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 gin...it'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.

Genius.

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 acceptable...like 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 thought...no matter how unprocessed or considered...is 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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shaking her Pepys

To be clear, I am not writing this particular post just because the Cheap Bohemian sent me a particularly awesome shout out on the Facebook.

It was a fantastically drawn image of The Batman, done up in the truly fantastic retro/modern mix done up in shades that some (1) have, apparently, dubbed "dark deco". Think bold outlines and simplified forms. He's pointing out through the fourth wall, jaw set, eyes narrowed. The copy reads: "Quit procrastinating. Work on your art."

And it is not simply because Ms. Bohemian has had a piece published in Creative Nonfiction about her homeboy Samuel Pepys.

It's not even because her fondness for links makes doing a post like this one so darn easy and blushingly interactive.

No, I'm writing this because La Fille Bohemian sent this tremendously ass-kicking Valentine to creativity within a day of having a piece on Pepys published in Creative Nonfiction because, honestly, she's one of the hardest working women of letters I happen to know.

I have a number of folks in my life who are experiencing great successes right now and it's kind of inspiring.

Okay, it's also sometimes envy inducing and self-esteem battering...which is why I'm also going to give a shout out to Maura Kelly and her piece "Writer Envy: Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster" (2) in this month's Poet's & Writers magazine.

But mostly it's exciting to look around and realize that -- with all the anger and rhetoric and general piles of bogusosity flying about -- you're surrounded by incredible, talented, lovely people.

And that's the truth. *thrrrrrrrrrrrpppppppppppppppppppppp*

1. By which I mean those folks that contribute to Wikipedia entries.
2. That won't actually take you to the full article. What can I say, somebody's got to get their bill's paid, eh?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In your Face(book).

So, I've mentioned my tri-cornered hat-wearing Tea Partying relative and his Holy-in-the-eyes-of-the-Lord wife.

I've mentioned the head-against-the-table and overuse-of-hyphenates their politics and their lockstep view of the world that is only happy with problems and questions that can be reduced to black or white answers inspires.

And, should you not be able to comfortably reduce an issue to black or white...they'll simply begin ranting about something completely unrelated that can be addressed as such.

What I've not said to this point is that, even if viewed only from an extraordinarily outsider position, the language and framing often used veers not simply toward the bigoted, but, I'll say it, the racist.

Complicating things, things that the extraordinarily outside outsider would not know, is the fact that my family is, in fact, part of an ethnic group that is the target of a good amount of racist language and ideology these days.

I will also say that, compared to, say, me, this particular relative does not fall into the "funny you don't look" category.

Today, however, one of those Facebook posts went up from Holy-in-the-eyes-of-the-Lord wife that makes you wonder, "Why hasn't anyone developed some kind of Facebook muzzle?" It asserted that the real racists in the world are not the Tea Party and the Republicans but the "loony liberals", which was then followed by a piece about what some are calling Rep. Allen West's "fearless" Black History Month speech wherein he says this:

"
For this reason, the Republican value of minimizing government dependence is particularly beneficial to the poorest among us," he continued. "Conversely, the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom."

I won't even touch on how very much Word hates the word "redistributionary" or even raise questions about what the alternative is for those so poetically referred to as the "poorest among us". We're going to show our respect by letting them starve and have no access to healthcare or affordable housing! It's more than tough love...it's an abusive spouse approach to social issues. We're hitting you because we love you!

West's statement also ignores the fact that, as has already been illustrated time and time again, the largest percentage of those receiving the benefits that the Republican party is trying to vilify are, in fact, not Black. West's decision to make this argument as part of what is being described as a Black History Month event, as well as his use of the incredibly loaded phrase "insidious form of slavery"makes me think that he's not only attempting to further this false argument but give permission to folks like Holy Wife to assert, as she did, that Democrats (aka loony liberals) are racists. And, who could argue with that because the one that told them it was racist was a Black man.

Which all made me start to wonder about the line between racism and bigotry.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the line and I know that there is a difference between the actual functionality of these two things...but, in our current political climate, I find myself kind of marveling at the lengths some are going to to defend bigotry as either not being racist or not capable of being racist because the discrimination is being forwarded by an individual or group of individuals of color.

It's also fascinating...and horrifying...to watch bigotry and, as Holy Wife strenuously attempts to point out in other admirable-in-their-editing media clips, non-racist racism being deployed under the guise of not simply Christianity (1) but the mark of being a good and incredibly faithful Christian. In fact, these people are so very good and Godly that they are being discriminated against themselves as more and more laws are being developed to protect the targets of what, to this point at least, has been considered hate speech by most reasonable, thoughtful, civil individuals.

