Sunday, November 30, 2003


Garett and I got together again today intending to finish our last song, but we got distracted by a new guitar rhythm he was working on. So, now we have the makings of a new song, if only (once again) we could get some lyrics laid down. I'm not sure what this song is going to be called, but so far we've all thought it reminded us of the beach, sort of the last day of summer before all the fun ends.

This song is notable because it is full of screw-ups On our first two songs, even though they were still rough drafts, we edited out all the sketchy-sounding parts. This is the first time I sat down and played the entire song through instead of relying on loops that I liked. I only edited the last three or four bars, then over-dubbed a couple of the crash cymbals, otherwise, the drums in this one are recorded in one sitting. That means the drums are kind of crazy in places. There's a spot where Garett pretty much forgets he's playing the guitar, but I like that it sounds real. No keyboards yet, so the only thing I'm doing on this one is playing the drums, the bass and rhythm guitars are Garett.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Were your clothes made in a sweatshop?

The Seattle P-I ran a good series of articles (with sidebars) on sweatshops in American Samoa in this week's paper.

Learn more.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

On the other hand...

...I'm also the one who married a woman who can make a chocolate cake without eggs, so I must not be *too* big of an idiot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Well, no wonder.

I've been reluctant to do the math, but this morning in the shower (and again this afternoon in the shower, because I can't add when I'm so sleepy), I finally tallied up my income for the year 2003. What a depressing--yet revealing--moment.

I have taken home less than $9000 this year. With my next three paychecks, it will add up to something like $8700. No wonder we're having financial problems. I took home more than that in four months at my old job. What kind of idiot walks away from that kind of paycheck? This kind of idiot, I guess.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Crossing the line.

Over the past couple weeks, I've come to recognize that there is a difference between being sexually explicit and being sexually harassing at the work place.

I work with a bunch of boys. A couple of them are older than me, but they're essentially all boys, and they're essentially all obsessed with their penises: where they've been, where they're going, what kind of talk they need to have with them to make them stay out of trouble. I could probably draw an accurate picture of all their various organs, I've heard them described so many times. And I can't count the number of times I hear the phrase "makin' with the humpin'" in a day, I really can't.

But the surprising thing is--I can't say it really bothers me. Every once in awhile I find myself pulled into a (good-natured) argument about stupid things they say, and wow, I really wish the intellectual level of the kitchen conversation could be pulled a little higher sometimes, but mostly, the punk rock boys really entertain me. I think my friends would be shocked at some of the things I laugh at. Even I didn't know it was so difficult to offend me.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, some of the talk around me has set my teeth on edge. One of the guys has been specifically teasing me, presumably because I'm the only woman there. I know he's not really serious when he's hitting on me, but I've told him to knock it off several times, and he just won't. If I get mad when he starts talking about how much he wants me, he just laughs. It particularly pisses me off when he starts saying sexual things to me in Spanish, because I'm the only one who understands them and he can be a lot more free with his propositions. It got bad enough yesterday--I got mad enough--that one of the punk rock dough boys told him to shut up, but that only worked for about two minutes, and he was back making suggestions about how we could get sweaty together.

I'm not quite sure what the difference is--yeah, I told two of the guys to shut up today because they were comparing penis sizes and I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW, but it didn't upset me. Five minutes with this other guy, and I want to quit my job because there doesn't seem to be any recognition on his part that he's crossed some sort of invisible line from funny to threatening. Today he came in with a broken hand and maybe a broken arm, and I found myself thinking, "Good!" That's a bad sign, I think, being happy that a co-worker is suffering. I'm not really sure what to do about the situation, except get another job.

I wish.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Coin toss.

Who's going to crack up first? Catherine is a more natural optimist, and better at living in denial, but she's been pushed to a point of desperation. Susan lives on the edge of sanity as it is, and doesn't need much of an excuse to dive into the deep, dark waters of depression. Susan's more likely to explode, Catherine's more likely to weep quietly. Susan's more likely to withdraw and quit trying altogether, Catherine's more likely to pretend everything's okay until it's too late. Susan's tired of dealing with the pressure of being the household income savior, Catherine's overwhelmed by her job and her school and her half-crazy wife. Who's going to win the race to hopelessness? It's a 50-50 proposition right now, and it could go either way.

