Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Random stuff

I love kickboxing. It's totally exhilarating. Who knew that kicking and punching the shit out of a really hard bag for an hour would make me feel so good? I'm not even the worst person in the class anymore. I am still the oldest woman, though, and probably will be for the duration. But that's ok.

I love Tae Kwon Do also for similar reasons. I really want to move up a belt. White is just not my color. Not that yellow is any better but it'll be a long time before I get to purple, which is my favorite color these days.

I can't believe it's almost Thursday. I shouldn't say too much here since it'll detract from my ability to write thirteen moderately interesting things tomorrow!

At dinner, Big D was trying to explain to M Girl the concept of thinking about things chronologically. As he was explaining what it meant, M Girl smiled at him and said "Daddy, I can't understand a thing you're saying. But I'm sure it's a good idea!"

I'm still walking on air because our little family is together again. But actually, I feel bad that it took a long separation like this to help me truly appreciate what I have. I hope that I've learned a lesson that I need to count my blessings every day because I have a lot of them!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back together again

Big D and A Girl got back safe and sound last Monday. I took a little hiatus from writing as we took time to enjoy being together again. (Also, I did A LOT of laundry). We put up our Christmas tree yesterday and decorated it. The girls were so excited. Today, A Girl went back to school for the first time. Her teacher planned a party for her this morning so she'd have a chance to tell the class about her trip.

I think one of the reasons I haven't been blogging this week is because I haven't been able to find the words to adequately describe how good it feels to have our family together again. It would be too pedestrian to say it's "wonderful" or that I'm "happy." Those words can't begin describe the near-bliss that I'm feeling right now. Even calling it "bliss" doesn't really say it right. I guess I'm feeling whole where before some essential part of me was missing. It didn't matter how often we talked (or IM'd). It mattered that we weren't physically present in each others' lives day to day. I hadn't fully appreciated the importance of touch and simple physical presence when it comes to relationships with the people I love. I think M Girl feels the same way, too. She's always been a "huggy" kid but over the past week, she can't seem to get enough hugs and kisses (which is quite all right with everyone)!

I know this is going to sound cliche but I'll say it anyway. This separation has made us all more appreciative of each other. At Thanksgiving, we all went around the table talking about things we're thankful for. We all agreed that we're thankful for our little family and the big love that we have for each other.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday Thirteen - "Fluffy Musical" edition

Thirteen Things about Jessica

1. Last night I went to see The Boy Friend at the Chicago Theatre. Those of you who aren't die hard Broadway musical fans probably haven't heard of it. I was actually in this play when I was at theater camp as a kid. All I remember is that during the song Sur La Plage, the boys had to flip the girls over and I was scared shitless. But as I watched the show last night, I realized that somewhere in my addled brain, I still held the lyrics to most of the songs.
2. I agree with the Tribune reviewer. He called fluffy shows like this "book lemonade" but I call it cotton candy for the mind. The plot only exists as an excuse to sing the songs. And the songs aren't all that good. But from a nostalgia point of view, it was awesome.
3. I went with a friend and colleague who is a singer and shares my love of all things related to Broadway musicals. Last week, she and I were in a meeting together and at the end of the meeting, for reasons I can't recall, we both started singing the songs from Wicked. Anyone who's willing to do that, will enjoy a fluffy show.
4. We cracked ourselves up throughout the show because there are lots of times when it's so predictable that, even if I hadn't been in the show many, many years ago, I would still know what was coming next. But that's part of the charm for me - life is so unpredictable, it's nice to know what's going to happen next, even if only for a couple hours.
5. My all-time favorite musical is Guys and Dolls. I don't think it's totally fluffy but it has fluffy tendencies. The movie, with Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson, is fab!
6. My favorite musical movie (besides Guys and Dolls) is Singing in the Rain. You already know that I always had a thing for Gene Kelly and he's positively dreamy in this movie.
7. There are so many great scenes in Singing in the Rain, if I had to pick the best comedy scene, it would be the one with Donald O'Connor singing Make 'em Laugh. As part of my devious plot to get my children to like this movie as much as I do, I didn't show them the whole movie the first time I introduced it to them. I showed them the Make 'em Laugh scene. A Girl especially loves slapstick so they cracked up.
8. The dance scene with Gene Kelly and Sid Cherise is priceless. Almost as good as American in Paris, but not quite.
9. My second favorite musical (in play form) has to be Lion King because the costumes are simply amazing and I love, love, love the music.
10. Here are other musicals I've seen or been in (in no particular order): Sound of Music (of course!), South Pacific, Oklahoma, Jesus Christ Superstar, I Do I Do, Chorus Line, Tommy, Miss Saigon, Rent, My Fair Lady, Wicked, 42nd Street, Les Miserables, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Once Upon A Mattress, Merrily We Roll Along, Pacific Overtures, Sunday in the Park with George, The King and I, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Big River, Showboat, Grease, Camelot, Cinderella, Porgy and Bess, Pippin, Hair, West Side Story, Music Man, The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, Sing, Mahalia, Sing, Annie Get Your Gun, Hello Dolly, Bye Bye Birdie, Annie, Oliver, A Little Night Music, Dancin'. Hmmm, I thought the list would be longer!
11. My biggest Broadway musical regret is that I did NOT see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in The Producers while it was in Chicago. I didn't see the show at all and I know I would have loved it. I can't remember what was going on at the time and why I didn't get tickets. In fact, I'm pretty sure Big D even offered to get tickets if I wanted them (he's not a big musical fan like me but he knows how much I love it and he always takes care of me!).
12. I wish that tickets to shows weren't so darn expensive or I'd go see Wicked again. Even M Girl asked to see it again and she didn't really understand the plot, she just likes the music and the fact that the "wicked" witch is green. "For real." She says.
13. Big D and A Girl are coming home on Monday! I simply cannot wait. I will probably break into song when I see them.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Leanne, the mother of the Thursday Thirteen's and fabulous designer of the templates!
2. (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here - if I have time!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Crabby Pants

