Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ready for the Holidays!!!

Well, not really. I don't think I'm ever ready to see another year zoom by at light speed. I suppose, though, I'm doing better than last year. The Christmas tree is up and actually has a few ornaments on it. I completed Photoshopping this year's Christmas card photo. I have my cards ready to receive their addresses. But...

The shopping's not done
The presents aren't wrapped
The house isn't ready for our out-of-town guests
I haven't blogged a post in so long I feel like I should start a new one
We haven't seen Santa yet, he's shy one list (the other two were recently emailed)
The cookies remain unbaked. (Santa will need to be satisfied with a granola bar this year)
And our stockings are AWOL

I'm thinking of starting a new holiday tradition of eliminating one holiday tradition each year. I'm going to replace each tradition with a nap, lunch with friends or a spa treatment.

Anyway, before it gets axed in favor of a massage, I wanted to wish you all the happiest of holidays and may 2009 lead us all to better places.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Nefarious Plans (for my children)

Moms come in all shapes and sizes. No two moms will react to her children dying the cat pink or receiving a whopping $400 cell phone bill in quite the same way. Our shrieks of horror are as individual as a fingerprint. We contort differently when simultaneously voicing our displeasure and suppressing laughter. All moms have one thing in common, though we may not realize it; we all have plans for our little darlings’ futures. We may not have flowcharted Johnny’s trip to the White House by way of Harvard or predetermined the length of Janie’s first courtship with the slacker kid from down the block but we all entertain quaint fantasies of our children finding success, love, personal fulfillment and their own homes by the time they’re 30.

I’m probably sneakier than most moms when it comes to leading my brood to their professional and personal destinies. Conor, for instance, doesn’t realize that he will embark on a career in Hollywood that will rival the great Steven Spielberg’s. (I’d say Martin Scorcese, but those are mighty big eyebrows to fill.) All that daydreaming the boy does in school must be useful for something. So…I stealthily sneak in HD video cameras with his Lego-heavy birthday presents and then I slip in ingenious videos gleaned from You Tube wherever I think he might be watching. Places like…my blog.

(Shhhh. Conor doesn’t know he’s being molded. But before we launch into a full on explication of the symbolism in Citizen Kane, let’s start with something simple. One guy, one camera and one clever idea.) Meet Dan and Dan.

Now, on to Hana's doctorate in particle physics.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Time Is On My Side

First off, apologies for not being a punctual blogger. An upper respiratory infection and the end of the semester have conspired to make me look quite flakey. Fear not, the end (of the semester) is near.

Secondly, I want to you all meet my new love, Dr. George Smoot

(He's not as iconoclastic as Feynman, or as articulate as Sagan, or as adamant as Hawking, but the man gives great Universe. And he brought pictures!)

If you have a few minutes, well, more like twenty take a look at the beginning of time and space.

We are in the presence of all time, all the time. Cool.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sounds Like Fun

You know I just have to share if I find a new, fun and interesting way to waste more time on the Internet. Blogs are cool. Forums are da bomb. But foley editing is just a plain old kick in the pants. Actually I’m getting credit for this little time waster since it’s part of my Multimedia class and I need to become familiar with the Audacity program.

First, go here and download the free audio editing program from Audacity.

Then, go here and sign up so you can download every kind of noise imaginable at

Then play and play and play. Frighten your kids. Scare the neighbors. Terrorize your pets. This is a blast.

Listen to what I came up with this afternoon.

Note for those that operate on a higher plane of geekiness: The Audacity program saves your projects using an .aup extension. These files are only operable on computers that have Audacity software loaded, plus they're gargantuan, gigantic, really big files. You might want to export your projects to a .wav or .mp3 file. Since I run on a Mac, I needed a, what's the word for it...doohickey to convert .aup files to .mp3 files. If you, like me, have been living without this all important doohickey, you might want to go here and download their free converter. It's fairly cool and you can convert to a dozen different audio formats. I know I'm feeling better about the world, I hope you are too.

