May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Wednesday, December 26, 2007afterwards
I went to Flickr, was disappointed that no one's posted many xmas photos, then reminded myself that I haven't posted any, either.
Our Christmas went really well. Hope yours did, too. We baked. A while back, my youngest son Rory, now 10, had found some retro recipe for cookies shaped like mice. He became obsessed with the idea of baking them for Christmas, no matter how many times we told him that a) they'd be a pain in the butt to make, and b) mice have nothing to do with Christmas. But he wouldn't relent, so we did. We took him on a special last-minute drugstore trip to purchase strawberry flavored licorice for mouse tails. We puzzled out how to get the tails into the cookies -- Tad thought of putting toothpicks into the mouse bodies to keep a hole in place while they baked. But we had no toothpicks, so I thought of rolling up tiny bits of foil. The mice had chocolate-chip eyes and peanut ears. While baking, they each doubled or tripled in weight. We decided they were mice preparing for hibernation. Or else, simply very fat mice. The aluminum tails popped out and the licorice tails popped in (with minimal inappropriate innuendo, heh), and the end result was awesome. Rory's cookies got their own display plate, and he enjoyed showing them to everyone who showed up at our party. And I hope I haven't created a baking monster now. Just kidding. We also made other cookies, and mini rum cakes, and white chocolate popcorn as gifts. And if I had known before how easy it was to work with white chocolate bark coating, everything in my house would have been dipped in it by now...
We didn't do a lot of gifts this year because, like a lot of people who drive cars in America, I'm pretty freaking broke right now, and there aren't any Black Friday sales worth the credit card interest, as far as I'm concerned. So we traded very small, inexpensive things, or else things that we'd made for each other. And, honestly, I think it came out just as well. The kids said it did. Maybe they were just being gracious, though. They're so gracious. My dad came over and gave them all Best Buy gift certificates. Rory asked him the amount they contained. My dad said, in the dry tone I know as his joking voice, "I'm pretty broke this year, so they're $8 each." All three kids thanked him. Then, my dad said, "Either 8 or [way bigger amount], I forget." And I understood that they were of course for the bigger amount. The kids thanked him again.
Then, the next day, Rory told me, "Grandpa gave us $8 each for Best Buy, so that's $24. Maybe we can get a game with that." And he seemed so excited. His brother Dallas somberly agreed that they should pool their $8 cards. I said, "No, babies. He gave y'all [much bigger amount] each. Not $8." And they go, "Oh-h-h-h..." Fifteen-year-old Josh rolled his eyes and laughed. He'd gotten the joke.
Okay, enough bragging about my kids. They're going to their dad's today, for his part of the holiday. It's kind of unfair, because our school district rearranged their calendar again, so I'm getting the kids for almost no time at all. But at least I got them for Christmas. Next year I won't, and that'll be sad. We'll have to bake for Thanksgiving, instead. Because I think we finally started the tradition of it.
I was glad that my boyfriend Tad liked both the inexpensive gifts I got him. Y'all know how mens can be hard to shop for. So it was a relief, to see him look sincerely pleased. He got me three very inexpensive gifts, one of which was the wrong size. ("Oh. I didn't see the sizes on them. I just picked the color.") But that's okay, because I already know what I'm getting for my birthday, which is tomorrow. I found out by accident. I'm excited. (But I hope it's the right size.) More on that later, after I come back a year older and hopefully wiser, too.
sad media agenda
This morning, on our local news, the newscasters were at the malls telling us that all the stores had extra, special, super, duper, slashed-prices after-xmas sales today. Because -- surprise! -- no one sold very much before xmas.
And I'm thinking, if people couldn't afford to buy gifts before xmas, why do the malls think they'll suddenly have money afterwards? And why is the news pushing the idea? Is media conglomeration that bad now? Does Time Warner own Wal-Mart now? I mean, I know you can no longer read magazines without fully expecting them to push the books/movies/music umbrella'ed by their parent companies, but dude. What's up with the newspeople encouraging me to shop today? Give me a freaking break.
