Sunday, December 27, 2009

It is the long Christmas break, and today I have decided to celebrate by not getting out of bed except for trips to the kitchen for sustenance. I can hear Savannah's new movie playing, lots of drama between Harry and the forces of evil. Otherwise, it is a quiet Sunday in our household.

I have contemplated what to write about this time, and had decided on a discussion of names; but that no longer interests me. I could also expound on the terrifying trip dowm the mountain from Durango this past week that left me emotionally wrought while Kailee calmly posted to her Facebook from her cell phone. But I really have no wish to relive it. Perhaps I could write about the movie we went to see on Christmas day-- "Precious." Incredibly powerful, well-acted, and raw enough to make me want to walk out more than once but human enough to keep me in my seat.

But instead, I think I shall just send out a New Year's wish: May we all share each other's laughter and bear each other's tears.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Operation Jetman

Jet has made minor progress this past year that we've owned him. He doesn't chew anything unless he's bored, can play fetch without being insulted by someone lobbing his toys across the kitchen, and has resisted the temptation to pounce on the Christmas tree, albeit...his resolve on the latter might be weakening. It's so tempting...just standing there. And he hasn't jumped on it yet...

Anyways, The Jetman will be trained if it kills me. Here is my checklist of Good Dog Behavior:

  1. No more jumping. When he walks in. Before he walks out. To show that he's bored. To show that he enjoyed his walk in the hills. To show that Balloon Boy was never in the balloon at all. This jumping ends.
  2. No more snapping. He steals treats out of your hands. This must end.
  3. No more pulling on his leash. This, frankly, is more of his problem than mine. I'm not the one in danger of choking from pulling, but he'll stop pulling whether he likes it or not.*
  4. No more aggression. This is most important. Jetman must not try to eat people. 'Tis vital that he not call out the neighborhood watch. He must learn to be comfortable around the peeps and their various pooches. No removal of body parts, no more lunging, and no more trying to drag us to meet his conquests.**
  5. Parlor tricks. Nothing fancy. Sit. Lay Down. Come. Stay. Maybe shake hands.
  6. Like Cats. Only a distant dream. *Sigh.*
  7. Be Neutered. Do not ask about neutering's affect on behavior on Yahoo Answers. I repeat: do not. You will get idiots who say that if he's bad get him a lobotomy. I do not joke. Not ever.

These tricks are but specks on the horizon...but we shall meet them. Hmph.

*I believe that he only pulls upon finding a tempting squirrel, human, or other living thing on planet Earth. Otherwise, he's pretty good. But, alas, he cannot avoid life indefinitely on a walk through the hills or down the street.

**Word on the street is that this is known by its proper name of "socializing." Neat. O.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I

Flying from Philadelphia to Farmington requires a trip on the Grasshopper Express-- my fond name for the small planes that hop over the mountains to Denver, where passengers catch the "real" planes.

It was already dark when we departed Denver International Airport from Gate W72 (or some other such out-of-the-way point), and I was reveling in the discovery I would have both seats to myself on the GE. I settled in with my journal, which had not seen much of me during the conference in Philly. I leaned against the window, watching the nothingness going by and jotting random ideas down. This went on for awhile before I became conscious of a noise that had been going on for quite some time. It was the sound of paper rustling, but in a very rhythmic pattern. Then it would stop. Then start again. Once I became conscious of it, it began to irritate. It was like having a case of the hiccups-- relentless onslaught followed by a period of silence and the hope that it it's past, only to have that hope dashed by another jolt of hiccup.

I finally looked around to see where the noise was coming from and saw behind me a woman sitting in the last corner of the plane, nothing behind her but the tiny closet optimistically labeled "Restroom" (a pregnant woman went into that space during the flight, and her husband had to get her out. He found it a difficult task, mostly because he couldn't stop laughing). The woman had one of the tiny white bags left in the pocket of the seatbacks with the safety card no one bothers to pull out anymore, and the flight magazine with odd yet strangely necessary products like electric toiletbowl brushes and telescoping eyeglass cases in five fresh colors. The woman was using the bag to breathe into. She was in full hyperventilation mode, and I was doubtful the bag was providing her with any real support.

I turned back to the window and thought, (very smugly, I might add) poor woman. There's really no reason to be so stressed. We're perfectly safe...This grasshopper has made the jump countless times before...Those pilots are experienced...And the flight attendant, well, she's quite calm... She would know if anything was amiss...Besides, why worry about dying? If it happens, there won't be much any of us can do about it...There might be a moment when we look up and think, wow-- that's a big mountain, but it will be too quick to realize...Well, look at that wing-- why is it shaking like that? What is that...I only see it when the strobe light comes on...Wait...Oh, it's rain...No... No, it's sleet...Is it snowing? Can the pilots see? Ok!... Stop that... Really, nothing to get upset about...

Too late. I dug the little white bag out of my seatback pocket, just in case.

Monday, November 16, 2009

For Sale by Owner

Last month in the midst of baldness and other such madness, I put my house on the market. I have it in my head that selling it and moving closer to work will miraculously make life better than ever before. I don't know about that, but now there's a "For Sale" sign planted in the front yard and a virtual tour of my cluttered kitchen online.

The thing about selling a house is, you never know when someone will come to see it. The real estate office is suppose to call me and set an appointment when an agent wants to show the house, but messages are useless when the phone isn't working-- such as now. So picture it-- I have settled in for the evening, wearing my running shorts and tee-shirt under my huge, old, burgundy robe. I am going through my typical evening, which consists of Bejewelled Twist punctuated with Facebook and updating my Plurk. Jet the Mighty Dog suddenly breaks out in a frenzy of barking at the same time someone knocks on the front door. It's an agent, with a young couple in tow.