The only downside that I can see, besides ignoring the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, is the sheer size of some of these audio files. I probably ate up the better part of 2G downloading audio files to play with. But oh well, put it down to the costs of higher education.

11/3/08 I fixed the links. I shall now go beat myself without mercy for posting dead links. Carry on. cmk

Sunday, October 19, 2008

That thing we MUST do...write

In my email box this week, along with 27 notices that I had won the lottery in various countries in Europe for a cool $2.5 million (huzzah) and 52 ads for enlarging my member (um, okay), I got a letter from an old friend, Chris Baty.

Some will recognize the name. If you have ever separated yourself from friends, family and reality for the month of November, if you ever dedicated yourself to no sleep and spasm-inducing amounts of caffeine, if you ever toyed with the idea of living in your car with your laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter to get a little quiet time then you know who Chris is. He’s the pied piper of National Novel Writing Month, the clarion voice in the desert (well, San Francisco actually) calling more than 100,000 writers to their destinies, computers and coffee makers to pour their jittery alter egos into a 50,000-word novel produced in one month.

National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo to the obviously unbalanced insiders, is the gauntlet thrown down to all who would call themselves novelists, writers or word-whores. Come on, poseurs, says Chris, show us what you got. It’s easy, from the outside, to sneer at such a paltry amount, I mean, real writers write weighty fare like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 565,000 words. That’s a real book-length manuscript. Right? Yeah, right. 50,000 words is about 200 printed pages and a short novel to say the least, but it’s also a great start on your own Atlas Shrugged or It or A Suitable Boy. And the beauty of Nanowrimo is that if you finish 50,000 words before the end of the contest, you can just keep going and going and going until midnight on November 30th.

Since blinding speed is the characteristic most favored in this contest, painstakingly crafting elaborate, subtle or elegant plots is just plain silly. Nanowrimo is all about the messy, ugly, gross, misanthropic first drafts that may eventually become real manuscripts after enough love and revision. Or not. Think the Sistine Chapel done by toddlers with finger paints. It’s about just puking out a story onto the computer screen and not worrying that your adoring public or future public will think less of you for writing such crap. The goal is 50,000 words in somewhat coherent sentences that tell a somewhat coherent story, how you get there is your business. In fact, Chris’s answer to the problems and paranoia associated with plotting stories is his book No Plot, No Problem.

One of my favorite aspects of Nanowrimo, besides the camaraderie, the competition with other regions and that nasty bitch, Time, the insanity and mainlining pure adrenalin is the sister competition to Nanowrimo for students. The Nanowrimo Young Writers Program encourages grade school and high school students to join in the craziness by the classroomful. In the process, they learn how ugly a first draft can be, and how that’s alright. They also learn about competing with a deadline and working on a team toward a common goal. A bunch of kids whose first contact with writing is through the Young Writers Program turn around the next year and join the rest of us in pursuit of a novel in 30 days.

Even though I didn’t make it to 50,000 last year, I’m game of another go this year. I got kids, house, husband and a full ticket going at ASU but who cares. I'll give up sleeping. Chris, you won’t have to send your goons out to drag me back kicking and screaming, I already got my feet in the starting blocks.

So if you’re already horribly busy but plagued with stories floating around in your head, you must nano. If you always wondered how people came to wander through your office, bleary-eyed, mumbling about MCs and theme, you must nano. And if you ever wanted to prove to the world that you’re one crazy SOB, you must nano. Come, we’ll nano together.

Check out Chris’s brainchild that grew into a 40-foot gorilla in a pink tutu at

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ma-Nah Ma-Nah Phenomena

In terms of personal accomplishments, I don’t usually like to toot my own horn but there is one feature I am particularly proud of: I’m first generation Sesame Street. Jim Henson’s magical muppets helped teach me to read, to count to 20, to share and to cooperate with others. Robert Fulghum may have learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten, but my life lessons came straight from the curmudgeonly Oscar the Grouch and gentle Kermit the Frog. In fact, Henson’s large family of muppets has remained my good friends, entertainers and mentors throughout my life.

