December 31, 2005

The Rundown

The end of the year is always a time for retrospection, self-inspection. The spirit of the blog is somewhat similar everyday--pretending your life is important enough not only to publish to cyberspace but important enough that other people will read it, will enjoy reading it, will love it and adore it and set their schedule by it and comment, comment, comment. Combine the date and the form together then and you have (dum dum dum DUM!)... A million and a half memes and top tens. And to prove that I too am one of you, I too will do a year review. (And yes, if you all decided to, I'd jump. Just tell me which bridge) What follows then, is a month by month collection of The Boyfriend's fabulous pictures organized by month. Ain't he just so talented? And cute too. But you will have to take my word for that one.

Ouch. Though I have been a skiier since I was four or five, I decided to give snowboarding a try for the first time. For two reasons: I was skiing in Arizona, which is small and has rather sub-standard snow (says the Colorado girl). I figured I might as well stick to the bunny slope given that was what the whole mountain could amount to. Also, our friend Suzanne was taking a lesson too and you know how I feel about peer pressure (see above). Regardless of the bruise, I persevered and snowboarded a few more times this year. I must say, I'm not half bad.

So began my first year of motorcycle travel. Don't you love the outfit? In the big, black manly world of the motorcycle, I had to fight to get a bit of blue. This trip we were headed up to Roosevelt Lake and the Tonto National Monument, a small collection of cave dwellings in the Arizona desert.

Another motorcycle adventure. One of my favorites, even though The Boyfriend was quite sick. We motel-ed it in Wilcotts where we saw the movie Hutch in a small, renovated yet antiquated theater for $5. This picture is of the Chiricahua National Monument, an amazing place where God used to play as a child with his blocks. Time has worn those toddler towers away to look like stacked tiki gods or totem poles on the point of collapse. Rounded out the trip through Tombstone, AZ and back up to Phoenix

Drove down almost to the Mexican border to Organ Pipe National Monument. In fact, many illegal immigrants make their way through the park and into the USA. The organ pipe cactus that the park is named for grows in abundance--a large, multi-stalked catci that looks exactly like its name. We camped, hiked and headed back up in the space of a weekend. Very fun but I wish we had more time to take.

The Boyfriend and I's anniversary dinner. Honey glazed pork roast (though the gravy didn't turn out quite right), tomato and green bean salad, and this delicious Greek cake that I can't remember the name of--dense and not too sweet with dried apricots and golden raisins coated in, again, honey. Mmmmm.

Motocycling to Kartchner Caverns, a well preserved and still living wet cave that was found south of Tucson, far underground. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside so this is the best one I have. Too bad. There was an amazing stallagtite formation they called Kubla Khan that truly deserved the name.

Just an everyday sunset from my father's backyard. Love you, Pops!

Skiing at Snowbird Resort outside of Park City, UT. Had the opportunity to check out Brett's new condo up there. It's amazing by the way, Brett, and thank you for the invite. Will let you all know when he installs the hot tub webcam.

In May, we drove on the bike from Phoenix up to Denver. We camped in Mesa Verde on the way up north. Mesa Verde is a National Park highlighting a canyon with a large amount of cliff dwellings. These people, the Anasazi, disappeared. Abandoning their highly-developed homes to journey places unknown for reasons mysterious. Walking through their rooms, you can still feel the residue of their lives--people cooked, slept, reproduced right under my motorcycle boots.

On the way down south again, we stopped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. From the mountains and plains emerges this incongruous patch of the Sahara that exists due to a unique climate and wind formation. You can climb up to the exhausting top (sand is hell to walk in) but the trip down is better. You can basically fall down the dunes and have the soft sand catch you at every step. The sand is difficult to wash away afterwards, however, so prepare to be picking it out of your hair and ears for days.

July was... July was a gift beyond expectations. Due to the generosity of Fares and Angela, The Boyfriend and I had the opportunity to fly to Italy. It was the Boyfriend's first time out of the country and it was amazing. We were able to stay on Isola del Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany where they make their own wine and the gelato is orgasmic and both are everyday indulgences. This is the island's main city of Porto, where drunkeness and mussels did occur.

This is the view from the house, which Fares' family time shares. The rock in the distance is called Tortoruga (the Turtle). The house was on the Arnella beach--small, secluded, and full of mostly German and Swiss families on vacation. Thank you to Antonello, who ran the beachside cafe, and his brother Marco, who wore a beanie and rented us boats. It was two weeks of bliss.

