Monday, December 31, 2007

For Auld Lang Syne

This is it...the last day of 2007. It's been a decent year overall for Chez mimi. Not so much for friends and family. In my group of loved ones, at least three pending divorces, money troubles, an extended combat tour for baby bro, etc., etc. Writing slowed down considerably, and there was an overwhelming sense of blah. Kind of like tonight's gray, drizzly weather.

On the plus side, we added Princess Sophie (the new Brittany, a rescue from a family that couldn't keep her). We how have twice the bounce and two counter surfers (something to work on this coming year). And some of those friends with love trouble are finding new love and happiness. Baby Bro will be getting married when he gets back from Afghanistan--yay! We reconnected with our friends from the Great White North. Best of all, we're happy and healthy (although mimi needs to drop some poundage) and have terrific friends.

Speaking of which, we're out the door to a New Year's party--and that's after having a great brunch at the fabulous Barb's this a.m. More later...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Girl Time

Today, I took my soon-to-be sister-in-law (she's engaged to Baby Bro, and they'll be married whenever he gets back from his latest round of Mideast fun) for a pedicure. Hers are coral; mine are O.P.I. "I'm Not Really a Waitress." Maybe I should have checked this out first:

Your Toes Should Be White

A little funky and a little fresh, you're constantly evolving your flirting style.

Your ideal guy: A witty brainiac with hottie potential

Stay away from: Overly dorky guys who become obsessed with you

Friday, December 28, 2007

Taking Stock

Yes, I know, it's ridiculously early in the morning, but I have a raging case of vacation insomnia going. That, or all the caffeine from those 3 large cups of iced tea I drank at dinner is smackin' me down with a vengeance. I've spent the last two days in download-the-CDs-to-iTunes tedium (Santa brought me an iPod video--yay!), so all this time in front of the screen is makin' me think. And infosnack at Wikipedia.

Back to the thinking. I've upgraded my template (woo hoo!), losing my booklist and several links in the process (boo!), but gaining much easier ways to add new stuff to my sidebar (no more HTML!). I did notice that blog production fell off severely this year--fewer than a hundred posts in 2007. I don't know if I'm a third less interesting than before or what, but if I claim to be a writer, that's pretty pitiful output. Julia Cameron would be horrified.

Along with the template change, I'll be changing some of the regular features. The Bed List/Dinner List choices have been dormant for a while, so I'll let them rest. Maybe the guys will pick up steam again later. For now, I'll be taking a look at the ladies. One per week, methinks, in one of three categories:
  • COOL CHICK: A younger woman with fizz and style. She's the kind of gal who'd be fun to hang out with, or who sets an example for others to follow.
  • CLASSY DAME: Generally older, with the cool head and grace that comes from wisdom.
  • GUTSY BROAD: Any age, many styles. This woman hangs it out there and dares you to say something about it.
Some feminist studies major out there is horrified by the terms "chick," "dame," and "broad," but I don't have a problem with them. I'm a Southern belle, for heaven's sake. By birthright, I can orchestrate the entire universe and be gracious and charming to the men gaping in awe at the sight, bless their hearts.

I'll also be taking a look at movies, but from a writer's point of view. I'm a novelist, not a screenplay author, but there's much to be learned from thoughtfully presented films. The best visual effects in the world can't help a bad screenplay. Got a favorite? Leave me a note with the title. There's always room in the Netflix queue. Ten on Tuesday is my chosen meme, so look for those at least a couple of times a month. Memes kickstart your creative juices in interesting ways.

The rest of the time, the usual ranting and navel-gazing. With two kids at home and over a hundred at school, there's always something to rant/cry/laugh about. And maybe some free-form writing exercises from my shelf full of writer books. With advisors the likes of Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Brenda Ueland, Anne Lamott, Susan Perry, and Julia Cameron, how could I lose?

Off to bed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pinup Girl

The universe works in strange ways. Yesterday, DH opened the three parts of his Christmas present. This year's theme: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll. He got a book about the 50s pinup wars called Bettie Page Rules!, a bottle of Hogshead scotch, and tickets to Foo Fighters (okay, those were partially for me). Today, I take a Blogthings quiz called "What Famous Pinup Are You?" and lo and behold,

You Are Bettie Page

Girl next door with a wild streak
You're a famous beauty - with a unique look
And the people who like you are cultish about it

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!


I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty happy if I was spreading joy and cheer all over the globe, too. Even if people around this time of year tend to be, ironically, cranky and unforgiving of other people's flaws. I still say giving is better than receiving, so Santa's got the right idea.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Books and Cooks: Christmas Edition



November's Books and Cooks got pre-empted because so many of us couldn't make it. We were supposed to have read Stolen Lives. I bought a copy. It's been riding around in the trunk of my car for a month and a half. I know it's an inspirational story of the indomitable human spirit, but I just couldn't get myself to crack it open. I know the ending is basically happy (they get out, right?), but something about reading about a family that's tossed in a hole in the desert and practically starved to death just didn't do it for me. I think my happy ending meter was sounding the warning klaxon, or something. I did make some yummy couscous, though. Good stuff.

One fun thing about our December meetings is the random book exchange. We each bring one book, draw a number, and get a new book to take home. This year, we all mysteriously got exactly the right title to fit our respective personalities of current interests. So what does it say about me that I got this:

Cover Image

Yes, it's a comedy about Armageddon. Should be fun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ten on Tuesday: New Year's Resolutions

After checking out the Thursday13 and 10 on Tuesday memes, I think I have to go with Tuesday. Fave day of the week. Plus, I am a Tuesday's child ("fair of face," if you can believe that!). So, Ten New Year's Resolutions. Maybe since I'm thinking of them early and not just because it's January 1 and all the pressure's on, I might actually keep some of them:
  1. Chew my food. Slow down and taste instead of bolt, and maybe some of those pounds will come off.
  2. Laugh with my kids more. There's never enough laughter in the world.
  3. Date my hubby. He cleans up real purty, and he's easy to talk to.
  4. Read more regularly, and not just in "ignore the fams for three days" bursts like I can. Reading is good. Mix it up with some classics, some current lit-ra-chure, and some genre. And maybe a nonfic for variety every once in a while.
  5. Write some real letters, the kind the require stamps. I love getting them, so why don't I send them?
  6. Call my dad more often. The least I can do for the man who wrote me a letter every single week when I was in college. With my favorite comics cut out of the paper, no less.
  7. Keep in better touch with my friends. I have free long distance. I should reach out and touch some folks.
  8. Fish or cut bait. Either I'm a writer, or I'm not, but I have to quick jerking myself and my talent around like I have been.
  9. Get those proposals in the mail. Dream Agent can't sell vaporware.
  10. Try not to worry so much. Plenty that's hairy and scary out there I can't control, so let's work on stuff I can. No one's forcing me to waste money or clutterbomb my own house.
These I think I can live with. On real New Year's, it's time to get down and dirty with the business plan and career goals.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Okay, So That Fits

Just dropped by my friend Macy's blog to check things out, and she had an interesting post, her Harry Potter personality type. She's Severus Snape, hahaha. So I had to check out myself, and lo and behold:

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz

That figures. Although I'm not quite sure what they mean about a short attention sp...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Champs at the Tramp!

