Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Of course it fucking rains

Since I'm a procrastinator before all else, I still haven't gotten my car window fixed. I haven't even called the guy to see how much it'll cost. I have done NOTHING to start the window fixing process. To me, it's just one more thing that needs fixing on my car. Also broken?
1. Front passenger seat belt (won't click into place; think perhaps there's a penny stuck in the thing)
2. Front right headlight (light is ok, plastic cover part broke to pieces when I ran into a car in our old apartment parking lot)
3. Both front seat levers that you pull to make the seat go forward so you can sit in the teensy back seat (the plastic parts broke off so it hurts like hell to pull on the little metal part barehanded)
4. Muffler (was half-assedly welded years ago and makes a brumpha brumph noise whenever I turn on the car)
5. Door to gas tank fell off (so now the little cap shows)
So I guess the window is a priority, since none of the other things contribute to my car getting wet BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING RAINING RIGHT NOW, or to the lessened security of my car, or to its looking ghetto (there's a trashbag instead of a window. A black trashbag. So let's hope it stops raining before it's time to leave the office or I'm a gettin' wet). I'm really just hoping these things will all accumulate into me having to get a new car. Although since I can't afford one right now, I'm only hoping in the fantasizing way. I'm REALLY hoping the car doesn't actually just fall apart one day.

I started the next book and what a trip it is! It's the book they made into a movie, The Hours by Michael Cunningham. I never saw the movie, so I felt safe reading the book. I hate reading books I've never read before if I've already seen the movie, because I just keep picturing the actors in my head. Also, I hate seeing movies after I've read the book, because the movie usually sucks in comparison, especially if the book is incredibly awesome. Like The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Book=Awesome, Movie=Crapoo. I haven't read the Da Vinci Code or seen the movie, so I'm not sure what I'll do there. Probably just see it when it shows up at Blockbuster because that option requires the least effort.

Anyway, The Hours. Whoa. I can't even describe how cool this book is. It did win the Pulitzer, so that should say something. It's just completely my kind of book. It's an homage to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, in that part is about Woolf writing Mrs. Dalloway, and the other parts are about women in different time periods (current day, the 50's) whose lives show aspects of the Mrs. Dalloway novel. I can't even describe how beautiful the writing is. Check this out: "Everything she sees feels as if it's pinned to the day the way etherized butterflies are pinned to a board." (pg. 141) Cool right?!?! The whole book is like that. I'm loving it so far, and I HIGHLY recommend it.

Wow, doing all the html linking really took it out of me. That's all, folks.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I hope my kid doesn't turn out a shit-head

This morning when I went to get in my car to go to work, I noticed that something was wrong. My front driver's side window was broken! They didn't take anything, not that I really have anything cool in there, but someone could have taken the cd player if they were trying to steal something. So it was just petty vandalism, which in a way is kind of worse. Like breaking the window for no reason. But don't get me wrong, I'm grateful I still have my cd player. My Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon cd was in there!

Anyway, we're sure it's the kid who used to live in our house. He's threatened to do stuff to our cars before. He has anger problems. We bought the house at a fairly low price, because the owner was desperate to sell it. I think she was having problems affording it, and it was in pretty bad shape. It's turned out to be a blessing that it was in such crap shape, though, because we've gotten to redo it, exactly the way we want. So far we've done the wood floors and repainted everything. The floors were a big job. They looked HORRIBLE. Now they look BEAUTIFUL. Anyway, the shit-head kid was pissed that he had to move from the house he grew up in, and has always hated us. The family left town for awhile, but we found out they moved back to the same neighborhood recently. I think they live with the mom's boyfriend. So the cops recommended putting up a security camera to catch them in the act next time/keep them from doing it again.

I would feel like the biggest failure as a parent if my kid turned out a shit-head like that. Maybe the mother did something wrong, maybe she didn't, probably she did the best she could. But a petty vandal? Sad. Sad for the mama. At one point, that shit-head was a little four month old baby just like my son, cooing and smiling, probably somewhat cute. What happens to a kid between that point and breaking out car windows? Something I hope I can prevent in mine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bittersweet Book Ends

I finished reading The Handmaid's Tale. It took a few days for me to finish it. The last time I read a book that wasn't a nonfiction instruction manual on how to be pregnant/give birth/raise a child was Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner. It was alright. A friend recommended it. I was probably seven or eight months pregnant. The baby's almost four months, so...*computing math*...I haven't read a book in six months before this. That's a pretty long time. Especially for someone like me. I guess I'd forgotten about the horrible feeling of emptiness that accompanies the end of a good book.