The cruelest of things.

If I was a writer, if I had the words and the skill, I would describe the torment of that waking moment, the moment at which you realize you will never, ever be okay. You will live a lifetime before your eyes open, and another lifetime in the second afterward, and both of them will be spent in hell. Your nightmares will become real, and your reality will be the nightmare. You will never be happy. You will never experience joy. Everything is, and always will be, pain. You will spend your entire life in a state of yearning, forever deprived of sweetness and grace. You will never, ever escape the anguish of exhaustion and all its attendant demons. Between you and respite sits that single waking moment, so unforgiving in its cruelty as it forces you into the desolation of daylight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

What I think is, it's a mistake to portray yourself as invincible. I know it's required in a lot of careers. You have to look good, sound good. You need to make people think you're competent. More than that, you need them to think that you're the best, that you've got a lot of potential and you're going to reach its maximum. You've got your act together, you're going places, you're dependable, you're intelligent, you know what you're doing.

The trouble is, you learn this behavior so well, that it bleeds over into your social relationships, too. Maybe the bleed is obligatory--if you're dedicated to your job, chances are good it forms the basis of social life. Your friends are also your co-workers and colleagues. At work, you've got them believing you can accomplish anything. At play, won't they have those same expectations?

But what happens if you're not invincible away from the office, when you don't have the answers, when something gives way in your personal life? Who is going to help you? All those co-workers who think you're dialed in? Are they going to believe that you've got problems? Are they going to hear what you're saying and take action, or will they just brush it off, figuring you can handle it as well as you handle the pressures of work?

Don't act invincible, because you're not. Someday you're going to need someone to believe in your pain, and if you've spent your entire life convincing people it doesn't exist, you're going to look like the boy who cried wolf. Trust me. You're not doing yourself any favors by letting people preserve the illusion of your perfection. You're going to need their help, so try not to play the game so well they won't be able to offer it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Not as smart as I hoped I was.

I finally finished Alan Rifkin's Signal Hill. It falls roughly into the genre I consider "guys' books," written by a man for other men, I think, focusing on the male experience (adolescent and adult). I feel like I spent quite a bit of time with the book but...I just don't get it. I hate to admit it, it makes me feel stupid, because surely there's something I'm supposed to be taking away from these stories. I'm not, though. They're not even really lingering in my mind for future contemplation. I hate it when I feel like I'm missing something that everyone else intuitively grasps. Even after reading the few reviews I could find on the book, I can't figure out what it is that is supposed to be so riveting about this collection. Someone please enlighten me.

Hey, Mikey! He *likes* it!

It's a hard task, getting me to go to a movie. Usually the wife will say, "I'd like to see [insert movie here]" and I'll say, "Yeah, I'd see that," and it never goes any farther than that. I'm a little more likely to go if the movie is at the drive-in (at least I can bring my own food and sleep if I don't like the show) or the College Mall theater (at least if I hate the movie, it only cost me a buck). But mostly I don't go to movies.

I definitely won't go to any movie that might have even a little violence in it. No horror flicks, no action flicks, no war movies, nothing that might have bloodshed. What this means is I'm a real lightweight when it does come to violence, since I haven't been properly conditioned/numbed to it as any patriotic, god-fearing American citizen should be. My eyes get big even during animated violence. Finding Nemo? 3/4 of the movie went by with my jaw hanging open--literally. Sharks! Jellyfish! No, fishes! Don't do it! Don't do it!

Anyway, today we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean and I was--again, literally--on the edge of my seat the entire time. I must have remembered to breathe because I'm alive and typing this, but I'm pretty sure I forgot to blink during most of the action scenes. Turns out, I really like pirate movies. Who knew? The last pirate movie I saw was Muppet Treasure Island, and really, that's about my speed when it comes to cinema. I had no idea I would be enraptured by ghost pirates running amok and killing people in red coats. I even though Johnny Depp was funny. And pirate music? Love it. Even the creepy monkey didn't freak me out too badly, although I could have lived without the final monkey scene (after the credits). I sat still for *143 minutes*. That is absolutely unheard of in my world.