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I've been Mrs. Crabby Pants lately. I thought I shouldn't post because I have my head in a black cloud and I figured it would be so bleak that all my readers will leave me for less depressing blogs. Then I realized that the point of a diary (public or not) is to express your feelings even when they aren't sunny and bright, or particularly funny. And I know that I'm not alone so hopefully my true readers will stick with me even when I'm in a foul mood.

Have I mentioned before that I hate PMS? Well, I do. It sucks. Big D and I have discovered that I have something that we call "bad egg" month. Just about every other month, my PMS is almost tolerable and my mood swings are fairly minor. But on the other months, my mood swings are like carnival rides. I swear - I am manic/depressive during some months. One minute I'm talking a mile a minute, telling stories, laughing and having a jolly good time. The next I'm lecturing my children in a high pitched screech that only dogs can hear about what ungrateful children they are because they don't listen to me when I ask them to do anything and here I've been so nice and let them have McDonald's for lunch and they whine when I ask them to put their laundry in the basket and I do all the laundry anyway and they don't really even have regular chores like other kids and I'm not their slave you know! Sheesh. As Big D says, no wonder they tune me out. I would tune me out!

Well, it's bad egg month - so here comes the major whining. If you don't like whining, feel free to read the blog of someone who doesn't whine. I'm sure they exist. And for those of you who might feel the urge to psychoanalyze me, I know that I bring most of this on myself. I know that there are many things that I could (should?) do to help myself. But right now I'm too tired, I don't like doing things because I "should" and even if you gave me the best advice in the world, I won't listen - especially if it involves giving up coffee.

I'm tired and stressed out. I want my husband and my baby home again. I miss them so much it hurts. I have a cold sore and something's causing my right eye to swell up near the tear duct and that hurts, too and no, I don't have time to go to the doctor. I got a haircut and it looks like heck because I need to refresh my perm. I'm not looking forward to winter - I hate being cold and I'm always cold during the winter. At this moment I'm bored with my job - I'm sure that will change once I get through the next three days of god-awful board meetings (which is why I don't have time to go to the doctor right now). I wish I could retire and spend all my free time writing and knitting and just generally being creative but that's just not feasible right now and anyway, it wouldn't be anything like my fantasy. It would require work and I'm just plain LAZY right now. I want to crawl into bed for a few days and not come out until the PMS goes away.

