Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh Tannenbaum

At 5.05 tonight, we're driving northeast for the holidays. I've got the presents packed, the pooches ready, the luggage together, and now, per my sweetie's request, I'm posting pictures of our very first Christmas tree (we didn't have one last year).

This tree was stolen from the side of the road in the dark. It's decorated with cranberries, handstrung by moi, silver-frosted pinecones, K-baked gingerbread cut-outs, and candycanes. We're very proud of it.

Merry Christmas everyone! Traveling mercies and much love to all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I finished drafting my novel today.

Now, there's a heck of a lot of re-working and revising to do, but there's a manuscript to do it with.

Have a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

here comes the sun

The funk hath lifted-- maybe because it just left, maybe because I got to turn down another job yesterday (apparently, I don't have to be a secretary), but probably because K. surprised me by coming home for lunch because he's the best husband ever. And we cleaned the house.

In other news, I'm wildly excited about the small Victorian we're moving to come New Years. It's not quite definite yet-- but I'd be surprised if it fell through. A proper yard (albeit not fenced), three porches, beautiful tall windows and ceilings, shiny wooden floors, funky old cabinets, and all in a quieter town 20 minutes from Oxford, two blocks from downtown, and on a peaceful side street. For a paltry amount of rent and a month-to-month lease, so we can move out the minute we find our farm.

The bad-- well, the yard ain't fenced. There's no garage for sweetie's workshop, the bathrooms are far from my ideal, and the guest room's gonna be quite small. Plus I don't think there's a washer/dryer.

But you know what? It's super-nice anyway. Everyone, visit come spring. I CAN'T WAIT. In this one, we're going to hang pictures and unpack our boxes. Myabe I'll even get a proper desk rather than boards on sawhorses with an old stool that's broken for a chair. Here's hoping.

I love y'all. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

mental health days

K. and I had an illuminating conversation recently. While not strictly accurate, it went something like this:

Him: I'm really impressed you get up early every day. And that you're writing every day.

Me: I have to or I feel guilty.

Him: You write because of guilt?

Me: Yes. (Pause.) In fact, everything I do is because of guilt. Cleaning the house, walking the dogs, exercising. (Pause.) Without guilt I'd stay in bed all day reading trashy books and eating. (Pause.) Don't you feel guilty when you don't do things?

Him: No.

Heh. I don't think this is a difference between the sexes, but it's made me realize how many things I do to quiet the shrill anxious voice inside of me. And so on days like today, when it's raining, when we didn't go to church on Sunday, when the house is untidy, my purse is crammed full of papers, and the laundry's sitting in the dryer, when we haven't dealt with our Christmas cards and my writing for the day has not been finished, that voice is just plain alarming.

Good thing tonight's cleaning night. That ought to shut it up.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Lately, an unfamiliar feeling has been lapping gently at my feet when I listen to NPR during dinner preparations.


Something has shifted since the November elections, where the balance of the House and the Senate shifted so drastically. Good news is seemingly falling from the sky.

An area the size of Alabama set aside for permanent conservation in Brazil (a country which I'm growing to admire, considering that 40% of their fuel consumption is from sugar ethanol).

GM motors giving up the carburetor ghost to the Japanese and increasing their exploration into electric cars.

A supermodel pioneering eco-fashion, where the fabrics are organic and non-sweatshop.

Justice Scalia deeming carbon as a pollutant in the case of Massachussetts versus the EPA, where Mass. is demanding the the EPA regulate carbon emissions.

And finally, Victoria's Secret, after years of attack by a certain non-profit group whom I can't remember, agreeing to incorporate ten percent of recycled paper into the catalogs, with aims to increase that number and to avoid using paper made from threatened areas of forest.

I don't want to jinx it, but man, it's nice to feel the tide finally turning.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

hoves, ankles, and a merry christmas to all

heh. Who knew about cache clearing?

Yesterday was a mixed bag of chips, as my inner Anglophile says, ranging between a really pleasant walk with the dogs over at Thacker Mountain (as opposed to Friday, where I fell down a 90 degree slope trying to get to Shadow and wound up with hives on my face), then a fairly productive work day (novel and four dry-as-a-bone public health papers), topped off by a fascinating public hearing about a proposed historic district. Then the evening: a Christmas parade and K.'s weekly company basketball game.

He's still sleeping. That's not unusual; the swollen ankle propped on a pillow is. Thank heaven this other boy had had the same experience and swore up and down it's a sprain, not a break-- and he can move/walk on it a bit-- but woo, a nasty sprain tis.

In other news, I'm calling people up looking for a spring rental that won't make me want to pull my hair out, has a guest room, and a better yard for the dogs. Cross your fingers.

I've declared it to be a Christmas weekend this weekend. The Christmas cards will be assembled and addressed, our VERY FIRST TREE will get put up, and who knows, maybe we'll even go nuts and get a Christmas CD. We're too cheap to buy decorations for the tree though, so pine cones-- which we may or may not lightly frost with silver-- and strung cranberries twill be. Last year we tried to make strings of popcorn and cranberries for our fireplace, and the popcorn is just too wiley for me.

So that's what's going on. Not a bad way to be, although I'm hoping the 6'6'' boy over yonder will be able to get around with some degree of comfort. If not, well-- I've got strong shoulders.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

perhaps this'll post

I feel as if there's a vacation that no one has told me about.

No one has posted since November 29th, including the two celebrity gossip columns I check daily, despite the fact that there's been gossip to post about.

And blogger is behaving oddly, allowing my last post to be seen on some cumputers and not on others. 3 comments are invisible.

It's a strange world.

And a strange weekend, come to think of it. We spent last night being nauseous with envy at A and A's tinroofed, bead-boarded farmhouse complete with three beauteous dogs and a pond. I even dreamed about it.

This morning, K. and I attended the Methodist church 5 miles outside of Oxford. He dropped all the cash we had in the collection plate (checking with me first), and after we watched our bills sail away, he whispered "Maybe God will find us a farmhouse now."

Bribing God. Luckily, she'll know that we don't really mean it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

apologies all around

aight people. Sorry for being moody. I'm madly at work on the novel, have to make minestrone and deliver for husband's lunch, and am filling out an application for a pretty sweet gig which I hope I get.

More later.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

my dear readers

Fine, NO ONE COMMENT. I don't care at all. I ONLY work and SLAVE my fingers to the bone navigating my mentally ill computer and the new beta blogger to give Y'ALL REGULAR UPDATES and lots of SUPER pretty pictures.

if anyone has a farm for sale or some available cookies, you can call me. Otherwise, I'm sulking.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Saturday in Mississippi

While the lack of a farm seems to be killing us slowly, all other things proceed well. This weekend, we drove out to Pontotoc, Mississippi, where 14 Amish families, mostly young with a ton of kids, migrated from Ohio. Here are some pictures. I would have loved to catch a picture of the girls sitting on a bench, all in bonnets and blue dresses with smiles on their faces, but that felt a wee bit exploitive. I'm in love with the gourds hung for birdhouses. So stark and beautiful.

However, we now have Amish questions. Like, how come they don't have power but they do have generators to power machines? How on earth do you move from Ohio with buggies, children, and livestock these days? Did they get the tin for their roof delivered or do they pick it up in a wagon?

Any answers are appreciated.

Friday, November 24, 2006

the dern townhouse

So, for those of my family member who alternately wonder what we're living in or why they can't visit us until we find our farmhouse:

A townhouse, or as I call it, the dollhouse. Please make googly eyes at my new table and the be-utiful pink roses my husband brought home the day I was flying around making Italian food for dinner guests. Also note the uber-cool horse trailer in which we hauled our possessions down south.

In other news:

I've updated the links section. Check out bluepoppy and my best friend stinkie.

Monday, November 20, 2006

anyone know an agent?

Dear sweet Lord, I hope I get a book deal. Because I love love love not working.

Writing is work. Really. I can sit down and have words flowing out of my fingertips about unimportant things, but when it comes to writing a novel, writing is more like weaving in the damn dark. Lots of threads to keep track of and only the light of a solitary star to do it by.

BUT: I love having the time for my own projects. I love getting instant satisfaction and meeting people in the community with my freelancing for the newspaper (turning my 3rd piece in today) and I love having the time and the enrgy to pursue threads of things which intrigue me (historic preservation, anyone)? And I love working on my novel, because it is MINE and I'm doing it because I want to, unlike every single thing I ever did in a cubicle.

That being said, I can't continue to do this unless it becomes a viable career-- e.g. paid. The pittance I get from the newspaper and the relatively well-paid but mind-numbingly boring proofing jobs keep my self-respect hovering above groundlevel, but in the overall context of my life, I don't want to spend all day on something and not get paid for it. So book deal, I'm a'coming.

Just have to finish the novel first.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I was on the Square yesterday interviewing the manager of Madre's for a business profile I'm writing when the sun came out. The second picture, the uber-cute orangey building with an upstairs porch, is the world's greatest bookstore.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

oh, and we live here.

Why you should get off of your east coast/west coast high horses and move to mississippi:

1. everything is cheaper.

2. you won't have to see people who don't love you because everyone's afraid to visit here.

3. there are opportunities to make a real difference in whatever cause you believe in.