"They didn't call you?" she asks me as I scramble across the living room. I assure her it's fine, that Savannah and I can go for a soda. We quickly throw on some presentable clothes (i.e., I decide against wearing the robe outside) and shoes, grab the keys, and out the door, repeating over and over, "Take your time, no hurry-- no hurry!"

Then, once in the driveway, I realize the young couple have blocked the car in. We can't leave. I don't want to go back in and ask them to move their car; seems like bad juju to be too demanding of the people who might bring about the miracle in my life. Savannah and I make a quick decision to walk down to the local sandwich shop, two blocks away. It is dark, cold, and I forgot a hat. I've been told that one loses a lot of body heat from the head. I am here to say that is not an urban myth. Worse than this, Savannah has no jacket.

We rush to the sandwich shop, where a former (bless him) student gives me two double-chocolate cookies on the house. We sit for awhile, talking about nothing and entering numbers into Savannah's new cell phone. Finally, after a half hour, we head back. It is even colder than before. Get to our street. Look down the road. The cars are still parked in front of our house, and Jet the Mighty Dog is still in a frenzy. I mean, I know I said to take their time, but come on-- it's not that big of a house! And it is very, very, cold.

Savannah and I argue about whether or not to show up on one of our neighbor's doorsteps and beg for refuge while the young couple and the agent peruse my house (Did I pick up all the socks? All the... unmentionables?), finally heading to her friend Kateland's house a couple of blocks away in the opposite direction from the sandwich shop. The temperature is dropping, my ears have lost all feeling, and Savannah can no longer move her arms although she insists she's "fine." Of course, she wants to live in Iceland, so what's a balmy 32 degrees to her?

And, of course, Kateland isn't home. So, we take another lap around the block, Savannah in a short dress, short sleeves, and thin leggings and me with my frozen ears and hands clutching my double-chocolate cookies. This time, as we come around, I am happy to see everyone has left.

This house has never felt so warm.

Despite the absurdity of Savannah and I walking around the neighborhood in the cold with nothing but two double-chocolate cookies, this experience was still better than the last showing. That one took place about two weeks ago. I distinctly remember it because for that visit there was a broken-down water heater sitting in the front yard. I had awoken to a flooded laundry room the day before and had spent both girls' inheritance replacing it (but what a selling point-- that new tank is absolutely gorgeous). The old one had not been hauled off, so of course someone wants to see the house. I can only imagine their reaction as they pulled up-- the yard is covered with fall leaves that haven't been raked and bagged, there's a crazy dog throwing himself against the fence, and there's a water heater in the front yard. The only thing that could complete the picture is the dueling banjos from Deliverance playing in the background.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Translation: Flugufrelsarinn*

"The Fly's Savior"

Hullabaloo, I rushed down to the lake
A savior
I made a ship and said a short prayer
Because I was scared
The sun shown and the lake flowed
Sunflowers, sunflowers the flies die

But today I'm supposed to save as many flies as possible
In each hand I carry a string- determined
I throw them into the abyss and try
To haul the flies in before
The smolts reach them where they fight
The stream and water

And so the day passes on
Going on board, I had begun fighting
The Stream
Which had already killed so many

I can't breathe and I'm getting heavier with every wave
I need a miracle
Because I'm drowning sins
I try to get onboard

I pull ashore and save myself onto
onto the beach
I lay on a hot rock and let myself dry again
I throw myself into the abyss and try
To draw in the flies before
The smolts reach them where they fight
The stream and water

Gustur, completely soaked
Frakkur feels how the boat is out of the strongest current
And the land slowly approaches

He is both
Sea and on land saving
The flies that die here
Though especially himself
Eternal war and peace nowhere
But someone has to sacrifice himself
The days are long

What do you think of these Sigur Ros lyrics? Translated from the Icelandic, of course...

*Well, according to the translator page thingy. :D

Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Musical Debate

Which do you (Mom, the loyal reader) prefer:

The Phantom of the Opera or
Cats or
Chicago or

Urinetown may seem unrelated. In a category of exciting and beautiful music with complex plots and realities, Urinetown is odd, but it's nice to have a little random choice.

Anyways, there are some qualms to be expressed about The Phantom of the Opera. Namely, when Gerard Butler sings this to you, why the %&$# would you go with that pansy Raoul? What's your problem, Christine?

Who does that?

Besides everyone at Disney Channel, because that's not the point. I mean in the real world: who picks Mr. Pouty Lip over Gerard Butler?

The Eee Post

(because I really don't know what else to call this)

Since I decided to become an activist about a year ago, I've encountered numerous odd, uh, individuals (to use a polite word and establish a polite post) who are bound and determined to impede human rights at all costs, something which, frankly, confuses me. For example, I'm not really sure what standing in the way of immigrants' rights gets you. And I've heard my fair share of racism and classism against immigrants to come to the conclusion that certain people are motivated by ignorance alone. Usually, when characterizing one's enemies, one tends to make them motivated by evil or greed or an unhealthy need for control because it is just easier to feel righteous that way. I've found that in many cases it is not correct to assume that people are motivated by hatred (because they aren't always trolls) and more by ignorance. You truly have to be lacking in basic knowledge of a subject to believe that Mexicans come to the country to spread drugs, as though that is their life: bringing about the downfall of another country using illegal substances and not getting anything in return. And I use Mexicans specifically because, apparently, only immigrants coming in from "those" countries are trafficking drugs: no one complains about French immigrants or British immigrants.

