Friday, November 30, 2007

It's official!

I am shaking and a little bit crying. It's 12:56 AM, November 30th, and I have won Nanowrimo.

So now I've a day off before NaNoFiMo! Kt, if you're out there, that's the challenge site for the two of us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas gifts

You know who's having a green Christmas this year? The library, that's who. They are making BANK off me this year. Woof. When did all those books get overdue?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday musings

There is something about winter, the quality of its thin gray light, the depth of its long darkness, that turns the mind to the spirit. For me, every year around this time I look into my heart and my soul and ask questions and listen for some kind of answer.

This was a weighty year in the spiritual realm for me. I explored yogic teachings and read Christian thinkers like Thomas Moore. And some time in the summer--not a time I usually think about anything more serious than sunscreen--I came to a realization. I do not believe in God.

For years, I have said something different. Something along the lines of "Of course I believe in God! God is the perfect metaphor for the beauty and harmony of the universe!" (This is analogous to my feelings about Santa and fairies and forest spirits.) And then it hit me that believing in a metaphor isn't the same as believing in something. Metaphors are not things in themselves; they are the tools we use to describe these things.

So I believe in science. I believe in a beautiful harmony and order of the universe, bound by the activities and entities than we may not understand in their entirety, but do not undermine the truths we have fought to carve out. I think that makes me an atheist.

Some people feel like atheism is a selfish, shallow, hopeless state of being. I don't see it like that. When I look at the stars in their whirling patterns of light and heat, I am awed by the forces around me, and I can name them--gravity, inertia, entropy, electromagnetism. When I hear the whoosh of my own pulse inside my body, I am thrilled to know that the same forces are at work on all the tiny motes of own being. There is such beauty there, such power and majesty.

And I can have absolute faith in the universe and its rules. Gravity will never leave me, never stop affecting me even if I should choose not to believe in it. The laws of physics will not abandon me or reject me or send me to eternal suffering for not believing in them. And they are the same for every person, no matter what book is the rule of the land around them. Now that is beautiful. That is powerful. That is awesome.

I am proud to believe these things. I am proud to say that there is plenty to have faith in that is not God. I am proud to say that I believe morality and justice and order have a place in a world that is not religious. But in many places of this world, I would be killed for saying this. In my own country, I would never elected. Many communities would not allow me to teach their children; if I was found writing about atheism on my personal website, I would be encouraged to leave my job. Even among my own friends I feel nervous saying these things. Somehow it is easier to say "Hey, I'm a Muslim now!" than "Hey! I'm an atheist!" I could wear a cross on a necklace to work--even though the cross is a torture device that has also been used to harass and frighten people, primarily blacks, in this country--but if I wore a similar item that said "Atheist," I would be asked to remove it.

That's why I put the scarlet 'A' on my page. I wanted to show people that I am proud of what I believe, even if it's not normal in the United States. I wanted to show people that a nice smart woman like me can be an atheist. And then maybe they would feel okay with themselves.

Happy holidays, everybody. Peace be with you.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy T-day!

A few days ago I had the random desire to see the movie "Tremors 3" again. Okay, so it wasn't random--I have the bad habit of quoting from the movie after certain ordinary bodily functions (all right! I admit it! If they stink, I shout 'Blast your own damn ass, ass blaster!'), and it had been a doozy of a day. Anyway, I was overwhelmed by the need to see Bert and company in action.

My family doesn't have a whole lot of traditions, but I feel safe saying that in the Wagner family, nothing says "holiday" quite like the Tremors movies (or tv show). I can remember the long ago Thanksgiving my oldest sister introduced us to the first movie. It was a beautiful day.

Then when I was living with my mom and brother, he was a hardcore Tremors fan, hooking me on the sequels and the show. Wow. That's some good television. Catch it if you still can--I don't think it's on the SciFi channel anymore. But you can still get all four movies on DVD (and if you've only seen the original on VHS, ruuuuun to the video store and get your hands on the DVD; the picture quality is just so much better). In fact, we were able to rent the Tremors pack, which has all four movies on it.

Yes, I did allow my four-year-old to watch Tremors (the swearing was the worst part!). I did try to cover her eyes in the scary parts. However, all that happened is that she said she'd like a pet graboid to keep in the back yard. She thought they were kind of cute.

Is she my kid or what?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Whoah ... Turkey!