4. shrimp and grits, barbecue, pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, fried catfish, sweet tea.

5. $40 a month membership to the swankiest gym in town, including all super-cool classes, free lockers, and free towels.

6. everyone goes to church. even the bourbon-swilling writers attend.

7. major history all over the place-- and yuppie coffeebars have arrived!

8. because at the sixteenth annual Guy Fawkes party of a British architect and his artist wife, you meet the owner of Big Truck Theater, where the cover's $5 for 4 hours of local music and the band performs on the bed of a fifties' flat-bed truck.

9. magnificent huge old live oaks and pecan trees. I LIVE IN A PLACE WITH PECAN TREES. HOW NEAT IS THAT.

10. because you smile to yourself whenever you count (one mississippi, two mississippi).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Being the eldest child of an alcoholic and part of a huge clan of overly opinionated people as well as marrying a very definite personality has given me a rather distrubing ability to let other people make plans for me.

In the midst of a Christmas plans debate, I finally sat down and thought about what I wanted. And hence, an email. That's how my family now feuds. Through emails.

I think all families where people haven't thrown in the towel fight. Hopefully, it doesn't get too nasty. Hopefully, when it's just your opinion involved, you learn to keep your mouth shut. But there's something about people making decisions for me and assuming I'll go along that grates me, and hence I am standing up, beating my chest, and roaring out, no more!

Part of me yearns for the day when we won't have to drive or fly anywhere for Christmas-- for when the tables turn and our loved ones come to us. But the thought of a family-free Christmas day?

Despite everything, it stinks.

Friday, November 10, 2006

cry me a river

Everyone's been complaining about the last two posts because they were short.

Well, I got four words for you. "Cry me a river."

Mhmm (headwag).

Saying those magical four words reminds me of building the cabin. After few days of my nearly continuous complaints, my sweet husband developed a response. Think of a donkey, with that loud abrasive tone? Well, in that manner, he would say BOO HOO over my whining.

It always made me smile. Although the other day I told him that he had to stop telling me to shut my face in public, because while I understand that he says it in fun because he'd never actually want me to desist from talking, other people think he's abusive.

As I say to him, I'm akin to a shark. Talk or die.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I love small towns. And Lexington, Virginia, right up in the Blue Ridge, is a real stunner. Go there sometime. There are old-fashioned inns from the 19th century right downtown, and if you don't go on Washington and Lee University's parents' weekend, you might even get a room.

A few pictures of Eliza, my mother, the president's house that Robert E. Lee built, and Lee Chapel, where R.E.L. is interred:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

because we're southern, and oh so very gothic

i have left my newly beloved mississippi.

in nashville for the night, heading to lexington va to attend my sister's parents' weekend. pictures to follow... could include my entire nuclear family for the first time in years, since dad's out of jail and aparently attending.

it's good to be me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wolfgang Pauli

So, there's this character in my novel who is a scientist. A physicist, to be exact, though she is in love with her organic chemistry professor...but I digress. She's still in college, but she's a true scholar of physics...which is so, so, so not me that it can be hard to make her sound legit. I took Physics for Poets at Vandy and barely got a B.

She's reading up about Wolfgang Pauli's exclusion principle. I would prefer to have her reading Pauli directly, but since I'm not sure that the man ever actually wrote a book about his Nobel-winning principle, I figure it's safer to have her reading about him. Because that someone has to have covered.

I picked Pauli and his exclusion principle out of a web-page full of scientists and their discoveries because I think his could tie thematically in with my book. (Remember? There are no accidents?)

So I've read the exclusion principle definition about five times, ignoring those scary equations, and this is what I understand: he explained why things don't sink into things, but light and radiation can pass through. Like, we can stand on the ground and not be squished together, because we are separate because of the quantum way all those protons/neutrons/electrons move, but light and radiation can pass through because they're different. I don't know why, exactly, but something to do with atomic structure, perhaps. But anyway, that's what he did.

I could have referred to my bookmarked wilkipedia definition, but that right up there is honestly what I retained after five re-reads.

She had to be a physicist.

And what do physicists do, precisely? Things in labs? Because she wants to go to graduate school for physics and bless my little humanities heart, but I have no idea what she might do there--besides wear a lab coat and hold test tubes.

Monday, October 30, 2006

just so you know


The novel cometh along. I'm planning to be done with a good solid complete draft by February.

I'm getting an article published in the local paper-- it's an interview I did with a mad crazy woman who's written a memoir and now wants to be best friends with me. I am getting paid.

The features department at the local paper might be offloading articles during their busy/supplement times onto me. They say they will, but the proof is in the assignment, so we'll see. I'm also in talks about profiling local and upcoming artists for the local paper's entertainment paper on a regular basis, which would be most fab. Again, we'll see.

On my way back through Nashville on Monday, I'm meeting with my uber-cool friend Danielle and this communications whiz she's working with, because they might possibly want me to profile this woman, which I could do from Oxford. Keep your fingers crossed.

And I have writing samples winging their way to Memphis, where if all stars align and the clouds part, an editor will let me be one of her freelancing pool, to write real magazine articles! That's kind of a long shot, but I'm hoping.

So that's me.

K's all disappointed because we showed up for volleyball yesterday, on a gorgeous Indian summer afternoon, and it was canceled. Then, tonight, the guys who were going to start playing basketball in a league are now displaced b/c of all the churches needing their gyms for Halloween activities. But hopefully he'll come home bearing news of a reschedule.

But still, we persevere.

We had a real writer and his super-cool wife to dinner on Friday. If any of y'all like thrillers, check Ace Atkins out at Amazon.

And lastly, speaking of Amazon, many thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law, who bestowed such generous bounty from that marvelous site-- I picked myself out "The Silver Spoon", which is THE Bible of Italian cooking, just in English for the 1st time, and "Laundry", so I will never shrink/permanently stain anything again.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

ramblings of a wannabe writer

Every day I try to annoy someone. I'm doing it for professional reasons-- namely, pestering people to publish me. Not the novel-- it has to be done for that-- but article ideas. It's a wee bit humiliating, but I'm ok, because you know what?Eventually I'll break them :) Although yesterday the editor of Vanderbilt's alumni magazine blatantly lied to me, but hey, with a last name like doll and a nasty accent, I'd be a pissant too.

(No I wouldn't. She said that the Vanderbilt magazine only writes about issues in Nashville, which is a PATENT lie, and only uses seasoned Nashvillian writers, which is just stupid. She stinks.)

I think much of succeeding must be not listening to other people, namely the naysayers and the I'm-too-importants. But as I'm not successful yet, we'll see if that theory holds up :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

stress meditations

Today two Italian doctors with hearing problems told me to take an antiviral suppressant for the next year. The younger one paused on his way out of the door. "And stop worrying about it," he said ("it" being the disfiguring cold sores I get way too frequently). "Treat the pill like a vitamin, take it once a day, and never think about it."

The power of the mind over the body can demonstrate itself in pretty nutso ways. People having panic attacks really believe their heart is imploding. Women can summon the strength to raise cars off of their children. And when I was trapped in a stressful situation two years ago, I immediately got a cold in, one minute I'm stressed, the next I have the beginnings of a fever blister.

While doctors to admit a relationship between cold sore outbreaks and stress, I'm convinced that a host of physical ailments get medically treated while their root causes go undiagnosed. Not to sound too hippy-dip on you, but if you're consistently breaking down in some area (stomach, sinus, bowels), and you're not abnormally physically made, then perhaps that particular area is where your body manifests stress. So perhaps incorporate less caffeine, more sleep, and some yoga or a walk outside into your life.

I've done the proactive healthy things, and now I'll be trying another round of pills. Covering both bases seems like the best way to go.

Make sure you're covering yours.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

bright and shiny dreams

It's hard to have a husband who makes...well, if he makes a lot, let's say, and I make zero, how many times is that?

The not-earning is getting to me. But on the other hand, when I look at my peers, they are in graduate school and have yet to make a dime, or are quitting jobs right and left (for darn good reasons), or are working jobs that they fully intend to quit as soon as possible.

Plus I came with a dowry, which is my little nugget of marital financial equality, and I hold on to that justifucation very tightly indeed.

But still. The not-earning is really tough.

It's not if I'm just sitting on my ass, people (can you taste the defensiveness? I can). I'm streaming ahead with my novel-- the new time has probably quadrupled my rate of speed, I'm interviewing people in town (a whole other story), I'm awaiting proofreading jobs from the journal where I used to work. But as always, I want to be there, which involves many, many uncertain months ahead, because THERE means a successful author.

So there. Life isn't just cake.

So far, I've interviewed two people in this town of Oxford-- no mean feat when you consider that I know no one.

My idea is to assemble a veritable dossier of mini-autobiographies of people in this town. I think it's a good idea, and hey, it's a great way to meet people. So far, I've interviewed a thrice-divorced English professor who is mad, mad, mad, and the CEO of K's company. (At 4.30 in the morning. And let me tell you, he is one tough nut, who came to the flourescently lit table with a whole wall of something that I just could not get through, even though I'm a pretty young thing who came bearing homemade bread, even though I was on time AT FOUR-THIRTY IN THE MORNING, even though I did the canine equivalent of rolling on my back, baring my belly, and smiling to show how much more important than me he indeed is.)

