Monday, March 30, 2009

Technology is indeed melting my brain

I am not ashamed of my love.

So my ingenious husband has hooked up a system to stream Hulu to our TV.

Did you know that Hulu has the entire back catalog of Highlander?

Do you know how I spent my down time this weekend?

Just guess.

Can you guess who is sorry that he is so ingenious now?

Just guess.

We'll Get There

Plenty to report, but just this now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's Old Is New Again

"You're so fly you got wings!" Susan's text said, first thing in the morning. The week started well and the world supported me with more things like this every time I needed them.
At Sambar I told Kevin about the blog, how uncomfortable I get when I think about it being something for other people to read, with the way it seems a bit narcissistic in that light, same with the stories. The process of writing, I get. That makes sense to me every day, is always something I want to do. It's the getting to the end part that's hard, the idea that it's not just process but product, something to be looked at and valued, both in good ways and in bad. On what authority does it all stand? What right do I have to say something turns out this way or that, to resolve or conclude or end anything? I'm most comfortable in my stories that are almost all voice, not so much about what's happening, no decisions to make about how a character would decide this or that. How can I make up someone else's mind?
"I have to get over that" I told him, and he smiled and said "You do!"
Jane Hirshfield wrote a series of poems I love that she called "assays". The word pleased me when I first saw it in one of the titles, since I hear it nearly every day. It's used constantly in science. Here's what Merriam-Webster says assay means:
1archaic : trial , attempt2: examination and determination as to characteristics (as weight, measure, or quality)3: analysis (as of an ore or drug) to determine the presence, absence, or quantity of one or more components ; also : a test used in this analysis
Could that help? What if all the writing is just to assay? Test things out, examine, describe presence, or absence. I might be able to do that much.
Writing group on April 10th, time to turn something in and commit to working on it. Hard for me these days, but working on it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Litany of Lucky

Guess what I feel luckiest about?

So lately, given the economy and all manner of things going on in the universe, I have felt an onslaught of complete negativity.

It has not been fun.

I think that, by nature, I am not a negative person. I am pretty 'glass-half-full'. But I am susceptible to the negativity that people feel free to express and vent about.

Understandably, there is fear regarding job security and finances, a person would have to be living a totally isolated existence not to see how tenuous many of our personal, professional and financial situations are. But fearing what may happen in the future only distracts us from the pleasures and the wonders of our life in the moment.

I saw a segment on the news about 'bright siding'. I.e. people who do things in order to bring some cheer and joy to their day.

I am all for it.

I want a shield from the miasma that seems to be floating everywhere.

My job may end tomorrow. The economy may get worse. These things are possibilities. But in the moment, this moment, I am a very lucky and blessed person with many joyful things in my life to celebrate and honor.

With that in mind, I have a new mode of thinking that I am going to try to embrace. I call it 'The Litany of Lucky.'

What is it?

In a moment, when I might be feeling needlessly or irrationally negative or unhappy, I need to take a moment to observe where I am, what I have, and how lucky I am to be where I am in my life.

Right now?

  • I am lucky to live in an age where I can communicate so easily with the people I love
  • I am lucky to have the education and facility of mind to express myself
  • I am lucky to have some lovely gold bangles that my husband bought for me in India
  • I am lucky that I have the kind of husband who is sweet enough to think to buy me such lovely bangles

And it goes on and on. You get the idea. Anything can be something that is a blessing.

Maybe it seems silly, like I'm blowing sunshine up my - you know - but I really do think that I'm lucky and I want to embrace all the joys of my life as I live them and not become a victim of the relentless unhappiness in the world.

I know that there are things wrong in the world, but I think that I honor those things more by observing how lucky I am in what is right in my life, than by pretending that any issues I have at the moment stack up at all in the face of other people's very real and very substantial problems.

I am lucky.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy All Day Today

It was like having a kite. What's opposite of hangover?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Then It Was All Okay Again. Better Than Okay.

I wanted to call this entry "The Heartbreak of Macarons" but really, the weekend was too good for that. We made a batch of macarons that would have been heartbreaking, had it not been so funny. "Self-filling", Kathleen called them, because the tops puffed up like lumpy four-leaf clovers, and then some of the batter oozed out in a puddle around the lump, looking like ganache gone terribly wrong. We made stacks of them and Lisa photographed them for a joke, but they didn't taste nearly as bad as they looked. Her canele, on the other hand - gorgeous, and delicious. Not a thing wrong with them. For the second batch of macarons, we stuck with vanilla and maybe the egg whites were a little overbeaten, but they were still surprisingly good, and each of us left Lisa's carefully cradling the two macarons that were our share of the tiny batch. I had one for breakfast this morning, maybe the other with hot tea for dessert tonight.

