Tuesday, July 22, 2014


1. Today was dedicated to not working. It worked pretty well. I went running. Max and Zoe and I cleaned the house for a couple of hours and watered the plants at Erik's mom's, then we were done. We went to Whole Foods which was, until a month ago, New Frontiers. They no longer have English peas or Diestel smoked turkey legs so I really see no reason to go back. I bought cilantro for $1.49. Zoe thought the blueberries looked old so we didn't buy those. Corn was regular price--2/$1.00 which must mean it wasn't organic. They have those big green olives I like. I bought some for a picnic in the park tomorrow. Castelventranos, I think. We did make our $8.49/lb salads which only cost about $3 each which is pretty cheap for lunch even if croutons as numerous as the vegetables.
a. Bonus note. Just went to look at the boxes of tile upstairs.  Castelventrano. What? Serendipity? An essay the waiting? No. Italy's just very talented and delicious/beautiful.

2. We went to see How to Train Your Dragon, Part 2, which was, in equal parts, boring and too intense for me. Maybe I went into some kind of overly-cute, overly-stressful shock that made the dramatic moments simultaneously distant and boring and unmanageable. I cried about Toothless's turn. Maybe it's the effect of a midday movie in a theater. Unknown movies. Unknown environment. An adventure!

3. Swimming at 2:00. I swam laps. Max practiced swimming to Z. Then they had lessons. Then Zoe's friend showed up to swim, which is great except then it's always, can we stay five more minutes? Can Zoe come to dinner? Can we move in together and never, ever leave each other's side? I put them off by inviting them to concert in the park tomorrow. It will rain and then I will have lied but even that doesn't even count as work.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Some days are like, no communiqu├ęs from the outer world. The biggest news before 12 p.m. was "Monsoon storms set to return on Thursday." That's not even news about today.
Today was like that all day until I got to the doctor's office for Max and Zoe's check-up. And then it was all, Nicole, can you send that manuscript? Nicole, can you remember to send your Final Report for the grant? Nicole, can you call me? Call me? On the phone? It is summer. (It is always summer to me on my mind for the phone. The phone invades. It makes me make decisions like scheduling appointments that I will need to reschedule because I made them on the phone.

1. It is Monday. It seems that it is always Monday, even in the summer. At noon, when everything changed and there were fifteen people in my house, trying to begin to finish the bathroom which will as of tomorrow been a two-week project and will end up being a three-one and will cost all the money I made this summer, I realized, there are only Mondays.

2. But that was a grumpy thought so I will say that I am making Shish Kabobs. And rice pilaf. In between every three words here I look at the recipe. I've already toasted the rice instead of the pasta, forgot to add the white wine and finish this sentence.

3. Erik really likes it when I talk about him on my blog. He says, "I will sue you if you keep writing about me." He knows fewer lawyers than I. (I know one. My best friend from college, Misty. Sadly, I think she'd take up his case. He makes a sad case. "She's always writing about me." Misty would be like, dude, that is illegal.) And yet, I persist.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


1. Last week's badness didn't take place in a vacuum of solipsistic blogginess. Plane shot down in Ukraine, Palestine and Israel, immigrating kids overwhelming detention centers. Take a stand, people say on Facebook. And then they yell at you on Facebook when you say anything. I guess thick-skin is a requirement for internet tanglings but I should quit the Facebook. If I think of one thing in my life that has made me grumpier in the past five years, it's Facebook. Or that five years have passed. One or the other but I suppose Facebook is about as easy to quit as time. As for Palestine/Israel, I would join up with the Jews for Peace but I don't think they will take me.
I'm thinking of those kids in detention centers. Some as young as ten. The comparison to the US turning around the ship carrying Jewish-child refugees in 1939 rings particularly true. Zoe and Max wondered why so many kids wanted to leave Mexico and other places in Latin America. I told them how some of the kids were being forced into working for the drug cartels and if they said no, the cartels sometimes killed them.  Max asked how old some of the kids were. I said I don't know, maybe 8. Maybe even 5. "Do they want to go home?" I said, "I'm sure they miss their mamas." "But then they'll die if they go home." And I said, "Maybe." What can I do to help? Take them Spanish-language books?