Family fun today--got to attend the C-USA Championship game between one of my alma maters, the University of Central Florida, and Univ. of Tulsa. Frick and Frack ate it up. Plus, we got to shake the house, doing the bounce to Zombie Nation:

Not only does our new stadium bounce, but our marquee RB, Kevin Smith, moved up to #2 on the NCAA All-Time season rushing list--right behind Barry Sanders. We romped and stomped: 44-25. Liberty Bowl bound! Go Knights!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Okay. If I can somehow write 9,100 words between now and midnight, I can still be a winner in this year's NaNoWriMo.

But since the squirrels are currently playing handball with what's left of my cranium right now, I can't see that happening. As it is, I racked up about 8K today, which is a hellacious output. Just not enough to make up for several days this month where my brain went to Never Land and didn't inform me of its flight plan first.

I have to say, I got up this morning at 4:15 am with express intention of busting out some serious wordage. I needed 17,000 words, give or take, to become a NaNo winner. And I seriously believed I could do it. Probably could have, if I hadn't had to take care of some minor business during the day, like teaching.

Say it with me: Mimi, you are insane for thinking you could write 17,000 words in a day. But, I squeak, I wrote 13K in one day last year to finish and win, and it worked. Now say, Mimi, you have serious procrastination/adrenaline addiction issues. You might want to explore other avenues, like, say, writing a little more every day instead of morphing into crazed writing bitch who frightens pets and small children. Not to mention the husband with the clenched teeth. (Not really, he's wonderful and very supportive, but for argument's sake...)

I had to face reality. Throw in the towel. Put down the Alphasmart and back away slowly. This year, the winner badge wasn't gonna happen. Well, it could have. I'd have to change my user profile to say that I lived in the Aleutian Islands to do it (I'm telling you, I was on a roll!), but I could have.

But that's a lot of personal integrity to sell out just for a cute graphic to post on the blog saying I was a "winner." If I had to cheat to get it, I wouldn't be much of a winner, would I? Plus, DH, who is one of the most ethically strong people I know, would be disappointed in me, and that would almost be worse than being disappointed in myself.

I thought about it, though. I did.

So here's what I learned this year during NaNoWriMo:
  • One, I really do have to be more consistent with output. Whether it's the 100 words a day method or BIAW, BICHOK, or any other method, I have to get the words down and not leave them in the cortex for the squirrels to hoard.
  • Two, quit being so competitive already. If it'll practically kill you to win at this late date, it won't really kill you to admit you have to stop.
  • Three, don't waste the effort. Finish the book, let it hibernate a while, drag it out, revise the proposal, and send it to dream agent.
BTW, props to my buddies Macy and Pam for being NaNo winners. Hats off to you!

Okay, that's 499 more words. Should I add them to my official writing total for today, or would that be cheating? (Just kidding!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

What Really Matters: Political Edition

Much is being made these days over trivial matters, at least when it comes to candidates for President: Clinton's "boys' club" remarks. Obama's flag pin, or lack thereof. Edwards's hair. Romney's flips (or flops). Thompson's energy level. Giuliani's wives, plural. Kucinich's UFOs. Nearly all the Republicans namechecking Ronald Reagan as if he were the second coming (yeah, right). Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Whatever happened to issues? You know, information about how these candidates plan to govern, delivered in complete, adult, non-sound bite-sized sentences. Remember those?

Whether you support the candidacy of John Edwards or not, you have to love this gem, spawned from the YouTube debates. It makes a very valid point.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I find there are far too many adults who are cranky and ungrateful. Instead, they carp about what they don't like, what's done wrong (in ther eyes), how other people are, etc., etc. Get trapped in one of these litanies and you'll see what I mean. I admit to being the cranky sort on occasion, but today, I find I have far more to be thankful for than not. To wit:
  • My daughter and son are curled up on the sofas with our dogs. What would life be without them--children or dogs?
  • I have a messy kitchen thanks to a morning of baking. Thanks for original recipes that rock (chocolate chip cookie bars), the smell of bread in the oven, and key lime pie.
  • Thanks for cows. A cold glass of milk with one of the aforementioned cookie bars is pretty close to perfection!
  • My living room o'erflows with books we need to trade and donate. Thanks to authors for hours of learning and escape.
  • My hallway o'erflows with laundry. Thanks for favorite jeans, jammies, and T-shirts. And for washing machines.
  • DH is currently ferrying his mom back to her house after spending Thanksgiving with us. Thanks to her for giving me him!
  • Thanks for friends, who enrich our lives (and Happy Birthday to Nancy, who's turning--erm--some classified number I can't reveal lest she kill me).
What do you have to be thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NaNo Update, Week #3

Still behind--about 2,500 words off last year's pace, which was behind enough in its own right. And I'd been sick for three days. Then. I have no excuse now! Using Chris Baty's suggestion of 1,667 words per day to make writing 50K in 30 days manageable, I'm more off the pace than on. I owe more words than I've written.

That's okay. I think I'm out of a bog. Past Chapter 5, at least. I'm having a really hard time not just letting go and moving on, which must be the key if this is to work at all. Today, the kids will be fairly self-starting, once I make breakfast. DS and DD will both have friends over. Yay! Actual writing time...squeezed between the trip to the grocery store and an attempt to find the Holy Grail Toy of Christmas. But that's a depressing thought for tomorrow...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaNo Update, Week #2

As I supposed, I'm behind. Got some good writing done tonight, though. Amazing what free time and a child-free atmosphere can do for your powers of concentrations. I am really looking forward to having time off next week so I can catch up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Criminal Misrepresentation

You know, it always seems that when Florida is featured on a TV show, the Hollywood folks get it wrong. Like the TV movie of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Most of the book is set in Eatonville, about a mile from my house. At one point, Janie is heading down to a lake for a swim--not that would any self-respecting Floridian go for a swim in a lake at twilight, when it's gator feeding time anyway--and she walks through a twenty-foot swath of goldenrod to get there. Hello? Goldenrod doesn't grow here! Or the more infamous and obvious oldie of mountains in the background in the old show Pensacola: Wings of Gold. Florida's flatter than Dubya's approval ratings, peeps.

This week's screwup, tonight's episode of Criminal Minds. It's set in "Bridgewater, Florida," somewhere off I-75 near Alligator Alley. Fine and dandy. DH and I sat back and waited for the errors. About thirty seconds later, cute blonde victim drives her Jeep into the state park. We know we're in Florida because of the Florida tag on the Jeep. The one on the front bumper. The tag that's not even freakin' issued on Florida vehicles!

And I don't even know where to start with the cheesy Southern accents. Everyone sounds like they'll be breaking out the Dueling Banjos at any second. Florida Cracker accents don't sound like deep-fried, Deep South, California voice coach Southern accents. Grr.

