Saturday, July 7, 2012

Yea, though I walk through aisle 12...

I am going through this week's grocery list.

Since moving to our rural city, the earnest start of our local farmer's markets and my new determination to make things that, by making them, are suddenly cheaper/healthier/taste better (1), I've developed an entire grocery shopping strategy. There are the things that we get from the big lot store, the Family Dollar, the items that can actually be found at the actual $1 store (2), the farmer's market, the ridiculous cheap wine section at the little grocery store near my folks and, those refrigerated and other staple items that I can still just get at the big grocery chain that is all over this area.

But, as I go through this week's list and I look at those items that, at least as long as the farmer's markets are running, I need from the grocery -- flour, coffee, cheese, peanut butter (3) -- and I find my once solid resolve weakening.

I may have to go to take the Wal of shame.

I have had a long and vocal dislike of Walmart. I have been known to chastise Leopold for shopping there. I have, and still try as hard as I can, to support local businesses...buying books and cards and the occasional bakery item from them, eating out in them when we do eat out and talking them up to all and sundry.

But, the idea of paying half of what I'm paying for a bag of whole wheat flour...that's becoming more and more intriguing.

With any luck, I'll finally get my act together enough to get a website of my own up (4) and I'll make some BIG headway in becoming an advocate for myself. For now though, it might be time to bite the bullet.

It might be that I can no longer just Wal on by.

1. A few kinds of bread, veggie burgers and, the newest excitement, homemade ketchup...which might be more expensive by the ounce to make but is really pretty awesome.
2. This sounds ridiculous, but I have to tell you,  the $1 store's Busy Baker whole wheat crackers are actually better than name brand. 
3. Perhaps's summer after all.
4. Since vowing to get my own freelance site up and running I've done two that are not for me and am dying to do an intervention on a couple others...because I'm like that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A little off the top?

While there was nothing more that I wanted to do this weekend than take an actual weekend, it's been one of those Saturday-Sunday combos where laptop work has been going on alongside housework and those domestic art-type tasks that are done in the name of home economics and good economics.

Bread has been baked. Chicken stock has been made. A drain has been cleared using a q-tip, a plastic spoon and the channeling of various and sundry plumbing gods.

And marketing copy has been written. Project notes have been made. Proposals have been updated. Interview notes transcribed.

When all is said and done, a good deal has been accomplished.

But it's the marketing copy that is most haunting me as I prepare to send the laptop to its room for the night (1). The thing I find about writing such copy is this, if I may borrow from the great American songbook.

It's a thin line between love and hate.

It's also a very thin line between sweet and cloying, enthusiastic and annoying and energetic and sounding just plain desperate.

The reality is that I have no idea what side of the line I've landed on.

Right now I'm simply hoping for best out of three.

1. It knows what it did and it can come down when it's sorry.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Letter to the Editor

Today, my sister gave me a heads up that I might be getting a call or letter from my nephew, The Boy Wonder, outlining the errors he believes he's found in the 500-odd page Avengers comic compilation I gave him as a gift. He believes he should let someone know about what he's found.

To some, this would be a funny aside, the kind of thing to make you laugh and move along.

To others...say, folks who spend every day standardizing the use of italics and checking the number of spaces after periods and tracking down the sources for figures on the economic impacts of air pollution caused by coal-fired power generation in the country of China from the mid-1990s to today...this is the kind of information that, I imagine, causes the same rush that other uncles would feel when hearing about a fondness for baseball statistics or sports cars. 

The Boy Wonder is copyediting his comic books.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The break up.

The hardest thing about getting out of the practice of writing on this blog is getting started again. This latest round of not writing has gotten me thinking about all the blogs I used to read, blogs that slowly faded away, ending not with a bang but with long, long silence.

The buildup to the the end of each of these blogs were all very different. Apologies for not writing. Promises to write more. Talk of increased workloads, other projects, an admission that there seemed to be nothing more to say.

Sometimes other blogs were involved.

All this is not the buildup to my pulling the plug on this blog.

But, man, I sure could use a few amusing anecdotes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nice work if you can get it.

So, Ann Romney and the GOP want you to know how hard it is to be a mother. "The hardest job anyone can ever have..." they would like you to know, particularly if your ability to support your children depends on the assistance programs that Republican leaders are targeting as being wasteful.

Several months ago, some tried to re-light the "welfare queen" fuse, forgetting how many folks have been brought kicking and screaming to the place where the choice they were making was between food stamps or no food on the table.

But now we have the return of the so-called "Mommy Wars" because, what's the fun of public conflict if you can't use the word war in your sound bite?

Leaving aside for just a moment the gymnastic-like dexterity it took to recast the comments made by Hilary Rosen as being an attack against stay-at-home mothers...

Leaving aside the near satire of Ann Romney trying to talk about the struggle of raising five sons with no support...except absolute financial security and a full house staff...

Leaving aside the joke that is the sudden fondness the GOP has discovered for the word "choice" so long as that choice is limited to those areas they feel are staying home and raising multiple children and/or, you know, marrying a man...