Here’s a short homage to some of my favorite people, um, muppets

My friend Kermit…

My secret love, Oscar the Grouch…

My esteemed professor, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker…
(with help from Waldorf and Stadler, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the very much missed Gilda Radner)

That culinary genius, the Swedish chef…

And finally, better than a fortune cookie, my little guru…

So thanks to Jim Henson and all his crew that have made and continue to make magic from foam rubber, sticky-outy feathers and techno color fake fur. I still know all the words to the “I Love Trash” song and sing “Rubber Ducky” loud and long in the bath. Some of the wide-eyed innocence may have been replaced with cynicism and gray hair, but I remain a member in good standing of the Muppets Mutual Admiration Society.

I leave you with one last video to remember… Ma-Nah Ma-Nah

Saturday, October 11, 2008

3 Ways My Life Sucks Worse Than Yours

I have a friend. We get together on an increasingly infrequent basis to girl talk over cosmos and large salads. When we get together we play a sort of a game, one that never really had a distinctive name but if we had to call it something it should probably be called 3 Ways My Life Sucks Worse Than Yours.

The rules of the game are fairly simple; an upsetting moment is recited, with particular emphasis on the residual angst and where on the hierarchy of personal pain the event falls. The listener makes no move to fly back in time to fix anything, she doesn’t become evasive or pretend to read the menu, she makes no judgments on the veracity of the speaker’s topic or indicates what actions she would have taken in the same situation, she gives no advice for the next time, in fact she rarely says anything other than to offer to buy the next round. Body language, however, is key during the game. When the speaker reaches the crescendo of crises in her horror story, the listener nods her head with understanding and empathy.

And then, that’s it. The game is over. Who won? Well, we both do, but I’ll explain how later. Meanwhile, back at the ivory towers of Academia, I am finding that they play a cut-throat variant of our little bar game. Their game is different enough to require a different title. Let’s call it, 3 Ways My Life Sucks Worse Than Yours and You’ll Never Understand My Experience So Don’t Even Try. Whole books, doctoral theses and careers have been created around this high-stakes version, then made sacrosanct by a close proximity to Knowledge.

On campus, this institutional form of the game is played by seasoned professionals who, for this semester at least, congregate in the area of Women’s Studies. Here they tell me that the oppression white females experience is a completely different animal from the oppression faced by minority women that is wholly alien to the oppression experienced by minority gay women. Okay. So it morphs into a more sinister game of My Oppression Is More Oppressive Than Your Oppression and You Still Can’t Understand It So Don’t Even Try.

It occurs to me, from my travels in the writing game, that by refusing to allow the reader/listener any access to the possibility of empathy, the speaker has burned her own bridge, not even burned it, more like, nuked it out of existence. Every character, every argument, every rant, every sentence, every tear, every wish, every love letter, every boring interoffice memo, every second wave feminist manifesto, every word waits. Waits for that silent nod of the of head, the one that says, “I understand.”

The disconcerting push-pull of “hear me” and “my experience is incomprehensible to you” destroys viable communication before it begins. Feminism is killed off by its own practice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One vote, one never-ending means of harassment

“Hello, this is your friend and neighbor, Candidate So-and-so, and I’m calling to alert you, my good friend and neighbor, about the challenges and issues facing us as a group of good friends and neighbors…”

I never knew I had so many good friends until this election season rolled around. How do I know they are my good friends? They tell me so, every day, over the phone and through my mailbox. Apparently, I’m smart, savvy, above average in almost every way possible. They like me. They like my family. My needs may have been ignored in the past, but now that my special qualities are known that’s about to change. But, they tell me, I’m also a little bit blinded, deluded by messages of hope or change, probably confused by all the rhetoric floating around about this issue or that scandal. Gosh, I may even be somewhat stupid for not affiliating with the right party in the first place. They’re very understanding though, and so helpful.