I consider myself a liberal, though not Superliberal like Kailee. But I try to respect anyone's politics so much as they're not (a). ignorant or (b). bigoted. Usually, if one achieves decent erudition on a subject, then he or she is able to avoid bigotry. Generally, I support things that are pretty bipartisan: conservatives and liberals alike, for example, support peace in Darfur. That's a human thing, and I'm aware that liberal (or conservative) by American standards is actually rather moderate since there's no extreme this or that in this country that ever gains too much power, so calling myself a liberal is complicated at best.

I have been, in this past year, slapped with the dreaded "fauxgressive" label because I happen to be pro-life. Though I would like to point out that abortion is not my White Whale (Darfur is; it's just much harder to find information on Darfur so it's harder to find something to vocalize) and, while I have written about it (or, rather, am writing about it currently), I've never written an agenda story, or, a piece with activism in mind. I've written an essay about it that was intended to stand up for fetal rights and it features in a story that I'm writing now, albeit the story isn't about abortion or trying to make a statement about it. However, I think that my mother has taken this to mean that I'm obsessed with the topic. I care about it, but Darfur is still my Topic. With a capital "t." Like that.

Anyways, I've in my time heard some odd excuses for opposing human rights and would like my mom (the reader of this blog) to comment on whether or not she's had the same difficulties as I've had when explaining that polar bears don't drown because they're playing Dead but because of global warming:

  • "Global warming? You seriously believe in global warming? Don't buy into that garbage. There's no such thing as carbon emissions. Global warming is natural and will settle itself come winter. Global warming is, after all, caused by the sun."
  • "You're just anti-choice because you hate Holland."
  • "Obama's gonna take my guns!"
  • "I don't think that the government ought to get involved with things like healthcare or public stuff. Who knows if an illegal immigrant is going to use my tax dollars to get care or drive around on the road that I paid for."
  • "I'll believe in global warming when the Earth's climate starts changing."
  • "No, gays do not want rights because they want to avoid being beaten to death by people. They just want to fornicate. It has nothing do with protection."

I'm actually also sort of confused by global warming since that has nothing do with politics or human rights and if it makes you feel more inclined to acceptance, you could probably get rich off of eco-technology or t-shirts. They're all the rage.


May I please reiterate that it doesn't matter whether or not you're a conservative or a liberal. My best friend (Bug) is a conservative and she certainly doesn't oppose human rights- just the opposite: she's one of the kindest people I've ever met and is very well-informed of her choices and knows exactly where she stands and why; so this is not about politics. It's just about my experiences as a fledgling activist awash in a sea of stupidity.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weather For the Rest of the Week

In Reykjavik (for all of you geography-deficient squares out there, that would be the capital city of Iceland), it is a drizzly week.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is expected to reach a high of fifty degrees and a low of forty-two. Plus, there is a chance of light rain and lots of clouds. Burr (albeit, according to what I've read, fifty degrees is like a heat bomb compared to the usual temperature in Iceland, especially in late October).

Friday brings more rain, and more than Thursday. The high is once again anticipated to be about fifty degrees with a low of around thirty-three. No sun that day- just mean rain clouds (but apparently Iceland doesn't get thunder- it's too cold, so you just get the rain without the neat sound effects).

Saturday's weather is looking a little better. It still plans on raining, but considerably less, with a high of about forty-six degrees and a low of thirty-two degrees. We follow this up on Sunday with a high of thirty-six degrees and a low of thirty-four degrees and a chance of snow.


You Don't Like My Music [Points Finger Menacingly]

My mom doesn't seem too keen on my new obsession, Steeleye Span, and something tells me that she won't be fond of Sa Dingding, who's from China and sings in Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. Cool! This is my first Sa Dingding song, "Alive."

I like her music, though I don't remember how I came across her name. The scene where my mom hears Sa Dingding's name has played out in my head before. First, she would chortle and say, "Dingding? Hmph!" I would reply that that was culturally insentitive but mispronounce insensitive because that's how the cookie crumbles in this household. Then she would listen to her music and either think of it as strangely Asian-folksy or hate it, one or the other, but my hope is that she likes it. And even after writing all of that, I still cannot remember how I found her name. I think that I was looking at the Tibetan language and somehow or another she popped up in the search engine. I haven't looked at too many other songs of hers yet, but I do think that the few that I've heard are neat-o, peep(s).

Anyways, I showed mi madre Steeleye Span and her reaction was as though it was the most obtrusive sound that she'd ever heard. Steeleye Span music is very Celtic, and, frankly, I'm not even positive that the lyrics are in English. "Royal Forester" is, thus far, my favorite.

But on a somewhat brighter note, Madre did check into Baade art and I think that the painting that uses the plague as an allegory for dating tickled her, but other than that, she remained firmly nonchalant.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rainy days and Tuesdays

The play is finished, I have removed most of the makeup from my skull, and I am back on my couch under a warm blanket. I feel the chill a little more these days. Who would've thought hair could make such a difference?

I find it VERY unfair that my good friend Virgil, who shaved his head in solidarity (amongst other reasons) has already grown out more hair than me. I also find it unfair that, as a man, he can walk around without hair and no one gives it a second thought.

I, on the other hand, am learning to be invisible.

It is an interesting dynamic-- I walk down the hall, sporting this black hat or that purple beret, and someone coming towards me will look at me. Look away. Look again, the ol' double-take. Then, look away so quickly I can almost hear neck vertebraes crack. So many people are afraid to look at me, really look at me.

Why? Because we associate baldness in women with cancer or another life-threatening condition, and we seem to fear looking illness in the eyes. I know I was just as guilty of it. If I didn't look at the woman in the grocery story wearing the black ball cap, skull smooth and hairless, I could pretend that cancer isn't here. Sickness isn't here.

