Wednesday, November 30, 2011

happy birthday (anniversary), mr clemens

Have been doing a bit of reading around in Clemens's works lately. A sampling, from his time at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (December 30-31, 1862):

THRILLING ROMANCE. -- On our first page, to-day, will be found the opening chapters of a thrilling tale, entitled "An Act to amend and supplemental to an Act to provide for Assessing and Collecting County and Territorial Revenue." This admirable story was written especially for the columns of this paper by several distinguished authors. We have secured a few more productions of the same kind, at great expense, and we design publishing them in their regular order. Our readers will agree with us that it will redound considerably to their advantage to read and preserve these documents.

I would so read the local paper if the writing was in this style.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

not-quite-monday music: no one's gonna stop this girl from havin' fun

"The Muppets: 'Me Party'"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

yeah, so, hi there

Okay, the last post I wrote: I didn't mean that I was out of blogging. I just needed some rest. I have not felt very rested in the last few days, so not blogging obviously didn't help so much.

Well, then. November is almost over. Last night, I was thinking to myself (y'know, as opposed to thinking to someone else), "NaBlo? Really? Who was I kidding?" I probably could have done it if I had jumped right back in, but I just haven't had it in me this month. I have had a whole lot on my perpetual to-do list, but not a lot to share in this space. And, not a lot of energy to even get myself around to this space.

I'm working on all of that.

For the last few days, though, I've been trying to figure out how to reach a state of peace for more than a few minutes at a time. How do you do that? Really?

There has been lots of walking 'round these parts. Autumn is quickly fading and I know the next three weeks will rush right by, so I've been getting out into it as much as I can (and, I've been dragging the family with me).

Ah! I'm so scattered today. I'm writing to get myself back into the habit. And, as a way to find some peace. I'm writing to remind myself that in three-and-a-half weeks, I'll have a moment to breathe. A lot of moments. Ah, yes. That, I am looking forward to.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

and...i'm out

Oh, alas and alack. I have a really good reason for not posting on Thursday. Not an excuse, just a reason. A fabulous and needed dose of r&r. I'll not mention what time I went to sleep nor what time I woke up on Friday, but it was early enough on Thursday for me to think, "Hey, I've got plenty of time left in this day to post."

Anyhow. I've received some dissapointing, yet expected, news today. Not devastating. It's small and personal; nothing like those whose lives have been directly affected by the fire here. Let me keep things in perspective, shall I? Yes.

However, this news does cause me to slightly rethink my plans for the next several years of my life. And, I'll just say again that I'm disappointed.

Okay, I have to go do some more paycheck-earning work, but I'm back in the posting mode, although, ah, NaBlo, how sad I am that I wasn't able to commit after all. But, I really needed the sleep.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

look me in the eyes

I wonder what it says about me that I am incredibly uncomfortable looking someone in the eyes for more than a few moments at a time. I start to have this little conversation with myself, in my head:

"Where do I look?"

"Left eye? Okay. Yeah, that was long enough."

"Right eye? Yeah, that's not better."

"Both eyes? My eyes aren't capable of that!"

Then, I start to figure I can perhaps just look right between the person's eyes, but I start to think the person will realize I'm staring at his/her forehead. So, I look down. But, really, aren't we taught to look someone in the eye when they're talking to you? I'm pretty sure that wasn't just me. So, I can only look down for a while. I could just close my eyes, I suppose, but that seems weird.

And, of course, by this point, I've had this freaking debate going on in my head the entire time I've been a part of the actual conversation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


You know that dream where you're talking in front of a group and you look down and realize you're naked? Well, I've never had that dream, but yesterday? I decided, eh, who needs dreams when you've got real life?

Okay, so I wasn't naked, because I seriously think I would notice that. I did look down at one point yesterday, though, and realize that two of my blouse buttons were undone. Right there at my bust. (My bust was apparently going for a little pun there, busting out of my shirt. I was not amused.)

