Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Comments

The problem with having work-related meetings in the evening is that you're all hopped up for a long time afterward. Normally, at this time of night, I'm already in bed, in my jammies, reading, or playing Boggle on my iPhone. (I'm totally addicted. It's way better than Skee Ball. Yeah, I said it.)

As you see, I lead the glamourous life.

Anyway, I'm totally hyper right now and just had one of my husband's fresh-baked rolls. Sublime.

This is one of the many reasons I love having my husband working from home. Fresh baked goods rule.

And speaking of which, in the Bed, Bath and Beyond flyer I got today, there were two cake pans designed to create two giant imitations of other sweet foodstuffs: a giant set that made an oreo-shaped cookie (you supply the frosting) and a giant donut cake pan that made, natch, a giant, yeah.

What is it with giant cake molds? Are we not gluttonous enough as a nation? Why do we have to supersize our cakes? Isn't that kind of overkill? Or is it an oxymoron? I don't want a donut, I want a CAKE-SIZED donut that doesn't taste like a donut. And I want a giant Oreo that tastes nothing like the actual cookie.

They come on the heels of the ubiquitous giant cupcake cake pans, which make far more sense because they're actually MADE OF CAKE.

Call me a purist, but that's the only oversized cake mold I'm interested in.

And I know I am not alone in this.

What's next, a cake mold shaped like a giant vat of ice cream, with a waffle cone?

Just seems like way too much trouble to go to when there's a Coldstone up the street. And the dessert would actually taste like you expected it to.

Trompe l'oeil pastry? Non merci.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Question: Brief, and to the Point

Well, I've finally emerged from beneath the rubble that was NaNoWriMo. I finished today! A day ahead of schedule. They even have a little video of a bunch of people in Viking hats (Viking hats?) clapping for you when you're done. I have written an unholy mess of a something that is long enough to be a novel and I'm putting it away for awhile and maybe I'll check back on it in a week, or a month, or, more likely, a year. It was weird and fun.

But on to today's brief post:
Why would you follow the company that makes your breakfast cereal on Twitter? What staggering breaking news could there possibly be about flax? Whose idea is it to put every possible living or non-living entity on Facebook and Twitter? What could possibly warrant a tweet from Cascadian Farms or Barbara's, or even General Mills, Post and other behemoths of their ilk? Actually, they probably need to tweet at the latter companies, since their cereals are full of high fructose corn syrup and scary food dyes that make people ill. So maybe their feeds are to remind you of the side effects of eating said cereals.

But the healthy, organic cereal companies? What have they possibly got to tweet about? Unless somebody decides that spelt is carcinogenic all of a sudden, there's not a whole lot to say.

I think we're going a little too far here, people. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Complaint: NFW.

I was talking with two new friends today about the whole airline screening thing. You apparently either go through a screening machine that essentially gives the surrounding crowd a peep show, or you submit to a public groping, including your lady or gentleman parts. (And if you have both, everybody gets to find out!)


Of course there are complaints pouring in. Whatever happened to rights and personal privacy, not to mention human dignity? What's next, anal probing? God, I wish I was kidding. We elected Obama so this kind of thing wouldn't happen. We were supposed to take back some of our civil liberties.

Nobody wants to go through this. What about the children? How are they supposed to react to being groped or gawked at when we teach them about personal space? What about those who are older or infirm? What about those who have been abused? Does the TSA have counselors on staff to deal with people freaking out? Are they going to give us all some valium before we go through security? Because people are going to need it to go through that ordeal.

Will there be speakers blaring "We only want your safety. Safety is key. Safety at all costs." on an endless loop? That's so 1984.

Simply put, this situation is untenable. People are not going to put up with this. People will be traumatized, humiliated and inconvenienced to a massive degree, and terrorists will still come up with ways to sneak explosives on planes. But maybe there won't be anybody on the planes anymore. Maybe everybody will take a stand and just not fly anymore.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Comment: Let Art Save Your Life

I'm plowing through my NaNoWriMo writer's block. These sketches are slowly turning into characters. I just keep going out on a limb and trusting that I won't fall on my ass. It's so much fun.

And I've come to the fairly obvious conclusion that creativity makes for a happy person. I don't care what it is, but doing something creative (that isn't illegal or immoral) is a really easy way to end up having a good hour, or day, or life, for that matter.