We also took the time to spend a week in Rome while we were in Italy. How could we not, really, considering the cost of getting over there in the first place? We stayed in an apartment near the Campo di Fiore market and saw all the major sites--Colliseum, Forum, Nero's Palace, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pallitine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Janiculum Hill... We even took a day trip out to Ostia Antica, the ruins of Rome's first colony and first port town. This picture was taken in the Jewish ghetto after a fantasic dinner of fresh seafood and homemade pasta. I photoshopped it up a bit to give The Boyfriend as a Christmas gift. Awww. Ain't we cute?


The Boyfriend turned 29 and we rode out to the coast to celebrate. This picture was taken at Santa Monica beach. We ate hummus from the bike's side cases and walked the board walk. We also stopped by Grandma's house (hi g-ma, auntie becky, uncle mike, jeni, aspen! thanks for the chinese!) and also at a local BMW motorbike shop. I got a heated vest for my birthday. How romantic.

Along with Brett, Ann, and B.F.'s mom, we hiked the Grand Canyon. Down to the bottom in one day to camp, up to Indian gardens on day two, and up to the top on day three. 17 miles total and a mile in elevation change each way. This is only one of many amazing pictures and enjoyable memories. I swear, I would do this everyday if I possibly could. Just to feel your body working, pumping, living the way it was meant to, to feel the accomplishment of miles and visual distance--so satisfying to me. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea--Ann, you made it and we love you!

Race for the Cure Phoenix. My third time doing the race--which means 3 cancer free years for my mommy--but the first time in Phoenix. I saw parts of the city I didn't even know existed and then feasted at a little diner the size of a walk-in closet with meals the size of a, well, master bedroom.


Flew up to Denver for a wedding in Boulder. My long time friend Amanda decided to become conventional by marrying her long time boyfriend Matt. As if you two could ever be conventional to me! Thanks for a great time in the picturesque setting of the Boulderado Hotel--stained glass ceilings, antiques and haunted rooms. Congrats to the happy couple! And to my father and his new wife, Julie, though I have no good pictures of their occasion to share here with you.


Luminaria at the Botanical Gardens was my favorite event of the holiday season, other than getting to see all the family in Colorado. The desert landscape lit up with millions of tiny candles and a new musical experience around every corner--country, harp, beautyshop quartet (yes, really), jazz, etc... Wine tastings. The crunch of sand under your shoes into the thick night air (always reminds me of camping). The novelty of wearing gloves in Arizona. Don't laugh. It was cold and your blood thins out down here. Thanks for the tickets, Julie.

Skiing in Breckenridge with The Boyfriend on Christmas Eve. The slopes were dead and so were the lift lines. Hurt myself a bit on the second to last run of the day but I am proud that I boarded several blue-blacks. Also had a great time on Christmas Day up in Copper Mountain but didn't get as good of pictures. And I was a bit gimpier due to my tweaked knee.

Wow. I had an amazing year, thanks mostly to the generosity, love and adventurous spirit of my family and friends. And The Boyfriend. Love you, baby! I have been a few dark, bad places in my life before, places and moods that you don't think are ever going to get perfect--maybe better slightly, but you don't believe certain things are ever attainable except during day dreams. I can honestly say right now, however, that I am the happiest I have ever been with my life. Sure, a lot of things are up in the air--like school, moving, my career (if I am ever going to have one). But life is what happens when we are busy making other plans. And if these are the kind of experiences that are going to populate my life, I cannot wait to continue living it.

December 29, 2005

Doing Some Soul-Searching...

The Movie Of Your Life Is An Indie Flick

You do things your own way - and it's made for colorful times.
Your life hasn't turned out how anyone expected, thank goodness!

Your best movie matches: Clerks, Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite

December 27, 2005

… and a Happy New Year!

That’s right, the Merry Christmas part of that little ditty is over and done with. Now we are left with a four day work week (that nonetheless seems interminable) until our next major holiday (and another three day weekend). I must say, though, that I had a fabulous time.