My voter’s registration card bears the word “Independent.” In the past, that meant I was not constantly solicited for donations. A likeable feature, I figured, since I would rather give my charitable dollars to organizations that actually help people in need. People need food, shelter and proper health care before they need to learn how to become ultra-conservative right-wingers, or so I thought. My invitations to the $1000 plate chicken dinners with candidates were forever getting lost in the mail. Cinderella never got invited to the ball. This year, that glaring error has been remedied. I’ve gone A-list, baby. PACs, parties, people of every stripe want me, want 5 minutes of my valuable time. Bring your wallet (and your precious vote.)

This election year, more than most, “Independent” is the holy grail. I’ve been thrust from my comfortable, rarely canvassed anonymity to everyone’s BFF. They call me, mostly on weekends and after 6pm on weekdays, just to say hi (that’s about all I hear before the connection is severed anyway.) I’d be flattered at all this loving attention lavished on little ol’ me if the candidates and their minion didn’t drool so much over my voter’s registration card, it’s messing up my jeans.

So, to the guy who’s called me every day for the last 2 weeks, there’s no extra points for persistence in this game, pal. To bigoted freak who called yesterday about Prop 201, you’re giving Christians a bad rep. Stop it. To John and Barack, I’m sure you mean well but I don’t care if you’re handing out solid gold bars with every vote, I know spin when I hear it. To all the minor candidates who make so free with my unpublished, Do Not Call listed phone number, I don’t recall when or where we became good friends, your names are absent from my Christmas card list. If you are the neighbor who borrowed our folding table and chairs though, I want them back.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Need Things

I need things.
I need tighter skin and looser pants.
I need to pick a realistic hair color, then really commit.
I need to increase my reading speed by a factor of 10, my writing by a factor of 15 and my wit, well, faster than that.
I need to learn four new languages by the end of the year; Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and HTML.
I need to guide my children through the Valley of Death and the parts of speech.
I need master the crock pot and sneaking broccoli into the brownies.
I need a more potent weapon in my battle against the Giant Fascist Dust Bunnies.
I need to discuss topics that haven’t been smeared with kid prints, licked by the dog or gnawed on by hamsters.
I need to do downward facing dog on purpose, not just to retrieve Kendall’s broken (but still lucky) eye off her blinded (but still lucky) bear, off the floor.
I need to stop and smell the roses, then while I’m down there I need to pull some weeds, then while I’m pulling weeds I need to remember where I left my favorite garnet earring.
I need to understand string theory and why I feel so insulted after seeing an episode of “Family Guy.”
I need to know where everything is, how it works, what to expect of it in the future and who to call when it starts making strange buzzing noises.
I need to breathe deeper and eat lighter.
I need more time.
More time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A warning to my oppressors

I started my odyssey through college last week. My class schedule looks like this:

Technical Communication
Multimedia Writing
Marginalized Populations in Europe 1000-1900 AD
Women in Contemporary Society

Except for the format, Technical Communications and Multimedia Writing could be interchangeable and except for the time period, Marginalized Populations and Women in Contemporary Society could be the very same class. I figure by the end of the semester I should be very adept at creating visually stimulating rants on oppression.

During Week #1 I learned the following…
I am a woman
Women have been oppressed for a very long time
During the Middle Ages, God said women and Jews need to be oppressed because women are lustful and Jews eat Christian babies at Passover
Interactive websites are cool
The 202 at 5 pm is a flipping parking lot
Don’t drink a bunch of water before getting on the 202 at 5 pm

Look over the list, maybe there’s something you can use in it. You won’t be tested later.