I could have paid full price for the movie and not felt at all ripped off, and I'd definitely see it again. I heard myself saying to Catherine at the end, "I hope they do a sequel!" What is this strange force that has taken over my body?

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The pharmaceutical moment.

On Thursday, we went to hear Leonore Tiefer speak on "The McDonaldization of Sex." The idea of "McDonaldization" isn't really new, and probably doesn't need to be explained, and the tenets of fast food production--conformity, control, accountability, etc.--have been applied to so many industries that people are probably more surprised when they're missing from a business than when they're present.

At any rate, Dr. Tiefer's talk was really about sexual health care, and how its streamlining is affecting women. At the base of this standardized medicine--bring the patient in, diagnose her in ten seconds, hand her a perscription--is, of course, the pharmaceutical industry. The producers of pharmaceutical products have a lot invested in keeping people interested in their medications. Dr. Tiefer talked a bit about the Viagra trend, how men are being taught that "occasional erectile difficulties" must be medicated (as if not being able to get it up on demand 100% of the time is some sort of disease), and how dangerous it is to just hand out Viagra for a problem that could be caused by other illnesses (diabetes, for example). Tiefer explored some of the social anxieties dealing with sex, and how the drug companies can play off those to make a buck.

Anyway, the main point of her talk was that since the Viagra market was so strong, the drug industry got the bright idea of exploiting the female market with a similar kind of drug. The problem was, there was no "erectile disease" to treat, so the industry is essentially making up a disease, "female sexual dysfunction" and offering up drugs to cure it. Dr. Tiefer has started an activist group, FSD Alert to try and counteract this movement to make women think their bodies and sex lives are inadequate and in need of medical treatment. The press page alone is worth a visit.

Dr. Tiefer's theory is that we're on the cusp of a pharmaceutical "revolution," that medical treatment for sexual "problems" is about to take a huge turn for the worse, and it's time to stop watching and start preventing.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Boris Grebenshikov.

Yesterday I stumbled across a Naxos CD at the library of Boris Grebenshikov. Grebenshikov (w/Akvarium [in english]) and Victor Tsoi (w/Kino, esp. Gruppa Krovi [in english]) almost singlehandedly taught me how to speak Russian, and I was just happy to see him again. When I was in school, it was all Vysotsky, Vysotsky, Okudjava, Vysotksy! And I was there for the birth of the next school of Russian folk music. How cool is that?

Addendum: Oh my. The liner notes give thanks and credit to Miki Pohl. She was my next door neighbor when we were in Leningrad in 1988. We operated in different social circles--we were in different grammar and conversation classes at LGU--but one thing we had in common was our interest in dissident rock. It is so neat that she took the topic and ran with it.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me...

...And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head,
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

Well, I could type out the rest of the poem, my mom made me memorize it when I was a child, but poetry is exactly not the point here.

I'm reading Roberto Casati's The Shadow Club: The Greatest Mystery in the Universe--Shadows--and the Thinkers Who Unlocked Their Secrets. What an awkward subtitle. I've started the book a couple of times, but I've never gotten past page 14 or 15 because every time I read them, I need to take a break and think, "Wow," for awhile. Then I have to start the book over.

Casati is making a very basic point, that shadows and light play a large role in the history of modern science. He runs through the history of the lightbulb pretty quickly, Edison's incandescent bulb, etc. But I'm always blown away by the implications of his next point--that with the introduction of the filament lightbulb, not only did concept of light change, so did the concept of shadows. For the first time in history, both light and shadows were *stable*. That seems kind of obvious, but imagine how much the average person's worldview must have changed. Always before, even with gas lamps, shadows moved. They flickered if caused by artificial light, and they moved across the ground w/time if caused by natural light. Suddenly we have the capability of producing shadows that don't move.

Modern shadows are completely different than ancient shadows, and that is very cool. I can't believe I hadn't noticed it before this.

Actually, I guess poetry is the point, because Robert Louis Stevenson captured the essence of change when describing his childhood companion.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Beginner's luck.

So. I just sold my first travel article to a major metro newspaper. I'm a little stunned (but not quite speechless, of course).

