Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This morning I was awoken by a member of my household rushing into my bedroom an hour before wake-up time (6 a.m.) urging: "Get up. You've got to see this. There's something in the house."
Not knowing what to expect, I immediately arose and was led through the hallway into the living room. I thought, I am glad my dream was over. I also thought, I'm glad the days when the little ones in the house weren't routinely waking me up at all hours of the night and early morning anymore, for the most part.
"Look up," I was instructed. There, on the ceiling, was a brown, mouse-shaped creature.
"What is it? Could that be a bat?" my early rouser asked me in shock and awe.
"It's a bat," I answered, not fully able to focus.
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I'll figure something out after I wake up."
I went back to bed and tried to go back to sleep, some astonishingly good ideas coming to me as I worried about the bat. I remembered that before I went to bed last night I brought a hanging plant in from the front porch; as I carried the plant inside, I heard a rustling noise behind me but was not able to figure out what it was and quickly dismissed it as my neighbor closing her door. As I hung the plant on a hook inside, I saw a spider crawling up the plant holder, thinking that protecting the plant from the cold might be bringing some unwelcome guests into the home.
I thought long and hard about who else besides me could get the beast outside, but I came up with no one. After I resolved that only I am the master of our destiny, I got back up about an hour later, armed with a large, clear, plastic cup and a thin, plastic cutting board, having flashes of my childhood when my parents were chasing a bat through the house and it was flying precariously near our heads and lots of people were running and screaming in all directions for what seemed like an exceptionally long bat-riddance session.
Approaching the ceiling and imagining the worst, I said (as cheerfully as possible), "Hello, Stellaluna," and the plastic cup landed peacefully over the bat. Getting its microscopic fingers to loosen themselves from the bumpy ceiling was troubling. I tried to use the cutting board to get the bat off the ceiling and into the cup, and as one of its feet got stuck between the cutting board and the ceiling it started chirping quietly and quickly like an injured bird.
It dropped into the cup before my arms got tired and I let it outside. It took about five minutes to fly out of the cup and away. All day the young people of the house thought about the bat, sad that it had to go outside and sad that we wouldn't be taking on another pet. The cat misses the bat, too. I don't.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lacking purpose

Yesterday a friend told me that he thinks blogs are boring. He doesn't want to see your vacation pictures, pictures of your new dog, or close-ups of your new baby. He cares about them, but he would rather not spend his time reading about your boring life and your boring thoughts. (I'm sure he wasn't referring to me, personally.)
I didn't say anything. I realized that he has a good point. But I thought, "Perhaps it is interesting to the writer. Perhaps writing helps to form nebulous, random thoughts into somewhat articulate, somewhat well-formed ideas that are worth sharing, at least with one's own conscience." I've been searching for information about the upcoming election and candidates who are unknown to me. A lot of what I found were on peoples' blogs from this state. And I love reading Mr. Chinchilla's interviews. I have learned about the diet of small woodland creatures, the nuances of engaging people in witty banter, and the fact that he is in love with Jessica Alba and that he is tired of hearing and reading about Tiny Fey (good stuff, Mr. Chinchilla).
There's a lot out there. Perhaps there is a purpose. Perhaps my friend is (not) reading this right now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Space-Time Continuum of Credit, Debt and Investments

I woke up this morning to hearing a comment, loud in my half-asleep ear, on the radio about how paying off a debt is equivalent to mailing yourself a check from the future to the past. I imagined my past self standing at the mailbox, checking the mail, and receiving a check from my future self, thinking it would be pretty cool if that could actually be possible, and how excited I would feel if I received money from myself, originating from some other time and place. Now I have a thought to amuse myself with every time I make a credit card payment. I wondered if the person who made the comment was trying to say it would be the equivalent of a colossal waste, as the money would be going for nothing, since the past primarily exists only in our minds. If I picture myself in the present, writing out a check to my five-years-ago self, for an airline ticket or a new couch on credit, I am less amused. That past self was so much more carefree and less conscious of my future finances. On the other hand, something purchased in the past with credit or a loan, like a college education, a car or memories of that trip to Spain last year, can often still be appreciated and used in the present and the future. The opposite scenario exists in the form of investments, in which tangible money from the past gives you a return in the future, so it's like your back-in-time self pays you money in the future, which is a bit more obvious and much more easy to understand. I always had trouble trying to grasp science fiction/physics concepts like time travel and space-time continuums. I haven't actually gone to Spain yet, either.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dialogue About a Play