2. In a less depressing conversation that reminds me of how, even when the bad world continues all around you, one goes on, Max said, "I'm going to be a bad teenager when I'm a teenager. You don't have to be so afraid. I'll just be bad." It's nice that he doesn't want me to worry.

3. We rode our bikes to the Celtic festival, which was a festival less than awesome. What's with charging a million dollars to get into a festival so they can charge you more millions for a kidney pie and some a thimble full of mead. It was some cross between a Renaissance Festival and bagpipe convention. The steak and mushroom pie (which had no kidneys) was pretty good, but not $7 good. The mead should have come with a stick of insulin. But the hurling and the caber tossing and the other throwing thing was pretty awesome.
I stole this picture from the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival website. The best thing was, riding my bike, then walking Max and Z over to Okim's for a playdate meant I did not drive my car today. 

4. (A bonus to make up for hand-wringing number one.) I'm right now eating two kinds of cherries. The regular Bing which were 99 cents a pound and the expensive Rainier, which were 3 dollars and 98 cents a pound. The Rainier are better but they are not $3/lb better. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014


A good day involves no writing. Or only writing blog posts and occasionally annoying responses to Facebook posts that I didn't mean to be annoying. As is my daily wont.

1. In good writing news, someone I adore, not a student, not a colleague, but a person from NAU I know, shouted out across the street when we were downtown tonight, "I love everything you write." I can live on that for another month.

2. We took Zoe to Tat-fu to get her ears pierced today. My student recommended this tattoo parlor downtown, where he gets all his work done. The piercer guy was super awesome. He used a needle, which is, supposedly better than going to Claire's at the mall, where they can't sterilize the needle-gun fully. It was nerve-wracking. It reminded me of when she was in the hospital at 8 months and the nurses took her blood. But now her ears are pierced and we got to see a tattoo-in-progress next-door to the piercing station. (Cautionary tale, Max and Z? I bet not. The guy getting the tattoo was totally calm.)

3. Zoe's kids-birthday was this morning, which now feels like decades ago.

I said, very loudly, as I took the picture, "That guy's loud butt is in the picture." That guy did not care. Otherwise, it would have been the best picture of Zoe's birthday party. 

Friday, July 18, 2014


I do realize that grumpiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's better, maybe, when I have to sneak in the writing, squeeze it in between emails and class prep. With this summer grant, anytime I'm not writing, I feel guilty and also entirely unsuccessful in all writing endeavors. I've seriously had some bad rejection this summer. The you-really-can't-write kind. The kind where they call you "creative" or "poetic." Poetry as an adjective is the worst sort of dismissal. Made me so mad I actually wrote some poetic poems which were so bad, they might have even been creative. But there's imperative behind this grant too--if I have some success with this writing, they'll give me another grant. If I don't, they won't. It's worse than tenure. Or as bad as. Carrot. Carrot. I am all yours. And then the stick. All I have are sticks. Not tasty at all.
When I'm not supposed to be writing though, during the semester when I barely have time to at all, all good news is just gravy and bad news is like filling out schedule J of the travel-form. Am I longing for schedule J's? I hope not.

But like I said, I recognize this kvetching is pure privilege and, on a major level, ridiculous. I did get some super nice rejections and some fine kind emails from good people so I have enough will to go on (it only takes like one drop of encouragement for me to extrapolate a lifetime of future hope).

So today, to fix the grouch I
1. got up early. Not really by choice. Erik had to be at work at 6:15. But I couldn't go back to sleep so I put on my shoes and went running. This week, I've been taking the kids to camp and then waiting for the clouds to come to run but the monsoons are taking a break. I knew there would be no cloud-cover. I also knew that all week, waiting to go running is like waiting to finish the paper (i.e. Facebook, which never ends) which means no real work gets done 'til the clouds come. And then it's nearly lunch time. So today, I ran. Then showered. It was hours until lunch (I ate lunch anyway). Then I worked.