A few weeks ago I took a travel writing class through the city Parks and Rec department. We met for three two-hour classes, and I think it cost me $21 or something like that. It was mostly a nuts and bolts class, how to choose a topic, how to find a market, how to write an article, how to take care of legal matters, etc. As part of the class I had to write a query letter for practice. After the class was over, I came home and sent the query letter out to 7 or 8 metro newspapers in the midwest (pulling editor's names and e-mail addresses off the web). Mostly I expected to be ignored, and I was, but I got one "maybe, but probably not" followed by a "I'd like to read the full article, and then we'll see."

Anyway, I cranked out a 900-1000 word article on the topic I suggested, and sent it off to that editor. That was last week. Today, I got an e-mail from the editor saying she'd like to run the piece, and if I agreed with the amount of money and terms the paper would offer, she would send me a contract. That is beginner's luck, big time.

I'm not sure where to go from here, but the beginning seems like a nice place to be, so maybe I'll just hang out here for awhile and enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Who knew?

Today I found out that one of the dough makers at work actually knows how to write a complete sentence. I don't know why I'm so surprised, other than the fact that most of our dialogue consists of me saying things like, "I'm going to kick your ass," and him saying, "You have to catch me first." Not a lot of depth in the dough room.

Before this kid started working in the production kitchen, he repaired lawn mowers. He went to a local high school, and as far as I know, never once considered going to college. He doesn't read (not a bad thing, he's going to loan me a couple of DVDs) and doesn't seem all that interested in the world outside his line of vision. He's a really sweet guy, but just not a heavy thinker. I mean, my god, he bet a co-worker that the Browns would beat the Chiefs on Sunday--that is just plain stupidity in action. Who bets on the Browns?

Today he was talking about his "professional hobby," writing poetry, and mentioned a poem he wrote to his ex-girlfriend (he wanted to call it "Die, Bitch" but ended up changing it to "Rain"--good decision). I thought he was joking, but it turns out not--he really does write poetry in his spare time. Then he told me I could read his latest poem because it was posted online. He probably didn't think I'd actually look them up, but I did.

Okay, his poetry isn't great, full of romantic cliches, but it's better than I ever would have thought it would be. He actually used adjectives and adverbs. He can write a complete sentence. He used the word "vibrant" (correctly) and before ten minutes ago I would have confidently bet ten dollars that he didn't even know what it meant. He really and truly writes better than more than 75% of my freshman history students ever did.

Now I want to know--what were his grades like in high school? Why didn't he go to college? Did anyone encourage him to? He went to school out in the county, and I'm guessing that he's like every other first generation college student I've met here, with a family not interested in education, no support, no vision of what life could be like. It's too bad, really, because I'd really like to see what he could do in a different environment.

Almost relevant.

And speaking of "why I left graduate school" (sort of), I thought this was kind of wild. Some of it parallels my experience, a lot of it doesn't, but it still made for interesting reading.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Jack of all trades.

What a weird week. All these people from the old life are suddenly re-appearing, and now I'm in the middle of a mini identity crisis. Trying to fit back into the spot they all had carved out for me in their minds, trying to be who I was ten years ago without letting go of who I am now, trying to keep up and realizing I'm not so sure I want to. Who are these people, and what do they want from me?

A little bit I feel guilty. I'm standing among friends, and I think that the one friend I'd really like to have a face-to-face conversation with right now isn't in the room. So I feel bad, as if I'm looking over everyone's shoulders, hoping for someone else to appear. What, these friends aren't good enough? So a little guilt, and it makes me shift in discomfort too many times in a single evening, I think.

Mostly, though, I'm just recognizing that the way my life has unfolded over the past 6 years isn't how anyone expected it to, and although I've moved on, everyone else only has the old mental picture of me. So instead of falling back on familiar topics and old patterns of conversing, everyone has to do a little bit of adjusting, and maybe it's not going that well, I don't know.

My mind works differently now. I'm listening to people talk around me, and I'm discovering that I've left the world of ideas for the world of skills. It's not that I've become less intelligent (although I have to admit I don't engage in the critical thinking process like I used to) but more that I've just directed it elsewhere. It's not that I don't read, I just read differently and for different purposes now. I've no longer got the mind of a specialist; instead, I'm a generalist.

