Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Post Where I Start Off One Way and End Another

Why does everyone have their lights and trees up already? I do not understand. I'm still adjusting to daylight savings, for crickets' sake. I'm still getting into awesome boots mode. I'm still shocked to hear the furnace clicking on. I'm still wondering where back-to-school went. What's the rush?

Moving along...though my days of early motherhood are but a distant and fatigue-causing memory, I've been reading—for other purposes—a lot about that time in a woman's life. There's some odd stuff going on out there. I had no idea, for example, about the vitriole inspired in some quarters by the stroller brigade of Park Slope (as in mothers, New York, white, moneyed). This article in Salon, "Everybody Hates Mommy," was so disturbing to me, as were the several pages of reader comments. In the end, I don't think mothers (in general) have a sense of entitlement; I think they are tired and overwhelmed relative to their fortunate or not-so-fortunate circumstances. I think certain individuals have a sense of entitlement, and the fact that they may or may not be mothers has nothing to do with it. Everybody needs to play nice on the playground of life, people.

Speaking of playing nice—or in this case, not playing nice—someone stole my iPhone on Friday night. The texts and calls we made to the perpetrator were not enough to inspire the phone's return, so the wonderful spousal unit picked another one up for me yesterday. It's so sparkly and has all sorts of new gadgetry (voice memos, anyone?) and whatnot, but I sort of miss my vintage iPhone in all its clunky slowness. Plus, it creeps me out that someone probably looked through all the photos that were on it. Ewwwww. I repeat: play nice.

And in writing news: yesterday I received my contributor's copies of Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, which you can purchase here.

Now, I know I started this post off complaining that everyone was making a mad rush for December when November isn't even over, but one must make allowances for holiday book shopping! This beauty would make an excellent gift, would it not?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Flipping The Bird

I have to flip my turkey now. It's not a simple task, you know, to flip a 17.29 lb. turkey on its side after it's been roasting for 45 minutes, but that's what I'm supposed to do. I've flipped it one wing-side up already, where it's been roasting for 20 minutes, and now I need to flip it the other wing-side up. After 20 minutes, I flip it one last time: breast up. I'm using wads of paper towel to keep from burning my delicate Nesting Ground Mistress skin.


Well, that was fun. It took me several minutes to wrangle a firm grip, and then just as my flip was almost executed, the V-rack collapsed. So then I placed the turkey rather awkwardly on top of the collapsed rack, pulled out a large pan, moved the turkey onto it, then proceeded to fix the V-rack. One of the supporting bars had become unhinged (much as I have in the last few hours), and I couldn't use my bare hands to fix it, so I made do with some tongs and brief touches with my fingers. Success! Then I finally flipped the bird (hahahahaha!!), shoved it back into the oven with a satisfied grunt, and shut the door. I have to admit, it's getting a lovely all-over tan. The final flip will be another adventure, I'm sure, but I'll spare you.

As for the rest of the early evening menu, I have relied heavily on the holiday cookie issue of Sunset Magazine. I have Gratin of cauliflower with gruyere, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with buttermilk and roasted garlic, Italian sausage and chard stuffing, and Green beans with a citrus vinaigrette. And I'm making some pumpkin soup, using a recipe from my sister-in-law that has served me well lo these past many years. And pies! But we got those from Heidi's Pies, so they don't count.

I am thankful for many things. But I am also sleepy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dishwasher, Story, Smelly Shoes

All I've been doing since last I blogged is emptying the dishwasher, filling it, emptying it, filling it, etc. etc. Or at least that's what it feels like I've been doing since last I blogged. But the thing about being one with my dishwasher is that performing an empty or fill task provides the optimal amount of time needed to mull something over: a problem, an idea, a solution. I often stop midway through the process to write something down, and I'm wondering now if that's why I put my desk in the kitchen in the first place. Which leads me to...

I'm working on a project with my friend W., but the scope of it doesn't really have a place here at Nesting Ground, so I will just say that it's taken up much of my allotted daily brain function. I muse on this project throughout the day. I fall asleep thinking about it, wake up thinking about it, and trip on my words when I'm talking about it because there is so much to say. I'm looney excited about said project, and I can't wait to see if we can pull it off.

Speaking of pulling something off, I'm pleased (and relieved) that my story "The Left-Behind Girl" was just accepted for publication in Philippine Speculative Fiction V, forthcoming in February 2010, and edited by Nikki Alfar and Vin Simbulan. Thank you so very much, Nikki and Vin. This turn of events makes me happy. Happy like...little kid happy. Bag full of candy happy. Jeans fitting perfectly happy. House nice-and-clean happy. Hot biscuit happy. All socks accounted for happy.