  • Skiing Christmas Eve in Breckenridge: We had to share a chair lift with other people a whole of two times the entire day. Plus, I completed several blue/blacks on my snowboard—quite a feat considering I only began snowboarding last season.
  • Skiing Christmas Day at Copper Mountain: My sis and bro came along for family fun on the slopes. We were tragically late, which did not matter at all on such a day. There was no traffic on the roads and little on the slopes. Nothing like a Christmas lunch of Heineken and Rice Krispie Treats!
  • Winning $70 playing Texas Hold ‘Em on Christmas night: Okay, so $10 of that was mine = $60. And then I put in The Boyfriend’s ante = $50. Then my sis wrote a check for her and her hubby (which I’m sure is good but, hey, isn’t cash) = $30. Flopping a straight and keeping it on the down-low until the River = priceless. Well, I actually prefer the money to the pricelessness.
  • Thoughtful and amazing gifts received: a Peugeot salt and pepper mill set, a year subscription to Bon Appetit, a red corduroy pea coat, a frozen yogurt machine, DVD’s, book of the month club subscription, snowboarding/motorcycling gloves, mixing bowls… I am spoiled rotten and my kitchen shall be even more fabulous than last year. Watch out world, here comes Gnomey C (C is for Chef, silly), the most delicious thing to emerge from the enchanted forest since the Kiebler Elves. And let’s face it, far less fattening.
  • Seeing Molly: Darling, you do look so ultra-fabulous, did I forget to mention? So svelte and slender in that up-to-the-minute tweed skirt and so tall in those black boots. You are a red-haired vixen, Mol, and I miss you!

Back to Arizona and reality. Not back to full scale blogging, however, I am afraid to say. I have set aside this week to finish up my grad school stuff, to get it off my plate once and for all so that the New Year’s Eve drunkenness will not be totally pointless—it shall be a celebration of another year of anticipation and hopefully not another year of depressing rejection. Either way, a better excuse for getting drunk than a ball dropping or the metaphor of a diapered baby replacing the bearded old-timer. Man, how did he get so damn old in just one year, I ask and fearfully peer into the mirror at my own face.

December 22, 2005

I'm off...

Well, I am off, ladies and gentlemen of the blogging world. Off to Mom's house in snowy Colorado--where I don't think my Arizona denim jacket is going to quite cut it. But no worries! Mom has that electric fireplace that plugs into any wall (you can move it when the decor gets stale) and it gives off real heat. No tree this year--the cats, Bonnie and Clyde, prevent it. But there shall be Grandma's nutbread and peanut butter balls and plates of black olives and sweet pickles. Maybe she will spike the Jello salad with Vodka again this year. Yeah! Plus, I shall get to bring along my luscious Boyfriend and we are going to go snowboarding/skiing with the Fam.

All joking aside, I have really been looking forward to the snow and the people. I haven't been back in town for quality time in quite a while and I miss my Mommy! I've been counting down the days between cramming for grad school apps to Iowa and Washington (they're going off today!). I shant see you again before then so....

Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday #20

I took this Friday as an opportunity to continue some characters I have already been working on--my little shut in and her librarian mother. A flashback. Not that you need to know that to read it but... well, enjoy.

I watched the bubbles rise in the heavy-bottomed pot, the pot set aside exclusively for split pea soup and for jam-making. Though not at the same time. Two burners on the stove going, two large pots and a lot of heat radiating from the countertop.

“Anything worth doing,” she said. Mom had a habit of using incomplete clichés—if it was common enough to anticipate the answer, she shouldn’t have to supply it.

“Is worth doing right,” I answered. “Or, is it that you just like doing it the old-fashioned way?”

We were making jam and it was spring, spring because it was batches of peaches and apricots. Those coral-orange, fuzzy fruits of spring. She had the sleeves of her collared shirt rolled up and an apron tied over the small arc of her lower stomach, her mark of aging. “When the old-fashioned way creates a product with a noticeable difference. Yes, I’m going to make it myself.” The other pot, the large sterilizing pot for the jam jars, was musty with age and smelled of oxidizing metals. It never had to be washed as it did nothing but bring tepid water to a boil between drying spells in the pantry under the flour.

“I suppose part of the joy of it is doing it myself,” Mom continued. “Doing something, and doing it well, that most people don’t take the effort to try. Creating something that lasts too.”

I itched my nose with my elbow, avoiding my washed hands, as I unscrewed the lids from Mason jars. “Sure does. Don’t we still have some peach left over from last year?”