I was hoping that writing about it would make it better. Unfortunately, at least as of this moment, it didn't. I'm now going to go home and crawl into bed. Maybe M Girl can make herself dinner. Or not. After all, she is only five. Ok, I'll reheat some left overs and THEN I'll crawl into bed. Such fun it must be to be my child!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I'm not too bright early in the morning

Early this morning, M-Girl started giving me a shoulder massage . . . while I was still sleeping. Although I appreciate the thought, I still wanted to sleep.
I said, groggily "What are you doing up?"
"I'm awake."
"Why are you awake?"
"Because I woke up."
Oh, ok. Lucky for me, she ended the conversation (and the massage).
"I'm going in the other room to watch TV."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Funny Friday

After last night's gastrointestinal nightmare, I'm just not feeling very funny today. So I thought I'd send you all over to The Scarlett to see her hilarious post about Victoria's Secret.

Do any of you know any REAL women who actually wear this crap? Not to give too much information but my hubby has to deal with me in my flannel jammies. I hate wearing nightgowns and silk just doesn't do it for me. It gets all staticky and it's not nearly warm enough. Ever - winter or summer. Sorry Big D!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Jessica

1. Eleven days until Big D and A Girl come home! Yippee!
2. I'm plugging away on the book - I'm nearly done with three chapters. Not very good chapters but three chapters nonetheless. Maybe I should have done Nanowrimo but I'm glad I don't have that pressure right now.
3. While I was at kickboxing Tuesday, I was so mad about the possibility that the kids in our building won't be able to play out in front, I think I punched the bag a bit too hard. My hands have been hurting since Wednesday morning! As my instructor warned me, the bag's pretty unforgiving.
4. I had to come home early from work today because I have a horrible stomach ache. I don't know if I'm sick or if it's just stress.
5. M-Girl is so sweet - I've been in bed since I came home and when she needed me to get something for her, she helped me out of bed and held my hand while I walked (doubled over in pain). She said "Sorry I made you get out of bed, Mommy." and "Sorry you're not feeling well." She is the kindest child.
6. Have I mentioned that Big D and A Girl are coming home in 11 days! It's hard to think of much else.
7. I've gotten great advice from landismom and Metrodad regarding the bad situation at my condo building. Any other advice is welcomed!
8. Right now I'm eating Cambell's Chicken Noodle soup. It's good comfort food. Just looking at the can makes me feel better.
9. I know I said this before but I want to mention that Big D is incredible. My mother is going to Hong Kong for a visit next week. He's working his cute butt off trying to make sure that it'll be a good trip for her. He even managed to win her tickets to Cirque du Soleil which is playing near their hotel. (In fact the cast and crew is staying at the same hotel).
10. I ask again - how many husbands do you know that would voluntarily invite their mother in law to a foreign country WITHOUT their wives being there? I'm a lucky, lucky lady.
11. It's going to be really hard to come up with thirteen things - I really need to get back in bed. 12. I need a haircut.
13. M Girl promised to paint my nails this weekend. I can't wait!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Leanne. Go see Leanne for lots of other Thursday Thirteens!
2. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here . . . assuming I can get out of bed!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

7 things (finally)

Many moons ago (ok, a little over two weeks ago),the wonderful MIM asked me ever so nicely to do the 7 Things meme. And because she's awesome, I'm going to give it a try. Mind you, I am not funny like she is - so don't go getting high expectations! Ok, enough procrastinating.

7 Things I want to do before I die

1. See my children grow up
2. Publish a novel
3. Produce a movie
4. Win an Oscar (for #3)
5. Wear a beautiful emerald green evening gown to accept #4
6. Change the world for the better
7. Get a grip on reality

7 Things I cannot do

1. Waterski
2. The splits
3. French braid hair
4. Streak
5. Keep from eating too many candycorns around Halloween
6. Give up Starbucks
7. Get a grip on reality

7 Things that attract me to the opposite sex

1. Intelligence (seriously!)
2. A great ass
3. Nice legs
4. Romantic nature
5. Beautiful eyes
6. Commitment to family
7. everything else about Big D!

7 Things I say most often

1. We'll see.
2. No fucking way!
3. What's for breakfast?
4. Yada yada yada
5. What the fuck?
6. No, you cannot have candy for breakfast.
7. Oh my god!