One of the interesting features of “new school” is this glaring lack of testing. The entire semester I will have to take only 2 tests in one class and have no finals for any of them. My recurring nightmare of studying all night, then sleeping through the final has become anecdotal and obsolete. Where’s my cramming, my cleverly disguised crib notes? Where is my caffeine-edged regurgitation of chapter and sub-chapter headings? What will I do with all these darn #2 pencils and Blue Books? They are lost to me forever. Alas.

Instead I have papers and projects to do. Lots of papers and gargantuan projects in lieu of cramming useless facts into my head then core-dumping them on to a piece of paper during a test. What do these people want me to do? Apply knowledge? What? I want my machine-scored testing back. I want to fill in the circle completely with a #2 pencil while making no other marks on the paper. I want to turn my paper over and close my test booklet when I’m done. I want my easy A, you educational oppressors.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Marilyn Frye’s seminal article “Oppression.”

“We hear that oppressing is oppressive to those who oppress as well as to those they oppress.”

Believe it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Magic words of the 21st century

So it’s my turn.

My turn for the August Blogchain at Take a peek-a-boo over at Kristi’s The Mommy Writer and have some ice cream with her adorable kids, then walk off those extra calories by toddling over to Ralph Pines’ Neither Here nor There (which sounds like it might be difficult to find, but it’s not. I put a link nearby, close to your favorite chair.)

Kristi’s post made me laugh. Kids will always find a way to make wearing a bag over your head in public seem like a reasonable option. Her kids notice the resemblance a man at the ice cream shop has to Santa Claus, mine discuss in bright, clear voices certain noted differences in the male and female anatomy.

It’s all my fault. I thought I was being so progressive, my kids wouldn’t be the ones using baby-talk euphemisms to describe body parts. Listening to mothers and their children use the word “num-nums” to indicate women’s breasts or “wee-wee” or “pee-pee” or once “the little man” made me want to run screaming from the room. My children would know from the get-go proper anatomical nomenclature. I can’t tell you all the many ways that particular area of knowledge has come back to bite me in the buttocks. But I feel I should try, as a service and a warning to mothers of pre-verbal children.

Rule #1 Do not tell your son he has a penis.

First of all, he knows. He knows because he came into this world fitted out with the best pull toy EVER. Fisher-Price and Baby Einstein will never come close to inventing a toy this cool and so convenient. If you can convince the young prince to keep it in his pants, you’re doing a far better job of it than I ever could. The real challenge, however, comes when he wants to give a name to his friend and constant companion. Don’t be fooled that this is mere curiousity, it isn’t. He wants to know what it’s called because he wants to talk about it a lot. To everyone. Everywhere.

For Conor, the word “penis” had a profound and magical effect on his life. Not only did his friend finally have a worthy name but every time he said it in public, which was daily and abundant, his mother would a) turn color or b) start moving that shopping cart at warp speed or c) dive into the closest hedge. All of which amused my tow-headed progeny to no end.

While standing in the check out lane at Safeway, Conor came to know the awesome power of his best friend’s name. Pointing a pudgy toddler finger at the large man waiting in front of us, Conor says, “Mommy, is he my daddy?”

“No. He’s not your daddy.” I probably should have continued on to say that his daddy is the lovely, hard-working man who lives in our house, the one I’m legally married to just to soothe the looks of horror I received from the man in question and the old woman behind me.

“Does he have a penis too?”

In hindsight I see I should have faked a fainting spell right there. Maybe if I had fallen to the ground or spontaneously combusted or even jammed my fingers in my ears and started singing “The Star Spangled Banner” I wouldn’t have been sucked into this topic, imprisoned between upstanding members of the moral police in the check out lane of Safeway. Anyplace they could have taken me would have been better than where Conor was going with this.

“Maybe we should talk about this later.”

I tried but there is no later for toddlers, there is only now. Now. Now. Now. I knew that before I said it, I also knew that Conor had latched on to his new favorite word like a barnacle on the Titanic. Even after the boat’s laying on the ocean floor, the barnacle is still attached, loving every minute of it.