Yousiphanes: What'd you do today?
Meecutio (clutching phone in ear): Started the day out with a crushing headache.
Yousiphanes: (laughing) The result of acute consumption the night before ... ?
Meecutio: Only if you count a slushie overloaded with sugar that I drank from the Dairy Q last night.
Yousiphanes: Sugar probably wouldn't be enough to cause a crushing headache. (Tone becomes serious and sincere.) Sorry to hear about that. Did you manage to do anything?
Meecutio: Once I had a healthy dose of caffeine, I swept the kitchen and then got down on my knees and scrubbed the floor the old-fashioned way.
Yousiphanes: Did you get outside?
Meecutio: Yeah, I got outside. The longest time I spent outside was when the balmy, sunshiny day transformed into a sudden, violent downpour.
Yousiphanes: I'm stuck at work, doing menial things that some people might think are fun.
Meecutio: Wanna go to the play tonight?
Yousiphanes: Nah, I saw it last night.
Meecutio: All right, then, have a productive and interesting Saturday at work.
Yousiphanes: Enjoy the play.
(Both hang up.)
Meecutio (dialing, talking into the telephone receiver): Hey, Djeneba, it's Meecutio. I was just calling to see if you wanted to go to a play with me tonight.
Djeneba: Nah, I'm having a rough time today. The bees in our beehive all died, and my husband broke his leg. I couldn't possibly come. Have a good time.
Meecutio: Sorry to hear about it. Things will get better.
Djeneba: When it rains, it pours.
Meecutio: It's actually raining right now. But the sun is going to come out and it looks like a rainbow might be possible.
Djeneba: Enjoy the play.
(Both hang up.)
Meecutio dials again.
Meecutio: (leaving a message) Hey, everybody. Just calling to say hello and see how things are going. You can call me back if you want.
Meecutio hangs up.
Meecutio dials again.
Andrusko: H...ll...o.
Meecutio: Hi, is this Andrusko?
Andrusko: Y--e--s! Is-- this--- Mee---cutio?
Meecutio: You sound like you're in a helicopter!
Andrusko: S-o do-- you! (sounds garbled) -- I'll---ca--ll-- y--ou ba--ck i-n a f--ew- min--utes.
Great--to--hee--ar your--voice.
Meecutio: Thanks. Same to you.
(Both hang up. Phone rings two hours later.)
Andrusko: This is Andrusko. When I told you I'd call you back, I didn't realize I didn't have your number.
Meecutio: I tried to call you back. I left a message.
Andrusko: Well, sorry. I went into town. Did you have a question?
Meecutio: I called to tell you and everyone that the play Katarina has been wanting to see is showing tonight.
Andrusko: What's it called?
Meecutio: Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Andrusko: Cock ... what?
Meecutio: Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Andrusko: Caucasian Crop Circle?
Meecutio: Chalk circle.
Andrusko: Oh, crop circle.
Meecutio: No, chalk, like, "chalkboard."
Andrusko: Oh, chalk circle.
Meecutio: Yeah, Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Andrusko: Oh, never heard of it. Michaeldiegolo's in town. He and Katarina are at a festival and there's a concert tonight. I'll tell her you called.
Meecutio: It looks like rain, though. It just rained here, really hard, but then the sun came right back out.
Andrusko: I think the festival will be over before the rain comes to this area.
Meecutio: All right, well, tell Katarina and Michaeldiegolo I said, "hi," and thanks for calling back.
Andrusko: Will do. Talk to you later.
Meecutio: Bye.
(Both hang up.)
Meecutio walks into bookstore.
Meecutio, seeing friend: Hey, Sestana.
Sestana: Hey, Meecutio.
Meecutio: Wanna go see Caucasian Chalk Circle tonight?
Sestana: That sounds great! You and I like the same things. We live parallel lives. I'll have to check with the rest of the family, though.
Meecutio: It's got puppets, music, good costumes and a good story about how to solve disputes.
Random person standing by (interjecting): It's a really great play. I'm a little biased, though ... I'm in the play.
Meecutio: Which part do you play?
Random person: Well, we all play numerous parts throughout the play. There are puppets, songs, and awesome costumes.
Meecutio: So I hear. Is there really a naked puppet?
Random person: Yes, there is a naked puppet.
Meecutio: Well, thanks for the information. We'll see you there.
Sestana (turning back to Meecutio): All right, I'll call you if I'm going to come. Sorry I haven't talked to you in awhile. I'll let you know about the book club.
Meecutio and Meecutio-rita arrive at the theatre soon after, 30 minutes before the play is scheduled to begin.
Meecutio-rita: I wish I could invite a friend.
Meecutio: Inviting friends takes much advance planning. People find it hard to spontaneously jump into events a half hour before they start. You need to ask people a couple of days ahead of time so that they can set aside that period of time in advance.
Meecutio-rita: Oh. That sucks.
Meecutio: Yeah, I find myself making that mistake over and over again.
Meecutio and Meecutio-rita find seats in the theatre. Mecutio-rita finds her friend there. Meecutio works on puzzle, alone, until play begins.