I am never happier than when I'm doing something creative. And I know I'm not alone.

For example, at the school where I'm working with these dear little lamby children, there is a receptionist. Her name is Ruth. She probably makes okay but not great money. Her job consists of paperwork, computer work, and letting people in and out of the school. She's fairly pleasant in that she's not throwing things at people when they walk in. And I bet she is bored silly. There's just not that much for her to do, and it must get lonely and boring, because people don't come to the school receptionist to hang out with her, they come to get information, or give her a hard time because they don't have the forms she needs, by law, to have, for their child to get into the program, or to ask her to do something for them. I imagine she deals with everything from the desperate to the irate, with a lot in between.

Anyway, I was signing out of the building yesterday when she had started to show her Thanksgiving decoration pictures to this woman who turned out to be someone from the school district who needed to do an observation. The aforementioned woman politely told Ruth that she had to go upstairs and would come back down to see the picture later; who knows if she did this or not.

But the point was, Ruth REALLY wanted to show these pictures of the decorations she put together for her church to somebody. She had her camera out. And she seemed to really need me to look at them, since I was the only other person in the room. So I did. I mean, why not? And they were very festive and cheerful. And she obviously got great pleasure from my admiration of them. And clearly this was something she loved to do. Something creative.

So I gave her some positive feedback and told her what I'm saying here, in a nutshell; that everyone needs some creativity in their life and I think it's great that she does that for her church. And of course she agreed.

Bear in mind that when I first met her two weeks ago, she was brusque and monosyllabic. After five minutes looking at the fruits of her labors, our entire relationship had changed.

She lit up when I told her that I liked her pictures and that I thought it was great that she was doing something creative. (Which was the truth, of course; why would I lie to a nice lady? I'm not really much good at lying anyway.)

I left her in a happy state, and felt happy to have made a connection with another human being.

Creativity, expression, communication. Muy importante.

So please, go do something creative. It's November, it's dark and cold, and it's a time when our spirits can drop below subterranean levels. Go make a collage, write a poem, make up a stupid song you can sing to your kids or your friends, dye your hair pink, just do something.

It will make your day.




Other than various lapses in posting due to family, personal or biochemical drama, I've actually kept doing this for over two years. And, even more incredibly, you've kept reading.

Just a quick question: WHY?

No, seriously, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day and reading my ramblings. It makes me very happy to be even moderately entertaining to the strong, the few, the brave, the readers of QCC.

And now, on to a complaint. This will sound familiar to regular readers.

WHY do schools have SO MANY damn ACTIVITIES during the DAY?

As someone who finally has a job again outside the home, I'm noticing how many things happen during the day at my kids' school. In my daughter's Kindergarten class, there have been three separate parent/child events, all within the space of one week. Oy.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy seeing my child at school. It's fun to see how happy she is to have Mom or Dad visit. But Grandparents' Day? Why a separate Grandparents' Day? We had a Special Male Friends Day and a Special Female Friends Day, so doesn't that cover it?

And shortly, I'm off to the wide open spaces for Pioneer Day, which the second grade is putting on for THREE HOURS.

Don't other people have to work?

Maybe, at our school, they don't. After all, until recently, I was one of those mothers who was home all day every day. But I guess what I wonder about is, how do the children whose parents CAN'T make any of these events feel? Isn't it kind of shitty to keep hosting adult/child activities during the day when so many parents work all day? How helpful is this for the kids who have no "buddy" or whose grandparents live 300 miles away to keep having to go solo at these functions? Doesn't that kind of blow?

There's an unspoken expectation that you will drop everything for your child. In terms of health, that is absolutely 100% true. If my child needs me, I'm there. But define "need." It's nice to be at every class party, but is it really necessary? And honestly, is it really healthy? My children do better and have more fun at class parties when I'm NOT there. They're in their school mode, and seeing me throws them off. Sure, if it's a special parent event, or a performance, fine; I WANT to see that. But for a Valentine's party? Do I need to be there helping them do a damn craft while they're running around hopped up on cinnamon hearts? I guess that's just not me.

I'd rather be there for them when they get home, ready to play or snuggle or read, than be there with them at school, where they are supposed to go without us.

In times of crisis, a parent should drop everything for their children. That's really a no-brainer.