It reminded me of the days after 9/11, when George W. Bush told us the best thing we could do for our country would be to shop our brains out for xmas.
Honestly? I like shopping as much as anyone. I'm a straight-up consumerist and it gives me the DTs not to shop on any given weekend, and the signs that say 70% Off call to me like sirens with long, well conditioned hair. But still. Even I have my limits. Don't ask me to shop when every not-rich person in America is broke. Tell Halliburton to shop. Tell Texaco to shop. Tell George W. Bush to shop. I'm not listening.
I do have a couple of gift certificates to spend, so I will do that. First stop: Barnes and Noble. Also, I would like to have my nails done in the trendy style -- short ovals with nearly-black polish. We'll see. I have to count my pennies first.
Last night we caught the tail end of Bad Santa, and I watched Billy Bob ask his fellow criminals why they needed all the crap they were stealing from the department store. Why, indeed? They were stealing tacky trash. I would've stolen way better.
The other day, as I told y'all, my boyfriend Tad and I went to Neiman Marcus, which is an expensive department store, as some of y'all might know. I don't go there often, because their target market seems a little older than me. When I do go, it's to purchase the occasional Bobbi Brown product, and their cosmetics sales peeps are always very cordial.
But we went there the other day to look at the clothing, as I told y'all, and ever since then I keep dreaming about it. I dreamed we were suddenly rich and my boyfriend went to the office of the CEO to speak to him about merchandise. Meanwhile, I waited in the wood-panelled waiting room, and South American women struck up conversations with me in rapid Spanish. I thought, "They think I speak Spanish, and they think I'm rich." Then, I thought, "Oh, but I do, and I am." And then we talked about how much we liked shopping at Neiman Marcus. It was funny.
Tad's brother and s-i-l are rich, and they shop there often. So Neiman Marcus sends them beautiful Vogue-mag-sized catalogs, which they flip through and discard. Tad asks if he can have the catalogs. Then he takes them to my house, where he and my youngest son and I peruse each page and laugh or sigh at the insanely expensive stuff. Tad wants a mink dinner jacket. Rory wants a diamond skull-faced watch. I want a python bag, but I feel sorry for the pythons, that they spend their lives growing so thick, only to end up a bag for some lady. So I'll take a diamond Hello Kitty watch, instead. The one with the white ceramic band. Even though it has Kimora Lee Simmons' name on it, and she's not my type.
Wanna hear a dirty secret? Even though I'm not a teenager anymore, I do still cherish a fantasy that I was meant to be rich. That I'm destined for it, sheerly by virtue of my impeccable taste.
The longer I live, though, the more I suspect that I'm not meant to be rich, because it wouldn't be as much fun. If I were rich, I wouldn't have a reason to shop the most run-down thrift stores anymore. I'd have to do "vintage boutiques," instead. If I were rich, I'd miss the obscene joy of rescuing someone else's Neiman Marcus catalogs from the dumpster. 12:00 PM # (9) comments
Wednesday, December 19, 2007Thoughts on Fictional Aspergers
There are two fictional characters I suspect of having Asperger's Syndrome, whether or not the actors were consciously portraying them that way:
1. Napoleon Dynamite.
2. Bill Haverchuck of Freaks and Geeks.
Or maybe I'm just projecting that onto them because I like those characters, and one of my sons has Aspergers, and I want to imagine my son living a life with a happy ending. Every week.
And now that I'm searching for links, I see that I'm not the first person to have expressed those thoughts:
- Napoleon Dynamite: Asperger's Disorder or Geek NOS?
- an amateur review in which some guy bashes Jared Hess for mocking "stupid, disgusting, socially retarded" characters, and the last commenter sets him straight
- Napoleon discussion on Aspies for Freedom
- In a review of the Freaks and Geeks DVD set, someone calls Bill Haverchuck the poster boy for Aspergers.