I know it's cheaper to film in California, but dang it, people, just because you have palm trees doesn't mean it looks anything like Florida! Please, please do some real research!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Snip, Snip

Today, a haircut. This isn't earth-shattering news, but it's been a while. A bra-strap length while, actually. Hair with my kind of curl doesn't need to go that long, especially since my favorite shoes are a variety of Birkenstock--Tatamis, the cute ones, but Birkenstock nonetheless. Add the streaky going-back-to-natural hair, and you have a recipe for granola girl, which is so not me. As I told Maria, I'm one Stevie Nicks handkerchief hemline away from a walking cliché. Yipes.

Maria gets aggressive with the shears. Lo and behold, shape! Lightness! Joy! The gel she tries is all-natural and yummy smelling (pineapple or papaya or some such tropicalness). Unfortch, my hair is now crunchy. Crunchy is good if you're talking potato chips, but not Botticelli-style curls. Can't wait to shampoo this out, condition the daylights out of it, and see what it does on its own.

She did notice the color, or lack thereof. Turns out my natural color is about a tint browner than black. Who knew? I've been some form of medium golden brown for so long, I had no idea it was that different from the heredity. The oxidation from riding around in a convertible with the top down didn't help, either. And then there's the encroaching silver.

"Color?" she asked.

"Nope." Either I'm the bravest 43-year-old I know, or the craziest.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NaNo Update, Week #1

Week One of NaNoWriMo is ending, and I am already seriously behind. My first two days I was ahead of the curve, mostly thanks to a complete synopsis that I'd typed out and divided up amongst the twenty planned chapters of the book. So the word count is including the synopsis words, which will be replaced by text words as the weeks go on. Fair enough.

As usual, my problem is that damned internal editor. You know, the one that wants an actual logical entrance and exit from each scene, the one who wants things to make sense and be nearly camera-ready, to use an old typesetting term. Using the NEO helps, but I still have the tendency to go back, erase, retype so it's spelled right, twiddle with the verb tenses, and what not. Generally, lots of what not. Thank god NEOs can't access the 'net, or I'd find all manner of time-wasting things to do. Amazing how pointless comments on a political blog take on Defcon 3 importance when avoidance of writing is in the air.

I have some close writing buddies this time. Last year, my whole department tackled NaNo, with mixed results. This year, I have only a couple of buds from my RWA chapter and one surviving English department friend, who's now at a different school. Nik's a perfectionist, too, so I have a welcoming shoulder to whine on. The other ladies, not so much. Macy, Dara88, and Lorenas--they're the butt-kicking squad. I could use some. More later.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday Ten: TV Shows on DVD

Drat that wench Macy O'Neal. She knows what a procrastinator I am and tags me anyway for a Tuesday Ten. She's probably figured out that once I get started, I must continue--pretty much my OCD limit, but there you have it. *sigh* So now I have to come up with Ten TV shows I'd like to have or already have on DVD. Kind of a problem, since I'm a big cheapskate and don't buy TV shows on DVD. But if I did, here are my picks:

1) A&E's Pride and Prejudice. Okay, so it's a mini-series and not technically a "show." But it is the definitive P&P on film and has those lovely dripping wet Colin Firth moments. Sue me.

2) CSI. Accept no imitations. Love the Gil Grissom. I'd take CSI:NY as well, but I'll pass on Miami. I get enough Florida weirdness living here; I don't need David Caruso and
those freakin' sunglasses to screw it up for me further.

3) King of the Hill. Because I love wit, I love Southerners, and I think Mike Judge is hilarious.

4) Invader Zim. We do own these--three DVDs of animated craziness thanks to our comic book store friends. You have to love a show that celebrates Santa's Jolly Boots of Doom, public school teachers who rattle like snakes when angered, and feature dialogue like "Lemony fresh victory is mine!" Or maybe that's just my warped little universe.

5) 24. Jack Bauer saves the world--again! I could probably bag the season where his wimpy daughter gets mauled by the cougar, though.

6) Fantasy Island. Not the rich-Corinthian-leather Ricardo Montalbán "Da plane! Da plane! version, but the slightly creepy, edge-of-the-Twilight Zone remake with Malcolm McDowell, Fyvush Finkel (that's brave, for a stage name), and the raspy cigarette smoking woman from Beetlejuice.

7) Sports Night. Great writing, Felicity Huffman before she moved to Wisteria Lane, Peter Krause before he became the hunk o' the month in Six Feet Under, and Nuwanda, all grown up.

8) Speaking of Florida weirdness, Maximum Bob, a short-lived bit of bizarro starring Beau Bridges as a no-holds-barred judge who married an ex-Weeki Wachee mermaid. I think about five of us got the jokes, and we're all serious Carl Hiaasen fans.

9) The Andy Griffith Show. Because it's a classic, and because Andy is just the sort of father we need more of in this crazybusy, money-obsessed world.

10) Monty Python's Flying Circus. Own it. Love it. Could quote it for hours, and have.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Here We Go Again

Not satisfied with one round of crazy, we embark yet again on the month-long insanity which is NaNoWriMo.

Stepping into the batter's box, Life After Little League--a little romance, a little women's fiction, a little like me. Sort of. At least, the mom and the baseball part. Divorced, not so much (thank God). Forward into the breach...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Books and Cooks: Eat, Pray, Love


Cover Image


An old friend of mine (Macy O'Neal, holla!) recommended this to me, so I included it in my choice list when I hosted Bs&Cs last month. It won, so there you have it. Briefly, Elizabeth Gilbert goes through an horrific divorce, then spends a year finding out who she really is through the pursuit of pleasure in Italy, spirituality at an Indian ashram, and balance in Bali, Indonesia.

Interesting conversation on this one. Most of us agreed that the notion of taking a year off from life to explore oneself is basically that: a notion. Nothing any of us could conceive of actually doing, and not because we haven't wanted at some point to run away from life and start over. It seemed self-indulgent of Gilbert, who's in her 30s, to do what most twentysomethings are known for, but that could be sour grapes talking. Or just reality.

It was very interesting to have my mom in the room for this one, since she was divorced from my dad in her 30s. Since she had three children to look after, taking off for Rome definitely wasn't possible, but she said she really identified with Gilbert's need to establish a personal identity separate from being a wife/mother/daughter, etc. I found that fascinating in itself, since so many of my books deal with the heroine's search for her true identity. Hmm. Maybe divorce affected me in the same way, even though I was a teenager at the time.

Gilbert's personal odyssey introduces us to some interesting characters, most notably--for me, anyway--Richard from Texas, speaker of the most hilarious line in the book, a wonderful metaphor about mosquitoes that only a true Southerner could appreciate. The way they're presented, you'd want to meet these people yourself. Maybe Gilbert, too, although some of us considered her a bit too selfish for our taste--a nasty side effect of all that self-examination. Her style's fun, though, accessible and light. I hear there's a sequel coming out, so I might have to take another trip with her to find out what she's discovered now that she's found herself a second husband.