So I'll let you know how the whole following-the-dream thing goes. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

in the throes

Things I'm missing about DC:

Cheap organic milk
Whole Foods coffee
Brown Cown plain creamtop yogurt

Things I'm LOVING about Oxford

-the weather
-the friendliness of just about everyone
-the historic downtown
-the fact i'll be paying about 3 bucks for every pilates and yoga class at the ridiculously cheap gym
-Square Books (the bookstore)
-the weekly volleyball game where you park on the side of a country road, take a trail up over a ridge, and emerge into a near canyon that happens to contain a volleyball court and many passionate old men
- my very first DSL and landline

Move south, my friends, move south.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Apparently, intending to write a guest blog means that someday, writing from the K. might grace this website, but not any time soon.

So it's just me.

Today is Wednesday, the official start of our Mississippian life. We're ensconscned in a three-month-leased townhouse, complete with hardwood floors downstairs only, a gas fireplace, and for the first time in my life, a garbage disposal. K. keeps clucking over the shoddy workmanship of these new homes, but it's clean, high ceiling, bright, and airy. Kind of like a luxury hotel except with our stuff.

I keep clucking over the fact that this development is very akin to a dollhouse, with the faux-Victorian fronts, complete with dolls, in the form of lissome young collegiate things who surround us on every side.

K. told a colleague about my dollhouse/dolls comment.

The man's response: "Yes, that is hard on the older women here. How old's your wife?"

K." "Twenty-four," with a look of disbeleif.

The man: "Two years out? Yeah, I can see that."

See what, precisely? Apparently, I am over the hill at my fresh new age of twenty-four. I want to stomp my foot and protest that indeed, I am a child bride.

So K.'s at his first day of work. I have gone to yoga, put in a good two hours on the novel, and now I'm taking a lunch-clean myself break before I go try to get myself a job.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

the sum-up: One month, many tears, and 1400 miles later

We're in Oxford. More on that later. My husband K. is planning a guest blog, so stay tuned.

But since I'm finally sitting on my own couch, in our own space, here's the sum-up. Start at the bottom.

And p.s.: tomorrow is my birthday!

Thursday, September 28, 2006


number one:

k's laptop dropped out of a cabin windowsill, and we haven't been able to deal with a new way of uploading pics. We have them, but you can't. Sorry.

number two:

being a crappy poster, but come on, it's crunch time, and we worked until after 8 tonight, then drove an hour here, ate dinner, and now i've got to get some rest before tomorrow's marathon.


tomorrow, we put on the roofing tin. the tarpaper and decking is already down.

and the windows and doors get put in.

and we finish our loft.

which means, my friends, we have a cabin. a drafty one without its final flooring, an incomplete porch, and no installed stove, but four walls with a roof and doors a cabin makes.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


It seems that September is our month of gigantic change. Last year, K. and I threw our mutual belongings into a house together and got married. This year, we're building a cabin and in limbo between D.C. and Mississippi.

Two of my old friends have become engaged. Two friends have had their first children. My best friend has bought a house.


Perhaps unfortunately, I believe in the power of the past. And so, as we near completion of this project and move onto a very undefined future, I keep reminding myself-- that last year, I was 6 days married. And two years ago, I was in a different state, still a student, months away from my I'm-graduating-college-without-a-job crisis. And the September before that-- I was still dating the wrong guy, still trying to stuff myself into the college-sized hole.

I visited my former best friend today. Former best friend; isn't that odd? Why aren't there any books about maintaining friendships after the easy laughs are gone? According to our culture, with its emphasis on the self-created urban family (Will and Grace, Friends, Sex and the City), friends are forever, and family are the baggage you leave behind. But in my life, family are the ones you're forced to keep sticking with, and friends-well, I've had too many friends fade out or burn out, depending. It takes years, but here I am, still young, and I have two definitive best friends I no longer talk to. (Let's not even enter the boyfriend realm.)

Anyway, enough. In a week, the roof will be on, God willing. In a month, we'll be denizens of the fine state of Mississippi.

And next September? Here's hoping that we're in a house, the right house, still healthy, still here, and for Pete's sake, not moving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

5 minutes left on a computer in the library.

the walls are way above our heads. the roof tin gets delivered next thursday.

i love vermont-- we went to a steakhouse-- on our 1st anniversary-- with my mother's cousin and her bf (nice, but so not romantic)-- and at this steakhouse, they buy as per their contract with VermontFresh from local farmers. how cool is that? if only the rest of the world had such high standards.

speaking of high....the walls are above our heads.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Short, because Saturday is a work day

This morning, I rolled on to my own arm and woke up because it didn't feel like mine. Yep. Whole new arm here, chock full o'muscle. Let me tell you, all you abs exercisers and aerobics fanatics, that building a cabin for 11 hours a day on a hillside is supremo exercise.

That being said, of course, I prefer aristocratically languid exercising.

Cheerio chickens. Hope everyone is well.

Pictures ? below. The first is now; the 2nd, Sept. 6th; the 3rd, the site pre-bulldozer.




Saturday, September 09, 2006

It's a woman's perogative to change her mind

Conversations from the Camp:

Him: You're a whiner and complainer...(it's in a tune, like a...well, I'm tone-deaf. But it's a song, consisting of that phrase.)

Me (given the fact I've been complaining for 24 hours): Then why'd ya marry me? Huh? Huh?

Him: You'll recall, my sweet, that I began singing that song to you on our honeymoon.

Me: Sucker.


Me, sitting astride a log that I'm peeling the dirty bark off so that it will not blunt K.'s chainsaw, hysterically crying: I want a home! A home! I want a shower, and a room with a door!

K.: We're building a cabin. It's for 30 days. Cityslicker.

Me: I'm not a cityslicker! I don't mind working! I'm a good worker! But I (bursting into fresh sobs) I don't like living under a tarp in the woods! That doesn't make me a cityslicker!

K., considering for a moment: That's true, isn't it.


Me: I hate living outside.

K.: I know. You'll never have to do it again.

Me, thinking to myself: Victory?

So, you've probably gathered that the euphoria has worn off. It's ok. At the end of this damn, wretched, dirt-and-bug-filled month, we'll have a cabin, and I love cabins. I love woodstoves. I love the trees. I am a little afraid to go to the outhouse by myself after dark, but who wouldn't be?

That being said, the cabin is coming along. Mostly, we've spent this week milling logs. Now, if you're like I was before this adventure, milling logs means nothing to you. Here's what those two words mean: Finding a tree. Cutting it down. Cutting all extra branches off of them and leaving them to rot in the woods, a fact that fills my psycho-neat-freakness with HORROR. Hauling said log to cabin site, where you use a peavey (amazing miraculous tool) to heave the log that you can't budge by pushing on it up onto risers. The bark is filled with mud from being dragged, so I “skin” it with a drawknife. K. then sets up a very long board on top of the log, and cuts the length of the log 3 times, a process which takes a minimum of 30 minutes, not including the inevitable chainsaw repairs.

We need over 80 of these.

But as K. says, we are not the kind of family who buys pre-cut logs, or even a darling little antique cabin that was crafted with handtools (I tried this, since we have the tools. My dear Lord, those pioneers were made of IRON).

But here we are, still married, still talking to each other. And only 10 days in :)


Written Saturday morning. And after 9 hours of work on the cabin, some visible progress, and that thorough venting of my feelings, I am once again quite chipper.

A woman's perogative.

P.S. I have tried for half-an-hour to post pictures. It cannot be done this evening. Very sorry.


Sunday morning: trying again!

1. the site before bulldozer


the site post bulldozer:


The site with sill logs:


The site with two layers of logs, joist hangers and porch joists in, and doorways blocked out:


And there we are! Not bad for ten days work.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

hand on hip and jaw cocked

showered. in clothes that do not smell of woodsmoke. wearing flipflops. it's like a vacation!

after finishing the foundation, K. and I are at his parents' house for the night...and our day off tomorrow!

now, I'm tired of talking about the cabin. It's what K. and I do all day long, think about in the wee hours, and all of our outside conversations with other people include it. So I'll keep y'all updated, and when we remember our camera, I'll post pictures, but that's it, ya hear?

problem being, I have nothing else to say. We don't even listen to the radio. I haven't read a book in a week. It's funny how fast a world can get small. Which brings me to a previous ponder: aging.

Because we all know that I like to chew my nails to stumps over things that aren't actually pressing problems, I worry about aging all the time. Not just the physical aspects, but also the personality parts. It seems to me, in my admittedly extreme youth, that some people just...stop at a certain point. And it's not even when they're super-duper old. They stop changing and growing and all those new-agey things I'm so fond of and become more like caricatures of what they were when that stop occurred.

Anyone noticed this? A person whose life, opinions, habits become static and gradually become more like a default reality?

In the cases I've seen, it's as if these people have had some small internal spring cease to function, because of some life tragedy, or, in one case, laziness.