It seems a really funny way to be spending one's time and energy...inventing new ways to justify hate instead of trying to find ways to end it.

But what do I know. I'm just a loony.

1.
Which, let's face it, is hardly new.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Taken to tax.

At some point in the coming weeks I will need to sit down with an enormous stack of papers and electronic files and do my taxes.

Last year, this process did not go well. No matter how many times I did the numbers and the number of moths that floated their way upward from my turned-out pockets, it was the government's decision that I had somehow held onto more than my fair share. It was determined, thanks to my long association with The Daily Bugle, that I was a small business.

Given the fact that the Bugle's outstanding invoice to me now equals more than I ever made from them over the six-odd years I wrote for them, this was a bitter pill to swallow. 

This year, however, I've tried to do a much better job of things. I've scanned receipts and tracked business expenses. I've kept a list of write-offs and an e-mail file of electronic statements. I've tried, though I still don't believe it to be an accurate designation, to think like a business.

I have no idea what the outcome will be and have considered hiring someone to handle this all for me...though I don't believe that it would truly change whatever awaits on the other side of that long form.

It's just that it would be much easier if I could simply sit nearby with my hands clamped tightly over my eyes.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Steal this book!

While this past week in New York was something of a blur, I found myself with a few hours between the time when I had to vacate my hotel and when I needed to get to the airport. In that window I managed to get to two amazing bookstores - 192 books in Chelsea and Posman Books in the Chelsea Market - and pick up one book that's been on my reading list and one the achingly hip British store clerk informed me had only just come out, apparently ushered into the world in paperback.

I'll also say that Posman's Books was a surprise as well as I was actually only in Chelsea Market doing a kind of logo/packaging safari. What can I say, I'm a sucker for really good branding.

The book I did not buy, though I saw prominently displayed in both shops and despite the fact that it too is on my ever growing list, is P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley. What I love about James's project is that, in my opinion, it appears to be one of those wonderful moments when so-called genre fiction and literature meet in a wonderful way. On this list for me already is The Last Werewolf, a brilliantly literary monster story and, as it was my unexpected find in New York, A Monster's Notes by Laurie Sheck, which seeks to retell the Frankenstein story.

Full confession is that I don't think that there will ever be a genre piece coming from my laptop. A good friend of mine completed a very British Christie-inspired mystery during the last NaNoBlueBlahBloop and to him I tip my hat. But it's not for me.

Which means that I am stuck with a few titles for books I will never write that I feel compelled to leave casually on the countertop while I simply walk away. I'm orphaning them on the doorstep. Dropping them from my pocket onto the street.

You get where I'm going...right?

So, here you have them, genre book titles from Artboy to you. Take two...they're very, very small:

Beaver Cleaver: Horror in the North Woods


The Philadelphia Gory: A.P. Bagel's Cream Cheese Chronicles


Two for the Shoe: A Cinderella's Sisters' Mystery


Egg Rolled: A Number One Detective Tale


Moby, Private Dick: The Great Noir Detective


Just a Minute, Mr. Postman: A Mail Order Mystery


Minute Slice: A Thirty-Minute Murder

The looking glass ceiling.

I am a behind-the-scenes person. My day jobs - with little exception - have been of the sort that, when I am doing what I do really well, no one knows that I'm there.

And, in those instances where they do, it's often wondered what, exactly, it is that I do.

I am part of phone calls, meetings, presentations and programs. I help design materials and strategies and events. 

I find answers, decode acronyms and track down data.

It's what I do and, in all honesty, I'm generally more comfortable working the backstage. I am someone who both blushes easily and giggles when nervous. Singling me out for public praise causes these two reactions to collide.

I keep thinking this is why I find myself chafing a bit over a social media site run by an organization to which I belong. You see, it's for writers and authors and, more often than not, what it is is not interesting conversation and the exchange of useful information about opportunities and projects, but an ongoing broadcast of self-promotion, self-congratulations and occasional chest thumping from a few of the alpha males to remind all and sundry that they are really who the people have paid to see.

I find it all kind of disheartening and, frankly, kind of embarrassing.