I'm going to say that I'm tired of motherhood being talked about as some kind of imposed burden or monumental achievement in and of itself. The Roller Derby Queen and I were talking about this the other day, faced as we were with another mandatory baby shower for a colleague who, while certainly an amiable enough individual, is neither a close friend of a relative. 

There are, without question, amazing mothers out in the world...just as there are amazing fathers and uncles and grandparents and on and on. People who have made the choice to have and raise and take the responsibility of parenthood as seriously as they have any other decision in their lives.

I will say without hesitation that it was with that same level of thought and care and consideration that Leopold and I made the decision not to have a child. 

And it is for that reason there is nothing that inspires more irritation in me than someone telling me that I will never be as "tired", "stressed" or "overworked" as a mother. "You think you're tired, you've never been up all night with a baby." "You couldn't understand how hard it is to juggle all I do every day." "You have no idea what exhaustion is."

No. You're right. I haven't experienced what you're experiencing. I've not had that good fortune. But your choice is not greater or more impressive or more difficult than my own. So, I have no sympathy for the "burden mother". And, more than that, if you want me to have any respect for the "struggle" of your choice, than it's time for you to offer the same respect for the choices made by the rest of us.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

BIG trouble in a little city.

I have been told that I am diplomatic to a fault when it comes to how I operate in the professional world.

Personally, I've never thought of it as diplomacy, it's just good manners.

What that means, however, is that I'm sometimes taken completely by surprise when others apparently were not raised this way. Folks who operate in a world where their every matter how unprocessed or one that should be expressed without care or thought of consequence.

These bombs seem to be landing around me quite a bit lately. Some directed my way, some simply lobbed in my general vicinity. Some are BIG. Some are being tossed from here in our little city.

Dodging gets tiring. Being angry and upset is tiring. Being a target because you keep putting your neck out to try and do things that are new and different and better than before is discouraging.

The Roller Derby Queen and I were commiserating about this state of affairs and I suddenly had a moment when I realized that what I wanted, what I really, really wanted, was to find something positive and...well...joyful to do. Something that would make it all feel worth it.

And when that thing happens, trust me. It's going to be good.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Small world, isn't it?

The Internet is a funny place.

People fall in love, bare their souls, play word games, post pictures of new babies, mourn passings, ask for help, demand attention, steal, pray, bank, buy groceries, buy shoes, sell old books, give advice and on and on and on.

You know, all the things we do in real life. Sometimes with significant and important differences.

Take, for example, those of us who are, in the real world, shy.

The other week I was able to attend a writing workshop with an author whose work I really, really admire. Steve Almond.

Not only do I find his fiction work incredibly funny and heartbreakingly smart...not only do I have a sick, sad, unspeakable amount of admiration for a fantastic memoir/non-fiction book that he wrote about the joys and delights of the vanishing world of mom-and-pop candy manufacturers...but he's also a writer who is been exploring in clever and engaging ways the possibilities of self-publishing.

I good number of my friends would have seized this opportunity like a free drink at a funeral. They would have sought Almond out during the breaks, spoken intelligently to him about his work and their own and worked to make that human connection to a writer they admire.

I, on the other hand, froze. My writing exercises were a total struggle and, when the chance was offered to read, I slumped down into my incredibly uncomfortable chair and into the background.

The workshop was incredibly useful, don't get me wrong on that count. I learned a lot and have taken it back to Dickinson's Attic. But, taking that next step, in the real world...well I'm just not built that way.

All that to say, the Internet provides a chance for those of us who are not verbose and gregarious in the real world a chance to see and learn and admire, without the struggle presented by becoming hopelessly and ridiculously tongue-tied and awkward when given the opportunity to meet a hero - literary, creative, artistic or otherwise.

The Internet is how I came to know the writing of Michael McAllister, whose blog, DogPoet, is listed right over there in my blog roll. I've never met Michael in the real world and, were I to actually do so, I would inevitably stammer something about how great a writer I think he is and then stare down at my shoes until one of us came up with a reason to step away. An imaginary mobile phone call perhaps.

This past week, on his blog, Michael wrote that his husband's barbershop, Joe's Barbershop in San Francisco, burned down. The fire was set intentionally, as you can read here, which makes it not simply awful and sad, but senseless and infuriating.

In addition to giving a plug to the numerous ways that people can lend a hand to the barbers -- either through a donation to a site that was set up to help them get through or by visiting them at one of the locations they've moved to while Joe's Barbershop is rebuilt -- I'm giving a shout out on this blog that is ostensibly about writing and literature and the like because the shop was also the site of a reading series that Michael organized. It's a fantastic idea and one that's been an inspiration to me...particularly as I set off on another attempt to kick my creative ass into gear (1).

And so, that's the Internet for you. A place where you can read a blog post where someone asks you to help someone they've never met help people at a place he's never been where an event he's never attended takes place. Dot com.

1. With thanks to Leopold for one of his patented pep rallies. They aren't so heavy on the rah-rahs...but they get you where you need to be.