For the past several years, my knowledge has been expanding in terms of practical skill--the physical rather than the cerebral. I cranked up my information technology skills. I stopped thinking about architecture and started thinking about building. I draft, I construct. I've discovered I have a favorite power tool. I took music lessons and I joined a band. Learned how to skate, and then to play hockey. I learned a new language (well, sort of). Took up the martial arts. Learned how to properly slice tomatoes. I suppose I was thinking during all these things, but it's not the same as living on campus, speaking the language of the academy and thinking academic thoughts.

For once, I'm fine with that. I like working with affordable housing programs (even if it doesn't pay the bills). I like being able to go to the library and pick up any damn book I please w/out having to work it into my current research topic. I like being able to change my mind without getting written approval from my advisor.

Somehow I've got to figure out how to convey that to everyone around me, that while of course I'm interested in what they're researching and what they're writing about and what it means for the future of humankind, it's not what I do anymore, and it's not what I'll do in the future. Everyone needs to stop expecting that I'll recognize the names they're dropping and the scholars they're reading.

What I'd really like to say to them, except it sounds like I'm criticizing them and I don't really want to, is that it would do them all good to give up their career paths for awhile and hang out with the rest of us. Have some conversations that aren't so narrowly focused, and that aren't fed by guest lecturers and course material and current research. Maybe they should find some people who don't share their same career goals and go camping or something, anything to broaden their horizons. Read some poetry instead of the New York Times with breakfast. Maybe even watch some TV. Listen to something that isn't NPR.

Well, I guess that is a criticism, isn't it? But about the fifth time someone expected me to recognize the author of an article they were reading, I really wanted to say, "Look, do you know how to put insulation in your crawl space?" It's just that when I realized all these people were coming to town, I thought it would make me sad about everything I gave up. Instead, it's made me heavy with this feeling that my friends are missing out because their professions demand absolute focus and dedication. I don't know. Life is short and it seems a very bad thing to spend the entire thing trapped in the archives squinting under artificial light.

Whatever. Whomever.

S: I don't understand women and I don't understand men.
C: That doesn't leave you much. Just cats.
S: Well, I don't understand them, either.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Cowlick Ricky.

Apparently I've inherited his hairstyle.

When I was in second grade, I stole a book of fairy tales illustrated by Adrienne Segur from the school library. Some of the stories, like "Thumbkin," I can repeat forward and backwards and forwards again (anything with Thousand League Boots and ogresses is worth re-reading). Some of them, like the "The Royal Ram," I only read once. That particular story made me cry for hours the first and only time I read it, and my mom told me never to read it again. She'd be glad to hear I've still never re-read it. "Green Snake"? Got it memorized. "Bright, Deardeer and Kit"? Didn't find it all that awful, but there's a librarian's note at the front of my book recommending that children not be allowed to read it.

Anyway, I couldn't tell you the story behind Cowlick Ricky, other than he was probably ugly on the outside but had luminous, golden beauty on the inside; I haven't read it in years. I do, however, recognize his hairstyle when I see it staring back at me in the mirror. It's a good thing we're required to wear ballcaps at work, I'm telling you.

Bands of America.

Northmont H.S., Ohio.

Center Grove H.S., Indiana.

Bellbrook H.S., Ohio.

The separation between church and interstate.

I haven't seen it, but apparently there's a huge cross on a hill next to the freeway somewhere between here and Kansas. I'll look for it next time I go that way.

Went over to E&H's for dinner last night, one last chance to see David before he goes home. Great to see him twice in one week, wish Jen could have come with him. Also great to have a conversation with adults for a change. No punk rock music, no methamphetamines, no sex in the dough room.

It's funny, though, hanging out last night, I ended up feeling out of my element in the opposite direction. At work, I'm definitely intellectually slumming, I can't even pretend I'm not. With former grad school friends, though, I always feel one step from being revealed as an imposter. I knew I was in over my head when I sat down on the couch and started looking at the bookshelf. On the top shelf was a matched set of the Iliad and the Odyssey. And next to that set was a second set. And next to that set was a third set. When I asked Henry about them, he said he liked having three editions, so he could compare the translations, etc. I thought I was doing well having read them each once. Comparing translations? And it's not even his field, he's a Byzantine specialist.