We both stood against the counter and she bumped me with her hip and a smile. “You sound just like your father.” She set her chin and brows down in imitation. “So you are telling me that if the whole human experiment goes south and we are forced into subterranean living until the radiation dissipates, I will be eating nothing but jam?”

I, too, lower my brows and voice. “What about the crackers? What about my Tang?”

She laughed. “He was always the Utilitarian.”

“But not the Communist.”

She looked away from me, her mouth relaxing. “Why do you say that?”

I was wiping the adhesive seals with a dishtowel and shrugged. “I don’t know. Bomb shelters and the end of the world mean the Cold War to me. Preserving fruit against the Red forces of evil or something.”

“Preserving fruit against evil. I like that.”

We were silent for a moment as I measured out the sugar. A cleaner task, more suitable for me than watching the hot and splashing fruit, safer for the wall paper and less likely to require first aid. I was never a neat child. Or adult.

“I like doing it, I guess. Making jam,” Mom said. She was still focusing her eyes away from me, though I looked straight at her profile against the kitchen cabinets. “It’s symbolic for making my own universe right here in the kitchen, with only what I have. It’s a fight for individualism and against the melting pot of time. Time, making everything easy, disposable and the exact same.”

“Are you ready for the sugar, Mom?”

She looked over at the peaches, liquefied and thick, breaking apart and coalescing in the torrent of the heat. “Yes.” My job done, I went to the other side of the counter and leaned against my elbows, my face shining up at her. She sifted in a quarter of the sugar pile and stirred patiently.

“Makes me think of that quote.” She squinted her eyes. Tapped her fingernails against the side of the pot with a trill. “Something about a Viking, who laughed at kings, who laughed at gods, and lived only for self-fulfillment. Who stood on top of a conquered city, his sword stretched out, and said, ‘Why? To a life, which is reason unto itself.’” Her extended spoon was her raised sword, sticky and glistening. Only she could make such a grand motion and not splashed a drop. I would have gotten it in my hair, on the coffee maker, and smoking on the hot burner of the stove. “Or something like that, she finished.”

Another quarter of the sugar, another silence.

“Ayn Rand,” she looked up and pointed at me with her finger and her eyes. “Ayn Rand is a good one to read about that idea. About the power of the self and also about dictatorships, Communism.”

“Put a reserve on it for me, Ms. Mummy Dear!”

“Ha ha.”

“Now you are the one who sounds like Dad, Mom.”

December 17, 2005

The Exercise of Creative Writing

Welcome to another FFF, though it is now Saturday. Given the fact that I fell asleep on the couch before 9 last night, I am considering today the beginning of the FFF weekend. Purgatorian has posted his weekly challenge and I am in. He also was talking about some new ideas—I had sent him a link to one of my favorite exercise books by a professor of mine: The 3 a.m. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. Buy it, buy it, buy it. The man makes no money and deserves to so join the club and, like me, stuff everyone’s stockings with it.

But hey, he does have some new and shiny ideas that may be just perfect for FFF. One could use these ideas as a jumping off place to create one's own work, just as JJ does with his suggestions. Some of his ideas for using other peoples sentences, pulled from his above book, are:
  • “Like all men of ---, I have been a leader; like all, I have been a slave.” (Jorge Luis Borges)
  • “Truth, like morality, is a relative affair: There are no facts, only interpretations.”
  • “She said, I know what it’s like to be dead.” (Lennon/McCartney)
  • “Every morning there’s a halo hanging from the corner of my girlfriend’s four-post bed.” (Sugar Ray)
I made quite an interesting piece long ago out of that last one. Hmm. Should dust that off someday. However, by far the exercise I have been using the most lately, and the most overall, is the following:

Write a story on an actual postcard and send it to an actual friend--the story should have nothing to do with the fact that you are writing it on a postcard. Use a pre-stamped post office card, which is blank on one side (write the address on the other side). Decide on the friend before you start writing the story--a story to your mother is going to be different than a story to your best friend or lover. Write in one draft. Write down a copy of the story for yourself, without changing anything from the first draft (a more difficult task than you may realize). I write small, so I can usually fit about 300 words on these small canvases, but your story may be more like 150 words--which is a very small story indeed, even in the context of all these microfictions I'm causing you to conjure up. Write to fill the whole space, left and right sides of the 'page,' as well as top and bottom. As you come closer to the end of the space, you'll have to start wrapping up the story. Think about this story for a while, a few days even, in advance of writing it. Don't introduce yourself to your friend in any way; just jump right into the story. 150-300 words."