I didn't mean to stay out til one both nights this weekend, but I was having too much fun not too. I was in love all weekend, satisfied with all the people I was with, then today so happy on my own for a few hours. There was nothing bad except having forgotten my camera at work, and so much good, so many things to laugh about, so much good food to eat, all the right kinds of love and attention and happiness.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That Was The Start

I had a bad day last week. Terrible. Horrible. Actually, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Do the boys have that book yet? If not, pipe up and it's in the mail. Very helpful book.  

Where was I? Ah, right. The Bad Day. It was not the kind of bad day that blends into a string of bad days, an ongoing mush of gloom. It was the kind of bad day that stands out and makes you realize that the other days around it, were not so bad. But it still sucked.

So I came home, and did something, um, out of character. I made myself dinner. It felt so good to do that. Then I did the dishes. Right away! Also out of character. I never do the dishes right away. Most of the time I think- why would you do that? You just ate! Enjoy! But this time, it was nice. 

After that, things got a lot better. Thursday night, I went with Kate to a reception for the Jane Hirshfield reading, and met Jane and Earl and saw Casandra and ran into Ted & Kris (!) who made both me and Kate laugh since we were talking about how you and I used to babysit their girls, and they revealed that Clare is now older than Kate. Yeah. Ha. It was so good to see them. 

There's been so much more of that good stuff since then. Kate's Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday night, Jessica's little blog entry on me, lots of good time with Super Exclusive friends, even a stranger stopping me in the coffee shop to tell me I looked cute. Sometimes it seems like the world is paying you back for every good thing you've ever done. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No more printed PI?

I visited the Seattle P.I.'s website, for a nostalgic glimpse at the past... and came away thinking that not much happened in Seattle in the 80's!

The 70's and 90's were way more happening.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nature or Nurture?

It's like you were there!

We had an awesome birthday party for the boys over the weekend - which is a big part of my absentee-ism here lately.

Planning a shindig for 60+ people in your apartment requires a little brain power!

In any case, it was really fun and I think that the boys had a great time - even if they didn't really understand that it was all about them.

They got a ridiculous number of gifts and lots of other kids and babies were there to wish them well... but the best thing about the day was how their individual reactions to the hats and cakes and whatnot really demonstrated how different they are.

They may be identical twins... but they are definitely not the same person.

Cake! Yummy cake!

Thomas - totally willing to ham it up in the hat and eat his cake with some gusto, but with his hands. Max - refuses the hat (in tears) and face plants the cake.

Max refuses the hat. Mean Mommy laughs about it...

We also had their 12 month well-baby visits and they are developing well. Max is 20 lbs. 6 oz. (14+ pounds up from his birthweight) and Thomas is 21 lbs. 12 oz. (15+ pounds up from his birthweight).

Aside from some boogy noses, all in all, I would say we are all doing pretty well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Isn't the Half of It

It was an astonishing weekend, food-wise. We ate at this place Friday night, and there were so many courses that I literally can't remember them all. If the first course hadn't been the most amazing oysters I've ever had, then I would have left with the impression that each course was better than the last. There were so many of my favorite ingredients, lamb, duck, sorrel, pickled things, chocolate... it went on and on, and on, even after the end, when we wandered back to our friends' photo studio, since one of the owners came over after a while, with a couple bottles of rum for tasting. 
The rest of the weekend was pretty amazing too, Saturday morning, Lisa, Kathleen and I met up at Honore for macarons and cannele and cafe bom-bon. I could talk to those two ladies all day, but eventually we went our separate ways, me to the yarn store and then Susan's house where I actually COOKED something!! But more on that later. Maybe. 

Sunday was just as delicious, since Kate gathered up a few of us for Thanksgiving on the Ides of March, then served us the juiciest turkey ever, perfectly crisp skin, corn stuffing, and Lindsey made delicious greens. Afterwards I took us all out for ice cream at Molly Moon's. Highly recommended!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Metaphors We Live By - Five Senses

Metaphors We Live By is a book Jane Hirshfield mentioned at her reading tonight. She was talking about the senses, and how everything we know is through our senses, and all the metaphor that comes about as a result. It was a perfect little thing, just the kind of serendipity I like, because I had been thinking about what to do for my Five Senses Friday post. Mostly you and I live in a pretty isolated outpost of the internet, Ali, but sometimes I get sucked into the world of a blog I like - Abbey's is one example.

:: Sound ::
Jane Hirshfield last night at Seattle Arts & Lectures
her soft, precise voice, lingering over what is both difficult and sweet

:: Smell ::
powdery citrus in my car, left over from the bath fizz I brought as a present for Kate

:: Sight ::
sunshine all week long
the bright bright moon
words on page

:: Touch ::
elbow-length cashmere gloves
the feel of a scarf on my neck, in the cold

:: Taste ::
my everyday latte
the last macaron of the week

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday! (all week long!)