That "stopping" has gone on my list of things to avoid, along with becoming fat, wearing mommy-jeans, and unprotected sun exposure.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

on the second day

It smells good here. That’s the thing I keep noticing—the aroma of crushed fern, living evergreens, and clean quiet air. Last night, K. and I slept in our soft sheets, under our flannel comforter, on a futon with featherbed, in the bed of our truck. We pulled it in under the giant tarp-ceiling, draped the track-rack with mosquito netting, and fell soundly asleep to the sounds of crickets and water falling from the leaves of the trees.

So far: the camp site is set up. And since we’re here for a month, the campsite includes food shelves, pots hanging from clothesline, a stone-rimmed firepit with coal-cooking area, many, many boxes of tools, a work bench, a card table with candles and stools, and lastly, a marble slab on stools with a vase and candles for me, with a mirror tacked to a tree above, acting as a very deluxe vanity. It’s beau-tiful.

That was yesterday. Today, many trees met their ends, and we now have two improved roads (the entrance road and the old logging road we’ll be dragging our cabin trees on), as well as a completely level building site. In case you’re in awe: Harry came over with a bulldozer. On our side of things, K. and I have erected half of an outhouse. The hole is dug, and the structure itself is about half-done. It is also beau-tiful, with a fab view into the green trees and to the blue mountains. Pictures will follow when completed.

Best incident: a mouse ran up my pants. Yep. I was carefully moving stones, and found two little field mice. I couldn’t leave them, as that area is now completely flatted by the dozer, and so I carefully picked up the last stone, their last hiding place. One headed for the wood pile, and one went up my pants. I shook my leg a few times, but nothing came out, so I went about my business until I felt little legs crawling up my lower thigh. And even though I knew what it was, I still hollered and danced around while whipping my pants off.

--- end of cabin building installation

On the interminable drive between DC and Vermont, I listened to an NPR interview with Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopalian priest. Her story was mainly about why she left her church and began teaching, but she said something that’s been playing on my mind ever since. Warning: it’s about God.

I’ve always conceived of God as a person, despite all the official gender-neutrality thing. The closest I’ve managed to achieving that is having God be female sometimes. Kind of like one of those weird frogs. But BBT said she conceived of God as this infinite web of conecctedness, omnipresent. Maybe I’ve perverted her words in my head, but that’s what I took away—and I really like it. It makes God more like this alternate reality that if you slow down, you can touch.

I think I’m a fan.

The bulldozer approaches. Until soon!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

how can i talk about ideas when I have so much NEWS?

My fingernails are chewed to the quick, I have a stress-induced spot on my face, and my toes are unpainted for once, but-- the house is empty. Packed. Done, pretty much, except the final cleaning we'll do before we leave.

And I better get my beauty act together because... K. got the job in Mississippi, where the girls take their looks very seriously. That's right-- our official unemployment period lasted a grand 15 days, though we still get September to build our cabin. We'll be driving to Oxford directly after VT, and K. begins work October 11th.

That's not very far away, but in that time period, I will spent a month in the woods, built a cabin, had a birthday, and moved up and down the east coast twice. It's a fast pace, these days, and I'm doing my best to stay kosher with all this tasty change...

But meanwhile, I'm going to shout out to my sweetie, who handles moving with excitement and unbelievable competence, my frequent standing-in-the-middle-of-the
-room-crying-and-mumbling-about-my-china-pattern breakdowns with grace, and negotiations with corporate bigwigs while in his underwear on a stool in our empty kitchen with aplomb. Throw in the fact he managed to take apart all the plumbing to unplug the sink, and I'd call him a winner. (man, did I luck out.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

alright, i know, we're still not in vermont.

here's the skinny: our house is in boxes. we're back from a 2-day family thing at the beach. we're walking through our house with the landlord on sunday to get our whopping security deposit back and we're heading north on monday. tuesday: set up a campsite, meaning find places for the tools, make a make-shift kitchen, and to k's disgust, set up a counter with mirror for me. wednesday: build the outhouse, go madly shopping for necessary supplies. thursday: start assembling the foundation.

we can do this. we can do this!

Friday, August 18, 2006

diatribe #416

Well, I have to say for all you people slogging through day jobs: not working is fabulous.

that being said, k. and i found telling people that we are unemployed so distressing that we've resorted to "we're retired." which is pretentious, but a lot more fun.(and no, we don't have enough money to retire. sabbatical's probaly the most accurate).

So, we've spent the last week driving around the East Coast, visting friends, family, and most notably, a now-9-day-old baby, Jilas Alistaire, born to our friends. We saw him on Monday, meaning that's he's practically doubled in age by now. Crazy, eh? He's a beautiful baby.

While I am as happy and confident about moving away from DC and taking September to build a cain, the people we've come into contact with in the past week (NOT our actual friends, but more the at-party-conversations) have not been as supportive as one might think. The "that's-not-possibles" have made me wonder how many people are settling in life. People are shocked to find out the K. and I have planned our departure from DC for as long as we've lived here; they're bitterly incredulous that we're not hiring construction crews to build a one-room cabin without electricity or plumbing; and strangely, they're resentful that we've saved enough to take a few months off without wiping ourselves out financially.

How have we come from a nation where people strode into the wilderness and created homes with handtools and old-fashioned labour to a society where unjamming a sink requires a plumber and knowing how to run a chainsaw makes one a woodsman? Now, granted, I still don't know how to use my $35 sewing machine. I've never canned in my life. But I've learned how to use woodtools, weedwhackers, and I can cook-- that puts me significantly ahead of most people, and I have big plans to keep aquiring more skills. My husband, blessed to come from a family where people know how to do things, regularily astonishes people with his ability to work on his car, do drywall, install water heaters, rebuild lawn mowers, and the like.

What's interesting is that domestic skills-- and yes, domestic skills involve screwdrivers and drills as well (domicile means house, not women's work)-- but anyway-- domestic skills have become vilified. Women are afraid to learn to cook and clean, and they don't replace those pretty necessary household tasks with the other duties, such as car maintenance, gardening, etc.

My beef isn't with people eating take-out, or getting their oil changed at Jiffy Lube. It's about the mentality that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves, and so we pay, pay, and pay for everything. For cooking. For food itself, because we're too lazy to grow it. For oil changes and fuse replacements. For someone to clean our toilets.

I don't know how to build a cabin, but my husband's read some books, done some things with his hands, and I'm a good follower. We're willing to learn.

There's a great how-to section at the library. Which, incidentally, is free to join.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Today is my last day of work.

I'm a nostalgic kind of person. I keep photo albums...and in a trunk, there is every picture I've ever taken that didn't make it into the photo albums. I have notes I passed in 5th grade, and they didn't survive by accident. I kept them. Because I'm a keep-and-cry-about-them-later person.

But I'm not feeling the least bit sad about leaving this job. Sure, it paid well enough, and I learned proofreading, BenchPress, and how pompous public health authors are, but the main lesson I learned here?

Don't waste time doing something you're not interested in. Sure, I was panicked, with about a three-week window to get a job (and more importantly a fix on my job's location), and the money was good and the hours decent. But really? There are so many places I wish I had worked while I was here. The National Preservation Society, the Land Trust Association, the Building Museum...

So next time, I'm not settling for something I know I can do with my eyes hut. Here's to being challenged.

And my novel selling for an unprecedented advance, so the whole issue becomes irrelevant anyway :)

-- NOT THAT IT HAS, MIND YOU. just that it should.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Great idea:

A bike tour in Tibet. It's going on my list of things to do before I die.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

very small nuts

I have this tendency to focus on very small things in times of stress. It's an obnoxious habit to the people around me, an irritating one to me, but nonetheless, in the face of a move, a job we STILL don't know about, and cabin-building, not to mention my undetermined career, I find myself obsessively coordinating an operation to move the furniture my grandmother left to my incapable father which currently resides in storage. The partners? A sulky teenage sister, a grumpy husband, a fugitive and mentally unpredictable father, and my least favorite aunt.

Everything is set up now. We'll see if it happens. But I finally realized that if it doesn't, it's ok. Because the only reason I'm worrying about it is because I'm a nutter with a burning need to focus on the very small nuts.

Nearly a year ago (ok, a month and nine days), I was slicing lemons and limes in my mother's kitchen at midnight. Because my wedding would NOT be complete if there were not PERFECTLY ROUND slices of lemons and lime to float in the water pitchers (despite the fact that I hadn't yet MADE the bouquets, boutineers, or table arrangements. That came later. With Mom and Nastasha, bless their hearts.) Before I climbed into the Packard for the church, I left a very detailed note for the caterers, telling them exactly where to find said lemon and lime circles.

At the reception, sitting finally married next to K., I saw the lemons and limes, thrown on a plate, shoved on the furthest corner of the beverage table, nowhere near a pitcher of any kind. And I didn't care.

Well, I cared a little. But relatively, not that much, especially compared to K., who kept jumping up from our table like a jack-in-the-box because his pet project, the wooden barrel of wine with a spigot, kept not being fully turned off by silly drunken people. The slight stream of wine was like a knife thrust to his heart. (Somehow, neither of us stressed out about the fact that the lights strung between the trees were going off and on as the fuses blew. The groomsmen, bless their hearts, handled that.)

Point being.... well, disasters may come, and crises may mount, but you'll find me in a corner, polishing the smallest nut on my shirt, worried that perhaps it's cracking or getting old or has nut disease.

