Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Goodbye, January

I've been busy, traveling, wrassling with a two-day low-level headache. Missed reading my blogs, looking at Flickr, spending time at home with a fat black hairy cat on my lap. But now I'm back, family successfully visited, some photos posted, clock ticking off the seconds until I have to go to bed. (I've started my new work schedule--for some reason I've been enjoying coming to work later and leaving work earlier these past couple of days, but I dread going to work tomorrow. Huh, imagine that. But I think it will be good. I set my alarm clock for 6:30 this morning. 6:30, pure luxury!)

with Dad and Bran apres game
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
I had a great, short visit with my family. I saw my nephew play a game and half of basketball--his team won both games. Cheered on my cheerleading niece. She modeled her prom dress for us, and I marveled at her amazing closet. Hung out with my Dad and my younger brother and his wife. Spent some quality time with my older brother and his wife and son, who, at the tender age of six, is already planning his first full length feature film, his interpretation of "Star Wars." It's never enough time, but maybe it's good to leave wanting more.


So I've only just recently come to the realization that Flickr has a six-month limit on photos with the free account. I'm a dork, I know. (That's the second time today I've had to admit to being a dork, not pretty for Virgo me). If I go pro on Flickr, will all my posted photos return? I have to figure that out.


On the way home from the interior I was fascinated by an interview on This American Life with a woman, raised Protestant, who married a man with five other wives. He has a total of eight now. The idea of communal marriage flabbergasts me, but she was very cool and persuasive (though she is a lawyer, thanks in part to the other wives who supported her and helped raise her son while she was in school). Maybe that's part of what continues to pique me about the interview--her matter of factness on a topic that's usually so passionate.

Also on the way home I spotted a tree in bloom, cherry I think, and my heart was gladdened. I have a lot to look forward to in February. More blooming trees, for instance, and longer days. I'm ushering a couple of good shows (Lucinda Williams why didn't I buy tickets?, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), taking a sewing class, seeing/hearing Jane Hirschfeld read at a book store just up the street, having coffee with a friend I haven't seen in months.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Burlingame or Bust

Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
The first conference of 2006. At a hotel perched on the bay just south of SFO. The sound of planes in various stages of flight is everywhere, the aviation respiration of landing and take-off, white noise. Spring-like weather can be seen from the large lobby lounge windows--we've had a couple of fine clear days.

M and I drove down early, with the plan to stop at Filoli, but I neglected to read the part where they are closed for the winter. Well, not the best time of year to visit gardens anyway. We spent the afternoon in the hotel, watching football, free of home chores and pets with eyes that beg for attention. I missed him more than usual when he left.

Coming to the conference a little earlier than I normally do gave me a chance to adjust more gradually. I took a walk along the bay path the first morning, read the paper and watched a little TV before starting work yesterday, and later a friend and I did a little afternoon shopping (cheap earrings, purple cashmere socks, silver eye shadow pencil, 75% off Christmas ornaments) in the decidedly upscale part of town. I had a hard time sleeping last night, but feel ok today, though not up to going back into town for dinner, so I'm blogging here in the hotel lobby, waiting for a glass of sauvignon blanc and a decent hour to ascend to bed.

Blah, blah, blog. Sorry, boring stuff. I guess I feel like it's a bit of a work merry-go-round--same ol' template of time spent, just slightly different players in a slightly different setting. I don't have enough energy or inquisitiveness to seek out many new adventures when I travel, though sometimes I blame that on the lack off sass at the destination. Burlingame for instance--hardly high on my list of places I've been wanting to explore. I bet there's good food here at least and that's always an experience worth seeking, but I expect my last dinner for this event will be composed of appetizers at our various receptions tonight...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Linky Links

If I dig a very deep hole, where will I come out?

More mapping fun here.

Answers to your cat's questions

Feeling blue? Enjoy a cuteness chaser or three:

- Cute Overload
- Cats in Sinks
- Adorablog

Store Wars (thanks Michael!)


My friend Moira recently sent a clever little package:"Bar Napkin Sonnets"--poetry printed on cocktail napkin-like paper. Here's a photo so you can see what I'm describing:
Bar Napkin Sonnets
She's an incredibly literate poet and never ceases to amaze me with her language. Here's one of my favorites:

(Though poets lie in service of the truth
and fiction's simply truth tricked out in lies,
what do I tell my students, whose sweet youth
does not allow for gritty subtleties?
That I commit the crimes of one still young
And too immortal to obey what's best
For organs such as liver, heart and tongue?
I keep my wild-hair story-box suppressed
(I love my kids) and though I feel unjust
I hope they'll understand me when they're old
Enough to see that love's a blinding trust
That lives, or doesn't, once the lie's been told.
Therefore I lie to them, so I can be
A part of them, yet hold on to me.)