I love this exercise with a senseless passion, mostly because I have seen the power of such spare, short and powerful droplets of fiction in Brian Kiteley's published works. I also love them for myself.
  • One: they make me write with a pen and paper rather than a keyboard. This really does make a difference for any of you who haven't compared. My work written in pencil is not as lengthy; it does not need the drastic cutting that much of my fiction does. I do run on at the keyboard, mostly because the concept of written space is so obviously present--word count tools, pages, double-spacing. On the written page, the words are there because they truly need to be.
  • Two: I feel much less pressure when I know I am condensing my thoughts/my story ideas to a small closet of space. I feel I can be very true to that moment without thinking about how I am going to link it to the next moment in the plot. I can be true to that moment, can create so many true moments. Yes, I do have some trouble linking them afterwards. But, even if I use only a few sentences from my "postcard," I believe it is worthwhile to have that passion and prescience.
  • Three: Brian does say that sending the postcard is a necessary part of the exercise. I have been lax about that part because I have been using it for a very long piece and would hate to inundate my friends like that. It is helpful but… well, I guess I get a D there. Can I have a D+, please?
I feel very strongly about the book—Brian Kiteley and his infamous exercises are a few of the many reasons I had such an amazing experience in the Creative Writing program at DU. If you are a writer and crave some inspiration… I should just say ‘If you are a writer,’ you should definitely check out the book. Or, check back on occasion and I will entertain you all even more with long sections of another person’s work. Does fill up the blank space, hmmm?

December 16, 2005

Because it sucks to walk all the way upstairs. They are pretty steep.

I have always loved my laptop. I've had it since my last year of college when I had to replace my old machine because... well, because the water bottle and computer together in my back pack was not a great idea. That fried computer (that still had my thesis in progress on it!) was replaced with the lovely lady I type upon today. It's not a top of the line machine, no, and it is getting a bit geriatric. But geriatric in a Jack Lalanne kind of way--confident, powerful, but without all the juice.

I type this ode to my girl (you go girl) because only now have I seen the full scope of her abilities, her usefulness, her wide range of talents from finance to evening wear. See, not so long ago, I had gotten frustrated with the whole computer thing. I remember going to the public library to mkae internet purchases because they had better connections there. I had an update problem with Windows where it kept asking, over and over, for a disk that I didn't have to be in the drive--with that irritating noise of the CD drive trying to read air. Plus, the battery would last for less that half an hour without it's tether to the wall. But my pageant queen, with her silk sash and tiara, would like to thank a computer savvy boy for helping her out of that mess (and throwing in a wireless internet connection).

Now she exists as an extension of my fingertips and a necessary part of my daily routine. Once the setup was done and the bait laid, well, He got me hooked. In fact, even humorously so. See, my computer is down here on the desk off of the kitchen and The Boyfriend's is upstairs. Not only do we surf simultaneously but as a couple--by IMing (using Skype's chat function) eachother from only 20 feet (plus 12 feet vertically) away. It's dating in a way. We emoticon, send links, transfer files, send kisses and witty banter.

Let's give an example. For instance, he sent me a link to a review of the latest King Kong movie. I sent him over a picture of Flock of Seagulls--He didn't know about their infamous hair! I type him that dinner is ready. We type back and forth about printer problems for a job I sent upstairs. He reminds me to get Christmas wrapping paper at the store.

I'm sure that out here in the cyber world, this sort of behavior is normal, even enviable. But as a recent member of the non-addicted world, I can see the humor in it all. After all, last weekend when we hosted a poker tournament at our place (No, I didn't win, but he did.), we were speaking of blogs in a general way. Mainly, we were defining it for an unknowing acquaintance. After understanding the concept, she said, "Wow. I guess you have to be kind of sad and needy to need a website of your own like that." Then she blushed finding out that 3 of the 9 of us were just such sad individuals.

Welcome to the Enchanted Forest, Gnomey G! Carry your citizenship with pride. It's all in the name of learning and fun. Afterall, without such nerdiness, I would have never gotten to laugh again at the horrible hair of the 80's. Wow. That is one hot 'do, dude.

