Monday, August 30, 2004


Sometimes your horoscope tells you just what you need to hear. Take today's from Excite:
Counter your tendency to rehash the past -- instead, begin your day with a list of your hopes and dreams.... Now take this list in your pocket and refer to it often during the day. Make sure not to lose it. Look for signs that you are manifesting the future you desire.

I read it just before setting out to type this message, and it changed my post for the day. I was going to set out a rather depressing list of all my bad memories of poverty, all those sundry reasons I'm living with my mother (top of the list: a working washer and dryer--try living without one for five years, and you'll know what I mean). But now I think I'd be better off burying those in the back of my mind.

Maybe the future won't be as bad as the past. Maybe this spring, when I return to Portland to earn $$ to pay my wretched student loans, I won't have to live in poverty and stinking laundry and stomach-grinding fear. At least I'll hope so today.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Learning to fly

Okay, that's a cheesy title, but I loved the Rocky reference. Blame the cheese on my lunch (pizza) and the rust in my brain. This sick momma/sick baby business is for the birds.

Today's post will not wax philosophical, metaphorical or political. Instead, I'm discussing a topic large in my mind: house keeping. You see, after all my mother's grousing and back-spearing comments, I'm turning myself around--originally as a way to say "nyah-nyah!" to her, but now for my own edification. My lovely sister (the perfect one) turned me on to Flylady, and now I'm hooked.

I don't jibe with all the Flylady's notions--nobody is going to get me to put on shoes first thing in the morning--but she is very encouraging and just plain smart. Her ideas make house keeping fun and easier. I've loved Martha Stewart for years, but she couldn't get me to organized, and no wonder: she has three houses to stash all of her crap. Flylady understands how yucky life can be when you've stashed too much in your little two-bedroom.

Anyway, besides wrestling a feverish toddler, that's what I'm been doing. Cleaning house.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


We are all sick here. Yesterday Fi was really unwell, with a bad fever, and now I am yucky. Ugggh. Pray for better news some other day.

i have tons to write, but it will have to wait.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Blog clog

Man, I've been trying to cook up a really great entry about how inspired I've been since reading "On Writing," but unfortunately, trying to be really great is a certain death blow for me. Just thinking those words--really great--ices up my fingers and turns my toes frostbite-green.

Yes, frostbite is green. My mother suffers from some post-frostbite circulatory disorder (like Reynaud's syndrome, I think), and when her fingers/toes get cold, her skin turns the nastiest green imaginable. It is actually the same olive-gray color as a corpse.

I know this because we went to the wrong funeral home. When I was a freshman in college, I took a class called "Death and Dying." The prof was about to retire in order to focus on his own literary work, and this was his last foray into morbidity. (He had actually broken new ground in the field--our school was the first to offer a class on D-&-D, which is now a common topic. But then, the man used to keep a coffin in his office and give out extra credit points to anyone willing to shut themselves inside.) Every year, the class organized a field trip to a nearby mortuary to experience first-hand the preparation which goes into a person's last party.

Our class screwed up. The girl in charge called the new funeral home, the one three blocks away from campus, not one. These people were educators in their field, eager to share their knowledge. They showed us every aspect of their work, from the emergency refrigerators in the basement to the frilly chapel. They showed us the cardboard boxes used to take bodies to the crematorium (Yes, you have to be in some kind of coffin to be burned. It's a law. But cardboard is okay for the uberfrugal). And we even got to see the embalmed bodies waiting for the makeup artist's touch, perched on beautician's reclining chairs.

One body--heavy-set and large--sat under a sheet, like a man relaxing at the barber's office before a shave. He hadn't made it through the embalming process yet, and the staff thought we might find him disturbing. (Although if the detailed description of how they suck out blood and replace it with toxic chemicals didn't bother us, I don't see how an ordinary dead guy would really shake us up.)

Anyway, what we could see of him was gray-green. Like my mother's hands, like my own, clenched on the keyboard in the desparate attempt to type something REALLY GREAT.

I'll settle for a tangent.

Friday, August 13, 2004

On Writing

So I noticed Erin was reading a Stephen King book called "On Writing." I'd never heard of it, but it piqued my interest. I'm on a big writers-on-writing reading jag. I started it 2 days ago, and let me tell you, it's amazing!

okay, i finished "O.W." and it is terrific. the awesomest book ever. i want it for xmas. i intended to write a great blog about it, but instead of writing a great blog entry, I've just had this one sitting around in the draft pile for about a week.

Sometimes you put too much pressure on your brain to be brilliant, and it spazzes out.

PS: I made plum jam last night, and not only was it delicious, all the jars sealed. I feel like a domestic *goddess*.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Inspirational Ladies

Just a quick note here. Gotta get back to work on THE BOOK. Lately I have been reading some great webpages by my favorite authors, soaking up some of their great wit and wisdom. Or something like that. Anyway, here are a couple and the lowdown on what makes them rock:

Jane Yolen: This is particularly good because she has a cool weblog, and also because there's a photograph of her on the site where she looks like my college writing professor (who made a huge difference in my writing and thus, my life). Jane is so awesome. I remember reading her stuff when I was just starting to read, shortly after the miracle-reading-breakthrough-of-second-grade. Her book, "Heart's Blood," rocked my world. The cartoon wasn't so hot, though ... Anyway, Jane is full of brilliant words and is really one of my personal heroes. Rock on, Jane!

