Tuesday, July 31, 2007

4:00 am

I woke up at 3. This isn't so great. I even took a Lunesta which I rarely do. But at 3:17, I said the forbidden phrase to myself "I have got to get to sleep." I employed all my I need to go back to sleep strategies--counting slowly to ten, watch a stick tumble down the river, think of the plot of a movie I've seen a million times. Instead, of concentrating, which leads to peacefulness, I kept thinking of what I forgot, to tell the housesitter there's an avocado he should eat, that I should hide anything revealing.
So now, I'm showered and ready. Egg will get up at 5, we'll rouse Zoe at 5:30. The cab will be here at 5:40. And by 10:50 a.m (12:50 our time) we'll be in SLC. And maybe I'll then get to take a nap. And then we have Ryan Adam's concert at the Red Butte Gardens. Oh the miracle, the expesne, the carbon footprint, the lines, the bad seats, the hours of distracting the toddler....
Perhaps it will all go off like a charm.
At least I didn't sleep through my alarm clock.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Short List

This post comes from two places. The first is that one of the bloggers that I link to has a whole category of "shameless self-promotion." I'm not very good a self-promotion but I should probably work on propping up some of the good news that comes my way. Such self-promotion on her part though did make we want to know more about her so there is some danger in revealing one's anonymity by posting specific moments of renown. But in my case, I'm so far from actually anonymous and the good news I found was layered so deep that that being outed didn't worry me too much. The second is that my good friend who lives in CA and I are working on being friends again after a pretty huge falling out and she assured me that publication was just a matter of time. Lots of people say that, but when it comes from someone who now has some distance from you and your would-be successes, it seems somehow more plausible.
Publication-wise, this summer has been somewhat exciting but mostly kind of depressing.
I was short-listed at Graywolf nonfiction contest, Sarabande's novel contest, AWP's nonfiction contest and a few poetry contests. I found out last night that I was short-listed at the Faulkner Contest for the novel. Last year, I was a semi-finalist. This year, bumped up to the short-list of finalists, but still not quite a finalist. That one would be great to win because big books sometimes come from winning--The Three Junes being the most famous.
I've had a couple of poems and essays accepted which is very great. Still, I feel like I'm always a bridesmaid, never a bride at these book contest things. Perhaps my agent will still come through with something but, man is this process slow!

But the good news is that my friend M emailed last night to say a magazine I'd been published in had been favorably reviewed in New Pages and had quoted me. And so I went cruising around the internet to see if there were any other reviews of mags I'd been in and Utne reader had a really nice bit about a recent publication of mine and a magazine/writing group chose an essay from another pub of mine to be their Lit Pick of the Quarter. So. Slow. But good.

Monday, July 16, 2007

At Two

Z turns two today. She is a full-on person now, even if constrained by short sentences and challenged vertically. She knows when it's time to go--puts on her shoes, gets the keys, stands by the door waiting for us to get our shit together. She climbs up into her high-chair when it's time to eat, unless she's preferring at the moment to sit in a regular sized chair. She gets into her car seat herself, and her stroller. In fact, I'm not really sure what I have left to do besides drive the car, push the stroller, push the swing. She even says "please" and "thank you, (which sounds a bit like "Dane Do"), so her social graces are in tact.
Most days we do this: she wakes up by either singing or stating matter-of-factly, mommm-eeeee. We go and bug her dad who is not a morning person, then we go downstairs and eat Frosted Shredded Wheat. She likes a spoon, please. Then a little Sesame Street, either a walk or a run, then play a little, and then somehow lunch is already upon us. She will have berries and peas and grilled cheese, please. Then a nap with a sippy cup (the bottle has been gone for only a week!), then she wakes up at 2 or 3 and real playing begins. It's summer. We're outside most of the time. She gardens, which involves carrying the weeds we've pulled over to the yard waste can, or pours cups of water from one to the other in the swimming pool. She stacks the child-sized plastic chairs we co-opted from the neighbor. She plays Stop and Go (You yell go and she runs. You say stop and she stops. Eventually). Then, it's time for dinner. Maybe we ride our bike over to the store to pick up supplies. Mostly we drive. She likes steak and chicken and salmon and halibut and every protein except barbecued pork. She REALLY likes edamame. She can eat a pound in a bout twelve minutes. She also likes asparagus, onions, carrots, corn, beans, beets (had one for the first time last night), scallions, oregano and basil (the two plants she can eat directly from the yard), broccoli. She's starting to like bread and at restaurants, she has expanded beyond the chicken nugget to include the quesadilla and the pizza. She loves apples. She can eat a whole one. She likes them dried and in juice too.
She likes company. She hands out plates and napkins, takes off her shoes so one of our friends can put them on, she takes chip after chip out of their hand. She gives each of them a hug when we go to leave or she goes to bed.
At school, they say she's smart. They also say/warn that she can take her clothes off (and her diaper--scary. She mostly puts them back on). She plays in the sand and makes mother's and father's day presents.
Lately, she likes girly stuff more than before. She wants me to put her hair in pony tails and she found a doll she carries around. But she still likes to climb and wrestle and play with cars so she seems to maintain a reasonable gender balance. She likes her shoes and her juice although sometimes we give her one when she means the other and she looks at us like we are the least suited people to procreate in the universe. She states it clearly again, Soice. Oh. Suice.
There' s a lot of uh oh and bye and hi but also more complicated constructions like, need napkin, face dirty. She still likes her napkins but she flattens them a little less often. She still makes a pretty mean bed, even when you're often still in it.
Every day, she's the most fun to hang out with. I love that I can spend this much time with her this summer. On days when she sleeps later than I do, I go in and quietly look at her in her crib and send mind-beams of "wake up, wake up" so we have the most fun.
Today, for her birthday, we might go to her first feature-length film. She has a bit of a cold (but she doesn't sound like Darth Vadar!) and bug bites and is getting a new bicycle. And then she won't even need me to drive her around.

