Monday, July 30, 2007

Ok, you were right. Are you happy now?

Last year, I was intrigued by Blogher, but I felt myself too new, too little in the blogging world to merit the trip. When I read posts by attendees, I felt kind of left out, along with that teen kind of "I'm a big loser" angst I felt when I was a teen, watching my (significantly hipper and more popular) neighbor go out on Friday night. I felt kind of low for a few days, which seemed ridiculous given that this was a blogging conference we were talking about.

This year I didn't think I was unworthy of attending. I am (mostly) over the feeling that a small personal blog is not a "real" blog. I didn't go because when push came to shove I couldn't bring myself to give myself such an extravagant gift. The conference, the flight, the time away from work and family, all for a blogging conference?

Not that I didn't want to go. I did. And that was before Debbie started harassing er encouraging me to go with her. And fine, I should have gone. I could have even stayed for free with a friend in Chicago. But I didn't and I've been gently kicking myself about it all weekend. Because what if Blogher is so over next year? What if I missed a chance to do something fun for myself? I am not so good at "fun for myself." Hence the difficulty spending money on something so frivolous as a convention for a hobby. OK fine, I should have. And if I can next year, I will. Maybe my new mid year's resolution should be "allow more fun for myself."*

*It is both my hope and fear that people I know in real life will read this, and 10 months from now will hold me to my declaration, as wishy washy as it is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nonlinear PSA

Amidst all the talk about blogging for pay, advertising on personal blogs at whathaveyou (for the snark and crab-filled back-story on this molehill-turned-mountain, see the chatter over at Mom 101 and Metrodad, plus the very nice piece of a few weeks ago over at Bite My Cookie), I want to offer the following completely uncompensated advertisement for the newly published book by a friend of mine:

Several people have mentioned to me that they appreciated the dark humor of Terminal Alienation (as seen on my sidebar!). Well, you are in luck, as today is only the second day ever that you can purchase the novel The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse. Portlanders should take note that the author, Jonathan Selwood, will be reading at Powells (on Burnside) tonight at 7:30. I'll be there.

I know Jonathan would like you to read the book. But the man does have a mortgage to pay. Would it kill you to buy a copy? If you can, come down to Powells tonight and get a signed copy. Despite what you'd think from the pictures on Jonathan's web-site, he doesn't really drool quite so much, and is pretty funny and articulate in person.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week (Karen's choice)

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.

George Eliot

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Does whatever a spider can

The summer is a time for visitors. We have family and friends coming in and out all summer, plus a house guest who just left Wednesday after a five week stay. And then there is the spider. Ok, we have a lot of spiders, but I am thinking of one in particular.

An intrepid, if foolhardy spider has taken up residence in my car's side-view mirror. Whenever the car sits idle for a day, she crawls out of the space behind the mirror and spins a web between the mirror's casing and the side of the car. When I disturb her web, she scuttles back into the mirror casing, abandoning her web for the safety of glass and plastic. I'm sure she's out there right now, repairing the wind damage inflicted by this afternoon's trip to the store. I am sure she doesn't think ahead to the moment when I will re-enter the car, destroying her handiwork once again.

I sometimes feel like that spider, a tiny webbed don quixote struggling against forces I can not predict or control. When I allow myself, I can easily feel adrift in a world not of my making. But really, I am not the spider. I can see danger or opportunity coming, and I can make choices beyond the immediate hide! or rebuild.

Work is heating up, and keep reminding myself that I have chosen this work, and now I have the opportunity to be part of something big, something important, if I just stop worrying that I will be worthy of the task long enough to tackle it.

Same goes for parenting. I never considered having a child in my twenties, thinking it was too much, too hard. Even when I was desperately trying to become a parent, I worried that I would not be able to meet the big challenge of a child. Ada is two now, and for the most part I meet the challenges she presents. Sometimes I fail, but I have a lot of support and room to fail. Chris is with me every step, and behind him are our families, close friends and numerous others. In considering the idea of a second child I find myself wondering whether I will be able to handle it. My fears aside, I know I will be up to the challenge if we are lucky enough to have the chance to try. And I know I will also continue to fail on occasion, but that is part of the deal.

It frustrates me that I, a well educated, competent and cared for 35 year old, often struggle to find easy confidence in my own abilities. These feelings are not pervasive, but they are nagging. Seeing the spider spin and re-spin her web, I hope that I can take a different approach. I am planning and making choices. Hopefully I won't be eating too many bugs.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

Louis L'Amour

Monday, July 16, 2007

I (word that means take pictures) Myself

(After months of suffering people visiting looking for home-made p*rn that isn't here, I changed the title, hoping I will fall off google's ranking for a popular search phrase.)

While in San Francisco the week before my sister's wedding, I had a lot more time to myself than usual. I'd gone down to help Karen and Anthony deal with last minute details, but as organized as they were, there wasn't really that much to do. Plus, without Ada Shortpants hanging around, I suddenly had the freedom to read an excellent novel, an over-rated graphic novel (the movie was better), and everything short of the music listings in the most recent New Yorker.

I also took some pictures. But with my favorite subject a state away for most of the trip, in four days I shot more pictures of myself than I normal get around to taking in three months. Here are a few of them.

7/03/07 self-portrait with mustache and camera
Self-portrait with mustache and camera.

I'd just like to say - it is a lot harder than it looks to take a picture of yourself that aligns properly with the fake mustache stuck to the mirror.