When I ravage my way though a book in a few days, reading it at every spare moment, I get so used to needing to know the rest of the story that when it's actually over, I'm sad there's no more. I read as fast as I can, turning page after page, especially at the beginning, wanting to tear my way into the story and figure out what's going on. Then there's that point where I notice I've read more than I haven't. And the part of the book I haven't read turns into a little sliver, and I can count the pages until it's over, and I panic, and shut the book, and say, no, I'll save it for this afternoon, I'll do something else now...but its siren song calls me back to it and I read until it's over. Then...it's just over. There is no emptier feeling than the closing of a book for the last time. Sure, I'll read it again, but even if I forget most of the story, I've already read it. I've taken the story in like I've scarfed a piece of cake and the need to know what happens in the end, that itch that needs scratching feeling, is over for this book.

There's no more story. The characters are doing whatever they're doing, but I don't get to know about it. It's like I've lost a friend or been dumped. I leave the book out for a few days, getting used to the idea that I've finished it. I look at it longingly at first, wondering, why wasn't it longer? But knowing that, even if it was, I still would have finished it eventually. The longing turns to acceptance, I feel affection for this friend who has kept my mind company for the duration of our relationship, and I slowly push the book back onto the shelf, or give it to someone else to experience the newness and wonder of a good story.

I'll start my next book tonight.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Reading

I went to Half Price Books this weekend, and it was woooonderful. My blissful book browsing was only interrupted by the piercing screams of my son as my husband tried to shush him in the gardening books section (we're going to plant tomatoes and corn and stuff and try to have a garden; we'll see what happens with that). But other than that, yes, wonderful. I picked up three books, one I'd heard of in high school, one I'd heard of on NPR, and one that was made into a movie (there were two copies of that one and I got the one that didn't have pictures of the actors on the front, because I hate when they do that, release the book with the movie stuff on the cover, it makes you look like you're only reading the book because it was a movie...which...I was...but...didn't want anyone to know...ok).

So book number one, the one I heard about in high school, The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Has anyone read that? Talk about timely relevant! Just as Orwell's 1984 predicts a frightening view of a society completely monitored and ruled by propoganda, Atwood's novel chillingly tells of a future wherein women aren't allowed to read, are used only for reproduction, the country is waging a religious war against other sects, and abortion doctors are murdered and hung at the city gates for everyone to see. Cool. Creepy. I'm about halfway through, but I can already say it's defnitely a must read. The best part? I paid $6.98. The Border's sticker on the back says $13.95. Half Price Books rocks my world. At least it removes one of my excuses for not reading, the fact that I'm poor. And I discovered that when I really want to, I CAN fit in time for reading. Step two: fitting it in for writing. DUN DUN DUUUUUN (scary music)!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh yeah, that's why I don't read

Because I have no flippin' time. I just got my latest issue of Bitch Magazine(Best! Magazine! Ever!), and this is a magazine that it used to take me one, two days tops to devour. That was pre-marriage pre-kid pre-responsibility. I've had it for two evenings and I'm barely past the Love It/Shove It! THIS is why I can't write people. If reading creates writing, well, it's no wonder I'm not writing. I thought I just got out of the habit of reading. You know, I hadn't read anything interesting in a while, I turned to TV...horrible, horrible TV...and I stopped liking reading or something. No. I LURVE reading. It's just that there are so many other things that need to be done too. Sure, I could read instead of doing laundry or the dishes, but then I'd smell and the kitchen would smell even worse than it already does(note to self: go through fridge and find whatever it is that smells like THAT).

I need to make a committment to myself that I'll read for at least an hour a night. PHEW. An hour of uninterrupted reading sounds like a distant fairtale. But I'm going to try and do it. Especially since I've already made a list of like ten books I read about in Bitch that I HAVE to read. And that's not even counting the book reviews at the back I haven't gotten to yet. Once I make it all the way through the issue, I'll be attacking Half Price Books with a fervor and coming out hundreds of dollars poorer.