December 13, 2005

In the Mail...

"Dear <Gnomey G, Dawg>,
We have received your application, and we look forward to
reviewing it.
Thank you!"

That was kind of anticlimactic, don't you think? Not even a logo on the email--I'm including it just for fun and self-aggrandizement. But look! It’s off!

Bye bye, little Appie! I wish you well and am waving you off at the metaphorical train station. You will hang out the window up to your torso and look back shiny-eyed through the white steam rising from the tracks. I will raise a silk hanky to my face and pull down the lace on my black hat, determined that I shall never love again. Never, my love. You have been my companion and the vessel of my inspiration for so long.

God speed you along that bumpy road and into the hands of unknown reviewers who will judge you. You shall hold up well to their judging, Appie, but know this. No matter what happens, my love, you shall always possess a very important part of my soul—about 40 pages of it—and I will always judge you to be very promising. Psst. Remember to butter them up about that scholarship, right? You’re supposed to say, “Yes, and she reads to the blind and encourages the homeless to read literature as well as use it for warmth.”

I shall never love again… Well, until I send off the University of Iowa’s application later this week. Then it shall be odes to the bovine kings of the Midwest and the sound of corn stalks brushing together in the wind, a wind uninterrupted by hills…

December 12, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday

I think it was his photograph that made me

I think it was his photograph that made me realize that I now owned a dog. There was no way in hell that someone was going to claim the chunky canine in that photograph—chunky with fat, chunky hair with bald patches and clumps, the chunks of whatever around his eyes. I had some hope that I could doctor up the photo, make him appear more attractive but no. This missing flyer was going to be nothing more than a quick laugh for teenagers walking home from school or the motivation for some child to stop pestering their parents for at least a month about, “But Mom, I want a dog. I’ll take care of it. I’m old enough to be responsible. I’ll walk it. Can I have a puppy?”

Yes, he was that ugly and I was that much of a sappy moralist—I couldn’t toss him back through the threshold of my front door. Even though he shed. And he didn’t shed like a normal dog in thin layers of fuzz on couches and black pants. No. This shedding was slightly damp, even days after the molting occurred. Even though he answered to no name and obeyed no commands. The poor guy merely sat there with moist eyes, shining around the corners with tentative love and constant vigilance against violence. No sudden movements and no loud noises.

Maybe I need the company. Because there was another missing poster this year. This one for my boyfriend. Now that picture was powerful at first sight as well. And smooth where the other was chunky—glossy hair, slender, taught skin over cheekbones. His smell too came through for me. The humid tang of his breath and saliva that became my favorite sustenance, which I could smell from across the room along with the soap from his skin. I wanted to bond to his mouth, to live in the stream of air that went in and out. I’d camp out between his teeth with the plaque if I could.

There are creatures that are so lonely, so desolate and inured to the rejection of others that they bond with any living thing. This dog and I, then, are kin. Unphotogenic kin. So there can still be panting in the night of some sort. That long night where I stare in the dark at the mirror on the closet door, which reflects the sparse stars of my world—the green dot on the set alarm clock, the red of the DVD player, the flash of the smoke detector. My canopy of stars. If I am awake long enough, they form personal constellations or perhaps portentous messages from the gods.

Messages like:


One human heart

Answers to the name of Miss Patty


December 10, 2005

A Book By it's Cover...

Oh my, apple pie. I just got linked to the strangest site by my Demonic news reader. I seriously laughed out loud so loud that the neighbors probably heard. Check it out:

You're a dirty girl, aren't you?

December 09, 2005

Jingle Bell Rocking Around the Tannenbaum

So more holiday cheer around the work place and, yes, they did bring sugar. Damn them. This time in the form of oatmeal cookies. Just because it contains a whole grain doesn’t mean it’s not sugar—big, white piles of refined sugar. Plus, the wild child of the day was allergic to peanuts and couldn’t have one—MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS—so there was that fit to deal with.

Anyway. We had a concert from a group of adolescent girls who dress in purple T-shirts (with something about a hand, or reaching out, or holding one on them) singing carols to a tape recorder. They weren’t bad, honestly, though I think they expected a bit more audience participation than possible for a young child with a cookie in his or her mouth (and in their hair, on the carpet, crumbed and caked on the bottom of their shoes). They had jingle bells on their wrists that they shook in unison and some basic choreography that you could tell was very embarrassing for them.