7 Celebrity Crushes

I have a acquaintance who says she has a "laminated card" on which there is a list of celebrities that she reserves the right to "do" if the opportunity should arise, regardless of whether or not she is otherwise attached. The only person on her list that I can remember is the lead singer of the band Train. Go figure -to each her own. But anyway, I don't have a laminated card and I don't have a desire to "do" any celebrities. Being famous isn't on my list of things that attract me to the opposite sex. Anyway, there are celebrities that were teen idols in the 1970's that I had kind of a crush on and then there are current celebs I think are cute so that's pretty much what this list is. It's not something I really think about most of the time. In fact, I had to go to various websites to find people to put on the list!

1. Gene Kelly - always loved him when I was a kid, great dancer, great singer and really cute! Seriously!
2. Shaun Cassidy - come on! You know he was a babe in the '70's! And he was so much cuter than David. Totally.
3. Leif Garret - I admit it. He was totally cute with his long girly hair when he was young but he's freakin' scary now.
4. Brad Pitt - He's still cute even though he left poor Jen high and dry.
5. George Clooney - I like the Ocean's 11 guys. What can I say?
6. Matthew McConaughey - total babe
7. Jude Law - Love his eyes although he is a total pig. Screwing the nanny? So cliche.

7 People I want to do this

Pretty much everyone that I would have tagged to do this has already done it. So I'm going to copy MIM and give you a list of blogs I think you should read.

1. MIM and not just to return the favor. You should be reading her blog because she is painfully honest and so funny she makes you spit your coffee all over your laptop.
2. landismom because she's smart and well spoken. She's also one of the few people I know that truly lives her values.
3. Sandra because she's a good writer and you'll learn interesting things about being an expat in Korea and other cool stuff.
4. Mir because she's so funny she'll make you pee in your pants.
5. Sheryl because she's another blogger who talks about her life in a refreshingly honest way but does it in an incredibly funny and loving way.
6. Gio because he makes me think and because I didn't think it was fair that the ladies were getting all the props!
7. Dutch and Wood at Sweet Juniper because they are excellent, smart and funny writers. Also because giving a nod to Dutch helps balance out the boy/girl ratio in this list a little bit.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The worst of condo living

I've lived in two different high rise condominium buildings over the last ten years and one thing that never seems to change is the snob factor. Every building in this area likes to think of itself as a "high end building" and I'm all for that to a certain extent because it helps support the price of our homes. But, as you can imagine, this concept can be taken too far and how far it goes depends on the snob factor in the building.

I found out tonight that we live in a VERY snobby building. Apparently having children around the front of the building on occasion doing awful things like, oh, PLAYING and (horror of horrors) RIDING THEIR TRICYCLES is anathema to the concept of a high end building. God forbid we should have happy children around, it might *gasp* detract from our property values! I'm not talking about unruly, unsupervised children posing a danger to themselves and others. Our building is set back from the street and we have a huge covered walkway that is one block long and is the width of three regular sidewalks. There is a normal size "public" sidewalk between our covered walkway and the street.

(Oh, I'm sorry, did I call it a covered walkway? One of my snotty neighbors said "It's a PORTICO, not a PLAYGROUND." Oh sorry gay guy neighbor with a yippy dog and no kids, I should have known that high end buildings don't have something as common as covered walkways, they have PORTICOs! And I wasn't aware that there is a rule against using PORTICOs as places to play. Apparently block-long PORTICOs are supposed to be huge empty spaces that shall not be used, under any circumstances, for any fun purpose.) But I digress . . . I have been down there with other parents while our children play happily, without running into anyone or getting hurt. When they get out of hand, as children sometimes do, we give them time outs or take them home. They are better behaved than some of the adults that live here!

We have a new management company running the building. The woman assigned to our building has reprimanded the babysitters of two families for allowing the children to play in front. The babysitters (and some parents) were apparently told that children aren't allowed to play in the "common areas" of the building. For those of you who don't have to deal with condo-speak, the common areas are areas of the building that we all own together. Although the condo board hasn't adopted any such rule against children playing in the common areas, this snob of a woman has taken it upon herself to rid the common areas of the scourge of happy children. At a condo board meeting tonight, the board members said that they will be proposing a rule that will be put out for comment by the residents. If not enough residents OBJECT, the board will pass the rule. There is one board member (the only young one) who seems to be on our side. He said he'd work with us to try to get the rule drafted in a way we can live with. My guess is that he'll be overruled by the older men on the board who are well past their child rearing days and don't give a shit about the kids in the building.