7/02/07 self with SF friends

And people say San Franciscans are stand-offish.

Head in a cage

Ok, this isn't me, but don't you feel like this sometimes too?

07-01-07 self-portrait with blue halo.jpg

The question isn't: Why is this on your head?
The question is: Why was this in Karen's house?

Now if I can just track down some of the green wig pictures Ellen took, I can really embarrass myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

"He's always hungry," she said, and began to say all over again the same things she'd just told him, because she was unable not to say them.

Denis Johnson

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eight It Up

P-man tagged me for a meme. He was supposed to tag 8 people (to keep on an "8 things about me" theme), but chose only four. Perhaps he did this because he hoped each of the four tagees will post 16 things, and he'll have hit his quota. Or maybe it is because he knows that 4 (like 8) is a product of powers of prime? (I'll let that one sink in while Chris and Stephanie laugh at me.)

Whatever the reason P-man decided to pick (on) me, I will step up to the plate. As I understand them from his blog, the rules are:

  • list 8 facts/habits about yourself;
  • post the rules at the beginning before those facts/habits; and
  • tag 8 people and post their names, go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and ask them to read your blog.
For no better reason than that I feel the need to have a theme to these facts, I offer 8 things about me, the mind and body edition:
  1. (Mind and Body) I take a Darwinist approach to gardening. It pains me to have to water, because I feel that the strong plants deserve to live. But. I want lots of tomatoes, and would an ear of corn or two be a lot to ask?

  2. (Body) I can't seem to find sandals. I have worn the same two pairs for years and years, despite the fact that one gives me blisters across the tops of my big toes, and the other pair hurts my feet if I walk more than a block in them. Either consequence is better than the fruitless shopping for replacements.

  3. (Mind on Body) I am feeling disappointed that it is July and Chris hasn't made me a mojito yet. Last year we were awash in them. Sloshing, really.

  4. (Mind) I am in love with this website.

  5. (Mind over Body) I have just come to terms with the fact that I would rather go to a museum than get a massage. I like a massage, but given the chance to do something fun while child-free in San Francisco last week, I ditched the suggestion to be pampered. Instead I wandered around SF MOMA enjoying a fantastic exhibit of the photographs of Martin Munkacsi. The only downside is that I left with museum-back.

  6. (Body) For years I had a used Polaroid camera I bought for $5 in Brooklyn. It took great, if strangely colored, pictures before dying suddenly. I keep thinking I should get a new one, but now I don't have to. My sister and her husband bought four of them for people to use during the wedding reception. They kept one and the other three went to the officiants (me, since I performed a pre-ceremony on a bluff in Crissy Field, and the two guys who performed their main wedding.) Karen told me that one of the cameras for me just as I was going to ask her if I could buy it from her. Imagine my joy!

  7. (Body over Mind) Despite the fact that I am in general easily embarrassed, last week I wore a bright green wig studded with seaweed and plastic fish to a party and then to a dance club.

    Photo credit: Karen's friend Karla
    Ellen is the one flexing her muscles.

  8. (Yes, I mind) I am not surprised. Horrified, but not surprised.

Rather than tag 8 people, I am tagging 1. Debbie honey, it is all on you. (Edited to add: And STEPHANIE!) Anyone else want to do this one? Let me know (email or smoke-signals preferred). Instead of tagging, I am asking you to tell me what blog you are obsessed with these days. Even in the dog days of summer, I am sure you've got something that's dug into your brain, like a weevil on crack. Or meth, 'cause crack is so last century.

Oh yeah, and would it kill you to click here a few more times?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

The fact that my sexual awakening peripherally involved Steve Guttenberg I have gradually accepted.

Gary Shteyngart
Summer Movies: Immortality

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I am sorry for your loss

My grandmother just died. My sister is getting married and my grandmother died. This is not so bad as the previous sentence might suggest. My grandmother lived most of her life in New York, while my sister and I grew up on the west coast. We did not see her or my grandfather often, and (given her "nothing is right, and you can't fix it" tendencies) visits were not very gratifying. When I lived on the east coast, I was an hour drive from her apartment, but saw her less than I saw my other grandmother, who lived a short plane flight away. This is less a testament of my lack of grand-daughterly feelings than an expression of how much more I felt for my maternal grandmother than for my father's mom.

I have a lot of stories about my grandparents, mostly ones that paint my grandmother in a less than flattering light. I pull them out in discussions about difficult relations, often trumping others with my grandmother's prickliness and self-imposed martyrdom. It doesn't feel right to share those in the wake of her death. I should be remembering that she was the youngest of nine, devoted to her parents and to New York. She was strong-willed and tougher than you'd have thought, looking at her shrunken frame. She ran a business. Even after she sunk into dementia, she smiled at pictures of Ada. Living for so long she lost so many people. I didn't know her well enough to gauge whether she had been different as a young woman, whether the disappointments of life had turned her into the woman I knew as a child.

My sister and I were never close to our grandmother. Rather than feeling the loss of this woman, we feel for our father. Losing a parent feels unbearable, at any age. My sister thinks it may be better for him to have it over. A relief. My grandmother's slow slide from ornery to senile has been hard on my dad. Still, I feel a little bad that I am not feeling more. What if no one mourns me when I go? It is ridiculous to think that by crying for my grandmother I protect my future dead self, but selfishly I do.

Just before my sister walked out the door to track down some last minute wedding details, she hugged me and said "I am sorry for your loss." I repeated the phrase, hoping it might mean something.