Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Love Your Sweater, Is It Beagle?

So I'm driving to work this morning - perhaps a bit too close to the car ahead of me, but that's why God invented bumper stickers - when I find myself behind one of those Soccer Mom Quasi-SUV things. You know what I mean. It's really a minivan (hello, seats many) but squared off in the corners, so maybe the outside world will believe it's crammed full of mountain bikes or kayaks instead of gooey children.

The rear window of this monstrosity is covered with a decal that says:

Hair of the Dog

OK, so this is not the mom you elect as designated driver for the pizza parties, right?

Oh wait, maybe it's a business name. Now I'm interested. Maybe they deliver...what does this small print below say...

Designer Yarn Hand Spun

wait for it...

From Your Beloved Pet

...OK, all together now: Ewwww!

from your dog? This is what we're doing now? To make what, pray tell?

I am so checking all my labels when I get home tonight...

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Think I'm Lost...Which Way To Mango's?

If only I could write this post:

"Have decided to move to South Beach. From now on will be blogging from my hammock, cold drink in hand. Forward all mail to the tiki hut."

The hammock part is totally doable. It could be my version of the cabin in the woods. But with palm trees. Plenty of writers have opted out of the mainstream, isolating themselves for the sake of their art. Why not?

"On second thought, forget about the mail."

The cold drinks could be a problem, though, if I opted for the hammock neighborhood I just visited. Fifteen bucks a drink is not sustainable on a blogger's income.

"Feel free to stop by and say hi, but please do not knock before noon."

About those palm trees: one crazyhead in our group promised his kids he would bring home coconuts. Real coconuts picked from real trees. Picked by him. So they could make coconut drinking cups.

This would explain why he had us all stumbling down the boardwalk at 2 a.m. after a night at Mango's, staring up into the trees for just the right coconuts. Any idea how tall a palm tree is? Ever stared up into one in the middle of the night? After, oh, a billion cocktails?

Crazyhead did not climb any palm trees, I assure you. I guess this is why party supply stores were invented - for the coconut drinking cups.

"If I'm not in my hammock, check for me over in the tiki hut."

Crazyhead also inspired this new game: Everytime you hear the words "tiki hut," take a drink. I don't even think he realized this was going on.

"If I'm not in the tiki hut, no worries. Just popped over to Mango's for a bit. Grab yourself a mojito and relax. Better yet, come join me."

About Mango's...oh, Mango's. You know, I really can't talk about Mango's. All I can say is, go there. Just go. You'll see what I mean.

You may see where the hammock eventually comes in handy here. Also, the "not before noon" rule.

"I've stopped wearing a watch, so can't say what time I'll be back."

One last thing: how the heck did that magician get Crazyhead's watch off?

Oh, don't worry. He gave it back. Two magically disappearing ten-spots later. ("Lookee Lookee!")

I guess you had to be there. Really, you should have been there.

Hey Crazyhead: Have I told you today that I love you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

White Chick Walking

Taking a little vaca tomorrow. Heading to South Beach, Florida for a few days of regrouping. Go ahead and hate me for a minute...

OK, that's enough.

I've known about this trip for a month and, having known about it, fully intended to fake-bake beforehand. About the only thing fake-baking accomplishes for me is that I then show up in photographs, whereas without it I'm basically an apparition. I'm not kidding. If you stand next to me in direct sunlight, the camera will capture you and an outline of someone who might be me, if you look really hard.

I did not get to fake-bake, however. Plus, I seem to have accumulated a lot of white clothes since I started building a wardrobe beyond suits for work/ripped jeans and t-shirts for home. The "I am all done with baby goo" shopping phase, you might say.

So it looks like I will be down in South Beach blending right in with the super-beautiful. Or more likely blinding them. Never mind, it's still a getaway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Jury Duty

Originally I was going to call this post "La bitch, c'est moi" that some time has elapsed, I'm feeling that's not a very nice thing to call someone. Even if I'm talking about myself.

Here's the thing about jury duty. It's like opening the heating bill: not pleasant, yet it must be dealt with. Or perhaps you've experienced root canal. Haven't had that pleasure, but then, if presented with a root canal scenario, I might opt for gluing my mouth shut.

My experience: The whole first week of trial I felt like my head had literally split clean in half. Struck by a little phenom known as tension headaches, which I've suffered from only one other time in my life - a big D comes to mind - I felt like I'd been hit by a bus every day. Perhaps it was the overwhelming amount of information and paraphernalia being paraded before us. Perhaps it was that, in my mind, a day with no phone access is a day my little tornadoes will spontaneously combust and I won't know about it until long after they have vaporized. Whatever the reason, not fun.

By the start of week two these headaches magically disappeared for the remainder of the experience. In case you are wondering, the important words in that sentence are "week two." And that was just the trial.

