Things to worry about

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Check out this list by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Makes sense to me.

Things to worry about

Be patient

Sunday, February 19, 2012
I am changing direction here and trying some new artsy things. I toyed with the idea of shutting down the blog but decided to keep it up a bit longer to see if it will still fit in this new "world" I am creating.

In the last six months or so, I have been at loose ends. Things I previously liked for y-e-a-r-s (artdolls, fiber, sewing, knitting, collage-y messes) have inexplicably lost their appeal. Things I liked years before all that (paper, drawing, typography, structure) have resurfaced.

Through it all, of course, I still like books.

On top of those new things, I am interested in urban design - remaking old buildings better and smarter. Cool new houses with gardens on the roofs. Landscaping and design. Hippy stuff like that. Check this out for wild-ass ideas about architecture designed to suit animals. So I guess I'm saying stay tuned.

Book Report for January

Monday, January 2, 2012
Instead of putting the Christmas decorations away, I have been watching "The Office" from Season 1 (available on Netflix) and eating black-eyed peas for good luck. When not lounging in front of the TV, I have been reading reading reading.

I loved A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. You would love it, too, if you are around my age [50-ish but still hot] and are prone to pondering high school/college friendships and where they are now. One thing I liked is that each chapter is written from a different point of view. As you go through the book, you're immersed in the story but not quite sure whether you are being given important information or not - so you have to pay attention to everything. So I reread parts and got that much more out of it. The book has won every award there is - which usually turns me off, but in this case, the book lives up to the hype. I think it is one of my favorite books of the year.

I don't know why I picked up The Best Nonrequired Reading of 2011, but I'm glad I did, even if I'm scratching my head over some of the selections. Poignant, funny, deadly serious - it's a great range of material, all from publications I would not ordinarily read - like Mother Jones and The New Yorker and Esquire and various indie press offerings you can't find anywhere but in a college town full of English majors. Favorite piece was on Roger Ebert - of Siskel & Ebert - and his struggle since losing his ability to speak due to cancer - a real upper, eh? But it is. A committee of high school students helped hone the selections. Lucky them.

In the self-improvement category, I offer you Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. I bought it because Anne Lamott blurbed it. Of course I've been struggling to lose the same crappy 15 (well, okay, 20) pounds all year and this is a totally different approach. I was all set to do some kind drastic diet (isn't this the most boring subject ever?) but the book changed my mind. Especially after reading this:

In an April 2007 UCLA study of the effectiveness of dieting, researchers found that one of the best predictors of weight gain was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started. Among those who were followed for fewer than two years, 83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost. Another study found that people who went on a diets were worse off than people who didn't."
Dang! So I'll probably follow this Geneen's plan (which is, basically, asking yourself if you're hungry and paying attention to what's going on inside, or put another way, the AFGO approach. {Mentioned in the book, AFGO refers to "Another Fucking Growth Opportunity".} Be warned, for the umpteenth time, I'll be trying to learn to meditate. I'm up for it, though; it seems kinder and gentler than giving up Oreos.

For a laugh, check out Amy Sedaris on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, modeling "Weekend Pants." I think I have a pair of these...

December Book Report

Thursday, December 15, 2011
Recipe for disaster: read the final chapters of Larry McMurtry's Terms of Endearment in an empty house. Cry-fest City! I loved the movie (so well cast), and I loved the book even more. It's not your typical Mommy-Dearest mother-daughter relationship and Aurora (the mother) is a piece of work. How a man could have created this character is beyond me. I haven't seen the movie in years, but I don't think they made much of Rosie's (Aurora's maid) trials and tribulations. Short recap: to her utter shock, Rosie's husband takes up with another woman. When she finally comes face-to-face with the woman, she realizes "the other woman," whom she has imbued with so much power, is nothing but an overweight, ugly thing (but with a lusty appetite). 

That's just one example of those "Aha" moments when you realize McMurtry has caught things just right. In the book, Aurora has a magical effect on several suitors, but when she is introduced to Vernon's (one of her four suitors) long-time acquaintances at the breakfast diner, they are surprised at how old she is -- for this slightly tubby woman with the aging Cadillac Vernon has turned his life upside down? It's along the lines of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And finally, of course I love that the book is set in Houston, and it's obvious McMurtry has an appreciation for the city and its quirky entrepreneurial spirit.

For a change of pace, I read It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong, the chick behind the enormously successful blog. Originally, I thought this would be a great gift for a new mother, but um, probably not a good idea. While I loved reading about her bout with post-partum depression (and subsequent hospitalization), it would probably scare the bejeezus out of most breast-feeding people. Yes, it's a horrible thing, but Heather has a sense of humor I can appreciate. I think she's great, but perhaps she's an acquired taste? If you're a blissed out mom, not your thing, but for the rest of us, she puts into words the frequently unvoiced and conflicting thoughts that new babies can arouse. 

Though I loved Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I wasn't so crazy about Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. I couldn't get through the tedious scientific approach to bonking and after 50 pages, I quit the book and concluded that people who study sex so scientifically are a bunch of weirdos. Frankly, I don't want to know that there are sex-machine events just like there are knitting circles and soccer leagues. I may give it another go in a couple of months - the book got excellent reviews. Maybe I'm just a hopeless prude.

The best chapter in Tina Fey's Bossypants is the one about doing photo shoots for magazines.
Once your hair and makeup are done, you'll slip into your first look. It will most definitely be one of the dresses that didn't even come close to fitting you, so Lot's Wife will bridge the gap with a thick piece of white elastic and some safety pins. Don't ever feel inadequate when you look at magazines. Just remember that every person you see on a cover has a bra and underwear hanging out a gaping hole in the back. Everyone. Heidi Klum, the Olsen Twins, David Beckham, everybody.
I am amazed at (and glad about) this woman's success. She's funny and smart and humble, and she's not an extroverted fool. Perfect read for a behind-the-scenes look at network television, female humorists, etc.

One thing, though, for some reason the "man arms" on her book cover creep me out.

"Beast is at the grocery store picking up something for dinner"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Beast, honey, don't forget my Diet Cokes! And I like them in the smaller cans..."

Recently, Kid1 got a new job as a Disney princess with a Tier 2 (somewhere above carnie-land but way below Disneyland standards) birthday party outfit. Depending on the assignment, she is either Ariel or Cinderella, Belle or Sleeping Beauty.

She just finished her first weekend on the job with four gigs. She went 120 miles, from Pearland to League City and suburbs in-between, changing in her car from red wig to black and so on.

I saw one of these not-quite-ready-for-prime-time get-ups and told her that any five-year-old would see through it in 30 seconds ("You're not a real princess!), but so far so good. Still, there are obstacles.

"It's not the kids who are the problem, it's the 17-year-old older cousins." Turns out they're the ones who point out that your wig is sliding backwards off your head. 

It's bad enough she has to change in her car, right, but she can't even walk in the Ariel costume due to the low-budget mermaid tail.  She either has to take geisha-like steps or hop. So when the family asks her to set up upstairs (while hauling her 1980s circa/company-issued CD player and "magic bucket,") it's a problem. ...hop, hop, hop.

Meanwhile, there are any number of unscripted questions to answer.  Here's my favorite.

Q:  Belle, where's Beast?

A:  He's at the grocery store picking up something for dinner.

Q:  Which grocery store?

A:  Kroger.

Pick me, pick me!

Monday, December 12, 2011
Look, I know it was nothing personal, but this is what it feels like to go through a layoff at work. It's a musical chairs-type exercise, and until you know you've got a job, it's like standing there waiting to be picked for a team.

Glad it's over and someone picked me. I think I actually lost hair and gained five pounds over it. Crazy.
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