Friday, April 25

Just about every time I look at a newspaper I think about how I used to work for one. I see mistakes, I think of better headlines, and I miss the days when, in my tiny little microcosm of a town, I would be sent to cover plays, concerts, art exhibits, board of education meetings, city council meetings, county commission meetings, car accidents, robberies, fires, and just about everything else imaginable, from birth to death and everything in between. Once I wrote a story for newspaper week, and the title of my story was "Newspapers: From Birth to Death and Everything In Between." I wrote, edited, took lousy pictures, developed and scanned photos, learned PhotoShop and Quark Express, and put together the pages on the computer and got them ready to go to the press. After I stopped working there, it was difficult to read anything without editing it in my head. My mind was programmed to omit unnecessary words, correct spelling and grammar, and think in active voice. Now, I only catch major mistakes. So much time has gone by since I left the newspaper job that the time I spent there is only a tiny fraction of my life (about 1/9th). I have spent more time than that, after that, in my current vocation, which isn't even close to being fun but somehow is held to a higher societal value, even though it impacts less people and tends to suck the life out of everyone involved (no, I am not an embalmer, but metaphorically close).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Trash Day Downtown

A raccoon stood on a downtown sidewalk this evening as we walked by. The raccoon moved like a cat, seemingly tame and curious, with its back arched and its feet tentatively and gracefully approaching the curb. A couple people stopped to watch it and it waited for them while they marveled at it. Then it dove into a huge pile of trash in front of a nondescript store on the corner. It hid behind the huge pile as its perky ears were just visible behind about five big bags of trash. I wonder what kind of surprise will be waiting for the store people in the morning. You never quite know what to expect from raccoons.
Some people we know (David, Milo and Zoe) from a town that's two hours away from here stopped us on the sidewalk to say hi. They saw us from a restaurant window as we walked by, just moments away from the raccoon sighting. David brought them for a journey that was initiated by this day being take-your-kid-to-work day. I told him I thought it was take-your-daughter-to-work day. He said the day has evolved to be gender-neutral. My day consisted of events in which the presence of children is pretty much prohibited.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Someone I haven't talked to in a few months asked me today if I had gotten mean yet, his subtle way of asking me how things are going. He thinks I'm too nice. He operates on the philosophy that being mean is the way to manage life and work. He did go to boot camp. I told him that only the people who know me well know how truly cruel I can be. I hide it well. I did not go to boot camp.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chair assembly