I'm stretching here, I know, but lordy, it's FUN making these analogies work hard.

Friday, August 04, 2006


In the absence of a community of peers here in DC and with a plethora of sitting in front of a computer hours, I have found online people who inspire me. Like FarmGirl, who's got 240 acres in Missouri with sheep and a donkey. And Apifera Farm, where an artist and her husband are raising sheep and lavender. And now, Blue Poppy, who's got an off-the-grid house up in New England on 82 acres. (All bloggers, all fab-- check 'em out by googling).

Life happens out of urban areas! And by the end of this month, K. and I will be somewhere conducting a non-urban life! The fact that we do not yet know to what state we're moving our house scares me, but overall (today), I am SO EXCITED to be leaving the pavement, the crowds, the nothing-is-more-important-than-my-job and the overwhelming sense of guilt I have because we don't go to museums, or see bands, or even eat out. I think that wherever we settle I have a better shot of finding MY people-- the people who want to party in a field next to a bonfire and take hikes and just HANG OUT and eat stuff without all of this trekking across town and I'm-sorry-but-can-we-reschedule and I'm on Atkins/South Beach/Allergic-to-gluten BULLSHIT (p.s. you're not. You're just not. Because anyone who is actually allergic to gluten would have died a long, long time ago, when all anyone ever ate was gluten gluten GLUTEN. Oh, and ps-- being allergic does not mean you pass a bit of gas-- it means swelling up and HAVING TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL or else you WOULD DIE. So shut up already).

Anyway. We're moving, and today, I'm filled with wonder and excitement that I get to live in the country, after 5 years of exile, much earlier than expected.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Finally, I have a thought.

Historically, I have remained on the fence about Hillary Clinton. She's smart. She polarizes people. She married a willy-slinger. She has the DC helmet head thing.

Apparently, Hillary is being seriously considered as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. This morning, while brushing my teeth, I listened to people talk on NPR about whether or not this was a good idea.

And you know what? I came out a convert.

EVERYONE thinks Hillary is a kickass senator who has done a great job. SOME people want her to run. And some people don't. You know why? Because they don't think she would win. Why? Because she's a woman. Over and over again: she's great, but America's not ready for a female president.

I understand that we need a good president next. I understand that the Democrats need a candidate who can win. But guys, come ON.

Let's look at the things Hillary Clinton has done right. Top student in high school-- no pot-smoking scandals there. Valedictorian with a political science major at Wellesley-- unlike Bush AND Kerry. She was the first student to deliver a commencement address and her peers gave her a standing ovation. Onto Yale Law, where she did well, did work for children, migrants, etc., and then became 1 of 2 female faculty members at the University of Arkansas's Law School. Throw in the pro bono work for poor migrant families, and I'd call her someone who has worked hard and used her power for good. She was named one of America's top 100 lawyers. (Incidentally, while she was First Lady, she continued working as a lawyer. Who knew?)

I'd like to be able to tell my daughters that if they really want to, they could become president.

But apparently, that's not true. Because here is a woman who HAS worked hard, who's undeniably more able than many of her peers and most the lame-ass Democrats we put up as candidates, and support is less than unanimous because she's a WOMAN?

Let's be logical here. She's past the childbearing age, so conservatives can't whip that one out. I'm sure she's post-menopause, so no need to worry about matters of state being interrupted by a period (although in my understanding, menstruation is considerably more easy to plan around than penises).

Also consider that Hillary has already been in the White House. She knows what this is about. Plus, she was married to a GOOD president, one whom people liked and the economy did well under, and he would be nothing but a political asset to her.

Lastly, what the hell could she do to worsen things? Increase the deficit? Jeopardize our foreign relations? Send the economy swirling down the tubes?

Give the woman a shot. She's certainly earned it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I'm a little stress-pot :)

I'm trying hard not to think about things these days, which is why I haven't been posting much. What with the accounting department breathing down my neck with unintelligible whispers (really, just one guy; I don't know where he's from, and I can't ask him, because I would not be able to understand his answer), and the poor trees in the Andes who have 100 years to move 2700 feet up the cloudy slops to escape global warming, and the mass profusion of dog hair that hangs in the air of my house, and the 100+ degrees heat, and the disasters in the Middle East, not to mention the fact that we've started packing and I don't know what state we're moving it all to, complicated by the fact that despite the house with walls and closed windows and a screened-in porch, mosquitos slip in and then do things like last night where one bit my FACE... well, throw all those things in a pot and let's just say I'm a bit crazier than usual, filled with whirling anxiety, which I am doing my very pitiful best to suppress by not thinking. And doing yoga. And avoiding coffee.

One strange side effect? I've started reading non-fiction books that have little to do with my current life. It's really relaxing to read about how the hip British set throw house parties (Domestic Bliss), or the perils awaiting upper-middle class women with children and husbands with high-powered careers (Perfect Madness), and now I'm into the Harvard study of aging, which tracked 3 different cohorts from 1910 on, and some guy wrote a book based off it called "Aging Well."

I'm 23, people. Despite my attachment to sunscreen and my growing predilection for flannel pajamas, I know I don't have to read that book yet. (I have been restraining myself from using a nightly retinol cream for probably 4 years, and I really can't wait until I hit 28, because then I can buy the Olay anti-aging reams without feeling quite so loony.)

So enjoy the summer, have a blessed Tuesday, and know I'll be in my cubicle, drinking tea, as mindless as I can possibly be.


and quietly thankful. Because you don't get to be stressed and whine about it on a blog when you have real and huge problems.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

happiness, in various forms

I gave my notice this morning. And it feels goooood, regardless of the fact that the two people who need to read it haven't come into the office yet.

mInor miracles:

I've been feeling lonely in the last week. And lo! Emails from Angeline and Stinkie, a phone call AND a sourdough recipe from Megan, a note from Mama C., a letter from Danielle, and a dinner date with my highschool friend Lex. So many lovebombs dropped in my direction that I've managed to be supportive of K's illness, rather than horribly angry because my constant playmate is out of commission. Which, in turn, means that K. himself feels loved and cosseted during his time of mucus and hacking. A fabulous cycle.


homemade asparagus, bacon, and mushroom quiche for the bookclub girls who are coming to invade my house. K. threatens to wander downstairs in his ginormous red onesie (complete with bumflap) and say "where's my wife?" in plantive sick tones.

Considering that we're leaving DC, I think he should :)

Toodles chickies.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ramble, complain, ramble ramble

Gah! How did it get to be Wednesday without me posting? Gah!

Probably because it's been one of those tired, cranky, stressed out for no REAL reason weeks.

Or maybe because of the seasons 1 and 3 of Scrubs that came in the mail.

GAH! My boss just walked in (10.40 am, about average), and I said good morning and he said NOTHING! Gah! And my coworker has been out for 3 days and already has Friday off and all because he hurt his KNEES! And I could use his help! GAH!

so, I really intended to disguise my mental illness and write y'all a fun happy, cheery post, where exclamation points were more like balloons and less like anxiety-filled daggers, but this is what you get. it's like yesterday, when the aerobics instructor told me to grab the ball between my ankles by using my abs to lift myself up, as opposed to bringing my ankles down until I could just grab the ball, and honestly, I tried, but I COULDN'T. (Because she's an ab exhauster, that one. People moan in this class. Many leave early.)

Happy Wednesday.



I left for lunch and had a piece of lemon pound cake with my yogurt and nectarine out in the sun. Finished the novel I've been reading, "Sufficient Grace," which I needed. You know how sometimes you get to thirsting for a good, deep book? The kind that fills you up so that you read it in small, rich chunks?

So everything's fine.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


It began to thunder as soon as I took the dogs out for a walk last night, but I still made it to the farmer down the street in time to get a pint of freshly picked blackberries.

Charlie, the farmer, inspires me. He has a double or triple lot in our suburban neighborhood, and after he retired, he expanded his garden to become the only farmer on downtown Silver Spring. He's out there every day, for hours and hours and hours, and he has a sign that lets you know what's available. I keep trying to get some of his blueberries, but the housewives clean him out by early evening.

Point being, though, that it's his garden that inspires me. He grows his blackberries and raspberries on fencewire strung above the ground between posts... K. tells me that this is very common, but it's so NEAT! and space saving! And everything he grows is in clean tidy rows or trimmed bushes or trained vines and I just LOVE it. Must be the German in me :)

A neighbor told K. that last year, a lady came and bought all of his strawberries-- which are apparently amazing-- and loaded pints and pints of them into her SUV. She then said to her companion, "lets get these home so we can freeze them." Charlie got righteously angry, pointed his old finger at her, and said "If I'd known you were going to freeze those, I wouldn't have sold them to you. Those are for EATING."

Damn straight, silly greedy woman.


I get tomorrow off! So have a pleasant weekend, chickies. We're going to the daylily and wine festival in Fisherville, Virginia with my mom. Good clean family fun.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogging for Books: On Being Between

*a brief explanation for my regular readers—cough—heck, mom, just ask me about it tonight.*

**but if you’re really curious, Joshilyn Jackson ( tells me that if my blog entry on “between” wins various places, I get various copies of her books. And I kind of have a she’s-published-and-funny crush on her.**

When I was six, I had a fight with my mother. I ran outside to my favorite invisible spot to sulk and fume. I wanted to run away, but I didn't.