But it is. And those who fight it are not invisible. Looking away will not make them invisible.


But my life as a bald woman isn't all bad. There is a whole list of advantages:

  • There is something to be said for the speed in which I can get ready in the mornings, now. I'm also saving money on shampoo.
  • And, I am waiting like a kid at Christmas to see what kind of hair I will get out of this. It may be Christmas before I find out...
  • Running is nicer without the frustration of hair falling in my eyes or sticking to the sweat on my face.
  • People want to rub my fuzzy scalp for luck.
  • I am told constantly I have a "nicely-shaped head".
  • I have acquired an Ismelda Marcos-sized collection of hats and scarves.
  • I am falling in love with long, dangling earrings all over again.
  • I have even learned to forgive my ears, which stick out too much.
  • I can take naps in the middle of the afternoon and not worry about waking up with bedhead.
  • And, I can remember that I once-- once-- had the guts to do something completely out of character.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mad About Baade

I'm not an artist and can't even muster the ability to plop a decent spoon onto a piece of paper, but I do enjoy looking at good art, surrealism especially. Kailee is my favorite artist though I'm not sure what type of art that she works in. It's darker than my newest obsession (not as good as Kailee), Carrie Ann Baade. Whoa! I remember seeing Baade's works at a gallery in Santa Fe called the Pop Gallery. It was love at first sight.

Baade's work uses rich color and a very surreal way of painting peoples' eyes to evoke wonder in the viewer. Her paintings are both inspirational and awe-inspiring. I looked at her paintings for half an hour today while listening to music (good music, good paintings: Baade looks better when listening to And One, Goldfrapp, Bjork, and Greg Maroney) and am decidedly in love with The Involuntary Thoughts of Lady Caroline Dubois. It was the first painting that I ever saw of hers, and it has stuck in my head like a visual harpoon. Yup yup yup.

Over the couple of times that I've sat down to look over her work, I've come to be a fan of numerous of her paintings. After the aforementioned Lady Caroline Dubois, I find myself in full-on squee mode when it comes to True Love on the Eve of the Apocalypse.

Check out a few of her paintings, ja!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm a teacher.

I decided, and Theresa-the-director agreed, that I would have my head shaved with the entire cast present. I thought it would be a nice teaching moment, showing the students in the cast that a job worth doing is worth... you know the cliche.

What they learned is what a coward I am. Linann, the wonderful lady with the brand new clippers, was waiting for me when I got to the theatre. She didn't give me much time to think about it, but directed me to the chair immediately. She turned me away from the mirror, gave me a hug, and turned on the clippers.

I immediately began crying. Clippers off. "Are you sure you're ready to do this?" she asked me.

I composed myself best I could, then gave her the go-ahead. Clippers on. I begin screaming and kicking my legs. Clippers off.

"Just do it!" I shout. Or I think I did. I may have just thought it. Then, suddenly and in one smooth move, Linann turned on the clippers and took a swath out of the back of my head.

Sometimes, you just have to rip off the bandage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

LEST there is any doubt as to the power words yield, I am today eating a bit of crow. It does not taste much like chicken.

It is so very easy to throw out words casually, to say such things as "I would shave my head for this role if it had to be done" when I think there's no danger that those words would stick to the wall.

But they have stuck to the wall. Quite soundly. And I am now accountable to them. This afternoon I am reporting to the costume shop to have my head shaved for the play.

Beware of your words-- they never forget. And when you least expect them, they come home like unemployed children for extended stays.

I'm trying to turn this surreal, Brechtean experience into something useful, like an extended blog life. I think I raced through all the stages of grief in about two hours last night, so now I'm a bit in a numb state, which is probably where I should be until the deed is done. But eventually I'll catch up on my sleep, probably long before my hair grows out, so I need more words to stick up on the wall to get me through.

It IS just hair. I get that-- intellectually. My fear is grounded in vanity-- I get that. To continue pursuing the makeup route will be very, very detrimental to me, as I have discovered how much spirit gum and acetone can burn the skin of the face and neck. Plus, looking like an alien bursting through someone else's skin is most definitely NOT the look we want. I get it. I get it.

But I'm still flirting with a panic attack.

For those who have lost or are losing their hair because of chemotherapy, my deepest apologies for the vanity and pity-party tone of this piece. I cannot imagine your struggle. But I will be sending my prayers out with each piece of hair that falls on the floor today.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I have been hard at work on a play the past few weeks, hence my long absence from posting. It is my first time on stage in... a long time... so between the rehearsal process, keeping up with student essays, and wrestling the constant voice asking me What were you thinking! it has been an exhausting and absolutely incredible few weeks.

The play is called Wit and is about an English Literature Professor named Vivian Bearing, who is dying from ovarian cancer. The play is her journey from the intellectual world into the emotional one. It has also been a spiritual journey for me. Not only playing this incredible woman, but relearning so many things about myself I had forgotten or put away in the closet. Way, way back of the closet.

My students have been waiting, probably less anxiously than me, to see if I would relent and shave my head for the role. I thought it prudent to warn them of the possibility to save myself countless denials that I am myself dying. Fortunately, the hair will remain. But it was interesting to realize that if push came to shove, I would have let the hair go. Not because I am such an artist, but because I am learning-- relearning-- to be one.

I had forgotten just how much I love the theatre. Every part of it-- I don't need to be on stage to feel at home there. In fact, I much prefer writing and directing. The nausea level on opening night is about the same, but I find it more magical to hear my words coming from a good actor than my own words never fully doing justice to another writer's words.