I understand that living in the city involves certain inconveniences with respect to getting your kids outside play time. I've always had to bundle everyone up and take them several blocks to the park to do that. However, in this building we're blessed with this SPACE - it's huge and it's perfect as a place for the kids to play. It doesn't happen every day and it's not for more than an hour or so when it does happen. I find it to be a huge waste of space and just generally . . . well, curmudgeonly to say that kids can't play out there. Are they going to tell the cranky guy in the wheelchair that he can't do his physical therapy out there? Will they tell people that they can't stand around talking out front while their dogs pull on their leashes and yap ceaselessly? Doubt it.

When we lived at our old building, I was on the condo board. Once Big D brought A Girl to a meeting when she was about 2 1/2. He's entitled to come to the meeting and we shouldn't have to get a babysitter just to be able to participate in the governance of our building. They came after the meeting started and she ran up to me and sat on my lap for a little while. Then she ran back to dad. After the meeting, a cranky old man came up to me and said "You're daughter is very cute but it isn't appropriate to have her at a meeting. It's distracting." Once I picked my jaw up off of the floor I said "If you were distracted, I'm sorry but she has just as much right to be here as you do. If you don't want to be around kids, move into a senior community."

Ok, I'm going to get off my soapbox soon. But I'm really pissed off. It was bad enough that they passed a rule that kids under 12 are not allowed in the work out room. My kids are really unhappy about that. They loved coming to exercise with me and Big D. They would stretch and do sit ups while we did the stair master and treadmill. Sometimes they just sat and watched the tv in there. Maybe people objected to having the Disney Channel on - but I objected to having Fox News on. So what? We live in a community that includes people of all ages. I wish people would stop feeling that it's appropriate to treat the children in this building worse than they treat the dogs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Be gone irritating voice in my head!

Ugh - There's this person who lives inside of me who simply does not know when to keep his mouth shut. Don't ask me why I think this person is male. It's probably gender discrimination because I always listen to the girl who tells me about the yummy coffee cake sitting in the kitchen.

But this guy - I think I'll name him Edgar (if MIM can name her pimples, I can name the annoying voices in my head). Anyway, Edgar comes around whenever I'm trying to do something creative and says stuff like "People are going to HATE this. It makes no sense at all. It's drivel. I think you should stop. Let's watch TV." I hate him. Sometimes I can drown him out with music but beer is usually more effective, albeit more fattening. Edgar likes to sleep, though. That's why I can write at 3:00 a.m. without having to hear his constant criticism. But I can't keep that up for long. I like sleep, too.

I'm trying to follow the Nanowrimo idea of just getting something down on paper, no matter how bad it is and then going back to revise and make it better. Maybe what I need is more practice ignoring Edgar and his all-consuming need to watch reruns of Law & Order. I need willpower! Mental toughness! Cookie dough! (Oops, did I say that out loud?)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Major cuteness

Here's M-Girl in her Tae Kwon Do uniform, freshly hemmed by Grandma Juju. I know that I'm biased in a major way but she is just.too.cute. Don't you think?

She had a great practice today. I swear, the uniform makes M-Girl feel stronger and more able. She was less tentative today than she was before.

I even had a good class today despite severe sleep deprivation. I was up until 3:00 a.m. The good news is that between 1:30 and 3:00 am, I wrote an entire first chapter of a book and turned an already started short story into Chapter 2 of that book. I didn't know I was writing a book until it occurred to me that I had finished something that looked an awful lot like a chapter. Although I'm not doing Nanowrimo this year, something in me must feel like I should be doing it! Let's hope I can keep the momentum going (and that I can get myself to do the very, very necessary editing.)

Friday, November 04, 2005

The writing process

For a long time I dreamed about writing but was too afraid to put pen to paper (so to speak). There was also the not-so-minor issue of having young children and a full time job which left me with little time and energy for writing. But now that the kids are more independent and thanks to encouragement from Big D, I've started writing more or less regularly.

Recently, I've learned some interesting things about the writing process. Or, at least MY writing process.

I used to feel like I needed a fully realized plot or story line before I sat down to write. That was part of my fear of writing - I could never come up with a perfect story so I'd never actually write anything. I also don't particularly like revising - I'm lazy and I like to get it right the first time (or, more accurately, get it good enough the first time). But that doesn't work very well because the first draft is never very good. It's actually inaccurate to call anything I did before as first drafts because I never really did a full draft of anything. I would start writing a story and never finish it because the beginning wasn't good. I would start and stop different stories and never even try to realize whatever potential they might have had.