But in times of monthly celebratory sugar-fests, I think I'll pass.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comment: In Brief

This whole working thing is fun and all, but it's taking some time to adjust to. Additionally, every project I am working on right now is new to me. My teaching gigs involve new methodologies, a variation of the population I've worked with before, and new locations in the labyrinthine and irrational streets of my fair city.

Even the volunteer work I am still waiting to get green-lit will be a new population and a variation on the subject.

And NaNoWriMo continues, in increasingly unexpected directions. I've got all these characters and some of them are pretty freaky. Who are they? What do they want? Why are they in my brain? Why am I writing about them? Does that mean I'm freaky too? Do I care?

These questions, and many more, will be answered, or not, at a later date.

Right now, I'm plum tuckered out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Question: When Do Kids Start to Rush?

And I don't mean in the collegiate sense.

I mean, at what point do children develop a sense of urgency about time?

Because in spite of their frequently neurotic and fussy parents, my children seem relatively unphased by the passing of time. They go about their business on school day mornings as if they have three hours to get ready, and then just mosey into school when they're done counting the stairs, or writing each other notes and exchanging stuffed animals.

I love that they aren't hung up on time. And I hate that we are. I know for myself, being late is truly a nightmare event. Which is completely stupid, because in most cases, it just doesn't matter. Could it be that I am trying to learn to think about time the way my kids do, or rather, don't?

Because someone wise once told me that someone else wise once said, "The only things that must be rushed are birth and death." It might have been Lao-Tzu. Or Winnie-the-Pooh. I forget.

In the Inuit culture of Northern Canada, school starts whenever the students wake up and decide to show up. White (a.k.a. Southern) teachers would have a time of it, trying to start class on time with people who don't see time the same way. In the Inuit culture, you sleep when you're tired, you wake when you wake, and if you feel like going to school, great. If not, there's something else to do. Hunt, eat, hang out at the pool hall, go snowmobiling.

I admire my children's Inuit-like sense of time. I wonder if they could teach it to me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Complaint: Damn You, Writer's Block!

The joy and delight of "walking without a tightrope" in writing has, inevitably, landed me flat on my ass. Fortunately, the ground is soft. But still.

Come to think of it, it's actually not writer's block; more like writer's anomie. I've written myself into a wall, or a corner, or maybe more of a traffic jam, really. There are lots of characters but I'm not sure how they all fit together. I'm wondering if I should print out and read what I wrote, just to see if it makes any sense. Last year, I didn't.

But if I do print it all out, then I fear I will see how crappy the current novel-in-progress is, and that will be discouraging. And that's definitely not the point of NaNoWriMo. So I want to keep going without getting too caught up in the whole quality issue.

It's just that I'm getting kind of, I don't know, bored, of some of my characters. And if I'm bored with them, so too will anyone else brave enough to read them should any of this ever see the light of day, which is still in question.

Maybe I have too many characters. Maybe I have to figure out what's going to happen. I have a strong background in improvisation, so the idea of planning out the story doesn't totally appeal to me. And yet, when I've written other things, there has been some sort of outline or sequence, at least implied, if not stated.

So maybe I need to think a bit more about what's happening in the story, and take my monologues from there. It's just getting so damn complicated. And messy. And confusing.

Kind of like life.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Comment: Can't Talk. Busy Writing.

I'm 16,000 words into my second annual NaNoWriMo effort, and what a different experience it is this time around.

Last year, I had a clear story in mind, and I just wrote and wrote and wrote, with a very obvious throughline. I loosely based it on my life, so it was easy to follow the plot (most of the time) and by the time I had hit 50,000 words, I had barely finished doing justice to my college years. I think maybe there's a second novel in there.

But this year, I decided to just start writing. I had no goal in mind whatsoever, And it's taking me in directions I'd never thought I'd go.

I don't immediately relate to or sympathize with all of my characters. I barely know most of them! They're revealing themselves to me gradually. I sit down, pick one, and then start writing from their point of view and see where it goes. I'm sure this won't work forever, because there's the whole plot thing, but for now, it feels more like intertwining monologues that need to come out. And a story is gradually emerging. It's just not one I knew ahead of time. It's like watching those old Polaroids develop.

I'm basically walking the tightrope with no net.

And it's pretty cool.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Complaint: It's Cold.