I didn't really know what to do. I suppose I could have pulled a "Hey, everybody, look at that over there in the opposite direction of me!" but I simply kept talking and buttoned up my shirt.

Insert long sigh here.


* I was tempted to title this 'peek-a-boob' but I never refer to my breasts as boobs, so I didn't want it to be the title. However, I was thinking about how convenient it would be as a title.

Monday, November 14, 2011

monday music: 'just sit right back and you'll hear a tale' (or, 'because i could not stop for death')

One: Head on over and listen to the Gilligan's Island theme song (cannot embed, alas).

Two: Read some Emily Dickinson. Try some "Because I could not stop for Death" or "My Life had stood -- a Loaded Gun."

Three: Add steps one and two above. Sing to self or others until you can get something else stuck in your head.

You're welcome.


I learned about this that semester I also learned about YouTube. I'm pretty sure I was one of the last people to know about either. Okay, maybe not, but probably, right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

things that make you, well, want to gag, really

The other day, Pic and I were at the grocery store, waiting in the checkout line, when I saw an incredibly un-delectable sounding food: Sasquatch Big Sticks. (You can click on that link to see the packaging.) Basically, think of a somewhat angry-looking Harry from Harry and the Hendersons on the outside of a box of meat sticks.

Nothing about that sounds good to me.


I wish I did have something delectable to share here, but I haven't made anything exciting lately. I did eat entirely too many dark chocolate-covered peppermint Joe Joes from Trader Joe's. So good, but I was so sick. I think I'll have to wait another year before I buy more of those. (Maybe.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

oh, norms, lest we forget you

So, yes, Disney movies aren't exactly the location of social norm defiance or questioning. I know this. People should be paired off: man-woman. And, they live happily ever after. All is right in the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I watched Tangled with Pic today. I've seen it before and I'll probably watch it again.

At the very end -- if you don't want to hear about the very end, don't read -- the male lead says something like, "And after years and years of asking, I finally said yes." Female lead admonishes him and he admits that he asked her.

Why? Why do we need to reinforce that no only must everyone pair off into heterosexual couples, but that the man has to do the asking?

That part just bugs me. The movie could just have ended with him saying, "I finally said yes."

Friday, November 11, 2011

nearly wordless (and nearly out of time) friday

Item: One patient canine.

Totally blurry as child is not nearly as neurotic as mother about getting the picture.


NaBlo: We're still on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a lesson in...something

Determination, perhaps?

I am physically exhausted right now (my eyes want to close). I'm about to go get into bed and think about whether I should go to sleep. Yes, it's 7:01 in the evening as I write this.

However, I knew I couldn't go lay down before I posted. But, I only have flitting ideas of topics. Enter: One Minute Writer. Today's prompt: With the Internet at our fingertips, is there too much information available? If so, in what way?

Yes. But, really, that's not what I wanted to write about regarding this topic. (The prompt brought to mind this other thing.)

Sometimes, I come here and ask questions, the answers to which I could find through the google god. But, I don't always want to look things up online. Sometimes I want personal accounts from people I know (or people I "know"). This is why I read so many blogs. I want to know how other people do the day-to-day thing. When I want to know how to cook or bake something, I want to hear about the experience from someone non-random. When I want to decide on a new book to read, I want a suggestion from someone familiar.

When I have a Desk Set-type-question, I want the mental exercise of trying to remember the answer with a friend, not by interacting with a search bar and dealing with the wiki-world and the like. Although I'm using the computer to communicate my queries, I don't always want EMARAC to be the one giving the responses.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

i'm calling this 'stranger than fiction'

I grabbed a box of tissue today because, out of all my choices of different boxes, it looked fun, like it'd lived up the room. I was checking out the weird alien/ameoba guys on the box when I noticed a "see bottom for directions for use" note on the top. Really? Directions for use? Okay, how could I resist that.

On the bottom, something to this effect: "It is a violation of federal law to use this in any way other than directed. For use as a facial tissue only." The tissue was infused with some kind of bacteria-killing agent or something.