The question, of course, is what to do about it. I have no intention of leaving the organization because the benefits outweigh this swamp of unfortunately directed self-esteem issues. The outlet in which this is all taking place could also be useful for creating the kind of networking and connection space that I've been craving. While it does seem that my freelancing is going to be picking up some more steam I'm quickly realizing that - while my attic studio is an unquestionable blessing - I'm not entirely interested in picking up where Emily Dickinson left off. In other words, while writing is a solitary pursuit and I've never been a laptop-in-the-Starbuck's type, some community would be nice.

Or, maybe the question is actually why this bothers me so much. Maybe it's not that I'm uncomfortable with the amount of self-congratulating that's going on over there in that corner of the Internet, maybe it's that I'm just uncomfortable with the idea of self-congratulation altogether. After all, if a "job well done" compliment sends me scrambling for the door, what's the likelihood that I would ever actually declare something I've done a job well done?

Monday, January 30, 2012

On the road again...

Tomorrow I head out again.

This is something folks who do not travel for their jobs will tell you is a lot of fun.

But, if you do travel for work, you know that traveling for work is only fun when discussing those bits and pieces that occur outside those times that you are working. And, when those bits and pieces are not overrun by late flights, frantic e-mail activity and a ringing Blackberry.

I'm dreading tomorrow's trip (1), though it does mean getting to see someone who means a great deal to me. Which is, all cards on the table, the only reason I'm not in more of a state over this trip. The dread-making point of the trip will come soon enough but, in the interim, I get cocktails and gossip with a good friend.

As I write this...or rather, what I wrote up there just a minute or so ago, I'm conscious of the fact that another friend, The World Traveler, was worried about what the sand from an Egyptian dust storm had done to his phone and my reluctance to take a 90-minute flight seems both petty and kind of lame.

But, here's the thing.

After a lot of years of not feeling entirely settled, I now feel settled. The view out my kitchen window makes sense to me. The sounds and smells and tiny everyday errands feel completely what I should be doing.

As frustrated and angry as I have been over various things during this winter of my discontent, I know that Leopold and I made the right decision coming here to this rural city. So much so that I hate to leave even for the brief trips that must be made to continue to make this all possible.

So much so that, when unlikely and unwise opportunities peek their shaggy heads around the corner, they seem much more palatable than they would have now some one year ago.

And, who knows, maybe that flutter will be the thing to make all these other things...these bits and pieces...fall into place.

Crazier things have happened.

1. Which, for those of you peering behind the curtain does will not bring me to the land of monuments and ramen noodle-dependent House staffers. Soon...very soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

There's no excuse for you.

Walking across the parking lot of one of our rural city's minor malls, completely and utterly engaged in a conversation with myself (1), and snapped to only just in time to swerve around someone who, weighed down as he was with a giant coffee and not the cart full of groceries I was schlepping around the icy slog, had apparently been equally involved in some kind of in-his-head thing.

Only just realizing what had happened I turned to apologize and instead heard Joe Coffee Cup saying, "Excuse you."

See what he did there? He called attention to my thoughtless act by pointing out how rude I was by being more rude.

Clever, right?

Needless to say, any feelings of remorse I had immediately left me.

I also resisted the urge to yell after him, "You don't know me."

So, when all was said and done, I think I ended up totally on top.

1. Okay, actually, I was ranting about a situation over which I have no control. You know how you do.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surfing for distraction.

About a month ago one of my cousins asked, on my Facebook wall, "Do you just look for things to piss me off, or is there someone that doesn't like you very much that sends all this stuff your way?"

See, my BIG job, like pretty much every job that I've had in my adult life, involves my reading a lot of news. I have Google alerts and blogs I read regularly and then, of course, all the links that my real and virtual friends post and forward and pass along.

And, even as I add new stops on the information superhighway, I still pull off to visit old friends which means that...really...I spend a lot of time reading really depressing stuff. That's the trouble when you work in advocacy and activism. It's more often that you're spending your time making sure things don't get worse as opposed to celebrating how much better they've become.

Lately, that stack of depressing has seemed a bit taller.


I mean, c'mon. Newt Gingrich?

Rick Santorum?

And, in the interest of full transparency and equal time, President Obama really thinks that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico again is a good idea? Sure. Why not. What could possibly go wrong?

This might be why, in the last three days, I have probably listened to Kelly Clarkson sing "Stronger" somewhere in the neighborhood of 37 times.

It's also likely why the Roller Derby Queen and I have been trading clips from Toddlers & Tiaras. My personal favorite being Alana, a freakishly hyperactive girl whose long list of catchphrases includes "honey boo boo child".

I know what you're thinking, but I'm okay with that.

Sort of.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is that a Batarang in your utility belt or...?