But the greatest thing about theatre is the storytelling. I am a storyteller. I always have been, and the theatre is the place I can do this without becoming a liar. I can tell a story on stage and it is accepted, embraced, sometimes even applauded. If I tell the same story outside the theatre, it is met with skepticism, raised eyebrows, questions of "Is that true?" This usually happens in class after I have told some poignant story to illustrate a point or illustrate a rhetorical mode. My students listen to me weave a story about Hannah, a beautiful four year-old who wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up, but is killed by a drunk driver; or about my grandfather taking me to the state fair in his '59 Chevy pickup with the torn seat covers and Hank Williams, Jr. playing on the eight-track. Perhaps the stories are true. Perhaps only one is. Perhaps neither. But, in some way, every story contains truth, so why do we question?

In the theatre, we don't. We allow the story to unwind and are willing to accept. This is called suspension of disbelief. Even when we become aware of our disbelief, in the darkness of the theatre we are more willing to ignore it. We become like children, believing once again in fairy tales, tall tales, myths, legends, and folklore. That's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh, Ha

This is one of those things that you shouldn't laugh at, but I can't help doing it anyway. I know that I can't be the only one who adores when all things politically incorrect get the historical treatment.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Farewell, Molly

Did it. Sold Kailee's beloved Mazda, Molly. I'm comforted that she's going to a good home (the car, not Kailee), a cute couple with three little boys. Lisa, the new owner, is quite excited about her car.

I'm slightly less excited.

I'm not sure what it is-- it is, after all, just a car, but...

Ok, I'll admit it. As long as Molly was in the driveway, I could pretend that Kailee was just on an extended trip. But now, the empty driveway sends me a very clear message. Kailee has moved away.

Lest anyone think I'm crying on my keyboard as I type this, let me assure you I am more intrigued than depressed. After all, I've never sent a child into the world, so all this is new. I'm excited for Kailee, and feel completely comfortable with her readiness for college and beyond. And of course I miss her, terribly. It's an odd feeling, trying to reconcile both emotions. I feel like an ice cream cone, a chocolate and vanilla twist.

If I were Paul McCartney I could turn all of this into a great song for the ages. Here, I give a heavy sigh at my inadequate attempts to capture the place I'm at. But more than that, talk of chocolate and vanilla ice cream has me craving a trip to Dairy Queen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It's a rule, apparently, to keep a public journal, so I've made a lazy post to satisfy the requirement for making an update once every year or so. My life since the last update will be the sort-of topic. Whatever.

Over the course of the week, I discovered my my new favorite video of all time. It. Is. Incredible. And funny. Even if I'll never Sigur Ros live (sigh), I can always entertain myself with this.

Jet's Big Day, the day of his rabies shots, was pulled off with success. Success with Jet comes about as often as an opportunity to attend a Sigur Ros, but Jet was a good boy who did not (as in, failed) to eat the cat in front of him in line to get his shot at the clinic. And he took his shot like a gentleman. Good boy, Jet. We took him to Petco as part deux of his Big Day and he had an accident in the store. But he got a bone that's buried somewhere in the backyard. Somewhere. With the chunks of tree, pieces of grill, and deceased pets of years past. He'll dig it up someday.

And finally some quality comedy from Hugh and Stephen- can't go wrong there or here or here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A view of my own

Last night while traveling home from Albuquerque, I was studying the sunset. I was searching for that perfect turn of phrase to describe it, but being poetically deficient, I kept coming up short. Finally, I asked Savannah what color she would say it was. She studied the western horizon and then pronounced it "Peach."

I like the color and fruit equally, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

I have been craving sunsets lately. It has always been my favorite time of day, especially in summer. I love the change in light in late evening that transforms everything, brings out a glow from within.

My favorite sunsets I call warrior sunsets, those brilliant cloud-filled events that blaze up hot gold, as if Mother Nature is pulling the earth's energy westward, taking in all the noise and fuss of the day and firing it in a hot kiln until it turns bronze and copper and quiet. Then she opens her arms and sends it back soft silver, purple, and rose. I think these are particularly beautiful in New Mexico when the mesas get involved.

I can't see the sunset from where I live; neighborhood homes block the view. I try to go for my runs to coincide with them, but sunsets are made for studying, for watching and meditating on. I dream of finding a place that will give me back the sunsets. Virginia Woolf believed that a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write -- I'll take mine with a view of the warrior sunset.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are you SURE this is good for me?

At the beginning of this summer, I got the odd desire to start running again. I haven't run further than the distance between the parking lot and Dairy Queen for over twenty years, so I wasn't so sure how this was going to turn out.

In the three months since waking up with this wild urge I have submerged myself in the running culture. I spent a lot of money on running shoes-- one pair for road work, one for trail running (and the trail shoes are SO cute!). I set up a training schedule. I worked to push through that metaphorical "wall" when all I wanted to do was stop and have a banana split. I even subscribed to Runner's World magazine. And, I am proud to say, I can now run a whopping two miles without stopping. On a good day. With a strong tail-wind.

While I am in no danger of throwing away my day job to train for the Olympics, I have discovered that running has actually given me a few good hints for life. I believe Vicki would call it the Zen of Running, but I have yet to achieve that runner's "high" I hear so much about, so frankly I don't find struggling up a hill for a mile, sucking air and wondering what has happened to all my good sense very zenful, so I will instead call it



Yes, It Would Be Easier to Drive There...

1. If you don't take the first step, you aren't going to get any closer to the finish line.

2. It's all about pace.

3. Sweat washes off.

4. Other people really aren't waiting to see you fall.

5. Stay in the moment.

6. When you can't go any further, go just ten more yards.

7. It's OK to walk, sometimes.

8. If you don't recharge, you can't go the distance.

9. Good shoes are a woman's best friend.

10. The only competitor you have to defeat is the voice inside you saying "Stop."

So, maybe I won't get past my two-mile plateau. Perhaps I will never stop questioning why I keep putting on the runnng shoes (even if they are SO cute) when all I want to do is watch "Ghost Hunters." No doubt I will never be able to match Kailee's pace.