That is some scary tissue. I returned the box to it's spot and grabbed another colorful box that didn't make me feel as if I might be contributing to the production of some super-bug, resilient to all of our antibacterial attempts.

Really, though, that tissue freaked me out. Why would I want to put that on my face? Why would anyone?*


*Yeah, I could be asking the same question about the sunscreen and makeup I wear; I'm doing the best I can there, so I'll do the same with disposable tissues.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

toxic love

I've got plenty of, well, crap swirling around in my head right now. I feel full of uncertainties and questions and also a lot of hurt for other people. I think, after a pretty rough patch a few weeks ago, a patch full of briars that threatened to hold onto my skin, I'm actually okay. I'm kind of exhausted, which makes it difficult to ponder too much about anything for an extended amount of time without falling asleep, but I really do think I'm okay. Or, at least, I'll be okay.

This does not stop the confusion and pain, though. Perhaps I'm just realizing that's part of life. I can feel that pain but not take it on as my own? I wonder if I'm capable of this, or if the pain is just waiting for me to allow myself to fall into old habits? As I said, it's only been a few weeks since the last low.

But, oh, the questions. Why do we hide so much of our pain from others? Is it because we are ashamed that we are allowing ourselves to endure this pain? I feel this way sometimes; I want to just tell people, "Oh, yeah, I'm fine," even when I'm not because I know I shouldn't allow myself to not be fine. But, is that always a choice? I want to say yes and no at the same time. Yes, I'm allowing myself to wallow and hurt. No, the hurt and fear are uninvited and don't intend to leave and I can't do anything about that.

I get why I don't hide my hurt with others, but do others hide their hurt away? Is it because they believe no one can help them? Because they feel they have to get through whatever it is alone? Because we're always supposed to look good on the outside no matter how screwed up everything seems when no one is looking too closely?

Sometimes I feel that facade is a lie. Not just a cover, a protection against unwelcome eyes, but a lie. Life isn't always easy and I think sometimes we can make it more difficult by hiding the difficulties. Does the hiding somehow extend the trouble and pain? I wonder. We spend so much time trying to bury what's wrong that we don't address it, put it out there in the world, let it go?

I have lots of questions, but no real, coherent answers.

So, because I am afraid to go back to the constant wall-building and darkness, pain and, well, more fear, I've asked for help. I've asked for help once before, at a time when not asking would have resulted in something I can't think about. This time around, I'm feeling like I'm rowing calmly on a somewhat placid lake, not like I'm hoping for a dinky little lifeboat as I clutch a railing on the Titanic.

So, I've asked for help. If I can offer help, I'm here. I probably don't have any good answers, but I can just be here and listen. And, I hope that helps.


I didn't mean to ramble so much, to think through writing only to come to no conclusions, but there it is. I'm starting to question whether there's not some great celestial event or something that can explain the current turmoil I see around me. Because I can't explain it any other way, so it might be time to start blaming the stars or the alignment of the planets or something.


On a much lighter note, as I try to skim the surface and not sink, I told Cardo that I may just be toxic, and then I couldn't get this song out of my head:

"Hexxus (Tim Curry) sings Toxic Love"

Ah, Tim Curry.

Monday, November 7, 2011

monday music: 'it's really time for you to be in bed'

"I could have danced all night"

This was running through my head last night, as I was facing an all-nighter. And, anyhow, I can always go for some Audrey. (Even though it's not her voice, it's still her and I'll be happy about that.)

Anyhow, I got sleep. Ready to face this week. Yep. Enter Determination, stage right.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

home cooking

Cardo and I were lucky enough to have a date night on Friday. We didn't do much, nothing fancy, but we did actually cook at home. I keep saying that we should do that on our date nights, but we often end up eating out. Last time, we were very much less than impressed with the restaurant we chose and we won't be returning. At least at home, we don't have to worry about bad service and we're more likely to cook something healthy at home.