Now, though, I must balance the happy with the not-so-happy. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Vida's super-stinky shoes. They were purchased the week before school began, and they were the kind of adorable that makes me sigh. Now they are so smelly and disgusting, that just knowing they are visible if I care to peek out of the corner of my eye is making me queasy. I'm going to go and throw those shoes away now, and I have no doubt that I will spend the rest of the afternoon facing the wrath of my tiger-like 9-year-old daughter, but so be it. I cannot abide them.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Stuff I'm Doing

I am eager for soccer season to end, for I can take it no more. Much to my surprise and horror, I am far too attached to outcomes, when what I should really be concerned about is whether or not my girls are enjoying themselves. My idiot-ness is compounded by the fact that R & V's team has only lost one game this season, while I think L's team has only WON one. I need off the emotional rollercoaster, thanks. I need to get my own damn life.

I exaggerate, of course. I have my own damn life. For example, I am quite enjoying my tutoring work with Reading Partners. My little gap-toothed tu-tee to-ta-lly loves me. "We gonna do this every day, right?" he said. And I said, "Just twice a week." He then nodded sagely and said, "I love Reading Partners. It's so fun." At first I found this a little hard to believe, but then I recalled that we start every session lounging on beanbags while I read to him from whatever books he chooses. Once he chose a book about reptiles, and we just screamed the whole time. So maybe it is fun for him.

This year I once again have in my possession a group of five strong 4th grade writers, and this time I have them for a whole hour every week. I've decided to start every session with a 5-minute freewrite, and this one kid totally cracked me up because his freewrite sounded just like mine when I was his age (for some reason they all wanted to share their freewrites, and I'm not one to balk at such enthusiasm): "My hand hurts. Why do we have to do this? I wish it was over. When will it be over? Seriously, my hand is going to fall off..." etc. etc. I told them that if they ran out of things to write, to just keep writing, "I am, I am, I am" over and over again until something showed up. All four girls at some point wrote, "I am awesome." Isn't that hilarious?!

Also, I'm teaching art in two separate 4th grade classroom, and three combined 2nd grade classrooms. Um, a little bit of art overload, I'll admit. But there are plenty of other parents helping out this year, so while I am responsible for lecture, discussion, project demo, and prep, I don't have to do as much during the actual project time. So, yay for not having my face smudged with charcoal or whatever every Friday!

I'm fully back in the swing with Latino/Community Outreach work, as well. I hit a wall with our previous administration, the end result of which was me running full force into said wall, and then collapsing into an unattractive heap on the floor. However, the new power-that-is truly gets it (gee, could it be because he is a personne de couleur? Mais oui!), and we have tons of momentum going at the moment. I plan to wrangle all the good energy into bringing adult English and literacy classes directly onto our campus. It'll be a pretty sweet trick, what with everyone's budget disappearing, but you just watch. Watch me and my own damn life.

So, while all this is going on, I try to remember that I am a writer, and that a writer should, you know, write. I think the fact that I have two manuscripts out there at the same time (I don't even remember the last time that happened) shows that I'm doing okay with this. When they return to me, rejected, I will wear the rejections as a badge of honor. I'll attach them to a flagpole and salute them. I'll frame them for the mantle. Tattoo the text on my bicep. Quote them verbatim at every opportunity. I'll even use them as an ingredient in an energy drink which I will then consume in three gulps.

But for now, it's late and I'm sleepy. Sea of Poppies, here I come.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Good Reading

I was just speeding blissfully through the pages of Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies when I realized that if I didn't slow down, it would be over too soon. But then I remembered that it's only the first of the Ibis trilogy, and I worked back up to a regular reading pace. It's one of those novels that truly creates an entire world, one that's populated with the most unlikely but believable characters, and that takes you from elation to tears with nothing but a section break to let you catch your breath. A woman was just snatched from her dead, opium-addicted husband's funeral pyre, made love to by a rescuer (from a lower caste!) whom she promptly marries in a do-it-yourself ceremony and, in an attempt to escape her family (who will not rest! will not rest! will not rest until she and her true love are DEAD!), has boarded a boat headed to Calcutta (and indentured servitude) with her strapping new husband. And that's just one strand of the story! Smack in the middle of it all is the human and environmental wreckage created by colonialism. And coming soon: the Opium Wars. It's just killing me, this novel. It's only 10:58, but I'm headed to bed so I can read some more...