So, once again, know that you can count on Gwenworld.com for all your years-after-the-fact pop culture commentary! Here's some more:
I saw Shallow Hal last night, and it wasn't as bad as I'd assumed it would be, way back when it first came out in 2001. I guess I was just looking for an excuse to dislike Gwyneth Paltrow. That was before she wore that too-big-in-the-bust pink dress to the Oscars, and I began to feel bad for her, instead.
I was in the dentist's office for about four minutes this morning, and now I'm good to go. (Tiny bump on my new temp bridge was throwing off my bite, wreaking havoc. Now it's gone.) Thank gosh. It wasn't until it was over that I realized how much I'd been dreading that visit. Oh, also, dreading things makes me grind my teeth. Which makes them hurt more. Duh. Vicious cycle ahoy!
I'm going to start a museum
in which I archive lame attempts at flirting by self-important Corporate American men.
Not because they flirt with me, but because I've been in a position to overhear the flirting, over and over and over again. Because they do it right in front of me, because I'm not pretty enough to be visible to them. Plenty of women can say the same thing, I'm sure -- that they overhear crass come-ons on a regular basis, that they feel disrespected by the men who do such things in professional settings... But would other women obsessively analyze and catalog the phenomemon, like I unwillingly find myself doing every week day? Probably not. Upon hearing any random failed come-on, I immediately, telepathically comprehend the would-be pick-up artist's secret fears, skeevy desires, and pathetic fetishes. I don't want to know, but I can't help it.
And that's why hearing that crap tortures me. No, not because I'm an old, fat, jealous shrew. Not because I'm a jealous lesbian. But because it's pretty depressing, hearing the silently screamed longings of men I can't admire.
Five Pound Allowance
Speaking of being a fat, jealous, lesbian shrew... I can't wait until Christmas Eve. Why? Because I'm going to eat baked goods on that day. Baked goods of my own making.
I've decided to allow myself to gain as much as five pounds, between Christmas and New Year's. Because isn't that, like, the legally ordained amount of weight that we gain that week in America? So I'm ready.
And then, by May, I plan to lose 20 pounds net. And then I will be done. Wish me luck.
And merry December 24th to y'all, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and whether you eat baked goods or not. Have fun. 11:57 PM # (9) comments
Monday, December 17, 2007How is it Monday already?
I have a long to-do list in my purse. Its primary purpose is as a focal point -- it gives me something to look at while I say, "How in the hell am I going to get everything done?"
My tooth hurts but I don't want to tell my dentist yet, because his wife just had a baby, so I don't want to give him bad news while he's still functioning on a half-tank of sleep. It's bad news because my teeth have become notoriously difficult to work on. I used to be the kind of person who wasn't afraid of dental appointments. Now I kind of dread them. It's a race for time -- catching and saving each tooth before it rots out of my head. I keep saying "Just give me full dentures now," but he won't. We are in the middle of excavating the left side of my mouth. I'm so used to blood and gore and drilling and needles now, it almost doesn't bother me anymore. Almost. I used to have nightmares about my teeth falling out. Now I think that would be a happy dream -- all my teeth picking up and leaving, just leaving me alone.
Oops. I didn't mean to talk about my teeth for so long. Oh well. Don't read that part.
We managed to have some good times over the weekend, though. Don't think it's all bad and I'm just going to complain at you. We went to the movies and cleaned our house and killed silverfish as a family, again. We all yelled at each other to stop being so effing negative. We opened the kids' Christmas gift last week (Guitar Hero III) and unlocked every song with our family-style fake-guitar-playing prowess. (I realized that I'm meant to be a bass player, not a lead guitarist. And that's just fine with me.) I told the kids that when I get my next book advance check, we're going to buy an XBox 360 and the Rock Band game. And then we will take over the world. I'm designing our band's logo right now, so we can stencil it on the bass drum. We don't have a band name yet, though. We toured Guitar Hero under the name Frostbight, but that was just for practice. Of course we will need something better than that for the XBox 360 stadium tour. The Partridge Family is already taken, and The Zepeda Family doesn't have the same ring. I don't know. I'll get back to y'all on that one.