My proudest accomplishment today was working through the complicated, heavy, incongruent labor of one completed office chair, from box to desk in about one and a half hours. Next time I assemble furniture I will plan better and wear pants. Yes, I went without pants today at work. But I was fully clothed.
I got to talk over my idea about speaking out about problems versus keeping them to yourself and letting them fester. I explained my theory about how I came to the conclusion that it is better to talk about it, but best if diplomatically articulated. The person I talked to said that there is no way to be diplomatic about certain problems, as any way you explain will offend. If you find a way to say it without offending the person, you probably will have failed at getting your point across, he said. But perhaps I inspired him to think a little differently, in some small way. I will give myself the credit, anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fare for Fortification

This past weekend I learned about carrot puppies. I had a grilled carrot puppy sandwich. The carrot puppy sandwich had grilled carrots, coleslaw, lettuce and tomato. Who would just know that? Have I climbed a notch on the sophistication scale now that I do?
This afternoon I took a few minutes to read the introduction to the Strunk & White book. William Strunk was E.B. White's professor in 1919. Strunk's publishing company contacted Mr. White after Strunk's death and asked him to update the book. Mr. White spends most of the introduction bringing life to his memory of Professor Strunk. The memory that I carry away from the introduction is Professor Strunk's assertion that you should be bold about something you're not sure about. If you don't know how to pronounce something, don't be indecisive and timid about saying it. Say it loud and say it wrong, he said. It is better to be confident about your choices, right or wrong, than to be indecisive and inaudible. Your indecision and timidity will cause you to languish indefinitely.
I received a card from my aunt today. Today, more than ever before, she lets me know so warmly that my west coast family members who live a thousand miles away care about me and my life. Thank you.
I have seen her seven or eight times, not counting photographs, but I am family and she cares. Whether I have ever been loving, inconsiderate, altruistic or selfish is irrelevant. I have been none of those things to her, as I live a thousand miles away, but it doesn't matter. Family people love you unconditionally.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Short, Scary Stories

Someone using my computer used this as a headline. It automatically came up when I typed in "S." Ants have invaded the interior of our homeplace. On Saturday I worked for three hours in three-inch-heel sandals and cleaned out the garage, or as some in our house call it, the transport system vessel that releases our escape pod. There is a gap where the garage closes that has about the equivalent of a one-inch space. Cat proves to be stealthless in trapping predatees that make it through the small gaps, mice in particular. One mouse? Absent mouse? Ancient mouse? The more I cleaned, the more my throat became scratchy and I started to feel sick. The sky got dark, the air was humid, and it was very quiet. As the eeriness became magnified by nightfall, I stopped my work. I am allergic to (or maybe afraid of) physical labor, especially where mice and excessive dirt and dust are involved. The garage looks pretty good, but it will never be perfect. I'm too indecisive to purge old, old stuff. I mean crap. No, I mean stuff that we might use someday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I saw the long-awaited local outdoor adventure film show, a weird reunion of a sort for me as I returned one year later for the same exact unusual night. One of the films made fun of the two comments I took from one of the films (the BASE jump movie) from the other outdoor adventure film show I watched two weeks ago. The film from two weeks ago was the peoples' choice favorite film; I didn't get to see the ending and I didn't stay for the whole show but I thought it was the best one. I guess the comments that stuck with me were also the same comments that stuck with the people who made fun of it. There were films about skiing, a trip to Patagonia, a music video (actually a photo montage) with a Joe Gatski song (in memory of him), a skateboarding movie, a fishing movie (no humor whatsoever involved, but some big fish), and that was about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday, April 17