You can leave when you're eighteen, I told myself. After you finish school, so you can get a job and eat and pay for things. Practical, yes, but even at six I knew I wouldn't enjoy starving. At six, eighteen seemed very far away. I can't really be sure that I counted the thirteen years between me and the adequate number correctly, but I knew it was far, and I knew I had to wait, for the gulf comprising Between to become smaller and smaller until I could step onto my own land. (Mom, I love you. Don't get mad at me. I was six.)

When I met K., I was eighteen. When I fell in love with him, I was twenty. We waited for me to graduate college to marry, so that we could tell our children to do it right, and it took bloody forever. Eighteen months between me and him becoming an us. Then nine, and then four, and then, very scarily, fewer than two.

We're married now, thank Heaven. Almost immediately after our return from our honeymoon, I started writing a novel. The first attempt, 10k of words in, got chucked out, and then followed a time of intense outlining. I've been drafting for nearly seven months now, going through four outlines. Fifty thousand words down. Fifty thousand left. So far, I don't enjoy drafting. It's what I have to do to get to the revising stage, the stage which might sound like tweaking, but what-- for me-- will be more like art and less like me scraping the inside of my head clean and throwing it at the page.

There are light years between me now and me becoming an established writer. Our land in Vermont does not yet have the stone terracing and enchanted cabin we've planned. I need to learn how to sew before I can re-slipcover my sofa.

I really would like to get to the cabin and the slipcovers and the career, but I know that I can't begrudge every log, every sewing lesson, every page that lies between me and my dreams. Go easy, I tell myself. Savor the way.

But keep going.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I got a 3% cost of living raise, along with all the other staff at this organization. I'm really not sure how I became employable. Last year, I wasn't; this year, I am-- and all that's changed is that my desire to work in a corporate world went from slightly above zero to way, way, way below. Anyone want to make a fair wage for doing mindlessly little? Email me-- there might be a job opening here soon :)

I added some links on the right. Farmgirl Fare's awesome, mainly for the daily pictures that remind me there is a world beyond overpriced 1/10 acre lots, and I shall get there. Country...mmm, country. I yearn to be a rural resident the way a thirteen year-old Midwesterner adolescent dreams of living in New York City-- passionately and grandly.

I just got interrupted by one silly email, my husband asking me to come home, and my boss handing me the papers I've been waiting for him to return.

Gotta go. But happy Monday nonetheless.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

swiss smackdown

K. and I heard the following on NPR yesterday morning, and right after the commentator said that the news would irritate Israel and the U.S., it got cut off. A few seconds later, the commentator began speaking about something else.

This piqued my curiousity.

I couldn't find it on CNN, so I googled "switzerland israel" and the only major US news source that came up was FOX news. The excerpt below is from their site, published July 3rd.

GENEVA — Switzerland said Monday that Israel has been violating international law in its Gaza offensive by heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare.

"A number of actions by the Israeli defense forces in their offensive against the Gaza Strip have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Since the Swiss rarely say anything about anyone, this seems... momentous. And strangely, no one knows.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Even though NO ONE COMMENTS anymore, I have decided to write you a I’m back blog anyway.


So, 4th of July, rah, rah—no seriously, rah. I have never at all been happy to be an American until I went to India. Alright, so our president sounds EXACTLY like my majorly alcoholic and very much in denial father every time he opens his mouth (really—it’s spooky), and we underpay our teachers and fund the drug and oil companies and all the other things that we liberals (me included) weep in our lattes over. But people, believe me, be happy to be an American. There’s a reason people cling to rafts and roast in trucks and walk through deserts to get here.

In other news:

I don’t know if I’m more honest or just meaner than everyone else out there. Is no one else scarily competitive about cooking or incredibly mean about other people’s success? Is it really just me? I scared K. yesterday when I raised my head from a biography of Colette (thank you, I’m a genius) to listen to a book review on NPR. The book review itself didn’t make much of an impression. Instead, it was the speaker’s voice—nasal and drawling on the last word of each statement, reminding me of a precocious yet arrogant know-it-all. I said, “that’s one annoying voice,” and K. agreed with me.

Then I found out it was Curtis Sittenfield! This made me so happy, I crowed out loud.

You see, Curtis Sittenfield is on my I hate her because she’s too successful list, which generally includes all commercially successful female writers under the age of 28. After 28 it’s ok. Don’t ask me why.

I have never read a book of hers. I just know she wrote a boarding school novel and struck it big, and for that and nothing more, I dislike her. After I’m famous, I’m sure we’ll be friends.

But anyway. Anyone? Jealousy? Anyone?

A very important meeting at my very important job looms. So someone say something already.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

so that you'll return to read my blog because i have something new on it, unlike nicholas

We're heading to Vermont tomorrow, at the crack of dawn. Check for our schedule :)

As many of you know, it poured here for several days. Water spewing out of sewers, teens swept away in raging creeks, metro stations flooded-- the whole shebang.

I really thought my garden would rot. Yesterday, after it cleared, I went out and found the poppies a bit battered-- but the dogs like to poop on them, so that wasn't new-- and everything else-- well, thriving. Weeds, basil, sunflowers, and all.

Somehow, despite my application of DEET-containing repellent, I got bitten multiple times. Which didn't surprise me so much, other than the fact that I was wearing pants and either one got down them or one bit me through the pants THREE TIMES on my bumcheek.

Someone made a huge mistake when they built DC on a swamp.

I made a kickass creamy roasted garlic soup over the weekend. Cleaned us all right out. for the recipe (just type in garlic soup).

Why do people like blocking out the light so much? I hate blinds. Blinds are invented by the D-man. There's a store near us that gives you in-store financing so that you cann afford the blinds of your choice. Going into debt for blinds. That's like taking out a loan to buy trashy magazines. Just leave the windows alone, people. Back away from the blinds.


My cubicle neighbor and I sit next to wall-to-ceiling windows that look out over a fairly picturesque street. I have total control over one blind, he has total control over another, and the one between us we fight over, but in really subtle ways. When he's out, I pull that bad baby all the way up. When he comes back, he lowers it half-way but keeps the slats open, and then when I go out for lunch, I return to find it closed and down.

Scrubs (the show)

Now, who thinks this is funny?

J.D. is somehow lying on the ground, prone at the feet of the girl he has a major crush on. They're supposed to go on a date that night. One of the ways the shows' creators try to convince us that they're perfect for each other is they both say "zoom, zoom, zoom" after they say something cutting.

Him: lying prone.
Her: "See you at seven-- and wear something slutty! zoom, zoom, zoom."

Its magnificance has not palled, even though I repeat it to K. daily. Man, I love Scrubs.


Something intellectual, because we are supposed to wonder here, after all:

Scratching my ear--

Oh, I dunno. Have a happy 4th, chickens.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

mawwiage is what bwings us together today

Conversation from last night:

K. and I are sitting, having bowls of the chicken soup I made over the weekend following a new recipe.

Me: It's just not that great.
Him: I like it.
Me: Is it the best chicken soup you've ever had?
Him: No.
Me: Then it's not good enough.

Conversation from this morning:

7:00 am
Him: Are you getting up?
Me: You get up first for once.

Injured sleep. Argue a few more times.

7.25 am
Me: fine. You win.

I get up and head blearily for the shower.

Him: it's not a competition.
Me: I'm getting in the shower, and you're still in bed. I'd say you won.

Victorious silence from the bedroom.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Burning Buttocks and Bush

I am a blog reader. Tiny Kingdom over at ivillage is handsdown my favorite. This post, while not her most outrageous or even her funniest, is really sweet.

In other news:

I was thinking about my peer group, the early twenties, and how I really don't know one person who likes Bush. I'm sure they're out there, but they just don't float through my vicinity. Then I was thinking how I might respect someone my age if they did like Bush, but only if they were a lone dissenter. I'm fond of lone dissenters, being an Appalachian southerner and all. And then I thought-- but wait! What the heck would they like him for? They have to have a reason, after all...economy? No. Foreign relations? No. Good work ethic? (DOES ANYONE REMEMBER when he was running for president the first time and we found he plays video games for an hour a day? And then after 9/11, no one ever talked about it again? WHAT happened to that?) So no to that as well. Environment? HELL NO, despite his little Hawaii water sop. Fiscal policies? I am practicing meditative breathing as I just leave it at-- no.

So no, lone dissenter, I would not respect you after all.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

bright and gay I shall remain

Many thanks to Nicholas and his creativity over at That's me, that's K., and those are things we've said on this blog-- but no, we have not actually made any CDs.

It's Wednesday, it's humid and gray, and my house is a mess, but most things are well with the world. I was reading a blog during my idle time the other day and found a girl, my age, whose profile identified her as a Quaker interested in "plain dress."

Not knowing precisely what this meant, I googled it. And found that there are many women and men around the country who follow varying levels of plain dress, from the girl who switched from sales to software development so that she could wear her bonnet, to the aforementioned girl my age, who wears conservative cuts and colors not made in sweatshops.

