Monday, August 30, 2004

Getting to No You

So now I have yet another idea for a book (suggested by my Smarty-Pants Husband) and yet another idea for an essay (which came from my own brain). I am pleased that I have all this creative energy floating about, and I feel like I am in a good place.


Suddenly, last week, three separate people contacted me to do some freelance grant writing work. Eerrrrrrrrhhhh…and somehow, despite the fact that I have a babysitter only once a week, I almost said yes to all three. It would be good to earn some extra money, yes. But what the hell?! I actually did say yes to one very short-term assignment, agreed to a meeting with an old client, and talked to a prospective client about possibly working 20 hours a week.

The problem is this: I am really interested in working with that last one. The client is an independent producer who needs to raise money to fund a new public TV series, which I think is right up my alley. But I don’t really have 20 hours a week to give her, and I know that. The producer is one of those types who works evenings, weekends, etc. She is not sure about what she needs – whether they should bring someone on staff, into the office, full-time, or whether they can even do their fundraising with an off-site person on a part-time basis. They are already in production and need to raise nearly a half-million dollars, under the gun. She needs someone to jump right in and work quickly and be focused. I don’t think I’m in a position to do this type of job right now. Clearly, this is a case of the right project at the wrong time. So what the bleep am I doing?

The real problem is this: I just can’t say no.

And I’m doing all this (taking meetings, reviewing proposals, and fielding phone calls) despite the fact that my Dear Husband told me to take this year off from the grant writing, concentrate on Lovey, and write my book. I should really just call my old client, who I am to meet tomorrow, and call it all off. Sweetie Pie Husband, who is really quite practical, says I should take the old client business since I know them, know their programs, and can write things fairly quickly for them. On one level he is right, because there is some sense in keeping my hand in so that when Lovey goes to school, I can get back into the grant writing thing. However, this client is slow to pay due to cash flow problems, and since they are a small non-profit, they only write a few grants at a time. Is it worth it to bring our babysitter in more than once a week for some projects that aren’t going to pay off?

Sorry to inflict my petty First World problems upon you, but that is where I am at the moment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Of Aversion and Evasion

Earlier today, I got in a good solid block of writing time on my book. Since I am on a roll, I thought that I could work on it some more tonight. Well, evidently, my muse had other plans, because I’ve been working instead on my personal essay collection. The idea behind this is that I write one personal essay a month for an undetermined span of time and that eventually I’ll be able to either (a) collect them in a book, (b) send them out with query letters as proof that I need my own regular column at Salon or some such place or (c) failing all else, paper my walls with them.

Well, tonight as I was putting Lovey to bed, I had a bunch of ideas for essays and that’s what pulled me away from working on my novel. I should mention that when I put Lovey to bed, I stay in the room until I am sure that she is asleep. After the bedtime stories, the rocking, the singing, the rubbing of her tiny hot little back, I pray. And when I pray, I always get ideas. I don’t ask for them, per se. When I pray, I basically have a little talk with God, during which I thank Him/Her for all the good things in my life, and ask Him/Her to help me in areas where I’m having trouble. Since I am not very direct, this generally comes out as the all-purpose “help me to be a better person” prayer. I feel God already knows the specifics anyway. He/She is All-Knowing, right? I also pray for God to keep my baby safe and healthy and to give strength to various people who I know are having a rough time.

I find that prayer calms my mind. And as soon as my mind is free of all the busyness and craziness that is usually zinging around in there (what Zen calls monkey mind), all these great ideas come floating through.

Tonight, I sat down to write about my grandfather. I started at 7:45 PM. I have written a page and a half. It is 9:42 PM. It has taken me nearly two hours to write a page and a half because every couple or sentences or so, I start crying and I can’t stop. I miss him so much. I keep trying to make sense of a world without him in it and it’s just not make-sensible. And if you try and tell me that make-sensible is not a word, I may just hit you (I am already emotionally fragile). Language is a living thing; it is constantly evolving. Are we not adding new words to our everyday lexicon, well, everyday? Ten years ago, would you have any idea what “blog” meant?

And see! Again I am not facing what I really meant to write about. I decided to blog to give myself a break from the emotional juggernaut that awaits if I go back to my essay. You see, how I am blogging as a break from my essay, which I am writing because I didn’t have the energy to get back into my book tonight? So many evasive tactics! I might convince myself that it is too soon to write about this. But that would be wrong. I think it is high time to write about it, and cry, and work through it.

