Monthly Archives: November 2008

Grotto News

If you haven’t read this week’s New Yorker yet, there’s a fabulous article about knives by Grottoite Todd Oppenheimer.

Also:

The SF Writers’ Grotto is pleased to announce that beginning in
January, we will be offering classes for students who are serious
about writing. These will be on-going weekly, and single weekend
classes, and will cover everything from memoir to muck-raking, free-
writing to fiction. There will also be classes on finding your story,
and how to publish your non-fiction. .

For more information, you can visit the Grotto website http://
http://www.sfgrotto.org and click on Classes.

Better yet, come to our Meet the Teachers night on December 4th. From
6:30 pm until 7:30 pm, you can have a glass of wine and chat with the
instructors about their classes. At the SF Writers’ Grotto, 490 2nd
Street (at Bryant).

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Done

It’s done. My book is done. Well, sorta. Kinda. I’m not happy with the first chapter, so that doesn’t feel done and won’t until I get it the way I want it. But I can’t figure out what to do with it, and meanwhile I’m two weeks late getting my book to my readers, so I decided to just give it to them and keep working on the first chapter while they’re reading it. Or maybe I’ll just wait for their feedback on the first chapter. They may have ideas on how to fix it. It feels weird to be done. I keep looking for things to do, like, “Maybe I should go back through all my Word documentts and see if there’s anything in there I should add?” or “Maybe there’s something I cut out (and saved) that should go back in?” The scary thing is I’ll probably do those things – stay up late going through files of notes looking for a paragraph or a sentence to add.

Meanwhile, I have new goals (big surprise) and one of them is to start EXERCISING again. I’m going to do a little (a little) yoga every day, and I’m going to start climbing once a week again, and I’m going to start either running or doing a full yoga class once a week again. Nothing too crazy, but it’s been months since I’ve worked out at all, so anything will be an improvement.

I have a pile of other goals to spend my time on during the five weeks my readers have my book: update baby book, get rid of stuff in basement, write two more essays for FieldReport, make Christmas cards, update website, plan Shea’s birthday party, and the list goes on and on and on.

In other news, Shea DOES know how to say “bye bye,” and it’s so damn cute. He’s been doing it for two weeks now. This morning, I put my backpack on (hadn’t even approached the door yet) and he waved and said, “Ba ba. Ba ba.” He waves at his wrist, so it’s this big, floppy good-bye and it makes me just die. He does it when Martin goes to work, when Dolores leaves and when we’re out and we leave to go home. So cute! And that’s another thing on my to list: to start uploadi videos of Shea. Soon! VERY SOON!

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Deadline?

Almost there! Read the entire 417 pages out loud this week and marked them up again. Now I need to make those changes in the computer, make a few changes to a chapter that was critiqued by my writers’ group this week, figure out what to do with the prologue (it still needs some work) and voila – done! Hopefully by Sunday night. If not, Monday or Tuesday, but that should be it. End of the line. Basta. Fini. Until I get it back from my readers in December, full of edits.

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GOBAMA!