Who knew. I didn't have time to do extensive research, but it made me question my planned purchase of a skinny fuschia t-shirt on Friday. And for those men who don't know what a "skinny" t-shirt is, it's what I call those t-shirts whose material is relatively thin, but not transparent. Transparent are those insanely tissue-tees, which I can't ever wear to work because...well, you know why.

But still. It's nice to know that people my age are at least consciously considering their sartorial choices, even if I have no desire to join them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ponder of the Month:

Class, what do you like about yourself?

Me (hand going up and waving frantically): I'll go first!

And I will.

Things I Like About Myself:

-- I am so entranced by my pretty painted toes that I take off my shoes or stare at my feet at least three times daily. And not just today. I do this week after week, as I am a habitual toe-painter.

-- I make the bed nine out of every ten mornings.

-- I dare to love celebrities.

-- I feel guilty when I don't recycle.

-- I don't want to die before I get old. (many people do.)

-- I feed the people I love.

-- I got married young.

-- I read trash and quality.

-- my passion for medieval history.

-- I like hanging out with my family. Including K's family.

-- my deep suspicion of labor-saving and life-improving devices. Such as BlackBerries, Treons, Ipods, and the like. Although, as always, I love my dishwasher.

-- that I don't really care if my husband takes me out for dinner. 40 bucks on dinner and a movie is not a necessary monthly obligation. (And it's a good thing, mr. thrifty-pants).

--the ways I keep surprising myself.

At the risk of being selfish and self-congragulatory, it's a good thing to be nice to yourself. Kiss your knees. Have a mango and a cup of tea. You're probably a nice person.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

we don't have kids. But we do have...

The three dogs (our two, and a houseguest) are getting to be a bit much. This morning, K. and I clung to each other under the covers as the dogs raced around the bed, nails clicking maniacally on the floors, and ending with a grand finale of what can only be described as a catfight, despite their canine identities.

I think it was maybe seven am.

I can only think that the constant barrage of puke, poop, pee, hair, and stunts like opening the refrigerator (oh yes, they can, and they do-- we now have a lock) and removing the single slice of cheese I packed to melt over my lunch of minestrone is preparing me for motherhood.

We came home on Monday to vomit that stained the hardwood floor. I have no idea what it could have been.

Watching our shows on the porch last night, I realized that we had literally locked the dogs outside so that we could enjoy our evening in peace. They didn't mind, as hanging out in the yard and fearlessly attempting to assault every passerby is their idea of a well-spent day, but you know what?

We won't be able to lock our actual children outside.

And they'll grow up enough to open the child-safe lock. By which time, theoretically, they won't eat 15 raw eggs the way Shadow did, and then emit them in various forms all over the house...but still. My cheese might not be safe.

And they'll open the doors that we keep closed so that no one barfs or pees on our bed.


But you know what? If we get a bigger house with more land, we'll probably adopt another dog.

Go figure.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Whitman, McDonalds, and dreams of blackmail...

Today is Walt Whitman's birthday. He sold a house to self-publish "Leaves of Grass" in 1855. Over 30 years later and after 9 revisions and subsequent publishings, the Society for the Suppression of Vice called it immoral and it began to sell.

Whitman used the money to buy a cottage where he lived for the rest of his life.

2 points:

The Society for the Suppression of Vice--think of the blackmailing potential of that, so juicy I could spread it on bread and eat it as a sandwich.

He sold a house, and eventually, got a cottage.

Yet more proof that poetry doesn't pay.

--randomly-- I thought the ads for McDonald's Asian salad looked kind of...delish. So I went on their website, looked up all the nutritional ins-and-outs, and got really, really excited about lunch today.

Then I went to McDonald's.

The salad was pretty darn tasty. The refusal of a cup for tap water, the long line, the dirty floor, the bum who twice asked me for money after spending over $6 on a combo meal, the man who sang God Bless America next to me, and the different man with a soiled crotch area who was hauled away by police after screaming about his picture ID was not.

Short-term solution: take the salad back to my office.

Long-term solution-- leave the damn city.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

because it's my blog, after all.

My stomach is so resoundingly empty that is digesting itself, my husband's been trapped at his desk all week with a coworker and ergo can't email or call me every five minutes like usual, and due to my staying late for the summertime every-other-Friday-off, I have to stay until 5 (wah, I know, work for a non-profit).

I try not to write too much about myself on this blog, because the whole point was to find things that surprise me and share them.

But I got nothing, except a funny story.

We leave the house at 7.30 to make my 8 am starting time. If I'm good, I get out of bed at 6, take a shower and shove my contacts in, walk downstairs and let out the dogs (plus one these days since we have the lovely Penny visiting us), and start the coffee. When said dogs begin awakening the neighborhood by baying like hounds from hell, I then summon them inside. Repeat a few times. While the coffee brews, I get lunches togther, and at 6.30 am, I am sitting in front of a laptop to log in my daily 500 words, with shower, dogs, and lunches done (theoretically. and I usually make the lunches the night before).

Seven am. Time for K. to get in the shower.

Scene from yesterday morning:

"Kagan, get in the shower."

"But I'm so snoooozy." Turn away and wrap pillow.


"I know." Sit up, looking boyish and adorable. "You come here"-- slyly opening his arms-- "and we'll cuddle and snooze for just a minute."


Cruelly, I flip the covers off of him. He screams like a little girl and yanks them back. I grab one leg and pull it to the floor.

"Get out of bed!"

"Look how small I am!" he says, and curls himself like a snailshell in the middle of the bed. "You can't seeee meeeee."

Rip the covers off once more and pull both legs to the floor. Then nearly break my back trying to pick him up.

"Kagan, come on, just get in the shower!" Last note way too high with frustration.
He ignores this and then falls on me, pinning me to the bed. Snuggles his head into my neck and closes his eyes while I beat on his back.

As soon as I sound like I might cut his liver out with a dull knife, he relents, gets up, and strides off to the bathroom with a jaunty spring in his step.


Oh, but we're not over. Despite the fact that we now have 15 minutes to walk out the door, Kagan stands in the shower while I brush my teeth, moisturize, do makeup and hair, etc. I lose patience, and snap "Put the SHAMPOO in your HAIR."

He does so. Rinse, repeat, until I've handed him his prebagged lunch and we're in the car, various degrees late, him as happy as a lark and me-- well, I don't know what I would do without all of it.

Just go to work?

It'd be too easy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Things I've learned while "researching"

Who knew:

Jehovah's witnesses are politically "neutral", like Switzerland. They're not pacifists. They just don't have opinions. But they do pay taxes.

At one point in medieval history, the average age of marriage for a lower-middle-class woman was around 24. Land was so limited that everyone had to wait for their parents to die before they could get married...I don't remember, but offhand I'd say this was before 1348, e.g. the plague, when the population was at a critical point.

It takes about 2 acres for a cow and calf to proper if they're solely grass-fed, and about 1.5 acres if their diet is supplemented with grain. Incidentally, feeding cows grain alters the protein compenents of their meat, and makes it much more fatty, hence the don't-eat-red-meat stuff. Grass-fed beef has omega-6 proteins, just like the much-touted fish.

Borage, the herb, tastes like cucumber.

All those movie stars with long-lived marriages? They were married before. That's right. Paul Newman, Tom Hanks, and Sting all had first wives (and in Newman and Sting's case, I believe they left their firsts for the seconds).

Have a happy day, chickens.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

literary thoughts

I am writing a novel.

For me, it's overpoweringly scary, because I can;t laugh it off as a hobby-- I do want to do this full-time-- and there's no assurance I'll ever get published, let alone be successful. But hey, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right?

K. and I go to the library weekly. As a recent college grad and an aspiring author, I'm noticing that what I take home from the library has changed. I don't have to read anything for classes, but I avoid authors who-make-me-hyperventilate-into-my-pillow-crying-because-I'll-never-be-that-good (Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Munro (damn, Alice Munro), Alice Hoffman, and many more...luckily no new books from any of them lately). I like chick lit, and I take that home by the cartload. Bergdorf Blondes. Beyond Blonde. Good in Bed (one of the few well-crafted chick lit novels). I'm aiming slightly higher than these girls, so I can read them.

And then, there's the opposite end of the spectrum. I don't want my brain to entirely rot, so generally I take home one solid work of literature on every trip. Ann Beattie. Limpiri (sp?). And John Updike.

I have now read five John Updike novels, all based off the first one which I really liked (don't remember the title but I believe the man character's name was Henry.) And here's my conclusion: the man really, really doesn't like women.

Which is sad, seeming as he had four children with his first wife and is now married to another. And randomly, he's been supporting himself and his family as a full-time writer ever since he was in his mid-twenties, which I find enormously impressive, plus he's published gazillions of serious literary books-- also enormously impressive. But you know? I can't read him anymore. Yeah, I really enjoy where his mind sometimes goes, but after reading 3/4 of the Rabbit series, I just can't. Too much adultery and casual sex and a total disregard for women's emotional needs. Examples? Well, Rabbit and Janice have a tumultuous marriage in their 30+ years together, filled with affairs and separations and then finally in their middle age, a certain kind of peace. But sentiments like these-- I'm paraphrasing here-- revolt me. Rabbit looks at his wife and decides he needs to lay her soon, because she's getting all nervy, the way she does during dry spells.