The other day I gathered leaves from the cemetary by my work. I had to make up a practical excuse, so I said I would use them in a collage. I have two 16" x 20" canvases at home that I've painted very red. I said I'd put the leaves on those canvases, instead of painting yellow and orange gourds on them, like I'd planned. The leaves we gathered were burnt umber, gold, light olive, and a little bit of cinnabar red. My boyfriend didn't gather any, he just observed and checked my picks for insects. We walked around the graves, because I don't like stepping on the dead people. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to do so, because I suspect that they don't like it, either. But there were a lot of leaves on the edges of the plots, so everybody stayed tranquil. And I noted, for the zillionth time in my life, how very beautiful birch trees can be. Or maybe it isn't a birch, the one I always look at. It has white bark now and colorful leaves, but it also drops those balls that you step on to smash and unlock the downy, densely packed seeds. You know which ones I mean? The seed balls that look kind of like big, acorn-brown cherries? That's not a birch tree, is it? Or is it? I don't know, but I love that tree.
So I put the leaves in a plastic bag that I had in a desk drawer, and I took them home, and I hope they're not moldy now. Because I haven't had time to make the collage yet, of course. But, in the meantime, I've been thinking that I need to repaint the red canvases and make them blue like the sky, plus gray/white like the tree bark. Then I'll put on the leaves. Then the collages will clash with the colors of my living room. But that's okay. I'm okay with that. If they don't look right, I just won't put them in the living room. I do still want to make them, though.
I said I was going to make a bunch of gifts for Christmas. Made gifts only. But then I realized that I don't have a lot of people to trade gifts with (thank godfully, sigh, ha), and the ones I do trade with, I'm now worried that they won't like the gifts I have in mind to make. But really, what does it matter? How could they like it less than a plastic thing from Wal-Mart? And I've had this argument with myself, in my mind, 9,000 times now over the last 35 Christmases of my life. So I'll stop now. Move forward!
Here's some stuff about parenting teens now. (I wrote a subtitle about venting. Then I vented all this stuff, then realized it was mostly about parenting teenagers. So I came back here and changed the subtitle. Ta da.)
My children (oldest child, mostly) have finally reached the age where they've realized that I'm incredibly ignorant and have no business trying to raise them or even running my own household. And I'm supposed to argue my case -- prove that I am the smartest one, and therefore they have to listen to me and do what I say, always no matter what. Right? I mean, isn't that what you think, when you don't have kids or when your kids are still too young to question your authority?
You say, "I'm not going to let my kid talk to me like that. I will slap my kid across the mouth, and then she will know that I'm the boss."
Or whatever. You say all this stuff to yourself and your friends, about how awesome and fear-inspiring you're going to be, and how your children will be meek subjects who keep their noses clean and still get good grades. You see older parents at the mall with their teenagers, and their teenagers say, "No, Mom, that's stupid!" and you think back to the one time your mom finally lost her temper with you and slapped you across the mouth, or took away your Atari. Or the one time you eavesdropped and overheard someone tell your mom that you were a spoiled fucking brat, and your mom maybe reluctantly agreed, but still defended you because she loved you...
And you bleep over those painful memories and retroactively remove all the spoiled brattery from your own past, and raise your standards for the youth of today and for their parents. And you say... you say...
Whatever. It doesn't matter what you say, or what you said. Because you grow up and your kids grow up. And then they talk back to you, because they're smart and you're dumb, or because they're spoiled and you love them. And sometimes you do get mad, but sometimes you just let them, because you know by now that's what has to happen. Let the kids talk back sometimes. That's what they're supposed to do. Give them their chance. Maybe they really are smarter than you. You hope they are, anyway.
I say, "You're free to disagree with me or express your anger, but you need to do it respectfully. I gave birth to you, and for that alone, you need to respect me. Because, hello, that shit hurt. Y'all were big babies."