Owh. And I just had to cringe in memory. Yup, they were about middle school age. 13 or 14. Gaining that weight of adolescence. The beginning of skin problems. The first people you know going, or saying they have gone, all the way. Lockers and note passing and pain. They shook their little bells and their budding hips very awkwardly, tentatively and I wanted to tell them, “I feel your pain, girls! And, no, it isn’t going to get any better for quite a while but it will. Well, no. Some girls never grow out of it, I guess. And it is never, ever really carefree again. I’ve been there. But good luck, sisters. I’m pulling for you.”

I hope that Santa will be kind to these sweet sopranos and bring them lots of stridex, anytime cell phone minutes, designer jeans, and gift certificates. Why gift cards? Because it gives them more time to roam about the mall. Silly.

Candy Canes and Corporate Love

The holidays are ever-present for each and everybody this time of year. I must say, however, that we who work in the schools feel it more than the general population. Back me up here, fellow teachers and child care workers! Christmas is all about the kids. Santa wouldn’t be any fun for just us grown-ups—we have other things to lie to each other about and not usually in the name of wholesome, good-hearted hoodwinking. See, with the kids, I have to think about making their parents presents, decorating the classroom, holiday-themed artwork, music, etc and all with a very PC and multicultural way. There is definitely no holy in our holidays at school.

Given my school is attended my underprivileged children and minorities, this time of year also means a lot of special visits. I am beginning to think that all these corporations are there for photo ops and tax write offs more than anything. That some executive assistant ran her finger down a list of organizations and said, “This is where we shall spread our corporate cheer this year!” But that’s rather cynical of me. These groups do put in a lot of effort to make a good holiday for all of our kids.

For example, earlier this week Santa Claus came to town and it was quite an affair. The secretary that planned that one had been working on it for months. There was a goodie bag for each kid (brown paper, dolled up with glue to look like a reindeer) with cookies, candy, and supplies to make a foam, snow man picture frame—stickers and such. Then, each kid got a photo with the big guy, printed out ultra fast to put in their new frame. To top it off, every kid and I mean every single kid got a wrapped present of about $20 value. Age-appropriate, cool and hip toys. Toys they really want! Plus, I guess we are supposed to get at least two more gift drops this year, making each kid’s total loot three presents and about $60 bucks. Not half bad.

Take half bad and times it by two, however (that’s all bad, for us math challenged people), is the effect of candy canes, cookies, presents in plain sight…. You can see where I am going here. Chaos. Hyperactivity. And one problem child in particular giving me a big old “F*** You!” Now I know why that first person slipped some alcohol into the eggnog.

Off the subject quiz: Brandy or Bourbon is your eggnog this year?

December 08, 2005

A Word to the Wise...

I know. I know. We all know about the hazards of the internet zone we occupy. All those monsters in the closet, that closet where we unleash our inner thoughts and, accidentally, personal information. I stumbled across this interesting story today, however, and thought you'd find it worth reading: Murder in the Blogosphere. It's sensationalist to say the least but still food for thought. I wonder what the police would say about my blog after I go on my crime spree! Watch out Enchanted Forest! It's gnomes gone wild!

A question...

Serves me right for trying to offer up tech advice on my site. JJ offered a very valid question about my Feed Demon post that I will try to answer.

JJ said...

Do blogger sites automatically have RSS or do you have to set it up manually?

Well, the sites here on blogger automatically publish a feed for your blog if you activate that option in your settings--go to the "Site Feed" section and answer YES to Publish. It looks like yours is active as I can read your blog through my feed reader. Blogger, however, actually uses ATOM technology instead of RSS. Different brand name for the same product. This is how it works for me: In Feed Demon, I choose to create a new "channel," let's say yours. I enter your URL and it auto discovers your feed. You are then listed as a sort of email inbox (# New posts, # of Read Posts...) for me to check at my leisure. If I want to enter in the feed of a different kind of site--let's say might be able to follow the same procedure. Their system is more complex, however, so I could go to their site, scroll down to the very bottom and look for an orange button . Click on that to see all their feeds (World News, US News, Weather...) that you can paste into your feed reader. Any site with this logo has the same capability.