Not his crudest, true, but the dispassionate and distant tone really turns me off. Plus Updike's comment about the mother of his children, whom he met at Harvard in the early 1950s-- the one where he says he got married to have sex, the way that people did back then. They divorced after 20ish years of marriage.

I'm disappointed. I got all invested in this man and his work, and then he just keeps digging up new veins of nastiness that poison his books for me.

If I get well-known, I pledge to use my pen for good, not evil.

Monday, May 15, 2006

scary men

I am tired of getting cat-called.

If I wrote that a month ago, I might have been lying a little bit. Really, it can be a bit thrilling walking down a street and having someone throw out a whistle. But now, post-India and after working downtown for over six months, I am really and truly tired of it.

Being tall and not dark, I got a lot of attention in India. Examples: people on the street took pictures of/with me. A wife led me to the dance floor and handed me off to her husband (which was so creepy that I feel I must have misinterpreted it). Young men in the train station stared so blatantly at me that K. moved in front of me to block their view. The men just moved so that they could once again view me, sweating in a grimy t-shirt reading Real Simple.

I bought a new dress last week, and realized I did not want to wear it to work because of any attention I might draw on the walk to work and from work/metro. Examples of attention? Well, once on my way home a man leered at me and then grabbed his crotch.

I wore my dress this morning and put a trench coat on over, to deflect attention, and happily, to deflect rain.

An hour ago, I slipped out and walked the block and a half to CVS for some ibuprofen. Without the trench coat. A black man sitting on the pavement told me very loudly that I was a tall girl he wanted to have sex with, and then proceeded to expand on that theme.

It's not just a race thing. A few weeks ago I was waiting for the light to change and a group of middle-aged corporate men hung out a black SUV and voiced appreciation vociferously.

I know I'm not the only one to have this kind of constant and disruptive attention, although I do think that any girl who walks a great deal or takes public transportation tends to get more, especially in an urban area.

I'm writing this trying to figure out what disturbs me so much. After all, I've been to Italy, and the Italian men are very forward. But there's a certain...ah, she's a woman, how beautiful, that doesn't come across from the American yeah-baby-I'd-do-you. The aggression, the anger, scares me in a way that the man-turning-to-watch-my-butt doesn't.

Why are all these men so angry?

Friday, May 12, 2006

at risk of revealing my genius...

I've recently been interested in the differences between what we know we should feel and what we do feel.

Come on. You know what I'm talking about.

I should have been exhilerated by getting to run with the stars of my JV crosscountry team, but I actually was really dissapointed and resentful that my place in the back of the pack had been denied to me.

I should have been a blushing emotional bride, but actually I was very calm and still.

I should have felt bored and invalidated my senior year decision to quit all the organized activities I had previously been involved in, but actually I was so relieved and happy (yep, I am competitive, but man, I hate pressure).

Anyone, anyone?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

warning: nothing to do with India, and a mention of menstruation

Sometimes, on a gray day at the right moment during one’s hormonal cycle, one can feel a bit sad, a bit, well, mopey, for no real reason. In “Consciously Female”, a book by the medical director of Duke’s Center of Integrative Medicine, the author suggests that there’s a real societal bias against such mopiness (my word, not hers.)

Bear with me a moment.

I get up early generally, but it’s got to be with the light. I don’t like getting up in the dark. At the moment, I’m on a schedule I really like. Up at 6, writing by 6:20-6:30, out of the house for work by 7:30. There’s light outside at 6.

Just this morning, I was patting myself on the back regarding my disciplined habits. Then I remembered the equinox, the turn of the season that comes so soon. June does not equal winter in most people’s minds, but it’s the turning point, and the days will get nothing but shorter.

I don’t know how I’ll adjust my morning schedule next November, and this makes me angry. Suck it up. Get up early in the dark, even if you feel like a near-sighted mole fumbling in a dark claustrophobic cave. Work will not start later just because the sun takes its time coming up.

But why not? Why are we so…inflexible? Why can’t I be dreamy and a bit introspective for a week out of the month without reinforcing all negative PMS stereotypes? Why aren’t work hours shorter during the winter, when the days are short and our energy levels low?

Before the advent of air-conditioning, Washington used to shut down in the summer. Everyone got a break and headed to the cool hills, or at least stayed home close to fans. Farmers repaired machinery during the winter, stayed home and close to the hearth, venturing outside only for those necessary daily chores. Some public schools now start in early August, even the southern ones.

We live very far away from natural rhythms these days.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Just so you know: I'm still alive

So, went to India and back. How you?

We'll probably post a master trip summary with pics as soon as we get our act together. Right now, Kagan's waking up before I am, actually before dawn. I know. Bizarre. This morning he made me tea, fed the dogs, and got lunches together. I have been utterly usurped.

*As always, my plants grew better while I was away.*

Monday, April 24, 2006

Because I Can

I love celebrities. I just do. Why? Well, why do people love soap operas? The crazy hair, the plastic surgery, the he-did-what and she’s-with-who—but with celebrities, it’s real! Katie Holmes, a wholesome Catholic girl from Kansas, really did just have an aging super star’s illegitimate baby, and he really is trying to brainwash her into a cult. Really! This is happening! And there are pictures!

That being said, I have definite opinions about these people I’ve never met.

Celebrities I Dislike

Tom Cruise, ever since he split with Nicole Kidman (the Katie thing is just icing)
Mischa Barton (because she obviously never eats)
Keifer Sutherland (he looks like a nasty drunk)
Julia Roberts (I don’t know. But I do anyway.)

More entertainingly, there are some celebrities that I should dislike on principle, but I just don’t. See below.

Paris Hilton. Really. Despite the standing-on-a-car-at-Sundance and making everyone look for her lost two-carat diamond bellybutton ring. Despite the Greek shipping heirs. Despite the thousand-dollar-a-month tan and her nagging magazines to make her fake blue eyes even bluer. Why? Because she so, so, so loves being a celebrity, and really, she’s famous for… nothing. Except maybe the Greek thing. She’s got some serious chutzpah.

Mariah Carey. That girl consistently wears too-little and too-tight clothing. Most recently, I gazed at pictures of her frolicking in an ocean, while a very small white bikini tried and failed to cover her vavooms. That girl looks like she loves her pasta, and you know what? I think she looks fab.

Donald and Melania Trump. “Can I have a baby?” “As long as you look good.” “Can I have some diamonds?” “As long as you look good.” How refreshingly straightforward.

Ashton Kutchner and Demi Moore. Because besides being smokingly tasty, they’re just...cute. Despite the age difference. Despite that he fell in love with her while standing in a hotel hallway, listening to Demi tuck her children into bed. God bless ‘em.

Lastly, my girls. We maybe have never met, but I know that if Queen Latifah and Mandy Moore ever came into my corner of the world, we would totally be best friends. Forever.


Monday, April 17, 2006


We have a multitude of thoughts and plans going on, what with our upcoming trip to India for Mohit's wedding, a cabin to build in September, and potential new jobs/moves in October-- plus the normal stuff, like flowers and nighttables and Kagan's ongoing search for an affordable Toyota Tundra. So it's hard to focus on one thing and deliver a diatribe!

Nonetheless, I have risen to the occasion.

We heard a very sad piece on NPR this weekend about rural seniors who have to choose between medicine, fuel, and food. Apparently, there's an already-underfunded foodbox program that is due to be cut in the next round of the budget overhaul.

Diatribe number one:

I am all for cutting the budget. America has reached its debt ceiling, that number that we're not ever really supposed to get to. And what were the consequences?

We raised the ceiling. Now it's okay to be x number of trillions in debt, even though we said it wasn't before. However, it does seem ridiculous to me (anyone, anyone?) that we fund wars in foreign countries before we feed our old people, or send more to AIDS orphans, or give our teachers raises, or -- fill in the blank.

Diatribe number two:

Practice what you preach.

This saying came from somewhere. Someone had to mean it. And so, we teach our children to 1: save. 2: not knock down smaller kids just because you can. 3: when you don't turn in your homework/do your chores/feed the dog, you will face the consequences.

Yet-- most Americans are very, very in debt. And not just for their houses. And then, on a national level, we bully other nations, and on a local level-- well, there are people who hire day laborers and then don't pay them the promised wage. Because they don't have to. Lastly, consequences. Our staggering amount of national debt is a consequence. Our piss-poor air quality is a consequence. The mutating frogs and bleaching reefs are consequences. And so what do we do? Raise the debt ceiling, deny the evidence, say it's not our fault.

We can't change the government, but we can try to limit the use of bleach, recycle plastics and magazines, buy the recycled paper products.

It'd be nice if we did the things we told our kids to. Pick up after yourself. Take care of any creatures in your possession. Say please and thank you.

Diatribe number 3:

There's a lot of need in this world, and personally, it overwhelms me. Occasionally we send off checks, more out of guilt than anything else, and you know what? I have no idea what happens to that money. I don't see it make any kind of difference.

So, not to slam charitable giving, but when I heard about those seniors on NPR, I began thinking about what will fill in the gaps for those people when obviously the government will fail them.

And my only answer is the old-fashioned community.