So, Friday, we roasted some Brussels sprouts with apples and turkey bacon. It was good. I keep thinking that I'll like Brussels sprouts more than I do, but then I have to remind myself that I've made them, like, twice. I totally believe that the more often I eat them, the more I'll like them. I think I'm right. We also cooked some pineapple (we just put in in the cast iron skillet on the rangetop) and it ended up fabulous!

Lest you imagine that's all I ate, fear not. We also baked some potatoes, but, geez, that takes forever. I suggested we put the potatoes in before the Brussels sprouts, but we needed more than just ten minutes. So, we had a two-course meal.

I also made Cardo watch Jumping Jack Flash with me. He can't get over the fact that I watched it when I was a kid.

[Not the cleanest language in this clip, just to let you know.]

"Jumpin' Jack Flash - Telephone Booth Scene"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

cat tales

Once, a few years ago, I walked into a professor's office and he asked me, "What happened to your face?"

"Oh, my cat attacked me."

"That's funny," he said, "I wouldn't keep a pet who attacks me."

Well, Kitsy, as we so often call him, is still here. While I get what Dr Chair was saying, I also love my cat. He's a member of the family, and we accept him despite his occasional testiness.

He (the cat, not the professor) came into our lives in 2004. Cardo decided he wanted to get me a cat (a decision I think he still regrets sometimes) for Valentine's Day. In true us fashion, we didn't get a cat until March. We adopted Snuggles from the SPCA. He was already named and I had this weird notion that it wouldn't be right to change his name. He was absolutely tiny, and he was rather snuggly then.

Shortly after we adopted Snuggles, I got pregnant with Pic. I was sick almost all of the time during months two through four (into my second trimester, which I didn't think was the way it was supposed to go), so I wasn't up and around a lot. Snuggles would sit on my chest and tuck his head under my chin when I was sitting down. Eventually, I also napped a lot during my pregnancy. Snuggles was only too happy to join me for a nap. He still looks at me when the day has gone on long enough expecting me to go take a nap so he can settle in too.

For a while, he had a brother. This was 2007 to 2009. We had Lucky (also adopted and also already named) for a little less than two years. Snuggles, being a spry four years old, loved playing with his brother. Lucky, who had been found in a field with crates full of kittens, was probably older than the ten years the Human Society employees guessed him to be, and he wasn't always as enthusiastic about Snuggles's playfulness. However, Lucky tolerated it well.

Snuggles himself has shown great patience with the young 'uns. When Pic was but a wee bairn, she would grab his fur, delighting in how soft he was. Snuggles waited until she had been up and running for several months before he started defending himself from Pic's often overzealous advances. He's the same way with our dearly beloved friends' little one now.

With the rest of us, though? Well, he gets in his moods. He'll lure you in as he sprawls out, tempting us to pet him or rub his tummy. And, I still fall for it, even though I know he seems to detest having his tummy rubbed. It's a trick. He only wants to grab your hand and latch on with his claws and teeth.

My dad still laughs when I mention Snuggles by name because he, too, knows the dangers of trusting the cat too easily.

Although I'm wary of being too attached to animals because I know they'll inevitably die (as will we all), Snuggles is firmly tucked away in my heart.* I love that he still awaits a daily nap, as if those still happen on a regular basis (we both wish). I love that he plays fetch. I love that he purrs loudly to himself as he's getting ready to go to bed, even though no one is petting him. I love that he looks black in most light, but when the sun shines on him, he's the color of some fabulous deep dark chocolate. I love that he snores.

When we were deciding on a new pet recently, I was so hoping to adopt another cat. I was overruled, two to one, though, and we got a dog. More on her next week.


* Aren't you glad I didn't say "literally"? Because that would be gross.

Friday, November 4, 2011

maquillarte, an art i've not mastered

This week, one of the many electronic newsletters I receive contains a demonstration on how to do your makeup (or, como maquillarte -- I subscribe to both the English and Spanish version and rarely open either).