Today marks the fourth year I've spent a spring day in April in the same spot in a far-away town. Same event, same people, with a few new faces, same weather, same food. The drive down and back was the best part. The leaves on the trees are a young, light green and are just gracing the tips of the trees, looking more and more green the further south we were. Those purple bushes are in full bloom and were lining the highway. Red bud? This spring, so far, seems to have the most vibrant showing in my memory of early spring blossoms -- the purple bushes, the yellow bushes, the fruit trees, and even the magnolia trees, which are very particular about whether they have the right conditions to show their fleeting, fantastical flowers.
Today and yesterday I pondered the ancient dilemma of choosing between speaking out about problems and keeping your mouth shut. It takes courage to speak out and voice concerns. Being honest about voicing concerns means facing the consequences of the ripple effect it will have on other people. Stepping on their toes. Usually, keeping your mouth shut means staying safe in your own sphere, the nobody-bothers-me-and-I-don't-bother-anybody mentality. On the other hand, staying silent sometimes makes the problem worse. The dilemma can be translated to whether you want to create different problems for other people, or let the original problem fester within yourself. I like to believe it's better to communicate openly and honestly, but at times I can feel sorry that I did, based on how people react badly to my being forthright. I do think it's important to voice concerns: that is how change for the better is made, laws are passed, and people are motivated to make themselves, and the systems they represent, better. The key to voicing problems is to learn to do it diplomatically so that you don't hurt peoples' feelings and generate negativity and ill will in the process.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Again I worked straight through the day, but this time I left at 4:45 p.m. instead of my usual 5:45 p.m. The weather was unbelievably brilliant, beautiful, bright and warm. Again I came home and immediately spent a while on the phone, before I got to do anything, but this time it was not for a stranger. I tried the flan. It tasted just like it should: eggy and creamy. We went to the library and the usual crowd was there. There's the guy who sits in the chair and meditates, usually while holding something in his mouth, like a $5 bill or a styrofoam cup. There's the guy who walks into town every day at around 2:30 p.m. right past my window. He has a ponytail, black leather jacket, and chronic cough. There's the guy with the gray afro, but I didn't see him tonight. The guy with the English accent is always delightful. I will have to get up very early tomorrow for a drive down south.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I worked straight through the day, not stopping at all even for a bathroom break or something to pacify the empty stomach. As soon as I got home in the evening, the phone rang and it was a person who was performing a survey on behalf of our state lottery system. I agreed to answer the questions, still needing a bathroom break. He laughed when I told him that it's been about 10 years since I participated in buying lottery tickets; but I'm not the one who purchased the tickets because it was through a group of people I worked with about 10 years ago. Some of the questions (maybe all the questions) had to do with marketing: my demographical status (age bracket, income bracket, education bracket) and what radio stations and TV shows I listen to or watch. Statistically, I believe I am outside the scope of the target audience of the lottery consumers in this state. Coincidentally, on the way to work this morning I listened to a song that goes like this: "When I win the lottery, I'm gonna buy all the girls on my block a color TV and a bottle of French perfume." I started to think about how I only know two of the girls on my block, and I wondered what I'd buy my neighbors, if anything, if I played and won. And then I wondered if the people who just won the lottery in my town about three weeks ago would buy their neighbors anything and to what extent their winnings would go to their lesser-known acquaintances. I also wondered this morning whether any of the lottery winners would be interested in buying the miniature stone castle nearby that just went up for sale for $2.1 million. I wonder if there's such a thing as a guide for lottery winners, like a "Managing Multi-Million Lottery Winnings for Dummies." I think there is a separate etiquette called for with lottery winners, rather than just getting multimillions through inheritance or earnings. I should have told that survey company guy my idea when he called tonight. Too bad I hadn't thought it all through until now.

