
Me (sitting at a computer that's on): No.
Him: Why not?!
Me: I'm not interested. Please stop calling here.
Him: Ma'am, just turn on your computer! I need to see some things...
Me: If you're really getting reports about what's going on, why do you need me to do anything?
Him: Ma'am, why are you being difficult? I am being nice to you. You do not understand.
Me: I think I'm being very accommodating. I'm going to hang up now. Goodbye.
Him: Ma'am! You do not understand about computers!
Me: I think I do, actually.
Him: I think you don't. I understand, and I'm trying to tell you. Why are you being so upset?
Me: I won't be upset, if you hang up.
Him: No, ma'am, you don't understand your computer. I just need to you to run it with me...
Me: And see scary error reports, and install something that lets you control my computer, and probably sell me something besides. I don't think so.
Him: Ma'am, why are you saying these things?
Me: Why are you doing them?
Him: Ma'am, I'm only trying to help you.
Me: Then please don't call here again. I know you're a scam.
Him: Ma'am, the alerts your computer is sending...
Me: Really? I'm telling you right now, I do not believe you. The only reason I'm still on the phone with you is so I can tell you I know you're a scam and avoid being on the phone with you in the future.
Him: If you turn on your computer...
Me: It is on. Both of them. But I guess you'd know that, from all the reports you're getting on your end. That's enough. Goodbye.
Him: OK. Ma'am. Ma'am, can I ask you one thing?
Him: Can I fuck you?
Me: Can you ... fuck me?
Him: Yes. Can I. Fuck you.
Me: Have fun scamming other people. Goodbye.
I hung up.
He called back.
Him: Ma'am, this is Dustin from Windows Technical Support.
Me: Really? Come on.
Him: Ma'am, I wanted to ask you, you said I couldn't fuck you?
Him: Can I? Can I do it? Fuck you?
Me: Um. No.
Him: Why not? Why can't I fuck you? I want to fuck you.
Me: That is really enough of that.
I hung up and tried to call the number back, but of course I couldn't. I got out my recorder in case they called back. They haven't. I'll keep it handy for next time.
Just don't trust them.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Now I know the nostalgia bit is as old as getting old itself, and I was a child during the 80s, grew up in the 90s, so I really shouldn't be able to indulge in this yet. But it seems no one is young-ish anymore; you go right from young and hip (well, I was never hip. I don't think the word "hip" is actually hip either) to being outright old. I'm currently reaching some of those you-know-you're-old milestones:
Even those places that say "We card everyone" no longer card me. It only seems worse when I look at signs that read "You must have been born after this date to purchase alcohol or cigarettes..." and both of the dates are in the 80s.
People my age have been running for public office for a few years now.
I no longer listen to music stations. It's public radio and audiobooks all the way.
On the rare occasions that I do tune in, I find myself switching over to variety stations that play "older" music. I actually heard REM and The Police on an oldies station, for heaven's sake.
I can't seem to find any clothes that appeal to me in any sections younger than careerwoman-style areas. I don't even like the music -- is it music? -- that they play in those sections.
I realize the "Iran Hostage Crisis" doesn't only refer to events of recent weeks.
I am frequently referred to as "Ma'am." From behind, no less. Apparently, I have a Ma'am ass.
I've found myself saying, "We'd better get home before it gets too late. It's already 8:30."
I remember when no one carried cell phones, and also when the few you saw were those giant bricks that required two hands and a back brace to use.
I remember when you used floppy disks -- that were actually floppy -- and had to manually close the disk drive and take a nap while the program loaded.
TNT has run some of my all-time favorite movies, as "New Classics." Classics?
My son describes a record player as such: "It lets you play these things that look like big, black CDs."
Events that happened in my lifetime, and not just Iraq, have been in history books for several years.
High schools apparently now have "80s dress-up days."
There's a poor cover or three to nearly every song I grew up with.
We were mentioning professional wrestlers to make a point in conversation. I put in: "Bruce The Barber Beefcake! The Ultimate Warrior!"
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I would have stayed in bed, mind you, through most anything. But this particular disruption came bearing fur, a loud voice and a mind of its own, and wasn't about to be ignored. At said ungodly hour, I'm minding my own business, drifting pleasantly in a dream of bowling alleys and barbecue ribs (a story for another time). I feel a slight poke on my eye. I roll over and ignore it.
I feel a thumping following my roll. Poke, again, on the eye. Poke-poke-poke. I ignore it, trying to give not the slightest indication I feel anything.
Poke. Poke-poke-poke. POKE-POKE-POKE. SHOVE-POKE. On this last one, my eye pushes in, making those dark swimmy spots and that blechy feeling, which, since I have a headache already, feels real swell. I open the assaulted eye and see a giant orange paw coming in for another round, until its owner realizes he's had success.
"Mraow? Rrow. Purrrrr," the assailant says. I let him know my head feels like the site of a recent Rage in the Cage match, that it's too early, that he'd be wise to keep his paws to himself if he plans to keep them attached to his body. I close my eyes.
Poke. Poke. I open my eyes, call the cat a derogatory name, and lay down for one last try.
Poke. "Mraow? Purrr..." Poke. This time, he's doing it while perched on top of my neck and chest.