After five years, I'm changing my workday from four ten-hour days per week with Wednesdays off to a regular five-day week. This is my last non-workin' Wednesday and I'm hoping I won't regret the schedule change. I'm thinking I'll get more sleep, and I end up working at least part of the day anyway, so what kind of a day off is that? This also indicates my faith in M not going back to the Hell that Is Car Sales, where weekend work is part of the deal. Wonder if it will affect my blogging habits?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More About Roads

So in addition to those unknown life paths of least resistance, there are those paths we will inexorably cross.

Death's for instance. And thanks to the Frost poem, it comforts me to now visualize death not as darkness, but as a trace in a woods that grows fainter and fainter until it's just the grass and slim pale tree trunks and underbrush again, generations of decaying fallen leaves untouched by consciousness and the presence of others, filled with a dim light that could be moments before nightfall or perhaps sunrise.

One road that I spy on the horizon of my travels--maybe you read about it too in the New York Times--the Daughter Track. The article profiled a 50-ish, unmarried, child-free woman who left her successful professional career to return home to care for aging parents. Though the spinster daughter is perhaps less common than it once was, this role seems to be more important than ever as families live farther apart, making sharing care for aging parents and spinster aunts amongst extended family members impossible, and health care costs rise. I know several women now who are their parents' primary care giver. So even if this is not one of the roads I end up treading, I'm trying to be mentally prepared. And though there will be challenges, I think I'll be happy to do it.

Financially prepared for such an eventuality is a whole other ball of wax. And this is where I'm truly concerned that the lotto-winner track will not be a fork that presents itself to me. How will I build my compound to house my various family members (not to mention the farm where I raise heirloom farm animals) if I don't have millions of dollars at my disposal?

Another thought, not so fully formed: Perhaps the Daughter Track is a factor in my choice of not becoming a parent myself. Without children, there are fewer parallel paths to negotiate, alternately widening and approaching as the milestones indicate. My powers of caring for both children and parents would be severely taxed as they begin to change places, the children stepping into adulthood, the parents simultaneously slipping back into infancy. No, no, that's not true. I know that if I wanted to have children, I would, damn the future paths. Because children are the insurance against walking the path of aged infirmity alone, aren't they?

M has a sister who doesn't anticipate having children either (though she's young and I suspect could be persuaded to change her mind), so perhaps I shouldn't worry about caring for my mother-in-law. His mother is caring for her own mother, mostly by herself, and she's still working full time. The sole help we've given her so far is recommending that she bring in some professional caregivers. I feel impotent with distance. Do men who have sisters think of these things? What is the Son Track like? Enjoyment of my parents and stepparents is one of my husband's attributes that I appreciate more with every passing year, in anticipation of the fact that we may be their primary caregivers. He may be interacting with them much more than he ever bargained for.

But that brings up another thought about paths and their bifurcations--is it our anticipation and preparation for them that makes them appear, or are they random acts and events?

What about those paths that we believe to be inevitable, but never materialize before us after all? The fame that we know is just a matter of time, just wait for the audience to find us? Or the true love that is lying in wait for that chance meeting, blossoming under the shelter of an umbrella offered by a strangely familiar stranger during a thunderstorm? How do those assumptions guide us through the years and then cause us to alter course when disappointment sets in and the long-awaited fork never appears? Or hold our feet fast to a path in desperation despite all evidence pointing to a better way?


Sang Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, "A robin feathering his nest has very little time to rest while gathering his bits of twine and twigs." I've been listening to Julie's sweet trill in my head all weekend as M returns to his garage after various forays, carrying with him all manner of manly comforts. A radial arm saw from the sprawling Salvation Army compound north of town. A motorcycle excavated from a neighbor's garage. Plastic bags filled with foreign objects to fix up the latter "feather."

Thanks to the saw, other tools received as wedding gifts, and increased time on his hands, he has announced that I can now expect his handiwork to start finding its way into our home, not just adoring our outdoor environs. Witness his recent work, a shelter for Winklewisp and Pansy:

We still have some interior decorating to do for the gnome home.

I'm also looking forward to leisurely outings on the motorcycle together after M repairs it and practices solo a bit, a fantasy that enchanted me when we first started dating but was never realized since we didn't have the wheels. I admit that I'm a little more nervous about motorcycling after my car accident and thinking of the accident M's brother had a year and a half ago which resulted in his innards and several important joints becoming rearranged…but many years ago, M and I had a wonderful afternoon cruising through the Connecticut countryside on a borrowed bike, trees ablaze with fall colors. That feeling of freedom and togetherness has stayed with me as one of my favorite memories. Rex will be heartbroken, unfortunately, if we drive out without him.

I've been working on this post for a while, it's dark outside and cold inside, so if you could insert some clever association between motorcycles and roads taken (or not) here, I'd be very grateful.


Happy Birthday, Rachel!