Today a member of my household made flan and made a big mess in the kitchen. Burnt pans, burnt mugs, lots of stuff spilled on the floor, and stuff scattered everywhere. I have a deep gash on my finger from trying to scrape burnt sugar out of the bottom of a bread pan. I am bleeding from getting my finger caught on burnt sugar. Totally unrelated to the making of flan in my home, I ordered it at a Mexican restaurant three days ago and had a five-minute discussion with my friend on what the ingredients are: I said cream, sugar, eggs and corn starch. It's actually made from milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla. The waitress corrected my pronunciation. Who can remember whether it's flan or flonnnnn? The maker of the flan today had no idea I had ordered and eaten it this weekend. She wasn't wise to the ways of pronunciation, either.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday, April 14

Once in a while in the mornings it takes effort to get past that groggy, lazy space that originates in my brain and emanates like a hazy fog that lingers over the rest of my body. Maybe it's Monday Syndrome; maybe it was partly because of the sunburn that seemed to have taken a toll on my skin. I got a sunburn on the tops and backs of my ears, which I think is a first for me. I don't sunburn easily, but I felt like I'd come back from the beach today, worn out, sizzled and edgy. I saw about 20 people today and only one commented that I had been out in the sun; about the same kind of probability I'd face if I had just gotten a haircut or third ear-piercing. I recognize there is a big difference between noticing a haircut and commenting about the haircut ... but I don't think anybody would notice if I got a third ear-piercing. I don't think anybody ever noticed or commented that I have two. Or one, for that matter (thinking back to when I was 10). Really, people can be so self-absorbed. I blame it on the fashion magazines. In effort to widen my perspective and take the edge off the Monday, I picked up some reading material today --- a newspaper and a fashion magazine. Tomorrow I'll be In Style, after I read my latest issue of In Style from cover to cover. By the way, I don't think it's In Style anymore to have three ear piercings on one ear.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


This weekend, I saw two relatively entertaining movies, "In Bruges" and "Leatherheads." Two good movies in one weekend for me is a record. Movies usually disappoint me, and as each movie ends another sliver of my faith in the film industry floats away to join an abyss of Hollywood mediocrity.
"In Bruges" is the first movie I've seen with Colin Farell. I now realize that he's been in about 25 movies since 1999, but I didn't know who he was until Friday. He plays a hit man who is forced to take a vacation in Bruges, Belgium, with his partner and they don't know why they're there, but find out about halfway through the movie. The movie themes capture the feeling of hopelessness one has after making an irreversible mistake; the excitement of meeting someone new when everything clicks into place as if by magic; and the curiosity one feels when one crosses paths with a midget (from the movie: "They prefer to be called dwarves.").
Leatherheads is lighthearted and goofy, and played out in the style of a movie that might have been produced in the 1960s, with manic cheerfulness, lines that sound too rehearsed, and costumes that look like they could have come from any Jimmy Stewart movie. It manages to be funny in a refreshing way that makes the viewer appreciate the lives of our relatives who lived through the mid-1920s. One of the annoying mistakes that movie makers make is not incorporating patterns of speech from the relevant time period into the script, but that wasn't the case (too often) in the movie; it tended to take you back and you could believe you were watching a scene from 1925. I like that. And you don't have to like or understand football to appreciate the movie.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Heavy Labor Saturday