2. saw a bald eagle. You can't really plan for this although I do know basically where he lives and, if I really, really needed him, I think I could find him. I saw him on Zoe's birthday in one of his normal spots by the lake but it was nice of him to fly over my house which is not his normal path from mesa to lake. This is what he would have looked like if I had a camera and skill using one:

3. sent out a short essay and contemplated sending another one. I'm sitting outside right now. The flies land on me. The biggest wasp I've ever seen thinks my computer is his buddy. I swat and move and walk away but I don't go inside. Glutton for punishment or not, I would rather write outside on the porch than do almost anything.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


1. Although I have been waiting my whole life to be able to turn the shower on without the faucet handle falling on my toe, having strangers in the house all day is kind of weird. The strangers are very nice but they don't really want to chat and they all wear headphones and then talk really loudly to each other so they can hear over the headphones.

2. It is July but the Juney bugs persist. They fling themselves agains the windows, the front doors, the head, if the head is sitting outside. I have to turn the lights off. Every year, they come back and every year, I forget you can't stand in the doorway, looking at the rain or the Juney bugs (these huge, green and white striped flying beetle things) will come flying at your even-indoor head. They are big, these bugs.
Here is a leap that is not quite a metaphor: When you hard boil eggs, how long do you let them boil? How long do you let them sit? How many eggs can you eat to determine when they're officially done? The other day, I cracked open an egg after a three-minute boil (perhaps this is a three minute egg, I thought to myself, having heard the idea but having not had one. Nor do I have the attendant egg holder for the three minute egg. So I tried to peel it but most of the white came off with some of the shell but then I thought I'd put some butter on it (because that will save it and that's what I think I saw my mom do once) and I ate the yolk and some of the shell and thought, this is not a hardboiled egg. End parentheses 921.))))
My point is, shut the door. Let the eggs sit. A point and a segue:

3. The other night, Erik said,  "I think I'll stop having ideas at work for awhile," which made me laugh so hard with many adverbs because it's such a good plan. Ideas lead to frustration and sorrow. No ideas lead to nothing, which is very zen.  I think I will follow suit and have no more ideas. Today, I found out that I went through the wrong office applying for a grant and spent a good number of hours fixing it and writing a budget for next year and emailing colleagues about guest writers while yelling at the computer that I was not on contract. Sadly, the computer does not care about my contract. (Also, apologies to my colleagues who I drew into my computer even though they too are not on contract.)

4. (Bonus item to make up for all those parentheses). I notice that when Max and Zoe and Erik come home, I'm not so grumpy anymore (even if Erik posts pictures of me as grumpy cat).
Maybe the problem with summer isn't so much writing and the rejection attendant but the fact that Erik goes to work and the kids go to camp at all. Perhaps if they all stayed home, we could chat with the drywall guys, figure out the best way to make hardboiled eggs, barricade ourselves from the gigantic Juney bugs, and ignore the Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects, just one more day.

Come home from camp, Zoe!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


1. Today is Zoe's birthday! There was sushi. There was Max riding Zoe around on the back of his tricycle. Zoe got a lot of presents. Finally, the presents one gets her are lasting and useful. Like a suitcase! A rock polisher! A sleeping bag! A travel kit! (I wrapped the tiny shampoos and tiny soaps and tiny toothbrush individually. It reminded me of my mom who, for our Christmas stockings, would wrap even the chocolate wrapped coins because unwrapping is the funnest part).

Zoe's camp friends made her a Happy Birthday with Legos.

Zoe's grandma made a carrot cake.

2. Even on the birthday day, there was camp (which Max keeps asking, do I have to go to camp? Oh. Max. Camp. It's full of digging and dinosaurs and trips to the Elden Pueblos. Max. You like camp fine once you are there. I swear. I'm not as fun as I look!)

Zoe's camp friends:

3. Insights into camp and birthdays. There are chunks of time that are negligible (camp) and there are chunks of time that are not (birthday). We have lived in our house for six years, finally remodeling the upstairs bathroom. The yellow tile. The yellow bathtub. The handle that fell off the faucet in the tub for six years straight. Sometimes time is good. Sometimes time is bad.  Sometimes, after some time, you can turn the water on without dropping the faucet handle onto your foot.