Now I realize that writing a story is an iterative process. And, for me, the story doesn't come out until I start writing. I start with a small idea - a first line, a character, an idea - and then start writing. The story opens up and the character takes on a life of her own, doing things that I couldn't have imagined before I started writing. It's like that game show where the goal was to remove tiles on a board in order to reveal a puzzle underneath. The first contestant to correctly solve the puzzle would win. As I start writing, the story and characters underneath the idea materialize.

I also learned that what materializes first is not necessarily what the story or characters must end up being. I tend to get stuck on an idea and keep trying to make it work even when it obviously doesn't work. I recently learned to let go and change things - even if it meant changing the story's direction and tone. Sometimes the characters themselves have to lead the story and sometimes the story defines the characters. I can't allow myself to get too attached to anything in something I'm writing. If I get invested in it, the revision process is that much harder because I'm less willing to change something.

Big D will agree (heartily, I imagine!) that I have a hard time admitting when I'm wrong. That's probably one of my issues with revising. If something needs to change, doesn't that mean it was "wrong" to begin with? When my ego gets involved, big problems ensue. Between my ego and my constantly critical internal editor, it's a wonder I ever get anything written. I'm working on getting my internal editor to shut up during the initial writing process and hopefully learning to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the editing process.

There's an irony to my recent realizations. When I was in college, I took a Shakespeare class. The professor was right out of central casting - tweed jackets with suede elbow patches, zip-up leather ankle boots, twinkling eyes with slight crows feet and just the right amount of gray hair. He even smoked a pipe. His assignments drove me batty. "Pick a phrase, a word or a concept from the play and let it open up for you and give me a four page paper." He'd say in his scholarly manner. I'd think, what the hell does that mean "let it open up?" How the hell am I going to get a four page paper out of a word or a phrase in the play? I even went to his office to ask him and all I remember is him saying "Think about the phrase you've chosen and what it means to you. Then start writing." I don't remember anything I wrote about in that class but I know I struggled.

Twenty years later and I think I get it now. You can't wait until you have everything figured out before you start writing. You have pick something that has meaning for you and let it happen, let the writing flow. If you try to control everything, it'll be like pulling teeth. I always thought writing was about imparting wisdom that you already have. And sometimes it is. But now I know that the writing process itself teaches me.

Now that I've edited at least one piece and made it better, I should have more confidence in my ability to do it. The piece that was published in Mosaic Minds started out in a totally different direction. But after getting great comments from Big D and my writers' group, I understood that the ending didn't work at all. So I sat down and started to rework it. Suddenly I came up with a different ending that worked much better. That's when I remembered my college crush and was able to reflect on the lessons I learned from that situation.

I'm currently working on something that is making me think about the things that influence who we are and who we become. I don't learn much from simply pondering an issue. But if I write about characters that are dealing with or impacted by the issue, that's when I learn. I have no idea what I think about this topic right now but ask me once I've finished writing something. Then I'll have an opinion!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thursday Thirteen - Jet Lag edition

Thirteen Things about Jessica

1. I probably should have done this in the middle of the night when I was wide awake when I should have been sleeping. Now all I want to do is sleep but I'm at work and falling asleep at my desk would be bad form.

2. At least blogging looks like work.

3. Will someone please tell me why my Amazon link to Devil in the White City suddenly changed to a travel guide for Macau? And then when I refreshed the page, it changed back to Devil in the White City? Weird.

4. MIM - I promise you that I will do that meme, just as soon as I'm able to keep my eyes open for more than two minutes at a time.

5. There are apparently certain places in Hong Kong that have a problem with picture-taking. I can understand why the vendors at the markets don't want pictures taken - they don't want any evidence of their rampant trademark piracy. But, I got in trouble taking pictures on three occasions that seem odd to me . . .

6. This is the departure area for the helicopter to Macau. They have lots of food and a cool espresso/coffee machine. Right after I took this picture, one of the ladies ran over to me and (nicely) said "No pictures." What's interesting in this post-9/11 world, is that we were able to take as many pictures as we wanted inside the helicopter. We sat right behind the pilot and took a bunch of pictures of the controls and no one said a thing. It could be that the pilot had no idea that we were taking pictures considering how noisy it is in there and he had the standard huge headset on . . .