Max and Thomas, only hours old.

Check the boys out here.... they got a special birthday shout-out!

It is unbelievable that the boys are a year old now.

I feel like it was yesterday that I was waddling around with my 60-pound belly and giving people dirty looks on the subway for not offering up their seats.

They’ve gone from being these little mewling creatures to standing, walking, babbling characters. I look at pictures of them with us and I can’t figure out how they got so tall or so old! In my minds eye, they are still wee little babies, but then I see images where I can glimpse the boys they will eventually become.

They have big hands and feet like puppies.

Thomas is our ham, our cookie monster, our giggling clown. He’s quick to smile for the camera, quick to laugh and giggle hysterically. And he’s learned how to pick his nose and twiddle his dingle. Both of which are equally amusing at this point. He’s the first to race over if he sees you coming. He’s also usually the first to burn out at the end of the day, falling asleep in his high chair. After he’s eaten everything in sight, of course. He’s figured out how to put the blocks back in their boxes already.

Max is our sweet-faced baby. A little slower to smile, he sort of seems to consider things for longer than Thomas does. He just wants to sit in your lap and get loves and hugs. He wants to kiss you on the nose… though sometimes it turns into a bite. He loves to look out the window and he sleeps on his tummy with his rump up in the air. When he wakes up in the morning he loves to honk the horn on the car next to his bed. Despite his seeming shyness, and the fact that he is still smaller than Thomas, he manages to steal the toys and give as good as he gets when it comes to brotherly rough-housing.

It has been a great year and a hard year. The boys are easily the best thing that I’ve ever done and seeing the look on their face when they see me – MAMAMAMAMA – is really nothing less than awesome. There were certainly times when I never thought I would get a full night’s sleep again. When I was SO TIRED of pumping. When the thought of looking at my post-baby belly made me a bit irritable.

The sleeplessness was easily the hardest part though now, for the most part, the boys sleep through the night. And sometimes I miss the nights of cuddling or nursing a boy at 1 am.

Now we wake up in the morning to the sounds of them happily babbling to each other. If nothing else, they are the best alarm clock ever.

Happy first birthday to my two little men!

Max and Thomas, one YEAR old!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It Was All a Dream

I had never filled up the memory in my camera before, never needed to edit as I went. If it had been just one night, I might not have needed to, but two nights, two days, required it. I culled photos in the middle of the party the second night, saved some memory for the vineyards the next day and was rewarded with gorgeous teary photos of green Napa in the pouring rain. Even so, I cam home with over 400 photos and still can't decide which hundred I love most, still wouldn't delete many of the final lot. That's what happens when you have a whole set you like - what makes them lovely is the way they look together - the juxtapositions forgive the lack of focus, poor light, the way someone is mid-chew, someone else is moving or blinking.
I went into the weekend thinking there should be pranks, mischief, art projects! But in the end, everything was too spectacular to need anything additional, it would have been gilding the lily. It all WAS gilding the lily - the rare bottles of wine, the lines of caviar, the pizzeria out back, the long winding driveway through the estate, the larger-than-life portrait of someone's mother, painted by Diego Rivera, the two Milton Avery pieces, the long banquet table, danced on, of course, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Prince on repeat, the way everyone's clothing had bones on it, skeletons, as though each person had made his or herself an element in a vanitas painting.

For my part, I put off the recording of it here, thinking every day that there should be something on the blog, some record beyond the photos that were lying dormant in my computer. I should tell you about the white blouse Amy wore under her leather bustier, with the high boots and the white tights adorned with leg bones all up the back, or Renee's necklace, long and elaborate, made up of charms she had collected over the years. Or I should talk about the food, the piles of cheese, the radishes with butter and salt, the plates of sashimi and baskets of tiny tangerines fresh from the orchard. And the champagne, the champagne, the champagne.
But sometimes some things are all too much to record. I knew when I went that I needed to get away, that the skeletons were emblematic, as they are in tarot, of change, and of some things passing out of my life, and something else coming in. The whole thing was too big to see at once, like the gorge you come across near Taos, invisible until you are right on it, standing at the edge trying to see the whole thing, heart stopped, with a view you could not possibly have anticipated.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

What Was Not Boring Today

Some people come with gifts, like, um, hair-braiding skills, or a really good sense of direction, or the ability to make pies. Some people bring gifts, like mix CDs, or good books, or actual pieces of pie. Kate both has gifts and brings gifts. Pie-making and pies. Mail! Which is a precious gift - postcards, little thank you notes. I love mail. She also has a talent for having her photo taken, by moi, as evidenced by the photo above. I don't know how to explain why that photo is one of my favorite photos ever, but it is. I love it. I come back to it, have it as one of the rotating desktops on my computer, and am happy when it comes up.