Still, good to see friends twice in one week, even if I almost fell asleep in my dessert dish. Our social life completely tanked the day Jen and David left town, it really just ground to a halt. Sort of a relief to discover their's did, too. As he was leaving, David said it was good to feel like he had friends again, and we could relate. I wish they would relocate back here.

Friday, November 07, 2003

I'm supposed to be vacuuming.

I had to take my drum set over to Diane and Garett's last night, and I haven't set it back up because this is a perfect opportunity to vacuum a corner that hasn't been cleaned in five years. It's amazing how much dust can accumulate over such a length of time. It's kind of bribe--do the vacuuming, and you can drum some more!

I'd like to drum, Bobby lent me a new book, "The Art of Boogaloo" because he noticed two of the exercises play off my favorite drum pattern. It should be cool. He's good for my ego, yes, he is. Today he told me that I seriously sell myself short as a drummer, that I'm really better than I represent myself to be. Part of me thinks he's just trying to make me feel good, part of me wants to believe him. Whichever, I usually come back from seeing him all ready to drum again.

Catch up.

I was so tired last night, I forgot to even point out--that's just 1/2 a song, the background, and it hasn't been mixed, so the trumpets are way too loud. Garett is working on lyrics, and once we get those laid down, we'll make it sound a lot better.

I am so far into sleep deficit, I'm never going to get out.


Once again, we started out making a rockabilly song, and ended up with something totally different. Our new song, affectionately known as "rough draft" is a cross between Van Morrison and some dead ska band.

We've renamed the band, it's now called Bicoastal.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


I promised myself about ten years ago to stop teasing Catherine about her poor memory. Soon after Michael died, I made a joking reference to her inability to remember anything I said, and she burst into tears. It turns out that she was afraid she wouldn't be able to remember Michael after awhile, that she was already forgetting John and Robert and every time I teased her about her poor memory, it was like I was reminding her that she would forget Michael, too. That was one of those moments when you realize how much damage words can do, and I never want to do that to someone again. I've carried a bit of Catherine's fear and despair around with me ever since, and try to remember things for her so she won't have to worry anymore.

But now I seem to have my own problems with memory, which is probably normal. The older you get, the more things you have to remember, the more things you have to forget. But, still, I've been having these ten second panic attacks, the kind that make you want to pick up the phone and call your friends just to make sure you still recognize their voices. Lately I've been having a difficult time remembering the important things--what my friends look like, for instance. I frequently find myself looking at the photos of my parents in my office and the living room because I can't seem to recall what they look like, either. It's starting to freak me about a little bit, this inability to remember faces and voices. If I can't remember what people look like now, how am I ever going to remember what they look like when I can't see them or hear them anymore?

But as I was sitting at dinner this evening, I realized that--at least for now--I can share the burden of remembering with other people. We had dinner with David and Erika and Henry, and at various times, we fell into the "have you heard from so and so lately?" or "do you remember when we did such and such?" And as we were talking, and trying to work our way through some kind of hazy memories from our early grad school days, it occurred to me that the real value of long-lasting relationships may revolve around the notion of communal memory. I couldn't quite remember who it was who didn't pass their oral exams at USC, but David eventually pulled the name out of his memory banks for me. A dozen similar exchanges occurred between various members of our dinner party throughout the evening, and I ended up feeling a little relieved that there were people around to help me remember my life when I couldn't.

That's mostly reassuring, I think. Not entirely, because what if you out live all your friends and family and then lose your memories of them, too? That's the kind of worry that keeps me up at night. But mostly I was a little more optimistic after dinner. As long as you keep adding people to your life, and hold on to them once you have them, you'll have help when things get hazy. And maybe that's the kind of comforting thought that I need to hold on to right now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

You know what?

I'm just too tired to write. 2,437.5 pounds of bread and pizza dough this morning. My elbows are killing me, I keep looking down to make sure there's not a bone sticking through the skin.