But, I can do today what I couldn't a year ago. And that has been the best lesson of all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading Room

The back-to-school reading list has been compiled. Now it has to be read. If you read, write back in the comments section. If not, you're a hooligan.

The Hummingbird's Daughter
Luis Alberto Urrea

Life of Pi
Yann Martel

It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
Jim Henson, The Muppets

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers

The Other Man Was Me: A Voyage to the New World
Rafael Campo

The Sagas of Icelanders
Icelanders Who Wrote Stuff

The Bride's Kimono
Sujata Massey

Frank Delaney

Get busy, hooligans.

Cat: A Memoriam

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I didn't feel a thing, and other lies I tell myself.

There are a couple of people in my life whom I like well enough, but really don't want to see often. One is my attorney. The other is my dentist.

I have a great dentist. He is competent, gentle, and patient with my less-than-stellar flossing habits. He's friendly, and since he's the only dentist my girls have known, they don't have an irrational fear of dentists (although Kailee does fear dental hygienists). Despite all this, I am content to not hang out with him. I'm really looking forward to the day he looks into my mouth, moving his shiny mirror thingy around, sits back, and says, "Ok-- looks great! See you in six months."

It hasn't happened yet.

Today, I returned for two fillings. Only one tooth has a cavity, but the doctor fears the other could develop one, so why not kill two birds with one drill and fix them both. Why not! It didn't seem like a big deal, but neither did having two wisdom teeth extracted at the age of 44. Why didn't I remember that little party before agreeing to show up for my appointment today?

As fillings go, I am certain I had it easy. I never even felt the needle going in to numb my teeth and nerves. But I have a bit of a phobia against needles (I think it's referred to as icantstandthemaphobia), and just knowing one was well, well within my personal bubble was enough to raise those red flags that tell me PANIC ATTACK IMMINENT! DIVE! DIVE! Only, there was nowhere to go.

Withing a few minutes, the entire right side of my face was numb and he went to work. Drill, clean, check, drill, drill, drill... No pain, I assured him, except for the electric shock that sliced through my cheek every time I closed my mouth. He gave me a puzzled look, put the shiny mirror thingy in, had a good look around and asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yeth," I slurred.

"You shouldn't feel anything in your cheek-- are you sure it's not in your jaw?

"Noth. Ith in my cheeth."

"Your teeth?"

"Noth. My cheeth. My cheeth," I say (I think), tracing the path of the pain for him. He looks at his dental hygienist, who shakes her head.

"Do you want me to numb you up some more?"

"Noth! I can'th feel a thingth nowth. Do I sthill hath a thongue?"

"It's still there." He proceeded, and I withheld anymore comment on the odd pain in my cheek. I wanted out of the chair, so I could take the little electrical shock. Besides, it only hurt when I closed my mouth. Pretty soon, I wasn't able to tell when my mouth was open or closed except the feeling of the breeze on the back of my throat.

When he went to work on the bottom tooth, I didn't mention the same odd shooting pain along the bottom of my jaw. It's just like me to find out I'm wired differently than the average human.

All in all, the process only took an hour, although I believe time slows WAY down in a dentist's office. Of course, that also could have been a direct result of a lack of oxygen. Every once in a while, the dentist would admonish me, "Breath through your nose!" and I would give him a look that said, "How else would you like me to breath, with four hands, two suction hoses, a drill, a pick, some really nasty tasting substance, and a shiny mirror thingy stuck in my mouth?!" But then I'd realize, I wasn't breathing at all. He was just reminding me. Because he's a really good dentist.

And I get to see him again, in two weeks. For the other side.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Stealing Your Thunder...

...postmodern English style.

So today my mater made an entry into her public journal about fire alarms and their flaws and the fact that Kailee sleeps and I cart large bags around with me when it is not...really...necessary. She was pleased with her discipline, so just five minutes after she made the update I am stealing her thunder and making another one. It won't happen again. I'm feeling alive. I've got passion. I survived the blender with all five fingers on my right hand (or, well, most of one of the fingers)- don't no one rain on my parade.

This font looks very funny, very fishy...maybe it's just the pre-update font. But it looks bigger than the fonts of previous entries.

Any hoodle, I have made a list of acceptable terms to prevent the onslaught of this beastie known as postmodern English. Postmodern English is a collection of cyber, technological terms that ruin a once perfect pantheon of words such as "cat" or "mat" or "hat." There will be no more love for such beloved words once crap like "cyberspace" or "iPod" or "microchip" take over and turn language into a robot's instruction booklet.
Say this instead to safeguard real words:

Box Which Entertains (Perhaps Too Much)

Compact Disk is fine

Streaming Media
Awaiting the Arrival of Life Captured on Machines

Radio's alright...


Sad Excuse for a Word/Public Journal*

Sadder Excuse for a Word/Public, Mechanically Captured Sentiments


Together, we can overcome postmodernism. And, to walk my write, I have taken the liberty and all that jazz (because I need to pump up the cliched sayings in this entry; I feel that I am, even now, lacking), and copied this dictionary into my good, old-fashioned handwritten journal. Success is not easy, but postmodern English is a real threat to Shakespeare, language, and the good of humanity. Be a hero. Save the words.

*read the beginning of this entry for an example of this new term in action and glory



I believe that all the fire drills we are subjected to as children serve the opposite purpose that they are intended to. I came to this conclusion early Wednesday morning while I was in Albuquerque, staying at a well-known chain hotel. I was asleep-- finally-- but had only been so for about an hour when, at 2:15 am, the hotel's alarm went off.