And, again, I love what makeup can do, but I also marvel that people have the patience for all of these steps. There are times I kind of wish I wore more makeup (more than just my powder foundation two or three times a week), but at some point, I have to wash it off and then I just look like me again. And, it's hard enough to see my face when I'm just putting on foundation. Eye makeup? Ugh. I have to get so close to the mirror to see my eyes that, well, everything blurs because I'm too close. I think if I was handy enough with makeup, I would be able to apply it without looking? But, really I don't know if that's how it works.

I suppose I could always go the way of permanent makeup...if that didn't completely freak me out. In the meantime, I'll leave the cosmetic fun to others.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

compare and contrast

[The following is another post I wrote long-ish ago and never got around to posting here. I was trying to figure out a rhythm in this space before I posted these writings. I think I've got it figured it, even if my practice has not been perfect.]

I wonder if it's human nature to make comparisons between people. There are times I feel it's all we do, but I think I'm incredibly sensitive and I have this inferiority complex coupled with a vicious streak of perfectionism (yes, it's fun here in my head).

But, really, right now, I'm thinking about this in terms of being a parent. It seems like, from the start, people are checking 'em out and sizing 'em up*. It's all about when our respective kids rolled over, started crawling, got teeth. How old was your kid when she started walking? How many words or signs did your kid know by the time he was a year old? My kid started talking in complete sentences when he was nine months old. Oh, really? Mine was already reading Tolstoy by then...when she wasn't composing concertos and starting the newest dada revolution.

Or something.

Actually, at first I felt like this was the tenor of a lot of conversations and I tried not to get sucked in, but I wasn't always successful. I can go on and on about how long it seemed to take Pic to finally start crawling. (How old was she? I can't even remember now. Eight months? Ten months? All I know for sure is that she started at some point and has long since moved on.)

I had a nice big freak-out around the time she was four. She wasn't reading picture books on her own by then. I couldn't sit her down with The Piggy in the Puddle and have her give a reading for us.

I've worked really hard to not feel any pressure when it comes to any of that anymore. I've tried to not put any pressure on any others either. I know that I probably still ask those questions -- Oh, is she starting to walk now? -- but I leave my responses to the more general 'oh' or 'uh-huh, well everyone learns/develops at his or her own pace, right?' variety. I really try.

But, back to what I was saying above: is it natural that we make these comparisons or am I so far entrenched in a system of constant evaluation/ranking/hierarchizing that to be without that feels wrong?

The questions I get about Pic now are along the lines of what she's learning and how much she knows. Is she learning? Does she know the requisite very-young-person stuff? Is she finished with kindergarten?

I find my reactions to these questions range from discomfort to amusement. I obsess so much about the reading thing for reasons I won't go into now, that I want to be able to answer that she's reading and comprehending and thinking critically about Hamlet by now. I mean, duh, of course, why wouldn't she be, right, with a mom who has deep roots in literature? I'm striving to keep all of that anxiety bottled up or scribbled in my own writing to keep it away from Pic, but it's not easy.

As far as the other questions, the questions about her grade level? I find those a bit amusing. We're not homeschoolers who are replicating school at home. We're unschoolers. Pic's never been in a grade. She's never been a part of the K-12 deal (although we always called daycare 'school' when she was going). She'd be in kindergarten had we sent her to more traditional schooling**. But, here's the thing: we didn't. We didn't send her off to school. She's not in any grade. If she stays home, she'll never be in any grade. I'll never be able to tell someone what grade she's in. I have no idea how she'll respond to this question when she starts getting it herself.

I know the whole concept freaks people out and I'll tell you, it freaks me out a bit, too. I was all about school when I was there. I'm kind of still all about it. I was good at school. It's one of the only things I've ever been really good at. I was good at the tasks and the tests and the worksheets and getting the right grades. I myself am learning how to exist outside of that. I'm not even really certain we can live completely outside of that as the career Pic has chosen for herself will require a college degree.