It's all fun and games back in the jury room while the trial is going on. Since you can't talk about anything important, like the trial, you are free to be nice. You make a few friends, trade email addresses, share some magazines...yeah, we were a jolly bunch for a while there.

Then deliberations begin.

Consider this arrangement: twelve complete strangers are weighted down with a truckload of information, then locked in a room to collectively make enormous decisions that impact other strangers' lives. Well, guess what: that's how it works! And once that task settles in, the bloom is off the rose, my friends.

So about that other title I considered for this post: you know how sometimes in a group there's someone who says so little you may even forget that they've come along? To those of you who know me - um, sound like anyone you know??

Yeah, apparently I did not bring that personality along with me to deliberations. Every night I drove home in total bewilderment at my complete inability that day to shut the hell up. I mean really, just shut up! What's the deal? Who are you, Justice Girl? Every morning I drove back full of resolve that I would be my normal quiet self, and every night - bewildered. Could not shut up. Apparently, I can be opinionated and obstinate. Huh.

You know, it's over now. We carried out our duty and we did it with integrity. I'm not eager to ever do it again, yet there was a measure of satisfaction in the whole ordeal. Now that it's behind us. Now that I'm off the list for a few years. I better be off that damn list for a few years...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Roast Beef (or A Perspective on Writer's Day)

7:50 a.m. There is nothing quite like a college campus on a spring morning...

Here I am in the fieldhouse, sitting alone at a round table that holds eight. I'm not the only one. There are probably thirty tables set up in here, and something like 150 people milling about - picking up their blue folders, perusing the banquet tables against the walls where local authors are selling their books - but almost every table has exactly one person seated, pretty much at the same position. Eventually everyone else will have to take a seat and this is how introverts meet each other. I'm guessing they are mostly introverts. The buzz in the room is pretty muted for having been generated by a few hundred people.

My blue folder contains my agenda for the day. Apparently I chose something called "Moments of Illumination" and something else called "Cliff Diving" and something this afternoon called "Zen and the Writing Marathon." "...Illumination" starts at 10:00.

Here's a flyer for NHWP summer workshops. Slim pickings, I'm sorry to report, although there is one juicy offering that is sure to be sold out by the time I can configure my life to be able to attend it.

My table is filling up, so I must close the notebook now.

1:46 p.m. A free hour until I get Zen.

"Illumination" lived up to its name. I'm always bowled over by the brilliant and specific ideas that other people can come up with. We used a quick prompt to start a story with the memory of hearing some song for the first time. Seeing as I practically can't hear any song at all without being flooded with some sort of memories, this seemed like a rich opportunity. Or so I thought. My fellow workshopmates whipped up lyrical sensory experiences sprung from showtunes I didn't know, a 1930s ballad I'd never heard of, an early punk rock song that I think I used to know. What did I come up with? Frosting Miss S.'s hair in a beach house on a hot summer day while listening to Paul Simon's Graceland. Why, of all things, did that memory spring up?

(More importantly: remember when girls frosted their hair?)

"Cliff Diving" was okay, though the facilitator's decision to sit cross-legged on top of the desk didn't really do it for me. She did offer a most intriguing reading recommendation, so there's that.

Back in the fieldhouse for lunch, I met two lovely gentlemen. In typical female fashion, the women at the table I chose made themselves completely unapproachable, and anyway didn't stick around. My two male lunchmates, however, were most engaging. I learned quite a bit about them - not only at that table but here, in front of this building clear on the other side of campus where I ventured alone to write and get some sun before the last session starts, and where they both turned up moments later. Ask me something about life in Korea or employee benefits law, I probably know the answer now. Seriously, they are both very nice in a fatherly kind of way and it's good to know that I am approachable.

I made some inquiries at lunch about local writing groups and got nowhere. That was discouraging. But this is no time to get discouraged. Not when I need to get Zen in forty minutes.

8:32 p.m. The conference officially ended for me at 4:00 and it's 8:30 at night before I am back to writing. Do you think I have become Zen? I think not.

I very much enjoyed the final session. The facilitator was a marvelous woman who took eight years to finish her first novel and four years to finish the second, and who is now struggling to complete her third while holding down two day jobs. Hello, early bedtime? You are so over. It's sessions like these that make me get back to work. And behold, it's dark out right now and I'm not only still awake, I'm writing. So there.

I haven't forgotten about my promise of a jury duty post, by the way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Writing: Revisited

This week I finished reading three books. Sounds like an accomplishment until I tell you when I started each of them. Which I'm not going to tell you, actually, but it wasn't this week. It wasn't last week, either.

I also forced myself to stay up past my children's bedtime every single night, and even made it to my writing desk three of those nights. While I was there, I even wrote. Unlike finishing three books, this probably does not sound all that amazing, but trust me. (How I ever began this indulgent habit of going to sleep when my children do just confounds me. This is the same person who got a college degree with two kids and a full-time job. When did 8:30 become the new midnight?)