Rowling Rock--sorry for the pun. No, J.K., the woman who brought us Harry Potter is tres cool (much better than the beer I just punned). This webpage discusses a bit of the logic behind the writing and editing process--it's very intriguing and helpful for those just starting to get a handle on character management and story development.

Cecilia Dart-Thornton is a brilliant writer, and her work inspired me to take a bold change of direction in my own stuff. The world she creates is just ... amazing. Even her webpage is breathtaking!

Tamora Pierce was the woman who made me a writer--damn her hide, anyway! Her book Alanna was the first fantasy novel I ever read, and also the first book where the point of view shifted between two characters. It about knocked me on my *ass*! But after that, I paid attention to the tools the author used in a story--not bad for a six-year old.

Well, to steal one of JY's ideas, it is now time for some BIC time: BUTT IN CHAIR time. She is so brilliant!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


I don't believe the word "discipline" is used properly when it is a verb. It suggests uptight schoolmasters and wooden paddles. Chew-spattered Southern baptists taking their children out back, shouting "I'll larn ya!" followed by the crisp sounds of leather on flesh.

Discipline should be a noun. It's a state of being, an achievement wherein one restricts the behavior into focused, functional activities. It's what happens when you learn to restrain all those beasty impulses and become civilized. Discipline should be the gift you offer your children and slowly teach them to appreciate.

My sister uses the word "discipine" every time she sees me and my unruly child. admittedly, this has only happened once. So far. She offers me suggestions on the phone, and has offered to buy me copies of the books she has found useful as a parent. They all sound hideous, with titles like "Think Space," or "The Dog-Trainer's Guide to Raising Children." I don't want to raise my child like a dog, even if she does need it!

My sister comes to visit tomorrow. I'm petrified.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Losing the Color Smog

I realized last night that there really was a reason for all my foolish depressive drooping this weak, and that I'd been blocking it from my head like an idiot. Or maybe I was just too wrapped up in Fiona and plans for the October trip and Crystal's wedding and writing and fighting with my brother, and oh, a thousand other things I'd rather think about. But there I was, laying in the darkness while Fi struggled against sleep, and it hit me: Smog is leaving me this week. I'm losing my best friend.

Best friend is an understatement. We met through our sorority, a nominal sisterhood with ties as strong as blood (that sounds dramatic, but watch a group of elderly women at a college reunion, and you'll see what I mean). We were roommates for 6 years, and in that time period, we took most of the same classes, and then upon graduation from school, worked forthe same company. We shared a library card. We watched most of the same movies and read most of the same books--if one of us saw/read something without the other and liked it, we shared it with the other one. We had the same friends. We spoke in unison. At work, we emailed each other over 30 times a day to exchange ideas and thoughts about customers and co-workers. We shared holidays with each other's families. We had the same haircuts, the same glasses (not exactly, but near enough to creep us out--and it was unintentional!). People called us twins.

We have the basically the same ethnic background (Germans from eastern Washington), and shared academic interests (music, living history, literature). Because we started in similiar places, and filled our lives with all the same details, we shared one world. One world for two people. And it was cool, because we understood each other effortlessly; we each knew just how the other person would react to any scenario; we knew just how to make each other happy. We could also exclude everybody else, who didn't know our little language and who couldn't take part in our universe.

Sometimes I was desperate to get away from Smog. It was hard to create an identity for myself within our little world, and it was hard behave sanely within such a closed circuit. And then I had Fi, and I was thrown out of my tiny universe into a much smaller one that only occasionally intersected with anyone else's. But Smog was there with us a lot of the time. The connection--the shared world--still existed. We just had to schedule visits to it.

But now she's crossing the country to start her new life, and she'll meet a ton of new people and learn a ton of new stuff. It's wonderful. I've been so excited for her, and happy for myself, too. I knew we were separating into our own special selves, and it seems right. We'll always be friends--we're certain of it. There's no way we'll let ourselves completely drift apart. It's only our planet that will crumble.

Without the constant reinforcement of shared experiences--one cast, one crew, one setting--there's no way our little world can maintain its borders. It's already mostly gone; I just hadn't checked before. The landmarks we built together are no more than nostalgic memories. Palio, Caswell, Cactus Club, Papa Haydn, Arco; Todd, Charles, the funny man at Laurelhurst, Mr. White Keys; little cookies, breakfast ring, lemon bars, taco night with the Anderson's. The Flys, Soul Coughing, and ever and always the American Girls. They fade away like smoke after closing time, leaving only the faint whiff of history behind them.

Well, every band breaks up. They leave their old albums behind them and go forward to create something new, something more meaningful to their artistic vision. But their legacy lives on in our CD collections and our hearts. So I'll throw on the Glory Daze soundtrack and think of the times we've spent together, my best friend and I. We were the best band of all time, black and white keys on the same keyboard.

Good luck and love, Smoggi.