It was a great day to get sun and work outside for a project, which is what I did with a group of people. Just like how I picture a Utopian society would work. Everybody pitches in one-sixteenth and a big thing gets done. We put a playground set together for an elementary school.
We will make hundreds of children very happy Monday. Better than Easter or Christmas, maybe. Nah.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Work was unusual. Three of us drove to another town 45 minutes away, and, upon arrival, found out that the city water is undrinkable because of E-coli and that there is a boil-water advisory. Someone said the sewer part of the water got mixed in with the water supply somehow. I thought it all got mixed in together anyway and was all bleached and sanitized and chemicalized and filtered all together. Schools were closed, some restaurants were still open, and our workshop we were going to attend was still going on. When the three of us arrived at the workshop we were attending, one of the instructors was passing out registration forms to the three of us. We all have the same job title. She asked me if I was the assistant to one of the men. She didn't ask anyone else that question. Was it a gender stereotype? Am I automatically the suspect subservient subject because I am a female person? Maybe. Was it that I look too young? I don't know. What if I looked 30 years older than I do? Would I have gotten that same question? What if I were a man? Would I have gotten that same question? Did I do something to project the notion that I was an assistant? Someone told me recently that I need to project more self confidence. Would that have made a difference? Does it really matter?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Another non-stop day today at work. I expected it to rain today but the weather was balmy and warm and no rain fell during the daylight hours. I went for a walk, uphill then downhill, and studied and theorized on the dynamics of my neighborhood. Planned-use area. Quiet. No one travels through here unless they're coming and going from one of the houses around here, which happens about once every 15 or 30 minutes. Many houses were built at the same time and look very much the same, much like most of the neighborhoods that exist. I started thinking about how the same types of houses were built in railroad towns to accommodate the railroad workers; the Sears Crafstman houses that were built mostly between 1910-1912 that are distinctly efficient and not lacking in character; the many houses built in the 1920s that have three rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs, and only one bathroom. My mind soon tired of the analysis and I quickly moved on to being acutely aware of the rocks in my shoes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I meant to take a walk at lunchtime today but got busy. But I found time to be outside afterward. Everyone seems to be out and about these past two days. Downtown, yesterday, there was a skateboarder flying down High Street. Today there was a girl rollerblading on the sidewalk downtown. Amazing how the world transforms before your eyes when the weather changes. People are walking their dogs and/or jogging on every block. The smell of barbecue permeates the air around dinnertime. Flowers are blooming everywhere on the trees. Everything is happy.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I finished a vampire book Sunday -- a best-selling, young adult teenage vampire romance book, the third in the series. A member of my family discovered the first book in the series while perusing through a book order flyer from her school. Middle school. I wonder how this vampire romance novel got into the book order targeted to middle school students. Parents would trust the book order would have books that are not about teenage issues like driving, sneaking out, and lying to parents. I worried a little about the content, but the story really did, for the most part, pull me in. Of course, reading in itself will generally be a benefit to the reader, in terms of getting interested in reading, turning the words into the world of imagination in one's head, and helping the reader evolve into a better writer. The book, in addition to being a decent story, contains such parent-cringing content as dishonesty to parents, vampire sleepovers (boy with girl and unbeknown to dad), sneaking out, and other rampant risk-taking behavior (gasp!). I was surprised to learn that the author is a member of a church that I consider to have strict religious beliefs. Once I started reading it, I had a little bit of a concern about how the vampire the main character fell in love with seemed to be a tiny bit controlling and had anger issues. One of the more disturbing things that bothered me the most about the book was that there were a lot of typos in it. More typos than one would expect to find in a best seller. I read the credits in the end and the author gives much thanks to the friends or associates of hers who have tirelessly edited for readability. I guess I would call that another bad influence. You're supposed to learn about how to write by reading; not make it OK to publish a series of best-selling novels that have grammatical mistakes in them. Why aren't I an editor? I write this as if my writing is error-free.
The events portrayed in the series are not anymore wayward than the events portrayed in many movies middle schoolers watch, but the difference with a book is that the reader tends to get more emotionally involved with the characters. OK, I did get emotionally involved. When I finish a good book, I feel like I am saying goodbye to friends. I don't know if that's weird or not. When I was nine and I read Bambi, I cried when Bambi's mom died. My mom was in the car with me and she laughed and was genuinely amused when she discovered me leaning up against the window with tears streaming down my face and the only explanation was that the book had a sad ending. Obviously she hadn't read this one. It wasn't just some short version of Bambi that Disney published; it was a big, thick book with a long, involved story that went into a lot of detail about Bambi's life, in first person. I guess it made me sad because it was the first time I'd ever faced someone's mother actually dying -- knowing what it feels like and knowing that it's an inevitability that your mom is going to die someday, if she hasn't died already. It's tragic. The other time I cried when I read a book was when I finished Flowers for Algernon and Charly went back to being mentally challenged, after the smartness wore off. It wasn't especially sad that the high IQ wore off, it was just told in a heartbreaking way. And Siddhartha. So sad.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, to Saturday, April 5