Yeah, I know, really original.

Look, I'm using up most, if not all, of my writing mojo/moxie on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I did it last year and it was tons of fun, so I'm doing it this year as well.

Which means that it may be slim pickings around here for awhile.

But you never know: hormones or stupid situations or mild psychic irritants of one sort or another will come along and I'll probably still have enough vitriol to tap out a few sentences about them.

Peace out.

(Isn't that just so pretentious? I absolutely love saying "peace out," but only ironically and in an homage to Phineas and Ferb. WHY is there no emoticon for irony?)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Comment: Well Wishes from the University of Lameness

The University of the Rejuvenating Bird sent me an email birthday card today.

I wish I was kidding.

But yes, in addition to the indignities of being middle-aged in a youth-obsessed culture, the most over-priced and underwhelming online so-called educational institution ever is sending me glad tidings on this day.

How am I supposed to feel about that?

Their gift to me? 15% off anything at all from the University of Phoenix bookstore!


WHO buys university souvenirs for an online school?

There are no pep rallies, there are no football games, there are no clubs.

WHAT would I BUY from this store?

Oh, I know, a shirt that reads: "I paid through the nose for shitty excuse for an education and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!"


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Complaint: Why Not? Everyone Else Has One!

I did my civic duty today and voted. I'm kind of nervous about the results. If lots of tea party people get in, I will be most put out. Do they not realize the hypocrisy of their stance? Anti-government government? The Boston Tea Party, if Schoolhouse Rock is to be believed, was all about starting a GOVERNMENT. But if you're anti-government, why are you coopting a group who wanted one? Are we libertarians or are we tea party people? Big difference, no? Hullo?

That's it. That's all I've got for political rants. NPR keeps me informed, as they say, with "no slant and no rant" but frankly, all I really heard about was how much money candidates were spending on their campaigns and whether or not somebody called somebody else a synonym for prostitute and if this was considered sexist or just rude and/or stupid.

When I voted, I felt like it was just the lesser of two evils, really. The lesser of two lames. The government is broken and no amount of coopting and renaming will change that. We are a nation of over-consumers (guilty) and busybodies who don't really know what the hell we're doing. Does any country? Probably not.

But we're fat, broke, greedy and irritable. We don't trust anyone but we sure like to boss other people around. Our healthcare system blows, California is broker than broke, and we have a nation of shitty schools we can't pay for because we're all over the globe trying to give "freedom" to people who may not, in fact, want our brand of it.

We're giving the President hell in his less than two year tenure while we allowed the shit to repeatedly hit the fan for EIGHT YEARS.

Of course people are mad. They're just mad at the wrong party.

Not that I'm a big fan of any of them, as inferred above. At least in Canada you get a virtual buffet of parties. Even the penguins have a party there. (I'm kidding. But Labatts does have its own party.)

Ahhh, feh, blah, meh.

I guess I did have more to say. And fortunately, we do live in a country where that's allowed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Comment: On Distractions

I just got back from another meditation class. Last week's topic was about dealing with mental chatter" in the form of distractions. I was out of the country on good business, but man, I needed that session.

My monkey mind is major. It's macaque monkey mind. (alliteration rules!) I mean, my mind bounces around like a ball in a pinball machine.

While I was trying to feel my breath, as instructed, I could mainly feel my bladder, and my colon. Why do I have to pee every time I step into the studio? Hey, wait a minute, isn't this all eerily familiar? Didn't I just write about this two weeks ago? I did. Sorry.

It's just hilarious to me how I can feel my bodily sensations so acutely, but there's no way in hell I'm going to get up in the middle of a group meditation and go to the bathroom. I don't even know where it is! They might not even HAVE one at this yoga studio. What with all the Kegels, most students can probably hold it all day. Damn, I'm weak.

It's ironic to me how stressed I get before I go to class. I'm all hopped up about one thing or another, flapping around like a hummingbird on crack. On the way there tonight, I even cursed at Kai Ryssdall. KAI RYSSDALL, my vocal crush. I was so stressed that even he wasn't the balm that soothes.

But when I get to class and we all sit down on our cushions and our teacher starts talking us through things, ahhh. My mind still ricochets, but it ricochets less.

So I guess that's progress.

Sorry, Kai. I still heart you.