So, I had actually meant to write about this piece when it first came out on the Comics Alliance blog but, well, I didn't.

Back on January 19th Adam Wheeler penned a little OpEd about "The Myth of Sexy Superman and the Search for Superhero Beefcake". I will say up here in full sight that some folks might take exception to some of the images that accompanied the piece, though there is absolutely no nudity and, in point of fact, were any of the characters depicted in the illustrations female instead of male, they would simply look like panels from an off-the-rack superhero comic.

Which was really what made Wheeler's "Sexy Superman" so well timed and such an interesting read. While debating the depictions of women and sex and violence in comic books is hardly new ground to be covering, the launch of DC's 52 and some of the decisions that were made for that universal re-boot seems to have made everything old new again.

But here's what really excited me about Wheeler's article.

I felt like I was in graduate school again. See, I was a theory kind of guy. Nothing made me happier than a course listing that promised a semester's worth of sticking things under the microscope. It was the closest I ever came to taking apart a car's engine to see how it worked.

Consider this passage from Wheeler's "Sexy Superman":

"But it's not equivalent. Superhero men are idealized, yes, but they're rarely sexualized. While women are presented as broken-backed boob hostesses whose every move is a bend-and-snap designed to flatter and entice the presumed-male, presumed-straight reader, the men are sexless paragons of strength, with propaganda poster good looks that serve as visual shorthand for their masculine, heroic bona fides."

The sound you are hearing is the beating of my tell tale heart.

"...presumed-male..."

"...presumed-straight..."

"...sexless paragons of strength..."

"...visual shorthand..."

Freaking catnip.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hello blogger, my old friend.

In case you were wondering, yes, I hate when I'm not blogging.

That's not, of course, the same as saying that anyone misses me when I'm not blogging.

That's not to suggest that the world is somehow poorer for the lack of my blogging.

It's not even to say that the blogosphere is poorer for my failing to blog because, if the blogosphere is to really be believed, no one really blogs anymore. We're all chatting on the Facebook.

That is to say, we're all chattering away on the Facebook until Anonymous comes through with their promise and takes the Fantastic Friend Factory down to prove, once again, that they can do this kind of thing.

Better, to prove that they can do this kind of thing in the fashion advocated by every movie villain ever created. They've told the Fantastic Friends Factory that they're going to take them down, when it's going to happen and then laughed maniacally while stroking a long-haired white cat while the Fantastic Friend Factory shouted back, "You'll never get away with this villain(s)!"

Shazam.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stuck a feather in his cap.

Before heading off to the BIG retreat I laid in some pre-cooked meals.

Some soups, a vegetable stew, spinach macaroni and cheese. Nothing that was going to get me a spot on Food Network, but enough to make Leopold's life easier as he pulled a week as Finkelstein's solo parent.

Sitting in the kitchen last night, trying to make a whole lot of words come together into a reasonably coherent article, Leopold came up behind me and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Artboy: What was that for?

Leopold: I'm just so glad you're home.

Artboy: Really?

Leopold: Yeah. I was running out of stuff in the freezer.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I can't write right now, I'm writing.

I'm sitting here writing this blog post to avoid writing the freelance pieces that I want to get wrapped up in advance of the possible freelance project that might be showing up on my doorstep at about that same time.

This is, of course, in addition to my BIG writing job, aka, the day job.

And these freelance jobs writing and the BIG writing job are themselves currently in the way of the two personal writing projects that will likely never pay me at all.

And that's not even touching on the long radio silences that creep up on this blog which, for those of you that can remember that far back, I started so that I would be given a reason to write on a daily basis. Write for me, not for a paycheck.

The freelance pieces that will, in theory (1), mean a paycheck are for a new editor so that's adding to the feeling of panic that is preventing me from getting the words moving on the page. Despite the issues that I used to have with my old editor, we each knew where the other was coming from. I had built a solid relationship with him and he knew he could count on the work that I did.

But this is a new editor and there are other items floating around these pieces that must be written that are making them all the more difficult to write. Which leaves them on my "to do" list.

Which is full of other BIG "to do" projects.

Which leaves my personal projects hanging out by the bar, waiting for a table.

1. Isn't it always.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You gonna eat that?

I am not hungry.

I am not hungry.

I am not hungry.

Okay. I'm hungry. Really hungry. Hungry and have been hungry all day hungry.

I didn't skip any meals. I didn't skip any between meal snacks. I didn't skip any between meal snacks snacks.

And now it's time to come up with a plan for dinner.