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So I didn’t get a chance to blog after the election, but I was on Twitter and Facebook all throughout, updating my status with things like “Yeah, baby! (Ohio).” That morning, we let our nanny fold clothes while we took Shea to the polling place down the street. For us Californians, it was an exciting day from the minute the polls opened because we knew Obama had a good chance of winning. Throughout the day I checked NYTimes.com while working on my book. The headline didn’t change, “Long lines at the polls” or something like that, until 3 p.m. when polls in the East began to close. I’ve never been so excited about an election. I remember when Clinton was elected the first time, and it was, again, after four years of a Bush in the White House and people flocked to the polls to vote for change. I remember when Gore lost, and some people in the newsroom where I worked were crying. I remember how unfair we felt the election was, how upset we all were that That Idiot Bush was going to be our new president. And then again, four years later, we sighed with the knowledge that we’d have to put up with him for another four years. I remember the very first debate last year. It was the end of April and I was in the hospital after having an appendectomy, and the Democrats were debating somewhere, I forget where. And the election seemed SO far off (more than year and a half away). This was the first election that I bothered to watch all the major debates, that I went online to watch speeches that I’d missed live. I didn’t vote for Obama in the primary. I voted for Clinton. It was a tough decision because I really liked both candidates, but after reviewing their few differences on the policies, I felt more closely aligned with Clinton. I felt Clinton was a stronger candidate, too, and a much more confident speaker, but I also knew I’d be happy with whomever won. Fast forward to Nov. 4 and I turned CNN on the minute I got home and watched both it and the NYTimes.com (and Facebook, and Twitter), while feeding and playing with Shea. I had to tutor that night but couldn’t tear myself away from the TV, so I called my student and asked if we could reschedule. She had a test the next day, she said, so I told her I’d be right over. She had the TV on, too, so I watched election results while she wrote French sentences in her notebook. And then, at 8 o’clock when I was turned away from the TV, horns started honking in the street outside and I turned to see everyone cheering on TV and knew that the election had been called. I think if I’d been at home I would have jumped up and down, or cried, or hugged someone, but since I was tutoring, I kept quiet. I watched McCain’s concession speech in Arizona while my student wrote answers to the questions I’d asked her in French and then, at the end of my hour with her, Obama came on to make his speech and I said, “I can’t go home or I’ll miss it. I have to stay here and watch the speech.” So we watched the speech together, me wondering aloud whether Biden and their two families weren’t onstage for security reasons, whether there were snipers posted to take out anyone who made an attempt on Obama’s life and how long it would be before there was an attempt. I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated, but I can imagine the sadness if that ever happened to Obama, the way it would both bring together and split our country apart if he were ever shot. And then I went home and followed the other election results online, like the passage of Prop 8, the ban on same-sex marriage, in CA, which upset a lot of my friends. Most of the other props went the way I wanted, like high-speed rail from Sacramento and the Bay Area through LA to San Diego. Prop 2 passed, which was unfortunate, but I think people voted with their emotions rather than on the facts (Prop 2 prohibits farmers from keeping animals in small cages and applied almost exclusively to chickens. It will put a lot of farmers out of business and increase the incidences of bird flu and other diseases.)

And while everyone in CA and Europe and much of the country has been rejoicing that Obama won, that a Democrat won, that a black man won the 44th presidency, McCain supporters are “getting ready for four years of socialism.” I don’t have much sympathy for them. We had to put up with eight years of George W. Bush, so it’s time they put up with our guy, and I find it hard to believe he can do any worse. I understand their opinions and concerns, that socialism doesn’t work in Europe, that we don’t want to be a socialist country, that people voted for Obama because he’s young, because he’s black, because he’s different, despite his lack of experience. My opinion about the experience is SO WHAT. Having a ton of experience doesn’t necessarily make a better president, and Obama is surrounding himself with the best and brightest advisers to compensate for what he doesn’t know. I’m not worried about his lack of experience. Everyone is hurting economically—everyone. I lost three long-time French students last week, one because he was laid off from his software job and the other two because they are near retirement age and lost a big chunk of their 401k. And we’ve lost money, we both have. We had to think hard before buying plane tickets home for Christmas and to my nephew’s wedding in February, and I’m still wondering if we made the right decision (to go). So we’re all concerned about the economy, and I seriously hope things don’t get worse under Obama. On the other hand, as bad as the economy is, this election was about more than the economy. It was about restoring faith in our president and in our government, giving us someone to be proud of for a change. For years we Democrats have been ashamed of our president, ashamed of how our country is perceived abroad. It’s important that we stop killing people in Iraq, that we restore relations with allies around the globe, that we stop pissing off the Muslim countries. Maybe things will get worse and we’ll wish we’d voted for McCain, but I think that’s a chance we’ll have to take, a chance I’m glad we did take on Nov. 4. Besides, we have to look at this guy for the next four (or eight) years on TV and who better to look at that Barack Obama? He’s pretty damn hot. And thank God Sarah Palin isn’t going to be our VP (although I would have enjoyed four years of Tina Fey’s imitations of her).