“Is his penis as cute as mine?”

Someone just kill me because I’m going down in flames.

I must have blacked out because I woke up in the parking lot, attacking a quart of Butter Brickle with a rubber-tipped baby spoon, humming “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do These Letters Make My Butt Look Big?

In August of 1984 I took my first tour of the campus at Arizona State University. In addition to the sensation of walking around a tree-lined interior of a large oven, the youthful vitality of the students impressed me. Two girls in particular stand out in my memory. It wasn’t their tanned skin or long blonde hair that I found amazing, although in comparison to my doughy Midwestern pallor and Medusa hair, they were quite stunning. No, what made my corn-fed, oxford-shirted, just-burned-my-hands-on-the-steering-wheel-of-my-car brain go tilt was the large school logo emblazoned across the butt section of their shorts.

Yes, I did just claw my way out of a fashion coma and I wake up to find that people are using their asses for marketing purposes.

“Oh, I don’t think I can go here” became my singular thought-refrain. Suddenly everything about the place seemed over-the-top, mentally and physically unattainable. I couldn’t even understand the language they were speaking, a linguistic cross between Valley Girl and sorority sister never heard east of the Mississippi. I was a different species altogether from these willowy co-eds with writing on their butts. Before they spotted me, I ran back to my lair after purchasing some be-Deviled oven mitts for the drive home.

24 years and several incarnations later…

I’m standing in Victoria’s Secret close to campus. Classes are starting on Monday so naturally every female within 30 miles is stocking up on “University of Pink” wear. Me too, I admit it, but only for my pink-loving girls. As I look through the racks, I hear the unmistakable dialect of the ASU co-ed.

“Oh my gawd, I HAVE to have these shorts. They’re soooo cute!”

I turned around expecting to see the 2008 models of the leggy blondes I encountered in 1984 (and to see if I had to have those shorts too). Instead, the two young women gazing lovingly at the pair of shorts are done up in dark emo shades. Long hair dyed various hues of somber and depressed, India ink tats, piercings with sharp, pointy things (tastefully small and discreet but uncomfortable looking all the same), all this at polar opposites to blondes of 1984. The lingo was similar but with a noticeable amp up of obscenities.

I relaxed a bit. My 24 years of intervening life experience told me I don’t have to march in step to my fellow classmates. A worthwhile conclusion considering I’m older than both my advisor and my professors (except for one of them, an obvious fluke) and the squick factor associated with jamming things into my flesh. Finally, I’m okay. I wish my hair didn’t have streaks of silver in it and my eyes didn’t wrinkle so much when I smile, but those lovely blonde women of 1984 are considering a close, loving relationship with Botox the same way I am. Time is an equal-opportunity son of a bitch.

So, I think I can go here. And I am, starting tomorrow.

Walking out the store, I laughed out loud. The shorts-adoring co-eds walked out ahead of me, both with “ASU” logos blazing across their bottoms.

Fashion changes but the classics remain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The future of parenting

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
Kalil Gibran

I knew from the moment I became a mother that my children aren't mine at all. They belong to themselves so completely. And although I am responsible for their education and well-being along with Big Daddy, I know that I could not put a single thought in their heads, I could not move their hands to take mine or control the crazy curliques of their imaginations. I saw that they were entire universes where only the smallest part would be visible to me in my lifetime, like trying to count the stars in the Milky Way. But even that tiny part is so cool, it makes me smile just to think of it.

Yesterday as I was putting Conor to bed, he said, "I love you so much Mom. I'll always love you." I laughed and told him his future. "One day you won't love me. One day you will tell me you hate me and mean it." He looked stricken and said, "I would never say that!"

"It's alright," I said, "every kid says it to their parents or at least thinks it. It's part of growing up. But you know, on that day what I will say back to you?"

He braced himself for harsh words of rejection.