But here's the thing. Today is one of those days where I don't have a single good idea about food or dinner or eating and that's exactly why I'm hungry right now.

Some years ago, amidst the piles of fad diets that come out all the time, one emerged that encouraged you to follow your hunger. If you wanted peanut butter, eat peanut butter. Cheese? Eat cheese. Peanut butter spread on cheese and eaten while balancing on one foot over the sink in your kitchen? Sure thing. It's all yours.

I have no idea if it really worked or works, but I do know that, on days like this where I eat kind of aimlessly, I'm never full. 

Which is making it feel like the bar has been raised on coming up with a dinner plan.

It also means that I'm really, really, really sorry that all the good Christmas candy is gone.

Really.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What are you gonna do?

Like most everyone, there are a lot of things that I can't look back on without cringing.

And, no, I don't mean that in the non-literal sense. I'm talking actually, physically cringe inducing.

There are friendships that should have been maintained. Purchases that should have remained cash in my bank account. Jobs I should have likely taken or quit far earlier than I did. Opportunities I should have pursued, obstacles I should have observed and advice I should have listened to.

I should have said "no" more often than I like to think about.

Which is not to throw any shade on the "yeses" that make me very happy, not the least of which being my decision to accept a ride from Baltimore to Philadelphia and a dinner invitation from the man who would one day find himself being referred to as "Leopold" on this blog.

In all honesty, that one probably ranks as the "most of which", if such a thing exists (1).

But, this evening I'm thinking about that road not taken that gets talked so much about. Mostly, I'm wondering if it ever really existed to begin with.

More often than not, when I think of the things that I could have done, or the things that I maybe should not have done, I can still really clearly trace how it is that I would still have ended up in this little attic office, trying to keep my feet warm and listening to Finklestein snoring in her bed.

See, when the marker of another year passing is my birthday, I tend to freak out a little. It makes me anxious. I tend to serve myself a nice cold glass of regret with my cake. New Year's has generally been the same way. A big red "X" for the calendar where we're all supposed to gather around and come up with a list of resolutions for how we will be better in the New Year.

I'm going to be thinner, better read, a better cook, a better housekeeper. I'm going to get a promotion or quit my job or take more trips.

One that I've seen quite a bit this year has been to get off Facebook and spend more times with friends and relatives in the real world.

But even that last one is about fixing something...too many resolutions spring up from what we see as our shortfalls and shortcomings.

The past can't be changed and no one deserves to spend the opening months of the year scolding oneself for decisions made by someone your current self might not entirely recognize.

I will never be on a 30 under 30 list (2) for my writing. This year I'm deciding that that's okay. All I can do is start this New Year as a New Year. All I can do is say "yes" and "no" and "whoa, no thank you, please step away from the car" while thinking more about the future than the past.

Except, of course, for one particular Philly to Baltimore road trip (3).

1. No. I'm not just saying that because you read the blog. No, I'm not. No, I'm not. No. No. No. Stop it.
2. Fine. Or 40 under 40.
3. Yeah. That one was on purpose.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter of a lot of discontent.

The other day I made an innocent comment on the dreaded Facebook about a certain celebrity chef who, in a perfect world, I believe would live next door to me and be my best friend.

First, to be clear, this statement was made while sitting on the couch watching said celebrity chef put together a counter full of food that looked far superior to anything that was going to happen in our kitchen without, say, my actually standing up. And, really, that wasn't about to happen.

So, really what I wanted was not so much a new best friend, but for the celebrity chef to live next door and bring me food while I sat on my couch.

But where's the poetry in that?

Time passes and then, someone who serves to often be a reminder of the fact that you do not get to choose your family, decided to post a blog entry that someone wrote regarding the celebrity chef and her decision not to participate in a Make a Wish foundation wish. It was, as these things are, accompanied by a snide comment.

Why would someone do this?

Perhaps he was concerned that I would actually sell my house and set in motion a scheme to live next door to the celebrity chef?

Perhaps he too hopes to one day become her best door neighbor so that they can enjoy theme brunches together and he wanted to throw me off the trail?

Or, perhaps he was, once again, being kind of a jerk on my Facebook page.

Irony of this entire exchange is that this particular relative is a tri-corner hat sporting member of the Tea Party which means that I'm to feel moral outrage that Celebrity Chef won't do a cooking lesson for the Make a Wish Foundation while Tea Party Relative is advocating for political candidates who don't care whether the children who are making wishes actually have access to healthcare.

Moral outrage is a funny thing.