I get up, after which I am herded, sheepdog style, to a dish already mostly full of cat food.
Aldous Huxley once wrote, "To his dog, every man is Napoleon." He said no such thing, however, about cats.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Her: Can you get the bed?
Maybe it's that I work in words all day and I'm intolerant of superfluous ones. I don't know. At any rate, here's the actual conversation:
[Much preceding conversation]
My mom: So when can you get the bed?
Me: Any time is fine.
Her: How about 8:30?
Me: Sure; 8:30 is fine.
Her: 8:30 p.m.?
Me: 8:30 p.m.
Her: So you'll be ready to move it then?
Me: I'll be ready.
Her: See you at 8:30 tomorrow then?
Me: See you at 8:30.
So tonight, after unrelated craziness, I'm getting ready for the big bed move. It occurs to me that I accidentally left my cell phone in the car for a few minutes. I pick it up, and find two terse messages from my mom. I call back.
Me: So you called? I thought we were about to move the bed.
Her: Well I didn't know what you wanted to do.
Me: Uh, I thought we were moving the bed.
Her: I didn't know when you wanted to do it, or if you wanted to do it, or what...
Me: Didn't we say 8:30?
Her: We never really pinned it down.
Me: Yes, we did. We said 8:30. Like five times.
Her: Well, I didn't know if that would be OK.
Me: I said it would. A few times.
Her: Well, since we didn't know, we reassembled the bed. We might as well not move it now.
Me: Well, when would you like to do it?
Her: I guess tomorrow is fine, if you can.
Me: I can.
Her: Just call me tomorrow, so I'll know if you can do it.
Gotta love moms.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
On the plus side, if I do have to start from scratch, it will at least give me an excuse to do some serious spring cleaning to my online portfolio. You ever come across something you wrote in sixth grade decades later, and find yourself unable to read it without laughing, cringing, or both? That's about how I feel when I read the early articles I wrote. They're serviceable, of course, but you can almost feel the insertion of writerly-ism. Ick.
My mom, bless her heart, has kept several of these, including my very, very first article for a college newspaper, which is possibly worse than several things I wrote in sixth grade. Can't blame her, I guess. But these certainly (at least I hope) are no longer really representative of my writing right now. It's kind of like publishing your online profile at 40 with a high school graduation pic.
So perhaps it's best you haven't seen my website just yet, not that I'm particularly thrilled to be paying for a canceled account. But in the meantime, here's me:
I'm a 26-year-old, recently married freelance writer. I have a degree in journalism from Arizona State University, but in-depth studies and stories intrigue me much more than the fire-off-a-story, get-the-quote-right-now, inverted-pyramid world of newspaper beat journalism. I still rely heavily on my journalistic training every day, and I still write for The Arizona Republic and The East Valley Tribune when my schedule and their ever-changing editorial structure allows. The journalism training has allowed me great professional and personal growth, and some of my favorite mementos (my first front-page piece, my article that got close to 200 personal responses, my photo of me and Walter Cronkite) are from that world. However, I've recently gone the direction of the longer-form narrative, and I'm now pursuing a Master's in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in Maryland. It's an awesome, low-residency program that allows me to stay in Arizona while completing the degree, although there have been a fair share of misadventures and fiascoes inherent in correspondence learning.
My interests in writing tend toward science and nature, though I've done a fair share of human-interest and travel pieces as well. I've written for Arizona Highways Magazine for some time now, after scoring an invaluable internship there two years ago. I'm currently in the proto-planning stages of a book-length work on couples in which the husband and wife are/were both scientists, and the unique accomplishments and idiosyncrasies inherent to that type of arrangement. I've already gotten to meet some pretty cool people through that, and my biggest challenge will be remembering to be in unbiased-reporter mode rather than starstruck-dork mode when I'm spending time with them. It's tagged "Love in the Lab." I know this sucks. The title will change.
I'm also a mom (my son, David, just turned 5 March 11th) and engage in all the momminess that goes along with that. Until recently, I was a single mom, although I had (still have, in fact) inexhaustible and invaluable support of many family members, most of all from my own mother. I recently got married, December 2, 2006, - to my longtime best friend Aaron. Between his schedule (he's a retail manager) and my writing schedule, it's a juggling act, but we manage, and we're having fun. Our family is rounded out with two parakeets, Pretty Eyes and Rainbow (my son named them) and a recently-acquired large, sweet stray cat we named Momo.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I was sure my level of conceit would never quite reach this level. But I've been urged to publish a "writer's blog," whatever that is. And today, after the third time in a few hours encountering pivotal information on folks' wonderful blogs, I'm gaining a new respect for the form. Plus, I am looking for every possible way to meet new people and discover new possibilities in my magazine and longer-form writing. (More on my writing tomorrow, or maybe actually today, since it is currently the wee hours.) And double plus, it's in the writing that I discover what to really write about, so maybe I can discover a little of that here. (Lucky you -- you can read all my stuff in a really sucky proto-form! Yay!)
In the meantime, please visit my website at www.geocities.com/khosey1 -- I'm a freelance reporter, magazine writer, student, mom, and sometime amateur photographer, and the site contains samples or stories about these varied pursuits.
Welcome to my corner (molecule?) of the blogosphere.