As a special bonus, our lovely hostesses packed little bags full of beads for us to string our own japa malas--Indian prayer beads that are symbolic of Gilbert's spiritual journey and the 108 vignette structure she borrowed for the book. (Interestingly enough, the same number of stitches in a baseball, as Annie Savoy reminds us in her "Church of Baseball" speech in the sports movie classic Bull Durham.) I spied a lovely set of lapis-colored beads as the basket was being passed around, and they were waiting for me when I finally got the basket at the end of the line.

Amazing how God works in little moments.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Heard in the Bleachers

Little League. Bleachers. Moms and dads and sibs. Always an interesting sociological mix, especially in our community. I'm paying attention to the game (mostly), trying not very hard to avoid overhearing the conversation on my left, conducted by slim, toned wives with far more expensive shoes than I. You know, the ones with $100 haircuts and blinding diamond (plural) wedding sets. Here's what I hear:

" should take your shoes off."
"They don't take their shoes off?"
"No! It's incredible."
"Not even on Friday? That's cleaning lady day."

At that point, attention switched to the conversation on my right. Red Sox vs. Indians fits much more comfortably in my sphere than the concept of a "cleaning lady day." I'm the cleaning lady around Chez mimi. All the days are potential cleaning lady days. Key word: potential.

Which reminds me...time to throw some more laundry in the washer, lest DS be sent onto the field Tuesday night with the horror of grass stains for all to see.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Last Lecture

My friend Nancy sent me a link to this short video, a clip of a "last lecture" given by a prefessor at Carnegie-Mellon University. Universities across the US are featuring last lecture programs, inviting well-known professors to deliver the wisdom they really would like to impart before departing. What's the catch here? Dr. Prautsch has terminal pancreatic cancer and is expected to live only a few weeks or months more.

Check out the Wall Street Journal article here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Style, or Lack Thereof

So I've been reading style books lately. (My friend Desiree is passing out at the thought at this very moment.) What I've realized is that my style and my closet aren't on close speaking terms.

My friend Colleen once told me that the best thing about turning 40 was the ability to say "to hell with it" and mean it. To hell with tasks you don't want. To hell with living up to someone else's expectations. To hell with "should" and Hello to "want."

Colleen has a point, and that point's being affirmed in the strangest places. One of the books I bought on my B-day was a copy of Brenda Kinsel's 40 Over 40. Much of this book is self-affirming rather than prescriptive. Figure out who you are and what you love, embrace it, and make your style your own. Okay, I can dig that. The problems crop up when your style veers more toward silly T-shirts and Marvin the Martian watches than it does chic. Desiree would shudder at the stuff I find cute (she's way more stylish than I am). I like the tacky shirts the Sunshine State Parkway workers wear in the tollbooths. I love Converse Chuck Taylors. I like Celtic knot earrings and my charm bracelet. I love bright colors. And pajamas--if I could wear pajamas to work, I would. But I also have a soft spot for twin sets, my grandmother's Huguenot cross, and pearls. Finding a personal style encompassing all that will be a trick. But it'll be a step toward becoming someone who doesn't hate getting dressed in the morning quite so much.

As I get older, I don't imagine I'll become a Red Hat lady. I won't need to be, if I can embrace my hot pink Chucks self for who she is and be happy.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


DH hates the song "Happy Birthday." He says that everyone sings it too slowly, so it comes out sounding like a dirge more than the celebratory air it should be. Methinks I agree. I'm a Stevie Wonder "Happy Birthday" kinda gal (moreso than The Beatles' "Birthday"), which is in no way dirgelike or, come to think of it, clichéd.

And on this, my 43rd "natal day," as my grandfather was wont to say, I admit that I don't want to be a cliché as I grow older. I will not be a teacher who succumbs to the tide of denim and apple motif clothing. I will not be a cranky church lady who forgets that children, messy and annoying and distracting they may be, are the lifeblood of a church. I will not submit to the minivan, though I am now officially a soccer and a baseball mom.

What does that mean? Not sure, exactly, but it'll probably involve some soul-searching about lots o'stuff and making some hard decisions. And cleaning out the closet of the faux-me to make room for the real-me. Scary stuff.

But 43 says I'm a grownup (allegedly), so I can handle it. I have big girl pants and everything.

Off to dinner with the fam. Italian. Good stuff.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Moms Rule!

Okay, this bit is priceless:

Assuming this is the common experience, then we're all going to turn into our mothers. Which may not be such a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Books and Cooks: The Other Boleyn Girl


Cover Image


Back to School means we're back to Book Club. For this kickoff, Books and Cooks will take place at Chez mimi, so that means lots of running around and stashing and freaking and spraying and dusting and wiping and vacuuming, which isn't such a bad thing, but harrowing if you try to do it all in oh, say, three hours right before people come over.

But I digress.

Back to the book...Tudor history seems to be on the upswing, what with The Tudors on Showtime (not that watching Jonathan Rhys-Myers is ever punishment) and the release of Elizabeth: The Golden Age on the horizon. It's funny how no one knows much about it except that Henry VIII had a bunch o'wives, and he lopped the heads off two of them. This book takes place during Wife 1 (Catherine of Aragon) and Wife 2 (Anne Boleyn), interspersed with Mistress 1 (Mary Boleyn--that's keeping things in the family) and Mistress 2 (Jane Seymour--not to be confused with the actress of the same name. Mistress 2 eventually becomes Wife 3, but only if you're keeping score at home. *Whew!* I don't know how Henry manages, what with that gimpy leg and all. Guess Mel Brooks was right in History of the World, Part 1: "It's good to be the king."

The interesting thing about Gregory's book is not so much the King as it is the court intrigue surrounding the throne. Power-hungry families (Howards, Seymours). Advisors. Backbiting, betrayal, and bitches, especially that Anne Boleyn. Wow, is she ever an advertisement for only children. Mary, the book's central and most sympathetic character, basically becomes a pawn for her family's ambition. Sleep with the King, they tell her, he thinks you're hot. But I'm married. Not a problem. He married into an ambitious family, he'll figure it out. Besides, he'll get you back when the King picks a new target. Some new target. By the time Mary realizes she's fallen in love with King Henry (this is pre-gimp, pre-rotundity), she's being pushed aside for her sister Anne. And her patient husband dies, so she's stuck on the Howard Family power-struggle chessboard for as long as they seem to think they need her.

It's a big book, a juicy book. It'll make a big, juicy costume drama, too, being released this holiday season. Eric Bana (
watching him is never punishment) as King Henry, so that'll be good. Assorted great actors as Catherine of Aragon, Cardinal Wolsey, etc., etc. But the real fun will be watching Natalie Portman as Anne mop the acting floor with poor, overmatched Scarlett Johansson as Mary. That'll be a sisterly rivalry to savor.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ah, Yes, the Writing Process

Ever wonder what goes through a writer's mind as she's staring off into space at odd times, like in the grocery line or while stuck in traffic? Wonder no more. Imagine that your muse(s) work something like this:

Lord, help us all.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Text Message Morons

You gotta hand it to Celia Rivenbark. Anyone who'd title a book Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank has my undying admiration and gratitude, but I digress. Today Ms. Rivenbark takes on the army of text-messaging zombies at a live theater performance and scores a direct hit. Check out her diatribe here.