Random physical result of childbearing: My belly button piercing looks totally weird now. Like, it got all stretched out and now the ring pulls it weird. It's not like I had a totally great stomach before, but I'm afraid if I wear a really big ring for too long, I'm going to lose the piercing completely. AGH!

But seriously. Check out Bitch. It's one of the few magazines that doesn't make me feel shitty about myself after I read it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Theory #1

I've been putting a lot of thought into what exactly is causing my writer's block.

SOMEONE WITH A LICK OF SENSE: "Hey, maybe instead of wasting your time thinking, you should just try WRITING!"

I've come up with a few things. I think if I can just pinpoint what the cause of the block is, then it'll go away, and I can write again.

Here's theory #1: I read faaaaar less frequently than I used to. When I go back and examine my reading/writing history, I realize that I WROTE the most when I READ the most. When I read the least, I wrote the least. Now, I'm probably reading the least that I've ever read in my whole life. I'm busy, I don't have gazillions of dollars to spend on books (hell, I can't even give to the children with cancer, remember?), the excuses could go on and on. But let's say this is it, that reading and writing are directly proportional, and the reading causes the writing. Why?

S.W.A.L.O.S.: "I thought if you figured out the cause of the block, the block would go away! Now you're trying to figure out the science behind the cause? CHEATER! You're just trying to avoid writing because of your fear of failure!"
[Someone With A Lick Of Sense has just given you theory #2, a good and reasonable theory, but one which we will explore at a later date.]

Is it because when I read, the creative parts of my mind are activated and the creativity starts flowing, or is it because when I read, those ideas get in my head, another persons voice, and prose, and syntax, and foreshadowing, and symbolism get into my head, and I want to make it my own? What if everything I've ever written was just a mishmash of stuff already created by other people, and I'm only repeating it because I liked it so much when I read it? What if I'm a reader, not a writer, and I only WANT to be a writer, but I have no actual creative independent thought on my own, only a regurgitation of something that has come before? If I take your idea and dress it up in a brand new nose and glasses, isn't it still your idea?

I went to a writing workshop when I was 17 and the poet Ed Hirsch spoke at the dinner at the end. I will never forget one thing he said-that writers were readers whose love of books spilled over. Maybe I am just a reader, but maybe all writers are just readers. Maybe all writers take in others ideas and, after pummelling them around in their own brains and adding a little experience and opinion, regurgitate them as their own. Because then, they are.

Ok. Theory #1 digested. Will start reading more. Tune in tomorrow for the results.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day (early, because I don't blog on the weekends)

This is the first Mother's Day that I get to celebrate as a mother(technically, I was a mother last Mother's Day because Hunter was a teeny tiny fetus, but I wasn't yet aware of his existence). If you asked me when I was 18 if that would have happened by the time I was 22, I would have answered with a resounding NO! I thought I would graduate from prestigious Private U with honors and become a nationally renowned journalist, then move to San Francisco and pour out my tortured soul into the best novels this country has seen in fifty or so years. I figured a Sylvia Plath-like end to myself was probably in the cards too. You know, from the torturedness. However, my life is VERY different than that today. I never thought I'd have a kid, especially not before I'd done most of that aforementioned fantasy, or at least graduate from college and have a book published. But, life rarely turns out the way you plan. Sometimes, you get lucky, and it turns out a hell of a lot better.

I'm so blessed to have a healthy, happy, beautiful baby boy. He's a little over three months old. One year ago, he barely existed. It's crazy when you think about it. Being a mother has changed me in so many ways, ways I never knew I could change in. It's made me love my body in a way I never thought I could. Stretch marks? Eh. Cellulite where I never thought I could get cellulite? Mah. My body made a person! That is so cool! It's made me a realize I could love someone more than myself, and put my wants and desires second to someone else's. It's taught me the meaning of true love. It has also made me appreciate my own mother, and understand her on a completely different level. All mothers, in fact. I wouldn't trade what I have for anything, not even being a world renowned author whose life is tragically cut short, thereby preserving her youth and beauty for all time. Nope, not even that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"To Hell With All That"