"I'll say, 'I love you forever' and mean it."

That kid positively glowed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Of cabbages and kings

I have college books! I love college books although I have to admit that I loved them a lot more when Mommy and Daddy were footing the bill for them. During my first go-around in school, I saucily purchased new, pristine books and recklessly marked them up, dog-eared their pages, and abused them with rude doodles. Sometimes I even tore them up after the class was over in a post-final exams hissy fit. Someone should have spanked me for what I did to those books but no one ever did, until now.

Now, my very used, yet still very expensive books will be treated as gingerly as a Gutenberg Bible in hopes that they will be able to be re-sold to some other poor student. I realize that I hope in vain. If a text is used 3 or 4 times, that’s a lot in the life of a textbook. Profs rotate in and out of texts as often as Britney forgets her bloomers, requiring new editions or altogether different titles. I recall one my professors requiring his class to hunt down and purchase a “supplemental guide.” It consisted of a spiral bound collection of illegible hand written notes coupled with unreadable articles on indiscriminate topics. If Mad Magazine put together college texts, it would look a lot like this. We used the proto-door stop once since no one, not even the professor who compiled it, could make heads or tails of it. I think he inhaled…a lot.

I had almost forgotten the fiefdom of the classroom. Most of my former professors could ably be described as benevolent dictators but some were full-on despots and a few, outright sociopaths. Those ivory towers of higher education can function as insane asylums if needs be. After 40 though, I’m a lot less cowed by the egos, the brilliance and bizarre behaviors exhibited by my professors. I still remember the hushed awe that swept through a historical survey class I took when the professor (complete with a Chief Inspector Dreyfus facial tic) concluded that Hitler’s megalomania was directly derived from his mother’s cancerous breasts. Allll-righty then. At 19, I sat quietly in honor of the prof’s obvious erudition, now however, I’d be stifling a laugh and an argument. I’ve become much more of a “show me” girl. Call me cynical, but you’re gonna need a lot more than Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams to prove that Hitler took command, co-opted whole countries and ethnically-cleansed at his whim because Mumsy couldn’t nurse little Adolph. But at least I got a couple of great anecdotes out of the class and an A as I recall.

I haven’t met this semester’s professors yet, but I look forward to it. Until I do, however, I get to recall my previous education, apply my current skills (mothering) and hermetically seal my textbooks. Anyone have an isolation booth I can borrow?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are you experienced?

Although I'm a neophyte blogger, I have taken a turn or two around the Internet.  In the beginning, of course, my relationship with the cyber-universe was that of an intense new love affair.  Barely a moment went by when I wasn't thinking of snarky-witty responses to the snarky-witty posts left by my new best friends at the Project Greenlight forums.  (Sorry, no link exists to PG anymore, but I remember how good it was, Ben and Matt.  I remember!)  It was like sex with keystrokes and I climaxed every time someone noticed my insightful/funny/brilliant use of words.  I still get a little thrill from the residual memory of those first days.  But with time, experience and a demanding real-life existence, the excitement wanes.  Or does it?

My relationship with the Internet has entered a more mature phase.  The run-up to an orgasm is no longer noticeable when I hit the Enter key but there is still a sense of pleasure, a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing Google will answer all my questions, that Wikipedia is the reservoir of the obscure information I need to fill my flabby brain, that will explain the meaning and Bartleby will quote me on it.  And though I treasure my very own copy of the OED, those suckers are too heavy to schlep over to the coffeehouse.  My sweet little computer weighs only a couple of pounds and travels so nicely in elegant satchel.  It feels good slung over my shoulder.

So I go back often to my computer for all the information I need to impress my kids and make them believe that Mommy's knows everything.  But I go for the camaraderie too.  There are people in the pixels on my screen, wonderful people.  These are people I love to talk to, laugh with, argue with and cry with.  They are artists and writers, poets and pundits, icons and rebels all in the process of becoming something greater through their contact with all of us out here.  I wanted to share some special gathering spots I've found in my keyboarding travels.

