Monday, October 20, 2008


If you're wondering why I'm semi-quiet on the blog recently, I actually have a real excuse this time. Aaron and I are looking to buy -- buy, as in our own, not renting -- our first house. I know, I know, buying a house in THIS market? But it's turning out to be relatively in our favor, providing we can manage our budget. The prices in our neck of the woods are pretty good right now, and since I'm hopeful the market will improve at least some in the next few years, it should turn out to be a decent buy.

I've been working on a few articles in the scraps of time I have between looking at houses, discussing terms, debating it with my husband and the realtor (playing the go-between, since he's virtually always at work), and reading a War and Peace-sized volume called "Disclosure Materials," but other than that I haven't been too coherent or eloquent. I'm not dumb, or irresponsible or naive, but I have to work to get a firm grasp on these kinds of things. Give me astrophysics or classical literature any day, but start talking EEM and FHA and NINA; SISA, SIVA, LPMI, BPMI, LPMI difference, and whatever else, and I start to glaze over a little.

More, and more interesting, posts to come.

In the meantime, if you were wondering what I did while waiting for callbacks on three house contracts and two interviews, or if you were wondering if I'm as nerdy as you remember, I leave you with this:

Monday, October 13, 2008

50 things to do in the near to not-so-distant future (let's say within ten years)

This post is courtesy of my friend Mary, who posted her list with an open request that we follow suit. I'm posting mine here because 1) I'm selfish and want it for my own blog; and 2) I tend to publish really long comments in other people's blogs and have begun to feel silly about it.

There are a ton of things I have done, even a bunch that are popular items on "things to do" lists: I've become a parent, married, hand-fed dolphins, seen a Shakespearean play at a theater where I had to dress fancy and felt the "theatre" spelling was totally appropriate, met Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw in the same evening, watched the sun set countless evenings from countless locales, read several classic novels, been to both the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, climbed a mountain (several times, and got lost one of them), volunteered, gone horseback riding, slept under the stars, visited several museums and art galleries. There are also a few other "experiences" which shall remain nameless here, owing to the mixed-company readership of this blog. (Don't worry, Mom. Nothing too mortifying.)

There are also several things that by definition can't be on this list, owing to the nature of reality or my fantastic ineptitude -- things I can never do: Perform any kind of dancing, see a World Series with my father, meet Madeline L'Engle, play any sort of professional sport, sing, be a perfect housekeeper.

So, without further ado, here's a list of fifty things I haven't done, but can see myself accomplishing:

  1. Take up a martial art, and mean it this time.
  2. Go on the honeymoon we never took.
  3. Nurture David's animal mania. Volunteer together somewhere that rehabilitates or rescues animals.
  4. Adopt a dog.
  5. Get scuba certified.
  6. Hang glide.
  7. Have an article published in National Geographic.
  8. Be important enough to be on the other end of a big-time interview.
  9. Speak fluent, not just passable, Spanish.
  10. Learn how to play at least one instrument well.
  11. Continue to improve my writing, so that five years from now, I feel about today's writing like I feel today about my five-years-ago writing.
  12. Publish a book.
  13. Stop being pathologically self-conscious. (Regular self-consciousness is plenty.)
  14. Have another kid or two. Or don't. Either way, continue to realize how incredibly privileged I am, and how perpetually perfect (though far from flawless) our family is.
  15. Travel outside North America. (15b: Convince Aaron to travel outside North America.)
  16. Run a marathon.
  17. Buy a house.
  18. Buy a better car. Take really good care of it this time.
  19. Learn all the major constellations by season. Teach David.
  20. Get better at using my telescope; learn to take non-lousy astrophotos.
  21. Learn to drive a manual transmission.
  22. Learn to wakeboard capably, without wiping out before I'm fully up and having my nails ripped from their nail beds by the rope handle.
  23. Teach David all the cool little things I know, or at least all the things that excite him: origami, how to safely catch and release any of a hundred different kinds of critters, how to build a sand castle that stays up, the bajillion different versions of poker that my father taught me.
  24. Become more involved in my son's school activities. (While still avoiding becoming THAT parent.)
  25. Write that piece on Dad, religion and baseball that's been knocking around in my head, and actually publish it somewhere.
  26. Get an article and photos published in a quality magazine. That pays.
  27. See whales in the wild. Take at least two great photos of them, then put away the camera and savor the experience.
  28. Dive with whale sharks and manta rays. Also, see great whites from a diving cage.
  29. Take my husband and son down the Grand Canyon for a trip that's at least partially as awesome as I remember it. Take a zillion pictures of the falls. Watch David swim in the falls, right where I did as a kid.
  30. Write some poetry again, except don't suck at it this time.
  31. Teach David how to tie his shoelaces properly, even if none of the shoes they make have laces anymore.
  32. Grow my own tomatoes.
  33. Tell, and more importantly show, the people in my life that I love them, and do it way more often than I do now.
  34. Do those photo collections I have in mind, if for no other reason than to please myself.
  35. Be brave enough to really surprise my husband. Preferably, make it a pleasant surprise.
  36. Give yoga a try.
  37. See the Northern Lights.
  38. Travel somewhere completely foreign in every sense of the word, and truly live like the locals.
  39. Vacation in Hawaii.
  40. Explore a rain forest.
  41. Teach college writing.
  42. Be able to handle: Basic car maintenance (beyond just the battery and spare tire), saying no when I mean no, in-depth conversations on the economy, deadlines, intimacy.
  43. Fix and actually develop my defunct website. Also, come up with a better title for my blog.
  44. Look into my son's eyes; see myself, my husband, my parents, and the totally individual being he is all rolled up together; and bask in it.
  45. Horse around with my husband and son when they ask me to. Even if I don't feel like it at first. (Remember that I really love it after, like, a nanosecond. And that they don't care if my ass looks ten kinds of fat as we roll around on the bed.)
  46. Get to really know someone who is so different than me in life outlook or circumstances that I cannot now imagine wanting to know them.
  47. Read all the books on my to-be-read list. Or all the ones that are currently on my list, at any rate. I'll have added just as many more by then.
  48. Spend more time with my mother out in nature.
  49. Become competent at managing my own time.
  50. Stop second-guessing myself. Start now, by posting this list without going back over it to see how eloquent my goals sound.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My meager contribution to political bloviating