It's also Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. M and I once heard one of his speeches broadcast in its entirety on NPR. What an incredible speaker he was. I think he could make me believe in God.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Paths Taken and Not

Michael had a post (where'd it go, Michael?) that thoughtfully intertwined a Frost poem, and I've been thinking of another of his works: The Road Not Taken. Well, I can hardly claim that my life is unusual, despite the fact that, as far as I know, I'm the only one living it. But on our regular Thursday lunch hour walk, a friend and I discussed the open mindedness of being young, and how the world seems so limitless and full of adventure back then. She still feels that inquisitiveness, the desire to try everything (within reason), and I envy her, because I don't think I do.

I know I still have adventures before me, and hopefully I'm only about halfway down the rutted road of my life. But choices I've made so far have made other choices impossible. Or nearly so, it seems to me. In many ways, I'm glad that I know more about what I *don't* want. And this is just life, right? Doesn't everyone feel this way as they hear the doors of opportunity clanging shut, the shushing of window sashes opening? It did make me wonder if that's why people (mostly men, it seems), don't "grow up"--they still live at home, don't have a serious significant other, prefer adult toys--they don't want to choose just one path and they want to hold on to that sense of wonder of life.

As I age, I wonder about the paths I've chosen, and why--have they been the paths of least resistance? It seems like it sometimes. And trying to bring faith/God/FSM into this, is my life preordained? Or is "fate" really just a more palatable way to describe the occurrence of another random event? And how do the branching of the paths of those close to me come to bear on my own way?

I haven't been sleeping well these past few days, and it may be because I'm being nudged onto another fork in the path and am trying to adjust. M's not working, though he's applied again for an opening in the public defender's office, so he might be soon. He's been home the past few weekends, and it's been so strange for me. Good, yes, of course, but I find myself moving about the house more gingerly somehow, wondering whether or not we should be trying to sync our chores and activities. He did spend most of Sunday in the garage, making a wheeled box to contain my assorted soils and garden supplies, so it wasn't like I felt he was underfoot. But it's clear that he's beginning a new phase of his life and I'm not quite sure what, if anything, that means for me, how significantly his new career will affect my little path.

I have a vague premonition that I'm approaching a big ol' fork in my path and I'm not sure if I'm a) deluding myself so I can feel as though I have some excitement to look forward to b) genuinely trying to be welcoming about any changes that might occur c) projecting M's fork as my own or d) really needing a change in my path so this is my way of trying to visualize it, to make an effort to actively create my own fork.


Birthday dinner
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
Monday was M's birthday. Some of his nice law school friends took us out to a swanky-ish restaurant in the Napa Valley on Sunday. I was worried that I was in for an entire evening of law school talk, but there was very little. Oh, they're so young…


Monday was also my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Jay!
jay -n- poptart


Thanks to Nancy and the NY Times, I am now a Nellie McKay fan. I also purchased a Fiona Apple album today. In other music news, my hero Elvis Costello is one of my MySpace friends! I left him a little mash note on his page.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I Did It, FSM Preserve Me

I created a MySpace page last night, in the probably vain attempt to stay in closer touch with my niece and nephew. ("Paw, they're not going to pay attention to anyone but themselves for the next ten years, at least," declared M when I told him.)

It was interesting, surfing around MySpace. Lots of dark, fuzzy photos. Unintelligible comments. More older people than I thought--I was under the impression that MySpace was pretty much for the teen set. My niece had 264 friends last night, now 267, including me. How do you keep in meaningful touch with so many people? Even if she checks/comments on ten different friends every day, that's still only about one visit per month for all of her friends. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the 15-ish blogs and sites I visit regularly.


I saw the sun today. Raked, cleared the weeds from the rosebush, sat and basked in its warmth and gloried in the sight of blue sky. I felt my shoulders unshrugging for the first time in weeks. I let the damp and dark I'd been living with for the past three weeks fall around my ankles. Just a few more days like this, please.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Requisite New Year Post

Still raining.

I've been avoiding updating the blog, partly due to mental vacation mode, partly because there's such pressure (right, from whom? it's just that all the bloggers I read are doing it) to post a pithy year-end wrap-up and/or incisive predictions/resolutions for the year ahead. Jordan has a nice year-in-review meme that I thought briefly about picking up since it would probably be a good exercise. But I'm just not ready to analyze the past year--at least, not yet. 2005 seemed to be twelve months of mixed blessings: the wedding, which was wonderful but intertwined with stress and expenses; busy work and school for M and me--all good and worthwhile, particularly my trip to Europe, but our commitments separated us more than we like; the Week from Hell--hospital visits and hassle, but in the end it didn't bankrupt us, M will be much healthier, and I'm finally driving a Cadillac.

I can't help thinking about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, however. For 2006, I want more: more writing, more gratitude for the things I have and for misfortunes narrowly avoided, more connections, more exercise, more deep breathing, more humility, more expression of creative juices rather than just thinking about making/doing stuff, more simplicity, more peace--inside and around the world.

This list doesn't really vary from year to year, actually.

Happy new year to you! May all your resolutions for 2006 come to pass.