Umm. I think I said that right. Will have the tech god of the household look it over for me and make corrections with a big red pencil. I think the program, or any feed reader that may suit your purposes, is definitely worth it. As I was told, by said tech god:

"Once you have acquired Feed Demon, you will then be able to easily keep tabs on what is happening with this web site or with any web site that supports RSS feeds. You just need to look for the little white and orange XML icon on each web site you frequently visit to start getting news feeds in the Feed Demon program. Rather than troll for information using a web browser, like Firefox, you can have all your favorite information come to you in one spot (and, of course, you can still configure Feed Demon to launch any hyperlinks in Firefox or your browser of choice if you like)."

December 07, 2005

Four times Two times Five plus One

Yup. That would be 41. Man, you are really good at math, aren't you? And that number would be the number of pages I currently have done of my first long writing project. I don't really know what to call it--an unfinished novel? That sounds rather arrogant and early to assume such an appellation. The beginning of a novella? Perhaps. I'm more comfortable saying "41 pages of a longer piece."

How handy dandy perfect that Brown requires a writing sample of 30-40 pages. My problem, however, is that I have another 12 page story too that I think might be worth including. So, do I do the long one or a combination? Which do I place first for maximum emphasis? And, later on the line, I have writing sample requirements of only 15 pages. Only 15!! Sheesh. I can do hardly anything in 15 pages. What do I do then?

Well, if you don’t' mind (shucks and golly gee whiz), I would like to ask anyone who is interested to give me some feedback. I would love, love, love to send you out a copy to get an unbiased reading and a helpful opinion. No, I am not trying to foist off my amateur crap on the unsuspecting public. I do think this is some good work. So, please, if you have some time to spare to help out this little gnome, let me know. I would repay you with a glowing recommendation and perhaps even an interview posted online. How about a 20-foot statue that the masses can adore and wreath with flowers, bathe in animal blood, and prostrate themselves before? We can all rub your beautific feet to the smoothness of silk, like waves upon sand. Sound good?

PS. This is also the reason that I did not get around to Flash Fiction Friday this week. Sorry, JJ. Suppose I will have to submit to your horrid punishment of a camel's dripping mucous. Eww.

December 04, 2005

Demonic, Dude

Okay, okay. I may poke a bit of fun at the Boyfriend for being a bit too tech savvy, a bit, hmm, geekish. Not that I am denying my own geekarific nature by any means. (Birds of a feather nest together!) But I must say that he has stumbled across something quite cool.

That cool thing is a program called Feed Demon. It's an RSS reader and, yes, you do have to pay for it ($29.95). They give you a free trial version so you can give it a test go, see if it is worth the moola. If you are always trying to keep track of your favorite blogs like I am, I think you may shell out the dough. So here's how it works--you can program in your favorite blogs, or anything with one of those orange RSS feed buttons (like news sites for example), and in one window, you can read all the day's new bits and bytes. Simply scroll down a list and catch all your favorites.

I admit that I am probably not the best at explaining why this is so cool. I didn't believe it at first myself either. The boyfriend was going on and on and I nodded my head and off to sleep. I didn't start using it right away because it took such effort to customize it (which is a small drawback). But now that it is up and running, I am efficient and effective. I have eyes everywhere. And I am online 32.6% longer than before. (That's probably a drawback too but, hey, we're all addicts out here!)

December 03, 2005

Yesterday in the Bathroom...

Me: (getting ready for a Christmas party, tweezing my brows and curling my lashes [things that only happen in proximity to a Christmas party, a wedding, or a blind date])
Boyfriend: Holy shit!
Me: What?
Boyfriend: That hot, curly thing just hurt me!
Me: You mean the curling iron?
BF: It's a curling beast.
M: I always thought it looked like a little dog. The handle there is the snout and when you open it you can say "Woof. Growl."
BF: Your dog bit me.
It should have room of it's own. With it's own door. And fire proof. Yes.
M: Well, then we would need a three bedroom apartment. Hmmm?
BF: Or you could just not curl your hair.
M: Hmmm. Even a gnome needs sassy hair. Three bedroom.

Welcome the Christmas Gnome!

Santa baby,
Just slip a sable under the tree,
For me.
I've been an awful good gnome.
Santa Baby,
So hurry through the forest tonight.

Like my new pic?