One more thing: that stupid Microsoft Office help icon, Clippit, is questioning my use of the word "awaits" in the third sentence of the last paragraph. Clippit seems to think that "awaits" must have a direct object to complete its action. I think any idiot will realize that [me] is implied and may be inferred following "awaits." I hate that damn Clippit. By the way, a synonym for juggernaut is steamroller; compare "That smug Clippit doesn't realize the juggernaut of my wrath awaits to crush him into an even more useless piece of metal!"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Today started out like a Seinfeld episode. Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I took out my contact lenses and threw them away. This is because they are “disposable” (although I’m not really clear on what this means. Odd terminology, since that’s what you used to do with contact lenses anyway after you’d worn them a year, disinfecting them every day. Am I overanalyzing this? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…). I have been told to replace my contact lenses every three months, and I bought a year’s worth of lenses about 9 months ago.

So this morning, tra la la, I go into the bathroom to put my brand spankin’ new contact lenses in. Open the right-eye vial, shake it out, insert right lens. Ah! Beautiful! I can see that my bathroom sink needs cleaning. Open the left – ergh, ugh – open the – what the – ergh – what the bleeping blank is wrong with this thing? Although I am a reasonably healthy adult, I can’t for the life of me get the top off the left-eye vial. My left contact lens floats benignly in its solution, oblivious to my frustrated attempts to free it from its soggy prison.

Now, remember, I threw the old ones away. And – of course – these are the last contact lenses in the box. And because I have toric lenses and such a strong prescription, they have to be special-ordered from the Contact Lens Distribution Center for the Nearly Blind, where no doubt they are manufactured by hand by specially trained rhesus monkeys. Who are on strike.

So at this moment, I am wearing one new lens and one really old lens which I scavenged from a contact lens case I haven’t opened in nearly a year. Thank God I had the presence of mind to decide to keep these in case of emergency. Hopefully, my Big Strong Husband can open the left vial when he comes home for lunch. Of course, if this were a Seinfeld episode, he’d break his glasses at work and call me to come and pick him up, and while I was driving to get him I’d notice a homeless person walking down the street swaddled in my purloined sheets (see August 18 entry). And as I whipped my neck around to scream out the window, my left contact lens would pop out and roll down the street.

To add to the Murphy’s Law mix of today, the beloved fruit of our loins has not been sleeping well (again). Last night, she went to bed at Nine. O’Clock. Two hours later than usual. And woke up at Five. Ay-em. An hour and a half earlier than usual. And fell asleep in her high chair in the bathroom while I was taking a shower. At 9:15, instead of at 12, which is when she usually naps. This has totally screwed up my day, but that is life with a little one. Che será, and all that. She looks very sweet, all snuggled up with Mao, her little white stuffed cat, under her green gingham fleecy blankie. So I have decided to seize the moment and work on my book and stuff. Toodles!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sick and Tired. Oh, you too?

Well, ladies and germs, I have two things I wish to discuss today:

1. I am sick of myself.
2. And (I can barely stand to write this because, dear Reader, you are going to think “They must live in the ‘hood – they’re just frontin’ or something,” because) we had yet another unpleasant episode in our apartment building.

First, I am sick of myself, and I know you must be sick of me too. I am tired of my same basic uniform of T-shirt, cropped pants and flip-flops. I look in vain in my closet for some cute yet functional outfit; I pull out various items and reject them; I gnash my teeth and rend my garments. All of my former work clothes are just taking up space. And after one week of being on vacation, my mid-section, which was starting to trim down, has pudged back out. God, I am sick of myself.

In a similar vein, I am sick of our allegedly secure “luxury” apartment building. Yesterday, our babysitter Maria was here so I could go out and run some errands and then have some quiet time to work on my book (ratio of time spent on errands vs. time spent on book: easily 10 to 1). She was doing laundry, and she wasn’t finished when it came time for her to leave. She told me there was one load in the dryer, and she left the laundry basket in the laundry room, which is literally right next door to our apartment. An hour later, I went down the hall to get the laundry. It. Was. Gone. Desaparecidos! Like those unfortunate people in Argentina, whose plight was popularized and arguably exploited for commercial gain by Sting. So now I dance alone, with images of my best sheets and towels in my head (not to mention my laundry basket). If Sting is to be believed, one day we'll dance on their graves, one day we'll sing our freedom, one day we'll laugh in our joy, and we'll dance… Mutha truckas! If I catch whoever took my stuff…well, I just hope they know who they’re dealing with, is all. (Said in my most menacing, “I am five-one on a good day and a wind could blow me over” kind of voice.)