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is just two days away! I am super-duper excited. This year, I am making a kale/swiss chard gratin, mashed tatoes & gravy, sweet potatoes and cranberry bliss bars. The piece de resistance: Organic Valley Eggnog. We tried this kind of eggnog at the farmer's market Saturday, and it's incredible. Not too sickly sweet, not too fakey rumish. Not yellow, either. Just mild and nutmeggy.

I love Thanksgiving! I love all those warm happy feelings of Thankfulness. And a full tummy. And our annual trip to the zoo (it's almost all volunteers running the show, so I feel slightly less bad about going out on Thanksgiving). And having breakfast with Heidi! It's just a lovely, lovely day.

The only trouble this year is how to fit in a couple hours of writing in between all that family stuff?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

She failed me!

So for years--about 16, now--I've been in love with a book called Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean. It's the most amazing book I've ever read, and I re-read it almost every Halloween. (It's also landmarked in my head as one of the books lost in our housefire, when I was twelve.)

But I've never read any of Dean's other books. I never even tried to find any at the library, and I'm not sure why. I usually pick one author and gulp down every known work in an orgy of author-love. So this year, I decided, what the heck? Why not read more P. D.? And I checked out Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary.

It was fine, I guess. I mean, I love Gentian, the main character, and I liked her friends. But OMG! She used the same tricks! Even some of the same quotes! And once again, she spent pages summarizing plays that the protaganist is reading. Uggh! Uggh! Uggggggh! And to make it worse, the ending was totally unsatisfying, and the girl pisses off her cat. You just don't go around separating a girl from her cat unless it's for a really effective and satisfying climax, and this ending did not merit it. Jeez.

So I put another book on hold by Dean just in case this one was a fluke. I've got my fingers crossed. I don't want my heart to break!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Brain twisters

Why is it so much more tempting to make a blog entry than work on my latest novel-in-progress? Hmmn. I suppose part of it is knowing Fibee will wake up any moment, ruining any attempt of mine to even think coherently. Actually, now that you mention it, that's probably the biggest reason. If a bird makes a clicking sound remotely similar to the sound Fi makes when she turns off her nightlight, I spasmodically save every document and prepare to slam the laptop closed. Whew. It's exhausting.

Another difficult-to-answer question: why do my parents torture me? Why do they keep saying "Why don't you visit more often?" Or "Well if you were up here, I could get you a llama for about $5." Or worse: "Well, if you'd come up and help me build the coop, you could play with the chickens all you wanted." Yeah. Torture, especially when you consider the fact they live in WILBUR, Washington! In case you aren't familiar, it's in the the northwest corner of BFE. You know, the part with no trees. Or jobs.

Sigh. These are the mysteries that torture a woman.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I have had the Dora theme song stuck in my head all day. It's painful.

It is so creepy. I have become the face of the Portland Children's Museum. Birthday parties were featured in Portland Monthly, which is kind of my thing (actually, my face is on the birthday party brochures), and now my Bendy Wendy program is featured. And I'm on the newsletter. It's just kind of ... weird. Like almost being famous.

Me! Almost famous!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Holy freakin fong!

I'm online in my very own house!!! Wow! Wow! Wow!

This Tuesday in Garden Club we're going to talk about worms. I am so excited. I actually couldn't fall asleep last night because I couldn't stop thinking about how great the lesson will be! Then I had dreams that the worms in my bin crawled out and I was searching all over the house for the escapees.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back ... a little bit

So I'm making an effort to get back on blogger. Dial-up is coming soon to our household ...

Do you ever have one of those days when you want to abuse the ellipsis? I think it's because I got up at a quarter to 6 this morning. I could have slept until 6, but I was starting to get nervous about this green thing the museum sent me to for breakfast, so I gave up. And I was right to be nervous. The meeting was at the Multnomah Athletic Center, and it is a frightening wealth-center. I just kept chanting to myself, "You have an invitation. At least it's not the City Club." I was nervous as hell until I saw some a couple of people wearing jeans. There's nothing like a room full of business suits to make you uncomfortable, and nothing like the comforting presence of people who are dressed worse than you.

I am cruising along, slowly, slowly, but honestly with my NaNoWriMo project. I won't make it to 50K, but 40 is not unreasonable, and I'm in LOVE with the book. It is worth waking up early for!