Too bad the zombies will be too engrossed to notice. As Ms. Rivenbark notes at one point, "My beef is with the grown-ups. If you're bored with what's onstage, why don't you haul your rude self out into the lobby and text-message yourself into an exhausted puddle? Text-message until the paramedics have to come and sew your stupid thumbs back on. But don't pretend you're getting ready to push the nuclear missile codes and the whole world is waiting. You just told your husband to pick up dog food at Costco. You are a moron."

Now I have no beef with text messaging. They're handy to use if you have to reach someone who's in a meeting and has the ringer off. But, like Rivenbark, I don't see the point of the constant messaging (notice how "text" has become a verb?) when you're in a live venue with real, live people. Like your kids.

As I teacher, I get annoyed with parents who fob off the "teach your children well" advice to an army of caregivers, programs, and sports coaches.
I'm not talking about busy moms--have you ever met a mom who isn't busy?--I mean the ones who get that panicky look when they're forced to spend unconstructed time with their own spawn. Those moms--usually the ones driving expensive SUVs and Pilates-toned within an inch of their designer bag lives--may dress their kids in the latest expensive garb, but they're "raising" a generation that has no idea how to interact with real people. Go to your nearest trendy bistro and take a look-see around the room. When you spot the table with dad on the BlackBerry, mom (who almost always has a $200 highlight job) on her cell, and kids either texting their army of "friends" or vanished into iWorld, you know the people I mean.

Full disclosure: I own a cell phone, a Palm, and an iPod. I have been known to talk on the phone when my kids are in the car. I don't send text messages. Sorta know how, haven't taken the time to master the skill. But I also talk to my children. I was thanked by a fellow teacher in the Publix yesterday because I was making my son do the math to determine whether the Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry on sale at 3/$7 was a better buy than the store brand, and I wouldn't let him use a calculator. Poor kid, expected to divide in his head and talk to his mother live. I torture his sister in a similar fashion. He's ten, she's eight, neither one has a cell phone. Or an iPod.
Oh, the horror.

Come on, grownups. Back away from the electronics for a while. You might find that your children--and the adult friends you ignore in similar fashion--are far better entertainment.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

No, *I* Can Has Cheezburger

LOLcats. Sorry, I just don't get it.

Maybe it's because I'm a dog person.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Practice, Schmactrice

This year, I've told myself I'm going to do the better self-care thing, so that means the Thursday afternoon yoga class is on the schedule. Not only can I twist and unkink, but I'll be able to have dinner at Moe's after with a bit less guilt.

Class today was v. small, probably because it's the first week of school, and most of the teachers are mental tapioca. No problem. I'm in seated meditation, listening to the nature sound remix of Pachelbel's Canon in D, thinking to myself "calm, calm."

That lasted about four minutes. Then I arrived at the depressing realization of three insurmountable facts:
  1. I am way too short-waisted for some of these poses. There is just not enough room between my neck and waistline for certain kinds of bending and stretching. Ms. Teacher is wrapping herself into an origami crane, and I can't get my forehead within twelve inches of the mat. Not that I lack flexibility, mind you--I'm way flexible--I just don't have enough to bend over. Or get my elbow hooked over my opposite knee for the seated twist.
  2. Of course, the extra pounds don't help with the bending of any joint, especially around the waist. Bone structure is far too small. Time to get serious about the caloric intake.
  3. There is no such thing as a neutral spinal position for shavasana when you have a butt shaped like J-Lo's. Either I have a vicious curve right at the small of my back, or my knees are off the mat and my legs aren't relaxed. Wiggle, wiggle, adjust, adjust, huffy breath of frustration. Not the done thing when you're in final relaxation.
Despite all that, it was good to be here. My shoulders finally descended from eyebrow height. Can't complain about that. But it's clear that Rodney Yee and I have to become pre-breakfast partners again, if I really want to get my forehead acquainted with my mat.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #4

I have now successfully weeded off the dry sink in my kitchen and done something productive with all those school papers and reports cards and such. The paper flood has been dammed and tidied and filed, and now I can actually get to the cookbooks.

I nearly blew up our shredder tearing through pages and pages of old check stubs, credit cards statements from years ago (shamefully, some with a 19-- year prefix), receipts, automatic payment reminders, mutual fund buy notices, and else. Lots else. Two kitchen-sized bags full of shred. I could start my own packing company with all the junk.

The hand-me-down fairies arrived with bags of clothes for both DS and DD (or Frick and Frack, and they are more familiarly known). Frick has to week through his room again--what 10-year-old boy doesn't?--but Frack has actually caught on with the weedout kick. She gave a nice handful of books to the kids across the street that a few weeks ago she couldn't bear to part with. There's hope for the younger generation, assuming I don't screw them up further.

Now to the books. Stacks and stacks and stacks of them. When DH and I married and he moved into the house I owned at the time, he brought himself, his clothes, a table from his father, golf clubs, and about 15 cartons of books. The problem hasn't lessened since we've merged households and book-buying habits. But now we're in purge mode, so stacks of them are now patiently waiting to be taken to the Friends of the Library sale instead of lying in wait to attack us on nocturnal visits to the loo. This is progress, let me tell you. There may actually be room on our existing shelves for the depleted collection. Yikes.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Deb Dixon, Goddess!

Survived a virtual butt-kicking from the inimitable Deb Dixon, she of GMC fame. Great program today from CFRW. Got the streamlined GMC this morning, which amazingly I have never attended before, and a special workshop on the Big Black Moment this afternoon.

Considering that the writign has been, well, waysided for a bit, this was a good hook to yank me back into the fold. And I figured out why the book was bogging down so badly. No interaction! So now Hero Man will be up underneath her and the farm business while she blithely tries to fix other parts of her life. So much more drama will ensue at the black moment. Merci beaucoup, Deb!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Bed and Dinner, summer blockbuster edition!


This choice is based on the body of work, starting with the lovely Truly, Madly, Deeply. He does bad boys (Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), good guys (Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility), tarnished souls (Love, Actually), and downright goofy (Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest). Plus, he's the one and only, perfect Severus Snape. Smart, and that marvelous accent to boot. How 'bout we Expelliarmus with the clothes?


This is the brain and creativity behind The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. He's a great writer and visionary, but he gets bonus points for the throwaway moment in The Incredibles when Elastigirl catches a glimpse of her mom-sized thighs in her new supersuit. Classic! This man knows women.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stop Saying That!!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #3

AmVets came today and took with them five boxes o'stuff. Linens from the aforementioned cleaned-out closet, a lamp and night light from DS's room that no longer go with the decor, outgrown clothing, and a few odds and ends. Liberating!

Unfortch, there's no break from the endless laundry and floor cleaning that must take place in a regular household, and somehow we've lost track of a couple of vital tools (rubber lint brush, where art thou?), but progress continues apace. DD is down to her last box, and then we have to make the hard decisions about the stuffed animals. We are a Gund zoology festival, apparently. More paperwork to keal with, still too much junk in the garage, but progress has been made.

One of these days, I will be able to host casual dinners for friends. Until then, more cleaning.