April 5
Finally the energy of spring spreads to this land. I went for a walk today and I feel alive! The walk I took enabled me to take in fresh air, but I feel it’s one of the lowest forms of walking --- traveling on a circular track. On the other hand, all playgrounds should have circular tracks. That would give the supervisors a benefit and the motivation to do something productive, as opposed to sitting on the bench. I’d say the lowest form of walking would be on an indoor circular track. Today, the outdoors, the benefit of fresh air, the scenery of a view over the town, a little dog making a run for it, and the scent of wood chips spread on a playground make the circular track as close to a regular walk as it gets. All that repetition really gets to a person after awhile. I can only look at the stale piece of bread lying in the path so many times without getting highly annoyed. I don’t think most people have a problem with walking on a circular track. Maybe it’s just a weird personal thing I have against repetition. It kills the spontaneity that I crave.

Anticipating Friday night through Sunday morning's bliss of tranquility, free will, and stillness in my own little sphere of being evaporated in seconds upon a phone call in the afternoon of Friday. No, you cannot count on any of this, as much as you might have believed you could. What was the reason given for this proverbial rug being pulled out from under me? It was that someone who lives in another town had to do homework, and therefore my anticipated inner peace would be converted to the gift of a family of three, in which inner peace frequently goes out the window. I will look back upon the days of my children's youth with the satisfaction of being lucky enough to be able to enjoy their childhood to the fullest.
We went shopping for a cake mix so that we can have cake cookies, saw a movie downtown (Be Kind Rewind) and had dinner with friends. Looking back, I wouldn't have wanted to spend the evening any other way, actually.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ad - Venture

Last year, an inspiring way for me to start spring was to go to an outdoor adventure film festival in town. Filmmakers who I knew, who I never knew were filmmakers until that night, had films about caving, rock climbing, and skateboarding. There were also movies about whitewater rafting, ice climbing, and a fantastical trip to Brazil. So many of the film festivalgoers were happy, easygoing, energetic, healthy, smiling, and driven to (or driven by) outdoor adventure sports, which made for an atmosphere of something that reminded me of home --- where, most of the time, people are nice to each other and everything is always OK, and at least someone is wearing a North Face jacket and a funny hat. Since a lot of the people there came to see their friends' or family members' films, and people who I hadn't seen in a while were turning up all over the place, there was a comfortable familiarity around there.
At any rate, I thought that was where I was headed tonight --- to the same kind of outdoor adventure film festival I remembered from last year. Instead, it was a commercial, international, more formal film-watching event that was different in a good sense, but not so good. At least, this time, there was plenty of room for everyone, since it was at a theater instead of a bar, but there were Patagonia commercials, and sponsors, and people showing the films who were just passing through town for another film showing somewhere else. Base jumping and skydiving were captivating, though, and the films were full of stories of falling, injury, and earth-moving achievements. I learned from one of the base jumpers in the movie that a base-jumper's life span has an average of six years: either the person gets bored and stops, too injured to continue, or dies in the process. Also, the same guy had a good metaphor for luck vs. experience: When you start out, the experience jar is empty and the luck jar is full; every time you get lucky, you take a little piece from the luck jar and put it in the experience jar, until the experience jar gets full, and that's when your luck runs out, and then the only thing that keeps you alive is the value of your experience. I think this guy is the same guy that tried to unsuccessfully jump off the Empire State Building sometime last year. He might be suing the city right now because the guards prevented him from jumping off the building, and in the process he got hurt. Or something like that.

Local stuff, two weeks from now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

At about 5:50 p.m. there was a gigantic rainbow over one section of the town. It looked like a huge bubble that was about to burst. It was actually a double rainbow. I like the unpredictability of March weather. The sun shone brightly, the rain poured down erratically, and the wind was crazy. I immediately wished I could share the news with everyone so they'd look outside and see it. The passenger in my car wanted to follow it so we could find what was at the end. We were on our way to a gymnastics class, a first try. We liked it and want to go back. The miniature gymnasts jumped forward and backward on the balance beam. They had to do 10 push-ups as a punishment each time they fell off.