I'm waiting for someone to ask if Pic is happy or where her passions are instead of the more focused questions about content and grade-level of her learning. I think we're all so ensconced in the rhetoric of schooling that it takes a paradigm shift to be able to discuss learning outside of multiple-choice and essays and scantrons and report cards.

* I actually have a children's book named this. I haven't ever read the book and I have no idea where exactly it is right now, but really...

** I always find it strange to call public/private school 'traditional' because I feel homeschool was probably more the traditional schooling well before 'brick-and-mortar schools replaced them as the new traditional. I also don't like to always say 'brick-and-mortar' because then I like to mentally shorten that to 'b-&'m' schools and then I just start thinking 'bm' as in 'bowel movement' and, yes, I really do think about everything this much.


11/3: Wow, it's been a whole bunch of weeks since I wrote that. I had almost forgotten about it. I wrote it probably somewhere near the beginning of the summer. I'd like to add a bit:

I was very obsessed with the topic for a while because I was hearing how another's child was doing so very well in the traditional school subjects. I felt like a 'And how's Pic doing?' was implied at the end of each statement. I have definitely calmed down over the last few months. Perhaps it has something to do with entering a new decade in my life and deciding that I need to shift so much of my life, to step back, to calm down, to find happiness in what I have.

At the time of the conversation I just (kind of) mentioned, I decided I was just going to say 'That's really great for [whoever]." I figured this would be a good, general response to these situations in which I was feeling uncomfortable, threatened even. I know that I need to remove myself from competitive situations if I want to accomplish much and feel good about myself. I mean, hello, I am creating competitive situations out of thin-freaking- air, so I definitely need to chill.

After using that standard response a couple of times, I started to really get behind it. Because I really do think it's great that your child is reading (I love reading) or that his child is flying through math or that her child picked up playing the piano like it what the child was born to do. I also think lots of things Pic does are great.

Rationally, I know that others aren't constantly challenging me to prove how fabulous my own child is. I know that I bring this all on myself. I also know that my own child is her very own person and I am not responsible for her accomplishments. I feel that I am responsible for trying to expose her to/guide her to/teach her what she is interested in.

Also, I now know how Pic would respond to someone asking what grade she's in. I'll write about it later, as I've written to much here...without even saying all that I wanted to say. I'll remind myself that I like to think through my writing and that this is definitely bloggy-type writing and that I'm swirling around too much in my head on this topic right now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

nearly ww

I think I actually like the curls-in-progress look better (at least it's kind of weird). Next time, I'll not put my hair up when it's very wet (I did wait a day-and-a-half to take the headband out).

Thanks to Poke for the idea, via Pinterest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

nablo, or no?

I am wondering if I should commit to NaBloPoMo this month. I can't believe it's already November! I'm sure I have enough to get by on without adding more stuff to do, but, well, I occasionally like to join in. I think I even completed the challenge once.

I am thinking, though, I've got to be all "gotta do more/gotta be more" if I'm going to commit to this. Perhaps I'll read more, experience more, cook/bake more, create more so I'll actually have something to write about.

I think I can do this, especially if I take more pictures. Oh, that reminds me, though, I have almost 1300 pictures I need to take off the camera right now. O, digital photography! How easy you make it to take a bazillion pictures that will never be seen in hard copy.


All right. Enough contemplating this. I have to do some actual paycheck-earning work now. (Geez, is it really only the beginning of November? Ah, perspective.)

a bit of lit: 'high' and 'low' culture

From Diane Long Hoeveler's "Frankenstein, feminism, and literary theory": "...feminism has long posited that 'high' culture is a system that favors males and that acts to ensure the continued power and status of the patriarchy. By examining what has traditionally been considered 'low' cultural artifacts, feminists have opened up and made available many works written by women and neglected by the literary establishment."

I would also argue that literary feminism includes opening up the canon and the conversation to include more than the men who've reigned and the women mentioned above,to also include every other voice possible. Perhaps this is just my naive idealism shining brightly? I think that's okay, though.