Happy Birthday, Bug!

Edited to add: Apparently, she knows all these songs from day care. How do I know? I start singing Ring Around the Rosies or Row Row Row Your Boat or Picking Up My Baby Bumblebee and she automatically (her motions are a bit robotic) spins in a circle or twirls her arms or cups her hands together to hold a bee. She goes only once a week but that's enough to absorb songs and their attendant dances. She has her own world that only intersects with mine when I coincidentally sing a certain song.

Edited again to say: She also says "woah" all the time which is why many of my emails of late begin with that phrase.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More nice things to say

about the place I live.
Lo, though it is 90+ today, it will be the hottest day of the year thus far. No hundred degree temps recorded since 1988. The humidity is a bit troublesome but since it hasn't rained, it doesn't feel too sticky.
And, there is water around here so I don't feel that desperate desert feeling I get in SLC in the summer when the edges of the tree's leaves start to brown and the grass gets crusty even though it's watered seven days a week. I just finished the book "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan which reminded me of all the trouble that goes into trying to garden-up a desert.
There is a little lake here--about a mile away. Zo and I ride around it once a week or so. She likes her bike seat a lot. From our perch we saw a turtle, a beaver and some ducklings. We've been mapping the ducklings progress and they are getting almost grown-up sized.
And, we're off to the big lake this afternoon after Erik finishes tearing down a wall, I write something, and Zo takes a nap. The big lake is as nice as the ocean with waves and super-sandy beaches.
So, this place, this summer, not so bad.
Look forward to more weather updates since pretty much that's all I think about, an obsession Egan's book thoroughly justifies.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Favorite writers

Why is it that my favorite writers from high school/early college were famous for only one book--for instance, Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, Keri Hulme's The Bone People, and Marilynne Robinson, until Gilead, Housekeeping.
Some of it seems to be busy-ness but some of it seems to be satisfaction. Once their book was nomiated or won a huge prize, perhaps that's all the needed to accomplish? Or they knew themselves that the most perfect rendering of their words had been written? Or is it fear of the next book failing?

I guess it's somewhat true for the man-types--Salinger will always be better known for Catcher in the Rye but almost as read is Franny and Zooey or Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters. Who else has read Dunn's Attic or Truck?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My Life as Dictated by Weather

It has been the most beautiful three days of weather in my life. 75 degrees, no humidity. In JULY! I may forgive GR its previous days of below zero temps and above 100% humidity. What I like best about not-too-hot is that I actually do something in the weather. When it's too hot, after 11 a.m., it's hard for me to convince myself it's healthy to exercise. I could die out there. It's safer to stay here, prostrate, with ice water and possibly a fan if someone else could please turn it on.
If I could live in perfect weather, GR would count. The thing about SLC is is that if it's nice but not too hot in the day, then it's freezing at night. And, once it gets hot in SLC, it pretty much stays hot. Here, there are vicissitudes so that even when I panic about the 90 degree heat and humidity, I can hope for days like today.
I'm outside, typing, trying to remember the essay I started in my head last night. I'm also working on a novel. I wish I'd read more of Bloom's Anxiety of Influence but I don't think that's the kind of anxiety I have. The kind I have is that I imagine everyone is reading the exact same research documents and so when they go to read my novel they'll be like, didn't I read that in The Nation or on that one woman's blog. To lift experiences and knowledge from the web at large seems kosher--I don't steal anyone's words, I change the setting and the circumstance, but sometimes I need the detail like the kind of dirt or the date of invention. If there was someone tracing my url's, they'd be like, oh my god that's so obvious. But since no one is (that I know of) the details will still come as a surprise.

ETA: One more thing I was thinking about--writing as jealousy. When I was reading Three Tarts yesterday and one of the bloggers there wrote "curls of cinnamon" I was immediately jealous for that description. The best writing works like that--describes details uniquely but accurately. It wasn't trying too hard, it wasn't too fancy, it was just right on. Since I can't steal it, I want to go try and write something equally as perfect. Usually, this jealousy is a catalyst for more writing. Sometimes, it can be demoralizing as in somebody already said it better, yesterday.