I will leave the commentary on the campaign, election, presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates to more qualified bloggers, pundits, and the less-qualified who just can't help themselves, both because I'm not qualified beyond the oversaturation of news I take in each day and the stuff I subsequently look up to decode the news I take in each day; and because I'd like to sort of get my blog to a regular schedule and sort of on a consistent topic.

But I have to say this: Why does Ms. Palin think it's "time that normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency?" Really? Why on Earth would I want Joe Six-Pack, or any of his inexperienced kin, running this country? Shouldn't we rather prefer a president and vice president who are not the everyman? Who are better, or more experienced than the everyman, at least with regards to running a country, working with the judicial and legislative branches, foreign policy, the economy, and understanding both the power and responsibility that goes with such a role? I mean, McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden can be dumber than me about literature, or computer code, or plumbing, or the exact science behind science, or how to make enchiladas or the relative hotness of actors appearing on the Sci-Fi channel, or really any number of other things, important or unimportant, so long as they're smarter and more experienced than me where running a country is concerned. I would assume most people who happen to be both smart enough to purchase a six-pack and not possessing any special political or executive administration expertise or knowledge -- which is most people -- feel the same way. I mean, if we're going with that philosophy -- it being time for everyone to be represented in positions, to hell with experience or qualifications -- then how about preacher with chronic Tourette's Syndrome? How about junk-food-addicted nutritionist? Why should my doctor have to have studied and practiced before he operates on me? Hell, I should've skipped the master's degree I just got; why not just start teaching college courses right now? I'm sure my opinions and vague forays into writing qualified me completely before I ever started my more intense studies or got any real professional chops. And besides that, aren't we kind of at a point where we'd like to erase the picture the international community has of Americans as a bunch of Homer Simpsons?

Does she really think we'll all say "Oh gosh golly gee, she's a commoner! Let's elect her right away!" (To which I'm sure Ms. Palin would respond "You betcha I think so! It's all about shoring up support for the common folk, and ... Alaska ... Job creation ... See, it's all about being a maverick! And if you want examples, I'll bring 'em to ya!" Or something like that.)

I think the American people are smarter than that, even if we all act like Joe Six-Pack.

EDIT: Read this article, which is far less bitchy and brings up an even better point, one that was bothering me even though I wasn't smart enough to articulate it. People are people, after all. I don't think voters much appreciate being reduced to a one-liner, like we're that supporting character on a show whose only role is to be the wise old guy or send the kids off or show up and say "Did someone say sausage?" We all have richer lives than that. Even if the candidates don't have time to address all the nuances of our different lives (and they don't), they would do well to acknowledge they exist.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On not taking pictures

On not taking pictures
Originally uploaded by khosey1
(Moved from my Flickr page because it's more writing than picture, and because Leslie's right. Flickr, if you don't know, is a photo-sharing site that sees entirely too much of me. Of course, if I was a photographer instead of a writer by trade, I'd probably find some way to write stuff while neglecting my photography. I am indeed a moron.)

We went on a long walk the other day and we both brought our cameras. He's got my old H2, which is hella camera for a six-year-old, but between its past performance and his growing skill, it seemed like a good marriage. And it usually is. But this evening sucked for picture-taking. His battery was half-dead, my lens had a grain that I could see but not locate, all the bugs flew away as soon as we neared, a veritable throng of kids descended from seemingly nowhere making this noise, scaring away any remaining wildlife. The light sucked. Finally, out of frustration at his frustration (he looked like he wanted to murder the camera, but refused to just let it be and enjoy the scenery -- stubborn? just a tad), I mandated that we put the cameras away. (I wanted to keep mine out, but figured I should set an example.)

The evening opened up for us. The sky deepened to melon-orange and this vivid purply shade that was the exact color of an eye shadow my best friend and I wore when we were David's age and convinced it was exotic (I secretly still think so). The clouds, boring and grayish only a minute earlier, took on a bruised, brownish indigo look. I wanted to take the camera back out, but then he leaned on my shoulder. So we just sat. The most gigantic darner I'd ever seen landed a few feet away from us. We didn't care that it was now too dark to get a good shot. We just watched it. A cormorant appeared at unexpected places in the water at our feet, periscoping up right in front of us, diving and popping up almost a full minute later off to our left, then down again and up in thirty seconds, so distant now it was barely visible.

This is the only shot I took and saved that night. On our way back a tiny something streaked into our path. I thought it was a grasshopper at first, they're so abundant lately, but it was this young gecko, almost too small and fragile to pick up. We did anyway, because it seemed to have a baffling affinity for hiding under folks' feet. It clung there, making David's tiny hands look giant, until he relocated it safely to the brush. A half-dozen other people walked by, and he didn't even see them.

"This one's special," said a passing man, nodding to my son. I got a little choked up, so only nodded and smiled.

Taking pictures has helped me notice things I never did before. But sometimes, putting the camera away helps me really see them.