I love my writing desk. It's an antique - a gorgeous nineteenth century piece, smaller than contemporary desks, with beautiful carved legs. I can see it from my bed, and I gaze upon it daily, even on the many days that I don't visit it. Sometimes I whisper to it. Hello, pretty writing desk. What brilliant things have been penned while seated at you? What are you doing over there? Why am I so sleepy?

When I do make it to my desk, as I did three times this week, I feel official. I feel writerly. I make things up and I write them down, and I say, hey! Whaddya know! I'm writing again! It's blissful. I know who I am. Hope exists.

Then time passes - days, weeks - and finally I find myself at my desk, and I look over the writing I did last time I was there. And I just hate it. So I throw it away and start something else. Bliss. Hopefulness. Know who I am. Rinse and repeat.

I must find the key to breaking this cycle! Really, it can only be one thing. I know what the One Thing is. The One Thing is pulling myself up to that desk not three times in one week, but every day every week. I know this is possible, because long passages of my life have included daily writing. The next such long passage needs to begin now.

Tomorrow I am attending the NH Writer's Project Writer's Day Conference, an all-day affair that I signed up for about a month ago. I registered for three workshops, though I can't remember what they're called. I do remember choosing roast beef for my box lunch. I hope to come away from this conference feeling inspired, compelled to head directly to my desk and apply this inspiration to my own words. I hope to at least be able to peg the beginning of my next long life passage that includes daily writing to the Day I Went to That Conference, even if I learn nothing, and I can't believe that I will learn nothing.

At the very, very least, I hope the roast beef is good. I could always write about that, I guess.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So How 'Bout those Dodgers?

Here's a sentence I never saw coming: My best friend is moving to Los Angeles.

Of all the places on earth that I have imagined travelling to spend time with her, Los Angeles never made the list. But it appears to be happening anyway.

Truth be told, she's lived some distance from me for a few years now. I'm not one to pin my heart up on the Internet, but let's just say the current five-hundred-plus miles between us are already a bummer. (Another truth be told: we have, in the past, lived even farther away from each other than we are about to. At one time she was in London and I was in Cali, about forty minutes south of L.A. proper in sunny Huntington Beach. Also a bummer...but we were young then. When you're young you call this "adventurous" and it makes it okay.)

Not that this isn't okay. It's just life, tethering us along. Not much a girl can do about it.

She's asked me to help her to think positive about the whole debacle - er, adventure - and possibly even chime in on neighborhoods where she may potentially enjoy living, since I have lived there.

I'd love to do this for her. But, you know. I've lived there.

To be fair I won't really be of much help anyhow, since when I was a California girl I was just that: a girl. A girl of legal drinking age - but not a girl looking for preschools and playgroups, the unenviable and gargantuan task lying before Miss S. Something tells me that tips on how to get past the bouncers at the Roxy on Sunset won't come in real handy here. (Is the Roxy still open? Do they still have bouncers? I am so old...)

In the interest of being supportive and helping her to "think positive," I am going to search the recesses of my mind for pleasant memories of California. Expect a list of sunny thoughts here sometime soon. You'll find it somewhere between the posts where I gripe about her moving so much farther away...

Friday, April 11, 2008

And She Sighed in Relief

I am almost back, people!

Jury duty is over. I cannot overstate how elated I am to tell you that.

Today I have the task of trying to remember how my actual life functions again. Three weeks is a mighty long time to skip out on your own life. It probably makes sense to start with getting back to my bill-paying job first and foremost...if I recall correctly, that doesn't have a whole lot to do with posting here, so I will be brief.

I did find myself scribbling like a demon last night about the experience I have just had. That is forthcoming, but not until I am up and running at home again. Probably late next week sometime.

Will return soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Absence Makes the Reader Grow Fonder??

Hello, whomever may be wandering by...

Here's the deal: Sometime around, let's call it "Easter-ish", my laptop officially died. Died is probably not the right word - terminally malfunctioned is more like it. After a certain point, it would produce only this very bright blue screen containing a lot of rather unfriendly-looking and indecipherable error messages. I believe a certain ten-year-old may have wandered into questionable online territory in search of games to play...

You're aware of how much I like to play games. They typically end well for me, don't they?

Anyway...I had no idea I was so dependent on my Internet access until it was gone.

Sadly, though I made a half-hearted effort to look for a replacement this past weekend, I am probably a week or so away from this happening. For one thing, I have never bought a computer for myself, and am therefore deeply skeptical of being had. Add this venture to my master list of Post-Divorce Learning Experiences (...Puddle? Piddly?)

For another thing, and really more maddening to me at this moment, I cannot manage to throw myself into the unfamiliar waters of buying laptops BECAUSE I am still trapped in Jury Land. Ah, Jury goes on and on and on...

If anyone is still out there, checking up on Aficionada for signs of life, I can only offer this: sometime in the foreseeable future, I will be back. Really, I will! Please check in and see, okay?