And bread baking. For some bizarre reason, it's relaxing even though it's one more thing to have to do.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Off to Read the Wizard

We just got back from a release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--read the first two chapters aloud in the car already. Looks like this one will be cracker. Back later...

7:45 am, all done. In all, a balanced book. Laughter and tears, good and evil, and a fitting ending. Didn't all I wanted, nor all of my questions answered, but fitting. It'll be wonderful to introduce these books to my grandkids someday.

Now to put the book on DS's bedside table. He has dibs.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Off we go to cause traffic disruption in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Or, as the denizens of such mountains refer to us as we sea-level creatures navigate windy, two-lane roads, act like Floridiots. Kinda clever moniker, actually. Wish we could come up with something equally snappy to refer to the crazy NY/NJ/Ohio drivers who invade us every summer...

Don't expect much in the next week or so, as we'll be celebrating DD's birthday and enjoying a temperature and humidity break. Ah, vacation!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Playing Nice in the Political Sandbox

By now, the informed world is familiar with the Hardball smackdown/sandbagging (choose your term based upon which side of the political fence you graze) featuring conservative pundit Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards. Video clips abound in the blogosphere, in case you've been under a rock or, as we Florida teachers have been, waiting less and less patiently for Tallahassee to release those blasted school grades.

Lessons from the Coulter/Edwards encounter abound, and I wouldn't consider myself a very good teacher unless I pointed some of them out. First off, let's get one main definition out of the way:

de·bate [di-beyt] –noun
1.a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.
2.a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
3.deliberation; consideration.
4.Archaic. strife; contention.

Note that the archaic definition of the word seems lately to be the functioning definition of the word in the public arena. "Debate"--or what poses for it--in mass media mostly consists of talking heads screaming soundbites at each other, or in the case of the blogosphere, hurling value judgment grenades at the other side. Winner has the most volume or greatest lack of civility. I can't say the Coulter/Edwards exchange represents the nadir of current public discourse, but it's a good example to dissect. Here we go:
  • Ann Coulter has the First Amendment right to say whatever she feels about Mr. Edwards unless it is slanderous or libelous. Tasteless speech is well within Constitutional bounds.
  • Elizabeth Edwards has the right to make a phone call to a public newsmagazine and voice her opinion as well. The fact that she isn't John Edwards does not diminish her position.
  • As well-informed as you may be, you cannot change the opinions of those who disagree with you by acting like a petulant teenager. Huffing and eye-rolling don't work for my students, so why, if you are a college-educated adult with a national platform, would you assume they work for you?
  • Talking over your opponent speaks volumes about you, but nothing legitimate about your position (this would apply to Mr. Begala, Mr. Carlson, Mr. Colmes, Ms. Coulter, Mr. Hannity, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Matthews, Mr. O'Reilly, and many others employed on the air).
  • Bloggers, and the folks who leave comments at HuffPo, the NYT, WaPo, and the like, remember Godwin's Law: once you start tossing out "Nazi" and "Hitler" to describe your opponent, you lose the debate.
  • Elizabeth Edwards is dead on: the personal attacks squelch meaningful discussion of the issues. I don't care whether you hate Bill/George/Hillary/Rudy/Mitt/John E./Barack/John McC. with an unmitigated fiery passion or not. The name calling isn't getting us anywhere but right back in the sandbox, throwing handfuls at the kid you think took your shovel.
Some real debate, if you would, peeps. What do you plan to do for the country? What ideas do you have to mend our torn social fabric? To improve access to quality education for all young people and develop a sane plan with which to do it? To create a health care system that truly improves the health of the nation? To reduce government waste by restricting senseless earmarks? To wrestle with knotty problems of race and class without resorting to tired rhetoric that says nothing new and gets nothing accomplished? To dignify the worth of all American voters during the next reapportionment by refusing to gerrymander district boundaries? To develop a sensible immigration policy that eliminates craziness (byzantine rules for legal immigrants that suck up tens of thousands of dollars in fees and months, if not years, in paperwork) and deals firmly and fairly with illegals (for one, no more wet foot/dry foot stupidity)? To honor our soldiers' sacrifices and bring them home safely, and soon?

Display some home training, please. Listen, think, and then speak. I'm anxious to hear your courteous, well-considered responses.

But I won't be holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Miss Mimi Thinks About Washington

One of the great things about Netflix is their deep catalog. That, and being able to log on and add something to your queue every time a "Hey, that looks like a good movie" thought crosses your mind. Because of one of those random thoughts, the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington arrived in my mailbox this week.

I admit, I'm a sucker for "how to straighten out the country" kinds of movies like Dave and The American President, so it's amazing it's taken me this long to watch the acknowledged pinnacle of the genre (#99 on the IMDb Top 250). It's even more amazing how little has changed since Capra took up the lance in 1939 to tilt at the DC windmill. Some examples:
  • Stewart's Jefferson Smith character is viewed as a malleable rube by the Washington establishment because he's new and not part of the club.
  • Sitting Senators are portrayed as contemptuous of new ideas. (Don't you know how things have to get done around here?) Plus, they're rich. Senator Paine's daughter traipses around in mink while working girls like Saunders put in extra hours. When did a $1 million-plus bank account become an unwritten rule to run for elected office? Think there's any hope that a common man/woman, like a teacher or garbage collector with great ideas could be elected? I didn't think so.
  • Background money men pull the strings of elected representatives. The slimy "Taylor machine" of the film has nothing on today's corporate interests--Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Sugar, Big Auto, etc. If the money men don't approve, progress is smashed under its profit-making boot.
  • The quaint notion of "graft" seems to have vanished from our lexicon of outrage thanks to K Street's vampires. Anyone else notice a huge conflict of public interest when the only voices that get heard come from lobbyists?
  • The Willett Creek Dam project's got nothing on Sen. Stevens' Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere. Doesn't someone recognize the difference between a useful project and a full-bore cash grab for pork? When you read the word "earmark," say "oink."
  • Lawmakers groaning in disgust when Sen. Smith reads the Declaration of Independence and Constitution during his filibuster. Like they couldn't do with a refresher from time to time.
And now we find that the Supremes have struck down most of the soft money provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. It's enough to make you puke. Maybe each session of Congress should open with a Capra screening. Maybe some of the folks we send to Washington (and could we all start thinking before we vote, please??) would remember why they're there, and who they really should be representing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hedonism Run Amok

So I go to iTunes and download music. This isn't something I normally do, and I'm ashamed to admit that my iTunes choices aren't hip, groundbreaking, or anything that would cement my status as a cool chick. They are, however, fun tunes for walking and driving. My latest blush-inducing purchases:
  • "Jump" - Madonna
  • "Love Can Move Mountains" - Celine Dion
  • "Fake" - Alexander O'Neal
  • "Criticize" - Alexander O'Neal
  • "Comin' Home Baby" - Mel Tormé
  • "That's the Way It Is" - Celine Dion
  • "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" - Barry White
  • "This Time I Know It's for Real" - Donna Summer
  • "Car Wash" - Rose Royce
  • "Build Me Up Buttercup" - The Foundations
  • "Perfect Way" - Scritti Politti
  • "Ain't No Other Man" - Christina Aguilera
  • "Off the Wall" - Michael Jackson
  • "The Way You Move" - OutKast & Sleepy Brown
  • "Bust a Move" - Young MC
  • "I Melt With You" - Modern English
  • "Die Another Day" - Madonna
  • "Don't Tell Me" - Madonna
  • "Hung Up" - Madonna
  • "Music" - Madonna
  • "U + Ur Hand" - P!nk
No idea why I'm on such a Madonna kick, but there you have it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They're Right About That

Ran across a fun blogthing on my bud Macy's blog, so I had to steal (the best teachers are the best thieves). No surprises here for anyone who knows me:

You Are 15% Left Brained, 85% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dads Rule!