7. I thought it was interesting that every Starbucks in Hong Kong looks exactly like every Starbucks I've ever been to, with only a few exceptions. First of all, of course, there's Chinese lettering on everything. In this picture on the left, you can see a basket of small, white napkins - apparently some people don't like the brown napkins that Starbucks uses. You can also see the bottle of sugar water on the right that some people prefer to granulated sugar. As soon as I snapped the picture, the barista waved her hands at me hissing "No pictures!" Someone suggested that maybe they don't want competitors taking pictures of their set up. But this is Starbucks, people. It's not like they can't protect their trademarks and it's not like competitors don't know what every Starbucks in the world looks like.

8. Here's a picture of the girls in a big, comfy chair in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon. We went there for high tea - it's on the list of things you need to do before you die. After tasting the pastries, I can see why! Again, after I took this picture, someone admonished me. Some people have suggested that it's an issue of people not wanting their picture taken because it steals their soul or something. But that's clearly not it. This is a picture of my own kids and the other two pictures are of inanimate objects.

9. Maybe it's an issue of courtesy to others. Hong Kong is an incredibly crowded place. I can see where it would get annoying if you have tourists taking pictures all the time. If you have a basic prohibition on picture taking, you can at least keep it to a minimum.

10. Since I'm on a roll with the pictures, here is one of my favorites. It's a fish monger showing the girls a live fish. Right after this was taken, one of the fish tried to make a run for it and jumped out, landing on Big D's foot.

Before we went to the Chinese school, our hosts walked us through a traditional Chinese market where we spent time walking through the fish market. It was amazing. Every stall had live fish flopping around in pans of water. You select your fish, give it to the fish mongers and they filet it in front of you. In some stalls, they had freshly filleted fish on ice - they were so freshly filleted, the hearts were still beating. Seriously. It was unnerving. We passed a stall where a woman was preparing frogs. When she skinned a frog in front of us, one of the boys with us gasped. The woman (and the people in the surrounding stalls) thought the squeamish Americans were hilarious.

11. Now that I had a story published, you would think that I'd have more confidence in my writing. In fact, I have less confidence. I have ideas bouncing around in my head but whenever I sit down to write lately, I freeze. Even blogging has been more difficult. Granted, I haven't had much time for writing and I'm out of sorts from jet lag. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Maybe I should tell my internal editor to shut up.

12. One thing that struck me about Hong Kong was the clusters of identical high rise buildings. Driving in from the airport, I was amazed at the clusters of 8, 10, 12 identical 60-story-plus towers huddled together along the highway. It's like they decided on a building design and they just keep replicating it. Knowing how small the usual Hong Kong apartment is, the number of people living in each group of buildings has to be staggering. Hong Kong is easily the most crowded place I have ever been.

13. Seeing A-Girl on stage was incredible. I know I sound like a total stage mother when I say this, but that kid is talented. Seeing her back stage getting ready for the show was even more incredible.

Here she is preparing for the second show last Sunday. She's getting her microphone ready. I followed her around as she prepped herself. No one had to tell her where to be or what to do. She went to "hair" and then got her leotard and shoes on and then got her mic and then went back to the hair guy to get her mic taped on. I'm 41 years old and half the time I have to be told where to be and when. And I'm still late most of the time. She's 8 and she knows what she needs to do and where she needs to be. She's somethin' else.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Leanne
2. Jen
3. Sleeping Mommy
4. Squashed Toad
5. interstellarlass
6. Renee

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted! (Even though I have no idea what pings are).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It's official!

My first short story has been published! I would be doing a happy dance around the house but with the jet lag and all, I'd probably hurt myself.

I have lots to write about from our fabulous trip to Hong Kong but writing just this much has totally sapped what little energy I had left. Hopefully by tomorrow my fingers will be working again and I'll regale you with tales of seeing A-Girl on stage (saw the show FOUR times and LOVED it!), shopping in Stanley Market (twice), taking a sam pan around Aberdeen Harbor, eating yummy chow su bao (I know I spelled that wrong) bought from a street vendor and, of course, going to Disneyland Hong Kong (I have the t-shirt to prove it).