Wednesday, February 12, 2014

binge reading

After spending months reading only the newsfeed on Facebook, Google news on my phone, and the 10 novels I have managed to extract from the many boxes of books in the garage since our move * I have finally found a new favorite author. The binge reading has begun.  I'm currently devouring the work of George Saunders.  He has a wonderful conversational style in his non-fiction reporting and some gorgeous, gorgeous insights.  Example:

You know that feeling at the end of the day, when the anxiety of that-which-I-must-do falls away and, for maybe the first time that day, you see, with some clarity, the people you love and the ways you have, during that day, slightly ignored them, turned away from them to get back to what you were doing, blurted out some mildly hurtful thing, projected, instead of the deep love you really feel, a surge of defensiveness or self-protection or suspicion? That moment when you think, Oh God, what have I done with this day? And what am I doing with my life? And what must I change to avoid catastrophic end-of-life regrets?

I feel like that now: tired of the Me I’ve always been, tired of making the same mistakes, repetitively stumbling after the same small ego strokes, being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness. At the end of my life, I know I won’t be wishing I’d held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me. So what is stopping me from stepping outside my habitual crap?

(That was from this essay:  The Incredible Buddha Boy. )

I read those paragraphs and a gong went off in my chest.  YES. YES! I am sometimes so sick of myself-- "being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness".  My self-professed, so far barely pursued New Year's Resolution is to somehow slough off that Me and move on to what Mr. Saunders in this speech refers to as Mostly Love.

It's interesting to me how relatable, almost cliche concepts like those in the quote above ("seize the day", "if you love 'em, tell 'em") can still strike the gong in my chest from time to time and wake me up. Maybe I'm just a neurotic who finds validation in the natter of another neurotic. I guess it doesn't matter, though, does it? If the end result is a kinder, gentler me?

Anyway, Google George Saunders. Beyond the essays and other non-fiction, his fiction is pleasantly strange and somewhat arresting.  He's decidedly uncool throughout, a trait I prize in an author or really anyone. Another cool yet uncool author is David Foster Wallace, also worth a binge read.

*oh yeah, we moved. Again. Back to Texas. I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

family tree paper craft

Here are a few not-great images of a beautiful family tree my SIL made for me. I love it!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Walmart: a complicated relationship

The Saturday before Easter I found myself once again in The Crappiest Place on Earth determined to "make it quick" and come home with my soul intact. All three (3! still get a thrill when I say it) kids were with me so it was of course 2 hours to buy 15 items. We spent many dozens of minutes looking for the elusive Tech Deck Trick Bike and still more time looking for a salesperson. No matter, at least we had this carefully curated selection of mini license plates to cheer us (we celebrated this find with a punctuation lesson).

And who doesn't love a pair of googly eyes on a toddler?

I loathe Walmart and yet find myself there at least once a month. Target is 20 minutes away. Walmart has such good prices on diapers. Sometimes I need pillows and raspberries in the same shopping trip. These are the reasons I tell myself for shopping there. The guilt and shame remain, however. The guilt and shame remain.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Most mornings at 3 a.m. you will find me in the Tiny Woman's nursery feeding her. Some nights it's 1 am, 3 am, 5 am, etc., but we're usually down to one nighttime feeding (yes!). I try my very hardest to stay as close as possible to half-asleep in the hopes that I will fall back asleep more easily. The only light in the room comes from the weak blue glow of the power button on the white noise machine in the corner.  It's one of those multi-function bits of infant technology that my ancestors would probably mock if they were around. I'm fully aware of the fact that entire families used to share a room (or even a bed full of itchy straw or something) and somehow managed to still get up and plant turnips in the morning.

Anyway, we use this machine every night and it has become part of the bedtime routine. It features several noise settings meant to mimic the sounds of the womb. I always wonder how accurate these settings are because one of them honestly sounds like Hong Kong during rush hour. (I swear there's honking noises in there and maybe some Chinese swears.) My setting of choice has a heartbeat-like sound and a sort of waves-on-the-beach background.  Occasionally there is also a faint pinging noise, like that of a submarine in an old movie. Bathed in the blue light, navigating the dark nursery with my eyes half-closed I'm a sort of sub-marine traveler myself, with Tiny Woman as First Mate. If you're going to be up half the night you should have a companion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

my hiatus

So I have neglected this blog for many months. I had a few legitimate reasons.  Exhibit A:  nearly full-time job as an assistant high school librarian.  I really loved, REALLY loved that job, but, sadly, it didn't pay well enough for me to stay there and afford day care for Exhibit B: 

Tiny Woman!  Born on November 15, 2012. A wonderful little baby. We're having so much fun together... At all hours of the day and night. My favorite moments with her are bathtime, tummy time (love the pencil neck look of little babies as they try to hold up their enormous noggins), and the exquisitely funny look on her face when I try to feed her and she's not particularly hungry.  Something like, "Oh, really, no! I just couldn't eat another bite!"

After 13 solid years in LegoNerfMinecraftHotWheelsSkateboard Land I finally have someone to watch Downton with! She doesn't really seem to care much about the social structure of England during WWI but she'll learn, she'll learn.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

the future is now

Remember when George Jetson's boss used to call him up on the videophone to yell at him? I always cringed at the idea of answering the phone in person (8 am, greasy hair and face, Almond Joy in hand, embarrassing 80s music playing in the background). Speaking by phone hides a multitude of sins, not to mention eye rolls and blah-blah-blah motions made with one's hand. 

And although we are still largely a traditional family when it comes to phone calls, one of us (Flash, age 11) is tiptoeing into the Facetime Era. It's a really great way for him to keep in touch with old friends in our last two states of residence. 

I have no problem with Facetime on principle--when I know it's happening. Lately I have found myself mid-lecture only to notice the face of Justin or Tyler or Jaden or whomever on the side of the desk, patiently waiting for the crazy woman to wrap it up. While I'm generally annoyed in that moment (and possibly embarrassed: see greasy face/Almond Joy above), I have to admit Facetime is making me a better parent. It's as if a sort of non-creepy Big Brother camera could be recording me at any moment. I find myself thinking--breathing--for a minute before I talk to my kids. It's a good habit, I think. Now where's my dinner-making machine?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

decoupage is dangerous

I've had this sort of awful wooden vase-thing for years.  At one point it occupied a place among other botanical items and blended in pretty well.  Three houses later, it doesn't really "go" with anything in the living room (or any other rooms for that matter).  It is sturdy and was only three bucks on clearance at Marshall's and what's more I've moved it three times in as many years.  I'm not getting rid of it.  Therefore it must be decoupaged.

I found some handmade paper at Cost Plus that very closely matches the new scheme in my living room (namely, using color instead of black, tan, and white).  Picked up a jar of Mod Podge and...

Magical, isn't it? I had to trace each side of the vase separately as they don't really square up and there was a good bit of smoothing with a credit card but I'm happy with the result.

The only problem is that decoupage is so very easy and cheap.  I now see any blank surface as deficient in some way.  That lamp! Wouldn't it be so much more adorable with a paisley base? That dresser!  I'm thinking polka-dots.  That picture frame!  Super Q's forearm!  The dashboard of the car!  Most of Nebraska! The possibilities are endless.