It's Father's Day, and we are fatherless at Chez mimi. DH is on his way home from the great non-frozen North (he was quite put out at the lack of cool temperatures during his Canadian sojourn), but alas, he is not yet home. We did speak on the phone, so that's good.

I also had a nice chat with my own Daddy. From him, I have inherited a love of reading, a penchant for debate (that's putting it mildly), and gray hair. Lots of gray hair. He's a real Southern dad, the kind who knows his way around a grill and a good beer, can tell a joke properly, entertain an audience with stories, and show off good manners and a fine education (Davidson College, thank you very much--he's a Carolina boy). Plus, he reads a mean Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book.

I have been twice blessed. I have a great Dad, and I married a man who's a great dad, too. My kids are lucky. Too bad so many kids will go to bed tonight not being able to say the same.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

What to do when everyone's gone? Why, catch up on reading and watching romantic comedies. Two choices gleaned from my quiet week:


Yeah, yeah, I know--he does that stammering charmer thing a lot. But he is a charmer. And those lovely English blue eyes, and that lovely British accent, and... Yep, I'd cast him in the lead.


Coming late to the party as usual, I have finally picked up a copy of The Eyre Affair, the introduction of the intrepid LitraTec Thursday Next in Fforde's weird, parallel Great Britain, where literature and the arts are held in such high esteem, actors can be arrested for affronts against Shakespeare and roving Baconians attempt to convince that Sir Francis Bacon is the true Bard of Avon. Fun, fun stuff for literature majors. Now that we've been introduced, Mr. Fforde and I have more reading to do. Perhaps over tea.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #2

The unstuffing and streamlining continues apace. This week, refreshing the restroom. I originally went with a moon and stars motif, partly because of the small children, but also because I have to camouflage a really ugly harvest gold bathtub.

This week, the moons and stars have been put to rest, and all that star/moon stenciling has been painted over with restful pale turquoise. We're going Florida in there--tacky tourist Florida. I found some very cool postcard images at AllPosters large enough to frame, so now I have a Cypress Gardens waterski pyramid, a Weeki Wachee mermaid, and a friendly gator advising you to "Drop In Anytime in Florida." Add a couple of landscapes and "Welcome to..." posters, and we have full-on Florida kitsch. It's fun. It's fresh.

And did I mention that I also purged the linen closet? I'm kinda proud of myself.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

All Quiet on the Home Front

The kids are at camp. DH is in Ontario for his Boyz in the Woodz week. That means that I am a-lone. A solo flyer. Four days of nothin' but mimi.

Let's hope they're semi-productive, although chillin' on the sofa with some rom coms is looking pretty good right now...

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List


Model, actor, Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. Flame on, indeed. He's hot.


Three words: "Go to jail." As in, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect an appearance fee for your vapid blonde self, Paris Hilton. For this alone, he deserves a high dollar steak.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #1

Progress is being made on the home front. After several days of tossing and straightening, I can make one astounding claim: I have a ten year old boy's room clean. As in party clean. Scary clean. It took a while, but the toys and junk have been winnowed, and about four pounds of sand have been returned to the natural environment (he has got to start emptying his sneakers before he comes inside!).

DD's room is looking good, too. Nice new rug, new furniture arrangement, far fewer clothes in the dresser and closet (although she collects clothes like a Park Avenue debutante on a platinum-card spree, since all of her older friends pass them along to her). We still need to repair the footboard of her bed and find the rails--hey, at 170 years old, it's doing pretty well--and get the last of her gack out of the living room, and then I'll have two rooms to celebrate over.

So the lovely trash men came and carried off two extra cans' worth of junk. I feel lighter. If only extra pounds on my butt were so easily discarded.

Today's task: mucking off the desk. There is wood to be found.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

June 1 marks the first day of Gay Pride Month, and in honor of my gay friends, this edition of the Bed/Dinner List has a twist--the ladies I'd pick if I were so inclined.


This lady and I see eye to eye, literally. She's a petite powerhouse who's worked her way up from nothing roles into an Oscar-nominated producer and actress (Frida, working that fierce unibrow!). She's intelligent, outspoken, and unafraid. And you might notice that she's hot, too. Not that it'd work out, since my own husband would cut me out for a shot at Salma.


Another talented, outspoken lady. Aside from her great music, she's an articulate and dynamic spokesperson for breast cancer research (she's a survivor) and gay marriage (she's married to a great woman with a fab blog of her own, Tammy Lynn Michaels). She's another Oscar winner, taking home the naked gold guy for "I Need to Wake Up," featured in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth (it keeps her Grammys company). Here's an inconvenient truth: This woman is a proud mother of four in a committed, loving relationship. She also happens to be gay. Please tell me how her family and relationship are somehow a threat to mine? Yeah, I thought so.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Really Simply Me

Bought myself a treat I haven't had in a while, an issue of Real Simple magazine. I love this mag, but I'm already drowning in paper, so I've cut down on subscriptions. There's something about Real Simple I've always been drawn to. Perhaps its the lovely white space, or the photos, or the fact that it doesn't make you feel like you're completely helpless because you don't already have an up to date wardrobe, a perfect dinner party plan, a House Beautiful interior, or engage in red-hot Chinese basket trick sex every other night of the week.

The back page of the magazine is now a feature that introduces a Real Simple reader, but the questions were fun. So, here are my answers. What are yours?

What makes you laugh?
If my children are tickled about something, I'm tickled, too. Their laughter is infectious!

What's the one thing about your younger self that you'd like to reclaim?
Upper arm tone. That, and the belief that I could teach myself to do anything by reading a book about it. (Don't laugh--I taught myself how to ride a horse that way!)

What are you really good at?
Editing. Boring, but true. I also make fabulous lasagna and can tell jokes well.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Mrs. Dempsey, sophomore gifted English. She taught me how to write really fast in all capital letters (came in really handy in college) and how to make peace with the fact that I was a smart girl.

Before I die, I'd like to...
Visit all the countries of my ancestry. I toured Scotland on my honeymoon. Now I have to plan for Ireland, France, Switzerland, and the Azores Islands.

What's your favorite book?
I love, love, love Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. My favorite children's books are Go, Dog, Go! and The Phantom Tollbooth.

John, Paul, George, or Ringo?
Mick. Stones over Beatles every time.