I can't recommend this writers' website highly enough.  It was the brainchild of author Jenna Glatzer as a place for writers to congregate and discuss the craft in its various styles and genres.  It has grown into a vibrant, exciting, authentic community through the efforts of so many people, but mostly Jenna and the website's new owner, Macallister Stone.

Absolute Write is also the adopted home of Uncle Jim.  Uncle Jim is really James D. MacDonald who is really a successful science fiction writer who really has created the best seat-of-your-britches writing course on the Internet.  He keeps it here for everyone to learn from, free of charge (well, I do still owe him a beer.)  But be prepared for lots of work, tons of reading and BIC, BIC, BIC.

Macallister Stone, who owns and operates Absolute Write, also maintains a nice, quiet corner for readers.  Every writer is first a reader and this is a great place to discuss the books and writers we love so much.

This is my new favorite place on the Internet.  It's a fabulous clearinghouse for news articles, videos, book reviews, essays, quotations and blogs with a distinct literary flavor administered by William Haskins and Jamie Mason.  Their voices are sharp, brilliant and definitely, habit-forming.  I'm glad it's sugar-free and so is my BICed butt.

So although I'm less inclined to spent my precious hours thinking up bons mots for the spammers and head cases roaming free on the vast plains of cyberspace and I have cut myself off from all chat room channels (cold turkey, thank you very much), I still find the Internet to be a worthy destination.  My secret lover has grown into a quirky old friend, one that knows everything and nothing at all, one that listens to my blatherings and blathers in his turn, one that is powered by words.  yeah, it's quirky but still mad sexy, if you asked me.

And Ben and Matt, we'll always have Project Greenlight.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Worldwide Premiere of "Return Engagement"

"Everyone has to have a first day."  

Or so I say when the waitress hands me the wrong order or the customer service rep can't help me, the customer, with anything I need or my cable connection goes away because someone living two and a half blocks away switched services. I try to cut first-timers some slack, I really do because I know as well as anyone that firsts can be tense.  

For example, this is my first blog post.  I want it to dazzle and disarm the whole population of cyberspace.  Of course, I expect that my readership will more likely encompass approximately 3 people, 4 if my mother ever comes to terms with the "glorified calculator" sitting on her desk.  But like a new mother showing off her first born, I want everyone to cheer and feel their spirits renewed by the words here.  So it's not a Brangelina baby, as long as it doesn't puke on your shoe, and maybe makes you think a bit or god forbid, even laugh, then it's all good.  

Besides the obvious ego-stroking inherent in blogs, I have some legitimate reasons for beginning this adventure in anonymous journaling.  First, my status as a Stay At Home Mom is about to drastically change.  Time did this to me by making my children grow like kelp.  One day I have 3 toddlers all in diapers, the next day I have to figure out how to simultaneously deliver three kids to three different schools.  My youngest is 7 years old now.  She'll be starting 2nd grade on Monday morning.  Kendall is nervous about entering the 2nd grade, it's her first time after all.  I try soothe her and tell her, "I'm going back to school too."  But that doesn't soothe at all.  In fact, she cries about it and explains to me that mommies don't need to learn anything else, they already know how to love their children.

Well, maybe mommies do know everything they need to know about loving their families, but I don't know how to write the books I want to write.  I don't know how to make my passion for words a profitable one for my family.  Yet.  Although I'm sure no college course can cover such diverse topics as Magic Boo Boo Kisses, Differentiating the Cry of Pain From the Whine of Boredom, and Upper Division Sharing, my courses will educate me in the finer points of technical and multimedia writing.  Kendall doesn't see it's not mommy who's going back to school, mommy who makes sure your teeth are brushed and that you put on clean underwear, no, not mommy but Carol, me. 

Don't worry, baby blog, no pressure, no pressure.