I was just listening to NPR, and author Caitlin Flanagan was supposed to be on the show, talking about her book "To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife." Now, I haven't read the book, but I have the impression that it is basically about feminism having shortchanged women and given them too many choices, therefore, women need to stay home with the kids. I really wanted to hear the interview, but Ms. Flanagan didn't show up, so they just opened it up to calls about people's experience with staying at home, working, etc. If she had come on, I would have wanted to hear her address this topic: why is there no talk of stay at home dads? I have a feeling the books spouts all kinds of things about how children need a parent at home to raise them-which I agree with. But why women? Is she saying being a housewife is what makes a woman truly happy? What about women who work while their husbands stay home? I work, and I don't feel like any less of a woman because my husband stays home with the baby. Should I? Should I not glean some satisfaction from the fact that I support my family financially, in the same way my husband feels satisfaction that he supports our family by being our son's primary caregiver? Sure, I feel like I miss out sometimes, but so do dads who work. Why is this a gender issue?

It seems like lately there has been an anti-feminist movement. Women are "coming out" saying that, hey, they LIKE staying home with their kids-take that feminists! Or, they LIKE having the door held open for them by a man-feminists killed chivalry! In my opinion, this anti-feminist movement is doing nothing to empower women, like it claims; all its doing is enforcing gender stereotypes that the feminist movement has been trying to get rid of for years. Feminism didn't "sell us a bill of goods" and "give us too many choices." It did things like give us control over our own bodies and make sure we had the same rights as men in the workplace. And unlike those who say feminism's time has come and gone, I believe its more important now than ever. With the religious right tightening their stranglehold over our country, and with the abortion issue being challenged on a state level, we need women to stand up and demand equality. We don't need women saying "staying at home is the only way to be a happy woman" under the guise of, "but the children need a parent, not daycare."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sister Nina and the olympics for blind dogs of orphans with brain cancer

Somehow I've ended up on the suckers mailing list.

A few weeks ago, I got one of those fundraising letters for some kids with cancer society. And, they sent me PERSONALIZED ADDRESS LABELS! Hell yeah! That, paired with the fact that now that I have a kid I'm a huge wuss about sick kids, I sent off my $12.00 check and happily put the stickers on all my outgoing mail. And, unknowingly, put myself on the mailing list of "suckers who will give you money if you send them personlized address labels, because they feel bad that the labels already say their name, and they hate to waste the resources of organizations that do good things for kids."

Now, I get these kinds of fundraising letters at least four times a week. Animals. Sick kids. The freaking Olympics (not the special kind, just the regular kind). EVERYONE wants to give me personalized address labels in return for my generosity. What am I supposed to do here? If I send them all money, then even MORE people will be asking for my money. But I can't keep the labels without sending them money, right? Isn't that just wrong? These kids have brain tumors for Christs sake! I'm about to just throw them all away, but I know I'll feel guilty for wasting. I even got a letter from some nun that included a NECKLACE. I'm like, people, maybe you wouldn't need to send out these letters if you kept the money you spent on all the free swag! My husband thinks most of them are scams anyway. I don't know, they may very well be. But I do know this: If I sent $12.00 to these people four times a week, that's $48.00 a week. That's $192.00 a month. That's $2,304.00 A YEAR. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? At this rate, I'll be sending out fundraising letters to feed my child because all my money is gone to the orphans with brain cancer and their blind dogs. Not to mention the fact that the first thing I sent money to, the cancer kids, keeps asking for MORE money. "Oh, here's a picture of little Jimmy, who was helped by your money. Here is a picture of little Suzy, who's still dying, because you're FRUGAL!!!"

Since I can't use the stickers without paying, and I certainly can't pay everyone, I think I'm just going to trash the labels and get myself on the "cold hearted bitches who don't care about kids or animals" list. Am I the only one who has to face this dilemma??

Also, thanks for the comments people who commented! I feel cool! (which is an indication about how much of a nerd I am). And yes, like Silver Surfer said, I want to use this blog to practice my writing. It's my intention to get some stories or prose or SOMETHING up here, if I can sit in front of a blank Word page and not get the sweats. Baby steps, baby steps.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Anonymous on the web, in the world

I've wanted to make a blog for awhile, specifically about my son. You know, a "mommy blog," with cute pictures and descriptions of our lives. I really enjoy reading other mom blogs, and I want to be able to comment on them without looking like a weird lurker without her own blog. But I just can't deal with pictures of my baby being on the internet. As much as I want to do it, I hold back out of fear of weirdos. But every day that I post here, I feel less weird about putting my life out in the big blog-o-sphere, because I realize, no one will ever read it. Ever. There is so much crap out there, the chances that someone will come across it, are, like, nil. Everyone has a blog these days, and 90% of them are absolutely crap-tacular. If you just click on the "next blog" option on the blogger blogs, you will run across some shit. So, I'm more comfortable divulging information about myself and my recent dilemma of not being able to write to save my life.