The big decision I'm currently wrestling with is...
What to throw out. I really, really need to muck out my house, and it's really hard because I am so sentimental!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Operation Kerosene

We're finally out of school, so I may now finally turn my attention to my house, aka Clutter Central. We're talking Defcon 4 with the clutter. I keep threatening to rent a Bobcat, push everything out into the driveway, douse liberally with Kerosene, and toss in a match. Clean, decisive, and probably illegal in the burbs.

That leaves Plan B, which is do it the hard way. Go through the house, room by room, paring down, tossing out, donating, and keeping only that which has earned a place. Not so easy when we have four clutterbugs contributing to the mess. But it's try, or get dragged down to 33rd for arson (even if it is all my own stuff).

So today, we're making a start. DH is finishing the floor in DD's room--yay! DS and I have been going through the bins of books, junk, etc. that DH brought in as a temporary cleanup measure. Amazing that half his bookshelf is Dr. Seuss when he's just turned 10. Yikes! And what is it with 10-year-old boys and toys with 20 million pieces-parts (think Lego and K'Nex)?? And Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. And Heroclix. And, and, and. Not to mention the sand they drag in from school (we could start our own beach with what they empty from their shoes every day).

At least I can point to a little bit of progress. DS's books are in order, we hung some pictures, and you can walk from the door to the bed without tripping over a bin or impaling yourself on a K'Nex rod. Onward to the closet and the flood pants and ripped T-shirts.

Tomorrow, DD's furniture begins to migrate back into her room. There is hope that I might be able to invite people unrelated to me to have dinner sometime this summer. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Ah, summer break. Fun, sun, and handsome men with their shirts off. An apropos time to revive our Bed List/Dinner List choices, no?


That Posh Spice character, aside from being a stick insect with big breasts on whom clothes hang divinely, gets to come home to Becks every night. Yeah, we hate her.


Anyone who'll name a group Oingo Boingo has got to be an interesting dinner guest. But he's also the man who created soundtracks for many favorite films, including nearly everything Tim Burton's ever directed (Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish are two that make me cry), so there's plenty to talk about. And he's got a cool wife, too--another stick insect blonde, but Bridget Fonda would be cool to hang with.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Books and Cooks: The Glass Castle


Cover Image


It's the last Books and Cooks for the year, so we met at Tolla's, a cute bistro in Winter Park. On the one hand, I object since Tolla's is just one more instance of creeping gentrification, but on the other hand, the weather is gorgeous, and we get to eat outside. This time, temporal pleasure wins out over sociological outrage. And the Stuffed Chicken Tolla--stuffed with spinach, prosciutto, and feta and served over linguine--was quite tasty, too.

Jeannette Walls deserves a medal for surviving her childhood. Like many parents, I suffer from all types of insecurities regarding my children. Have I spoiled them? Ruined them? Prevented them from growing strong, flexible, and creative? Fed them properly? Apparently, these questions rarely came to the minds of Rex and Rose Mary Walls, Jeannette's parents. One's an alcoholic, the other's a depressive enabler. It's amazing that with so much against them, Jeannette and her three siblings all survived with their senses of humor intact and became successful, functioning adults.

Reading The Glass Castle is like watching an extremely painful episode of one of those nightmare family shows, except instead of out of control kids, here you have out of control parents. I found it interesting that in our discussion, the only people who had compassion for the parents' plight were those who don't yet have children of their own. Those of us with kids wanted to rush home and hug our own little devils and thank God and all of our lucky stars for the roofs over our heads and the food on our plates.

If the four Walls kids can make it through poverty, starvation, molestation, homelessness, and coal mining, perhaps the fact that I forget to check my kids' homework won't weigh too heavily against me in the lifetime parent sweepstakes.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Here a Chick, There a Chick

One of my email loops tipped me off to this interesting post on chick lit by Jacquelyn Mitchard, of The Deep End of the Ocean and Oprah's Book Club fame. Brava, Ms. Mitchard, for getting the point.

In precis, more and more people, writers and pundits included, are beginning to refer to books written by women about female characters "chick lit." As a writer of chick lit of the classic sort (think Bridget Jones), I have never had a problem with the moniker. But when strong books by women are dismissed out of hand as "chick lit," aka light and fluffy and of little nutritional value, because the author in question happens to have functional breasts, while men who write emotional books exploring traditional women's territory (yes, Nicholas Sparks, I'm talking about you) are lauded as being so sensitive and emotional, I get a bit peeved.

Seems that women's rights and all that are fine, but when it comes down to literary taste, well, you little ladies just ought to scuttle off to the parlor and chat about your insignificant concerns while we menfolks solve the world's problems in the smoking room with our superior masculinity and all.

Whatever. Take a peek at world affairs these days and ask yourself whether the menfolks are doing a bang-up job at running things. Take your time. Umm-hmm. I thought so.

Women can write. Well, I might add. Scoffing at female authors who write women-driven stories (that includes romance novels) does nothing but confirm your own narrow-mindedness. I know plenty of women who read horror and true crime and espionage novels. They're not afraid to explore. But try offering a well-written romance to a man and watch them leap out of the way like cooties have made a comeback.

Seems to me the smoking-room crowd could learn something from all this "chick lit." Hell, they might even figure out some things. What is it they said about the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world?

That hand belongs to a chick. You fellas might want to pay closer attention. The women's fiction aisle of your local bookstore would be a good start.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gone, Baby, Gone!

La, la, la, last day for seniors!

Tomorrow will be such a relief compared to the beginning of this week. Seniors up my nose. Seniors whining about paying dues (not like they've known about senior dues since last August or anything). Seniors wanting to know if I've graded their final exams 15.2 minutes after completing them. I know they're ready to fly out of the nest, and frankly, I've got the boots ready to kick 'em out!

Graduation is next week. Man, am I ready for that...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Back From the Beyond...

It's graduation season, and that means that my brain has been co-opted by the evil minions of the Class of 2007--aka all of my seniors. They are driving. me. CRAZY. Thankfully, senior exams are this week (guess I'd better get mine down to the copy room, huh?), so their last day is in sight. Yay!

Only a few more days. That, and about 80 research papers to grade. Ugh.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


You can tell it's near the end of the school year. The teachers have spring fever as bad as the kids. Hence, no blog posts for quite some time. Not even about hot men on Fridays. Yikes.

Fear not, there's something going on in the cortex. It's just not coming out. And since we took the kids to Disney's Grad Nite last night and I'm working on about 3 hours of sleep since 5:00 Friday morning, I'm amazed this is coming out relatively coherent. I hope.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Book Tag!

I was skimming for something totally different and came across this fun book list at In the Style of Lisa. Feel free to steal for your own blog...tag, you're it!

Look at the list of books below:
*Bold the ones you’ve read* Italicize the ones you want to read* Leave plain the ones that you aren’t interested in. If you are reading this (and haven't participated yet), tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) an aside, I'd better read this one, or my friend Tori will swoop down from Ontario and whack me!
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) -- according to BluePyramid's BookQuiz, this is my #2 book, so I guess I'd better read it sometime!
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’s Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

the dish Design by Insight © 2009