There's a major disconnect right now with my ability to think and my ability to communicate, a disconnect that I'm sure could be solved by several hours of uninterrupted sleep, but I'm not getting that done right now. I've been reading tons of stuff about which I should be writing, before I forget what it was about them that grabbed my attention in the first place. For instance, I finished Edith Wharton's House of Mirth last night, I'm in the middle of one book of science essays, one book on shadows, one book on being a female oceanographer, one book on being Iranian-American, and another book of short stories based in L.A. And I'm sure I'll be happy to tell everyone about them. Later. Really. I will.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Slow learner.

C: Is your arm bleeding?
S: [Looking at arm] Oh...maybe. I think I bumped it on the drill again today. Where?
C: [Pointing to wound] It *is* bleeding.
S: Yeah, I guess so. Isn't that where I cut it the last time I bumped the drill?
C: [Pointing to a nearby scar] No, that's this one.
S: Oh. Well...almost.

Because my wife told me to.

We've been semi-madly cleaning house. It would be the spring cleaning if it was actually spring instead of a freakishly warm November. Anyway, it's the once or twice a year big clean. We have a friend coming into town on Wednesday to defend his dissertation, then another friend coming into town next week to give a talk, so it seemed like a good time to pretend we actually care about appearances. We finished the painting in our kitchen--mostly stuff the flaky contractor neglected to do--and Catherine scrubbed the kitchen floor. (Before anyone sends me e-mail about what a lousy house husband I am, I'd like to point out that painting the wall really freaked out my AC joint and there was no way I could clean the floor. But I would of.)

My task today was to tidy up the office. And I've done a reasonably good job, given that my deadline doesn't actually pass until tomorrow night some time. I even picked up my homework (fucking statics) off the stamp table. Yeah, but next time I do that particular task, I'm going to make sure the shade is pulled or that I'm fully dressed. Hopefully it was just the birds at the feeder that got a good look at me in my baggy shorts and bra, stuffing books and papers into my briefcase. I'm pretty sure the kids across the street don't need to see the old lady with no shirt doing housework.

My Mother, the Scientist.

Joan Feynman

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Unseasonably warm.

Fantastic weather, well into the 70s, so after we put a second coat of paint on the kitchen wall, we went for a drive. BRI was having an open house for a newly completed project, so we drove out to Stinesville to see it. Neat little house, the contractor did a good job.

Stinesville house, before restoration

Stinesville house, after restoration

Saturday, November 01, 2003

My 16th apology.

More like my 30th or 40th. Even after I stood up from in back of the dryer and announced that I didn't know why I was saying I was sorry, since it wasn't my fault, I kept apologizing. What tedious behavior. I was fixing the problem, not creating it, so why say I'm sorry?

It's a boring story, and I won't type it out, but we discovered that the guy who did our floor--a year and half ago--didn't hook the vent hose up to the dryer when he put it back in place. End result: we've been building a lint collection behind the dryer ever since. It's a damn good thing Catherine has beaten it into my head that you don't leave the house with the dryer running. If the lint had caught fire, at least we would have been there to put it out. Of course, we would have had to reach into the flames to get the fire extinguisher, since we keep it behind the washing machine. Still, it's a good principle. Dryers are fire hazards, even when properly connected, so don't run them un-supervised.

Anyway, the hose was damaged, and I can see why the guy didn't hook it back up, but I wish he would have said something to us. Two trips to Lowe's later, I've replaced the hose and the exterior vent since for some mysterious reason it had fallen apart.

What I was thinking about today while I was painting the back wall of the kitchen: it's not so much that men need to be taught to do more housework, it's that women need to be taught to do less. Women really could do themselves a favor by adapting to the "it's good enough" strategy of cleaning.

I'm not saying that we should accept men's standards for a clean bathroom, nor am I saying we should turn our homes into breeding grounds for infectious diseases, but I will say that a few of my friends could just dial it back and clean a little less often. I swear to god I have never lost a friend over the fact that I only dust my venetian blinds once a year or so. Really, and if I did, it wouldn't be a friend I would have wanted to keep anyway. I just wonder why all my female friends add even more stress to their already full and busy lives by forcing themselves to keep a spotless house on top of everything else. Let it slide, I say. No one's ever died from a few over-sized dust bunnies under the futon, I promise.