Before I had gone to sleep, I had the strangest thought- what if the alarm went off? I can't remember the context of the thought, and don't profess to any sort of psychic ability. I mention it because when it really did go off, that very loud and quite obnoxious alarm, I thought it was my fault. I jumped out of bed, ran to the middle of the room and stood, completely disoriented. I returned to the bedside alarm clock and thumped it a couple of times, thinking it was the culprit and that I was really, really making my neighbors mad. It wasn't the alarm clock. Nor was it my cellphone (which has an alarm that plays music to soothe one into the day, unlike this bellowing Beowulf). Finally, I looked through the little peephole, and seeing nothing amiss in the hallway, went to the window. Still nothing to see.

In all this, I couldn't figure out what the alarm meant. Fire? Smoke? Terrorists on Menaul? I just couldn't get my befuddled, two-glasses-of-wine-before-bed mind around the idea that it meant EVACUATE.

That, I believe, is the result of years of fire drills in school. As a child briefly living in Oklahoma, I was also drilled on tornadoes and nuclear bombs. I am well versed in the meaning of an alarm. Fortunately for my childhood but unfortunately for 2:15 am, I associate alarms with drills, not the real thing. Thus, pretty sure the hotel would not be conducting a drill at such an hour, but not wholly convinced they wouldn't, I was rendered motionless in the middle of my room, unsure what to do. Finally, I opened the door and stuck my head out into the hallway. And that's when I saw it-- several of my neighbors, up and down and hall, sticking their heads out or pulling their heads back into their rooms. We looked like a bunch of whack-a-moles, that arcade game that encourages players to smash the heads of poor, helpless moles peeking out of their holes.

I asked my neighbor to my left, "Do you know what's going on?" and my neighbor to my right asked me, "Are you evacuating?" It wasn't until two young girls passed us and told us, "Our grandma says we have to evacuate" that we all pulled our heads in, shut our doors, and made our move. Thank goodness for grandmas.

I've always wondered what I would grab if I had to evacuate my house quickly. I now know-- my cellphone and my car keys. Savannah went down the four flights carrying her book bag, which is no lightweight proposition. I asked her why she was taking the heavy bag; she leveled that look at me, the one that says, Can I really be flesh of your flesh? and responded, "My life's work is in here. I'm NOT leaving it to burn!"

I looked at my car keys and phone and thought to myself, that's why she's going to be a famous writer someday, and I'm going to be answering her fan mail.

Ultimately, the alarm signaled nothing of significance. The firemen came and went, and we were allowed to return to our rooms.

By this time, it was almost 2:54 am. A significant time, as Kailee was born on July 29th, 2:54 am. The irony wasn't lost on me. I was awake for her arrival, and now, at the moment she turned eighteen years old, I stood at the window and sang happy birthday to her.

Not that she knew it-- she was sound asleep in her quiet dorm room.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Signs of the times

Savannah's obsession with Iceland really gives me pause. But I suppose there's many other things, worse things, to be obsessed with. Leeches. Twilight. Fleetwood Mac...wait, she's obsessed with that one, too.

I don't know where it comes from. Of course, I don't know where any of Savannah's thoughts come from, but I am glad at least that she has discovered in her Icelandophobia the group Sigur Ros. If you haven't listened to the music from this group, I can tell you it is... well, I don't know, because the CD has the uncanny ability to render me unconcious before the first song is finished. Which isn't a good thing when driving down the highway.

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on Savannah's obsession. I have developed a few of my own, usually in those long hours of not sleeping. Here's one: every day. Everyday. Ok, so that's two. Which is my point, exactly-- most of the time, when someone uses the term everyday, they mean every day but write everyday. One is a phrase consisting of an adjective, every, describing a noun, day. The other is an adjective, everyday, describing another noun, say... everyday hero; everyday events; I am everyday people. Seems pretty straight forward, but every day (yes, two words) when I drive into town, I am greeted with a sign outside the local hardware store that proudly proclaims:


It's enough to make me want to pull Sadie over, whip out a pair of scissors-- or a knife-- cut the sign down the middle between "every" and "day", and then separate them by a few planks of the fence. But, I know improper word usage is no excuse for destruction of property.

Closely related to this obsession is my struggle with the peculiar habit we have of verbizing nouns. No, verbizing isn't a word, but if we can turn the noun "text" into a verb, I can create any word I want.

I'm not one of those prudish English teachers who thinks the language is being destroyed. In fact, I am in awe of the flexibility of a language that can adapt and shape new words where there were none before. Savannah tells me this couldn't happen in Latin. I'll take her word for it. It's another one of her obsessions, so she would be much more equipped to discuss that than me. BUT- as an English person,I have a certain amount of academic curiosity about the phenomenom.

All languages are rule-governed. This is why we spend inordinate and frankly wasteful hours drilling our children on rules such as verb tense. A speaker of the language knows not to say "I writed you yesterday." He or she knows, likewise, not to say "I is here." Unfortunately, many haven't learned not to say, "I seen him," but let's stay with the obsession at hand.

So, if language is rule-governed, how are we to handle the issue of verbizing a noun? Nouns don't have tense. Therefore, if a noun like "text" is suddenly used as a verb, as in "I will text you," then what rule do we follow-- sending a text is a form of writing. I wouldn't say to you, "I writed you, but you didn't answer..." I would say "I wrote you..." On the other hand, a text is sent on a phone, but I wouldn't say, "I coll you last night." Is the proper rule for the past-tense of text "texted," or "toxt"? Neither comes off the tongue easily.