Before I sign off, I have to say one more thing—that it does annoy me that most people in this country vote along party lines (and I’m one of them), that so few people really think for themselves and just vote Democrat or Republican based on where they live, what their parents and friends vote, etc. When one friend expressed her concern that the Republicans might do something illegal to steal the election, I was happy to hear another friend say that he had faith that the Democrats were equally crooked. I get so tired of hearing Democrats slam Republicans and vice versa. (Can’t we all just get along?) I feel like the narrowmindedness of Democrats in ultra-liberal places like Berkeley is equal to the narrowmindedness of ultra-conservative Christian Right people in other cities. I think the best attitude is to be suspicious of all politicians, all policies, and all political promises. That’s my new party. Suspicioucrat.

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Other updates

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In other news, we’re at the river this weekend and fortunately Martin’s watching Shea because i came down with a stomach flu last night—chills, nausea, stomach cramps, etc. I had to go in the hot tub to warm up because I was sitting here with the heat up to 70 and shivering. Feeling the nausea did NOT make me want to get pregnant again. The first time I was tolerant because of the novelty of having a first baby, but I think it will be harder having to take care of Shea while feeling so awful. Anyway, yes, thinking about getting on that after Shea turns one in a month. I wanted to get my book published before having a kid. Now I want to get my book published before having a SECOND kid.

I finished my revisions yesterday, by the way, and printed it out (417 pp) again. I don’t think it’s done. I need to read through it and make more changes before handing it off to readers next Friday, but I think it’s get closer. I just printed it out and read it a month ago, so I’m not dying to read it again, but that’s what I’ve got to do. It’s so hard when you’re so close to a work to see it objectively. I wish I could take another three-month break (like when Shea was born) before re-reading it, but I don’t have that much time. I want to get it to agents by the end of January.

I read Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccostumed Earth and loved it so much I’m breaking my rule to read one contemporary book followed by one classic to read her other two books. I’m reading The Nakesake now and will read Interpreter of Maladies next. I bought them both used at Pegasus yesterday. Buying used books there is a way I can support an independent bookstore without breaking my bank because hardcovers are about $9 cheaper on Amazon and at B&N with the member discount.

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Shea update

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Shea can do “milk” and “more” in sign language now, and although it seems like he can do “bye-bye,” I’m not totally convinced since he does the same sign for milk and says, “ba ba” both times. I think our conversations go like this:

Us: “Bye, Shea! Bye Bye!”
Shea: “Sure I’ll have some milk!”

He is getting bigger and bigger. He can stand for a few seconds by himself, is eating regular people food now and can walk back and forth across the living room using his walker (at first he would let go because it moved too fast, but now he can keep up). He crawls away from us when we chase him and has this new obsession with putting clothes on his head (our nanny taught him how to play peek-a-boo with a towel, so now he wants to put everything on his head, even though they don’t cover his face.) He loves strawberries and butternut squash and chicken and pretty much everything we give him. He’s eating spaghetti right now had chicken balls for lunch. I finally bought the book Super Foods and have been making recipes out of that and thinking WHO has time for this stuff? It took me forever to make those chicken balls and they tasted so good I wanted to eat them all myself. It makes more sense to just feed him what we eat than make special meals when they’re that time consuming. He’ll be 11 months on Wed, just one more month until his first birthday! We plan to have a party during the day on Saturday, Dec. 13, so save the date!

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Halloween Madness

We had a crazy, wonderful Halloween weekend between taking Shea out trick-or-treating for the first time (for Unicef!), attending our friend J&C’s wedding that same day and hosting a baby shower for the same couple Saturday night. It was total madness and tons of fun. The first highlight was when the officiant at the courthouse told C that someone needed to hold her flowers “and the chicken” for the exchange of rings. The chicken was this weird trio of rubber chickens with translucent eggs that popped out of their butts when you squeezed them. Another highlight was when J * C exchanged plastic spider rings and the officiant said, “I now pronounce you breakfast.”

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