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Our delightful little family of three has been on vacation for a few days. We decided not to travel this time, but to take vacation right here in Los Angeles, and to act to a certain extent as tourists in our own town. To that end, here’s a rundown of what we’ve down so far:

1. Had meals at Mimi’s Café (chain, but not bad), La Belle Epoque (lovely French food, croissants that must have each had a pound of butter in them), and Highland Grounds (our old standby; had to check in and say hello).
2. Went to the Lake Shrine (Pacific Palisades, serene, full of love, unity and gigantic koi), the beach (Santa Monica, beautiful, gorgeous, fantastic) and the L.A. Zoo (hot as hell; we gazed enviously at the sea lions gliding gracefully about in what appeared to be the coolest and most refreshing water on the planet).
3. Visited the Hustler store sans Viva (unspecified purchases totaling $58.41). Oh, come on, people, we’re all adults here.
4. Processed six rolls of film, necessitating activity #5.
5. Poked around at Aaron Brothers and bought picture frames to beautify our bodacious pad.
6. Made approximately 28 separate trips to the supermarket for stuff we needed/forgot (see activities #8, 9, and 10).
7. Had a family caricature done. This need never be done again, because I really don’t need to know what I would look like as a cartoon character. Viva, on the other hand, would make a fabulous cartoon. I’ll get to work on that project, soon, believe me.
8. Ate more steak than a family of mountain lions (barbecued and pan-grilled -- both were scrumptious).
9. Ate cookies and/or ice cream pretty much every night of our vacation.
10. Lay around feeling bloated and sick.

And there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed your virtual vacation along with us, thanks to the miraculous powers of this newfangled thing they call the Internet. Ahoy hoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Age Ain't Nuthin' But A Number. Yeah, Right.

Some haikus in honor of my birthday:

I am thirty-six.
“Middle age” doesn’t scare me.
I am still the bomb!

A good strong number.
Years enough to know some things
And still have some fun.

My advice to you:
Keep brain and body active.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.

What? Thirty-six years?!
Glad to be on this planet,
Though it moves so fast.

“Don’t deny your age.
Defy it.” And yet you’ve had
Plastic surgery.

Thirty-six years been
Very, very good to me.
Sweet Lord, I am blessed.

Be in the moment.
Practice true self-acceptance.
We all have a gift.

I am still a hot momma.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Of Pickaninnies and Predators

I believe I have made peace with the pickaninny doll. I just sat down and had a talk with her, got to know her a little better. She’s asked me to call her Annie. What I realized in talking to her is that she is just a doll, a happy little black doll who happens to carry a basket. She is not that horrible stereotypical racial caricature with the huge mouth surrounded by big red lips, eatin’ watermelon and buggin’ her eyes out. She is not trying to glorify slavery or rewrite history to make us all feel better. She is just a doll. So I am just going to chill and let her and Lovey have their fun. There. (But for those of you that are interested in an analysis of the history of the pickaninny, click here.)

In other news, I’ve been having some trouble connecting to the Internet today. I am not sure what the problem is. I have checked all the connections and everything is plugged in and on. So what the?? I am writing this offline and hope to post at a later time.

In even other news, let’s talk about this movie Open Water. I haven’t seen it, of course (I don’t really get to see much of anything in the theater, and the only reason I know about this is I saw the trailer for it when I want to see Fahrenheit 9/11). But I am so freaked out about it that I have spent hours looking up info related to it. It’s “based on true events”! What could be more compelling?? Here’s the basic plotline: a couple goes on a chartered boat expedition to go deep-sea scuba diving during their vacation in the Caribbean. Due to a bungled headcount by the charter people, when they surface from the dive, the boat is gone. They are stranded in the middle of the ocean, and nobody realizes they are gone. Bad enough, right? Well, they are in shark-infested waters, and they start to see fins slipping past them.

Errrrrr!!! This is the kind of movie that makes me freak out about getting into a pool, never mind the ocean. Why do sharks freak us all out so much? I think it has something to do with (a) the fear of being hunted and (b) well, yes, the sheer horror of being eaten alive. I guess that would bug you. There is a bit of controversy over this film, because most people assume it is based on one real-life story (the disappearance of the Lonergans in the Great Barrier Reef in 1998) in particular. But in researching this, I have discovered that this is not an isolated incident. Not. An. Isolated. Incident. That is to say, it has happened before. More than once. So, kids, for those of you who really love the ocean and might consider being dropped off by a boat in the middle of the ocean to go scuba diving – well, consider yourselves warned, is all I’m saying.

I don’t plan on seeing the movie, by the way. Because I am not the bad ass “sharks don’t scare me” kind of gal that can handle this kind of movie. Oh, and I should mention that I do have a fear of being in water over my head, which stems back to my early trauma in the shallow end of the pool at the Allston-Brighton YMCA…but that is a story for another time.