Kate also has a talent for getting me in the kitchen, which is, of course, a weird thing. Since I don't cook at all. Though I'm considering starting. Considering. Last week Kate and I went to U bookstore (which is a whole other blog post, how much I love that place!) for a reading by this extremely charming blogger, who wrote one of those books that I like, which sort-of defies categories, it's got recipes and little vignettes, you know? Someone's life in food.

Mostly Kate gets me into the kitchen by cooking for me, and I'm thinking about that, about the people who feed me, like Kate, and Dad (mmm pork chops!) and Mom and various lovely ladies associated with my writing group. Katherine and her excellent chicken soup, dinners at Peggy's, even Tami, who claims not to cook, has fed me sweet things made by her own hand. Rice Krispy Treats totally count! Not to mention Pam, and her roast chicken and ceviche and thai shrimp and more. I'm just thinking, I'd like more of that home cooking thing, even if it means I have to do it myself.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Dear Babies

A year already? Hard to believe. Thank you for all the happiness you've brought to your mom and dad, and to your grandparents and aunt and blog fans. Thanks for all the cute photos and smiles and cuddles, and funny stories. You are two little cheery balls of chub, and we love you tons. 

Happy birthday!

Auntie H

Thursday, March 05, 2009

When did this happen?

Remember last year when I was THIS BIG???

I can't believe that the boys will be one year old tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Subterranean Mojo

Susan and I hated the Sex & the City movie. HAAAAAAATED it!! We went to a matinee, and even though the reviews had been bad, we thought, hey, high production values, crazy outfits, NYC, how bad could it be? Pretty bad, it turns out. So don't even get me started on the idea that they are going to make a sequel.

The sad part about it was that there really was something to Sex & the City, the tv show. It wasn't the stupid columns that Carrie wrote, her observations on love, or the parade of semi-cute actors who played her love interests over the years. I was kind-of over Samantha and the whole idea that there was something revolutionary in her free-wheeling sexuality, and the whole Miranda career juggling was a little cardboard cut-out for me. But I remember towards the end of the show, either the show itself, or some review I read of it, probably both, talked about how it was really a love story between the four women, and that was truly the part of it that I liked. I liked their little brunches together, and the way they cracked each other up, and sometimes they made up too easily after a spat or trouble, but still, I liked the way the four of them were always together, and the way we were with them, deep in the intimacy of their friendships.

When people see me again after a long time apart, they don't usually think to ask me how my girlfriends are. That's understandable, but too bad in a way, because few things influence my state of mind and happiness more than my girlfriends. Susan has a level of commitment to me and our friendship that no boyfriend has ever had, a willingness to hash it out and muddle through and fight if necessary and just always be there. Kristin is like this for me too, though Susan will always have seniority over every one. She's like the Senior Fellow of Friendship. I love her like a sister, and that's a lot.

So if you asked me now how I am, and you thought to ask also about my girlfriends, I'd have to tell you it's been a hard winter. I know you know this about my winter already, but a few of us have been having a rough time simultaneously, and wow, do I feel that. I haven't been the friend I'd like to be, though I'm trying. Kristin is back in the states, and that's been good, and ANTM is back on soon, so Susan and I (I hope) will get back to that silly habit we have, Tivo, good snacks, yelling at the TV and laughing at Tyra. That should be just about enough to get us through these last weeks of winter.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The End

This morning, I came across this phrase that I love - ben trovato. It means "well found" in Italian, and might be used as praise for a story. One of the things that keeps me writing is the idea that stories are not made, but found. Takes the pressure off, and makes the act of writing a sort of vehicle for faith, I think. Have I said this before?

Today was the last day of the photo project with Jason. I loved his final photo, ben trovato, don't you think? So much to look at here, the mailboxes, the idea of a message sent to a person, picking up your mail, receiving something... a letter or, more strangely, a balloon. I liked the juxtaposition of this balloon and the mail, like the balloon was a package that was delivered too late, or a package that was never picked up. Messages sent, but not received.

On Friday, we wrapped a co-workers entire desk in wedding-themed gift wrap. He had quietly taken two weeks off to get married in Hawaii, one of those guys who just isn't going to make a big deal about it, but of course we couldn't let him get away with that. I sort-of credit the photo project here though, it has added something prankish to my mood, has me looking around to see what else can be done, what other things need to be looked at differently, what projects I can take on. And of course, I'm taking recommendations.