Is a mommy blog next? Hell no! If no one reads that, it will be way sad and pathetic and I'll feel bad about myself.

I stopped really writing when I went to college. I spent my first year at a very difficult private university, and every ounce of brain cells I had went to my work. Ok, that's not entirely true. I lost a LOT of brain cells to partying. But I had to put all my creative energy towards writing papers instead of writing short stories. I wrote a bit, and some of it was alright, but the days of marathon writing sessions and living in the fantasy world of my words were over. I was already seriously beginning to doubt my ability to put something together.

It's been three years since that first year of college. The people I started school with are graduating, and I'm not. I'm afraid I've taken off far too many semesters, and even the ones I didn't take off, I went part time. I'm at an easier, public university now. The fact that I couldn't cut it at Private U will always be a sense of failure to me. My alcoholism and co-dependence played the most in it, but those things are of me, therefore, I failed.

I can't write anymore. I had some brilliant ideas a few years back, and every once in awhile I tweak them around, make an outline, get psyched up about writing, and when it comes down to actually DOING it, I just can't.

I used to use my stories as a fantasy world. I could make life however I wanted it when I was controlling the words. I was my characters, and they did the things I secretly desired, and lived the way I wanted to live. Then, at a certain point, some time in the past three-four years, I learned I just had to give up my fantasy life. I have a real life. I have responsibilities and obligations. I can't just run around pretending things are the way I write them. I have to accept that they are the way they are. I can't hide in my fiction, pretending to be someone else. I don't have time for that. I have to face the real world, even if it isn't what I want.

So where does that leave my dream of being a writer? Are "real writers" delusional like me, or have they found some way to transcend that and write while they still live in the "real world?" I just don't know if I can do that. The more I write, the more I dislike my reality and get uncomfortable. I long to do it, but I know the consequences are disastrous.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jose, can you see?

Sometimes I'm like really ashamed to live in this country. Like when I watch Fox News or some crap, and everyone's talking about how the immigrants need to be sent home. I'm like PEOPLE, what are you saying???? They come here, do crappy jobs for crappy pay, and we use them. We totally use them. Our economy would be even more of a shit pail if it weren't for illegal workers. I'm ashamed that everyone just sits back and lets it happen. Even the people who want to give them citizenship aren't REALLY looking out for their best interests; they just understand that our economy needs them. No one says, hey, let's look at the bigger issue-why are we fucking over all these poor people? They want a better life, so we offer them toilet cleaning at $3.00 an hour? That's FUCKED UP, man. That's not America.

But the people who say, "send them home"? JESUS CHRIST. I'm ashamed to be a fellow HUMAN when I hear shit like that.

And what's the big deal about singing the national anthem in Spanish? Isn't it about some guy named Jose anyway?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Everything original I think of, I've already heard before

I spent a long time TRYING to think of a really cool, like catchy name for this blog, so people would stop by and be all, "Wow, how CLEVER she is!" And then they'd comment, and link to me, and I'd be SO COOL in internet land.

Relucant Blogger? Taken. And, taken. Write, Write, Baby? Taken. Aaaaand uses the same blog format as I chose. And I realized I've read that blog before. So it's quite possible that a) I don't have an original thought in my head, or b) there is nothing left that hasn't already been thought of, created, and made into a blog.

I used to write all the time. ALL the time. Ever since I could pick up a pen, I've been using them. Now I can barely write a thank you note (note to self, write thank you notes from the baby shower...will people be pissed baby is already 3 months old and has outgrown a lot of the presents already?...nah...). I have so many "books" that I've started, and never finished, because I was going to finish them when I had more life experience and real voice, you know, like now that I'm married, and a parent, except, now I have GODDAMN writer's block. Also, no time. But if I didn't have the block, I'd make the time, bitch!

I just heated up a soft taco. But I left the tortilla in for too long and it's tough. I guess I'll pretend it's a...crunchy taco...that's chewy...NOTHING EVER GOES MY WAY!!!!