How in the name of all that is good is someone suppose to learn to speak English? WE don't even know the rules; we're making them up as we go!

The Northern Squee

It. Is. Here.

Icelandic: Grammar, Texts, Glossary by Stefan Einarsson.

And it. Is. Magical.

Letting out a big cheer and a big squee for the arrival of the mighty blue book of Northern Germanic language. What a sacred day of days. July 23, 2009: you are a special date. The date that Iceland comes to New Mexico, which serves as the backdrop for my skit "When Iceland Met New Mexico."






Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hang up and flush!

I don't sleep well lately. I either have a difficult time getting to sleep, or once there I have a hard time staying that way. I wake anywhere between 1:30 and 5:00 am and lie in bed making deals with myself: "If I go to sleep right now, I can still get five hours...If I fall asleep now, I can make it tomorrow on three hours..." and so on.

But it's not the lack of sleep that gets me. It's the things I obsess over while lying there that really wear me out. Last night's example-- cell phones in public restrooms.

A few months ago I ducked into a restroom at the college. I enclosed myself in my stall, and then heard the woman in the stall next to me ask, "What did you tell him?"

"Excuse me?" I replied, more than a little confused. "That's what I told him, but he won't listen to me!"

And then I realized the woman wasn't speaking to me at all, but rather to someone on her cell phone. I was stunned, and thought perhaps I was mistaken, but then I heard the tinny, far-away voice responding to her. After I got over my initial shock, I found myself in a predicament. I was finished with my business, but now I didn't know what to do. Do I flush, or do I wait? I think I missed the memo on proper cell phone etiquette on the toilet. If I flush, I give her up to whomever she's talking to. If I wait, she'll think I'm eavesdropping on her conversation. If I just leave the, don't go there.

Then the woman let me off the hook; she flushed. Oh my gosh! What would I do if someone I was talking to on the phone suddenly flushed? I mean, that's like taking me into the stall with them. I don't want to be in the stall with anyone. That's just a little too cozy a friendship for me.

It made me feel only a little better to see the woman wash her hands, phone snuggly cradled between her shoulder and ear.

I would have chalked this up to an anomaly, but I have witnessed similar incidents no less than three times in three different towns. Apparantly we've become a society so technologically plugged in that we feel no need for private space. We are so wired we cannot disconnect for even the most-- personal-- activities. What exactly are we afraid we're going to miss in those few precious moments we spend in the bathroom? On the other hand, maybe there's nothing wrong with the public sharing of private acts-- isn't that what reality tv is built on?

Perhaps I am too old for the 21st century. I don't know. But it's enough to keep me awake at night.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peach trees

In my backyard there is a single peach tree that is so loaded with fruit the branches are touching the ground. It looks painful, frankly. We go out and pick peaches every evening, but there just seems to be more and more. The fruit is small, about a fourth the size of a regular peach, but so sweet it's like eating big peach candies.

We didn't even know we had a peach tree in the backyard until two summers ago. Apparantly, it bears fruit every other summer. Perhaps that's all the energy it has, considering how heavy the branches look.

This spring I was surprised to discover I also have a small cherry tree. There's nothing quite like the adventure that is my backyard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Aztec Ruins 2008

The poet must be willing
to pull off her shoulders
the warm blanket
walk into the unknown
hear the story
the cottonwood whispers and wander
with the red ant
wherever it leads.

The poet must be willing
to get dirty
to scrabble around the rubble of words
scuffing her knees scraping
her elbows breaking her nails
to dig out a sliver of crystal
imbedded in hard rock soil.

The poet must be willing
to rub the dirt from it
line it up with the last
and the last and the last
until she stands in the shadow
of an eternal wall
true and straight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hostile Takeover: A Press Release

Miss Rivas, offspring of Ms. Hinson, has taken over for this current blog posting due to her mother's inability to remain faithful to her electronic undertaking. Miss Rivas would like to note that Ms. Hinson has spent the better part of the past week saying, "I'll get to it when the creative juices start flowing," evidently forgetting that it's a freaking log and, de facto, Miss Rivas would like to summon a list of topics for her mother to write about:
  • the neighborhood cat who, depending on who you ask, is either named Grace Slick or Julia Hope
  • her future writing projects
  • her support of women's rights (who doesn't want a human rights log?)
  • bad essays from surprisingly endearing students
  • Iceland
  • the pursuit of a quality pen
  • movie, book, and music reviews
  • places to travel
  • poems, short stories, outlines, et cetera
  • the wonder that is Iceland
  • Iceland the Third
  • Norway's not bad...
  • Jet
  • Albuquerque and the sunsets that set over New Mexico and its freakishly large tarantulas
  • a fake business letter

Miss Rivas would like for it to be known that there really is no shortage of topics; the world is full of things to write about.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

A promise is a promise

It's Sunday evening, the weeds are tall in the backyard, the homework is waiting for me, and I am creating a new blog. Actually, Savannah created it for me. I just spent an hour changing how it looks, because that is vitally important.

This blog is the result of a promise. I have no idea where it will go, what it will cover, or when it will be updated, but knowing myself, I will become addicted to it as I do anything having to do with writing.

I was hoping Savannah would join this spot with me, but she only promises to read it, perhaps write back from time to time. It may well be that this will remain for the two of us only, but that's ok. A promise is a promise. And it does feel good to type again!

The truth is, writing becomes a struggle for someone who teaches it-- the day-to-day exercise of working with emerging writers can drain the creative force from you if you let it. I love my job, love seeing writers gain confidence and skill, but I want to find a way to keep the writer within me alive also. I know it can be done, and I know that I have to find my own way to do it.

A new week is waiting.