It used to upset me when they got angry. But now I'm okay with it. That's their job -- to be little fireballs of anger. Teenagers have to burn off a certain amount of anger, or else they won't grow, right? Anger is the byproduct of adolescence's chemical reactions, right? Seems that way. I kind of enjoy it now, seeing my oldest son get so pissed off. Even when he's mad at me. You go, little boy, I think. (Big boy. Little giant man, actually.) You get mad. It's your time to get angry now. I'm so proud of you for growing!
I listen to my kids argue and complain, and they're now reaching the hardest issues -- the ones it seems like I've only recently overcome, myself.
The first issue is boundaries/control/what you can expect from the people you love. "I helped you level-up your orc but you never help me level-up my druid," in their minds, sometimes equals "You don't love me. I love you too much. You aren't living up to your contract as my brother/friend/guild member." And I have to talk to them about what we owe each other versus what we do for each other out of love, and I try to teach them to set their own boundaries and take care of themselves. And I have to make sure I'm practicing what I preach in my own relationships. Do they see me treat my boyfriend, my friends, my family, the way I tell them to treat each other?
The second issue is wanting approval from others, and caring what others think, and meeting social contracts. One of my kids is so concerned with what his classmates think of him, it stresses him out all night and all weekend. And that one is so hard, because I remember the pain of worrying about that, but I don't remember what finally made me snap out of it. (Time? Exhaustion?) So I just repeat to him what my family said to me, and of course it works just as well, which is not at all. And then he trips me up with logic. He says, "You said I shouldn't worry about what other people think. Then how come I can't wear shorts and flip flops to the party? I don't care if people don't like it."
And y'all know how that goes. Y'all remember, either because your own kids have done it to you, or because you did it to your parents. Right?
I feel like I have to hurry and mature faster, myself. I have to stay several steps ahead of my kids, in terms of maturation and personal development, or else I'll become worthless to them. So I'm doing it. I'm growing.
Cliched syndicated columnist lesson: Watching the kids go through this crap is part of what makes me grow. Duh. Y'all know this already. I don't have to tell you. I'm just venting.
I've been wanting to write something here about reader mail. I got a really angry email from a reader recently, and I wanted to post it and dissect it here, and talk about the patterns that occur in the hate mail that gets sent to me. How it's usually Christian fanatics who feel compelled to scold me, or older women who think I'm making some big mistake in my life, usually related to either dieting or sex. (I used to get a lot of mail from politically conservative men who wanted to lecture me, then assure me that I was still smart and pretty enough to be worth converting. But that's dropped off a lot. I guess I finally turned them off somehow. Darn.)
Then I felt bad about that, and thought that I should instead (or first, at least) talk about the nice mail I get, and how very, very nice it is. I wanted to tell y'all that some of your emails are so kind that I have a hard time responding to them, because I can't figure out what to say because "thank you" doesn't seem like enough. Some of y'all's emails, I put away in my Save box to read again another day.
And I thought that I'd tell y'all that I myself am very, very bad at writing emails to people I admire and whose art I enjoy. I think I'm the absolute master of overthinking my fan mail -- trying to make it sound flattering but not fawning, interested but not stalker-y. And so, instead, I manage to come off as weird, rude, or pointless. This is usually in emails to musicians or artists or other writers. So, after all that, I appreciate y'all's nice emails even more, and it always makes me smile when y'all express fear that you're coming off as stalker-y or crazy.
(You aren't. The general pattern I see is that, if you worry you sound crazy, then you aren't. Because the few crazy, stalker-y people who do write me on a regular basis? Never worry at all about how they sound. They just pour out the crazy with all the confidence in the world, then hit Send and move on their merry, crazy way.)
So, yeah. I wanted to tell y'all all that stuff, and now it looks like I did. Want to see the hate email now? It's the most messed-up one I've received in a while, and I'm going to post it with the sender's full name, and this is why:
1. It's a beautiful exercise in hypocrisy and nonsense, almost to the point that it has to be fictional, in which case the fiction is art and should be shared. Or...
2. If this person, Melissa Mahoney, is as mentally ill as she seems, then maybe someone who knows her will read this and get her some help. Or...
3. If this Melissa Mahoney is just incredibly immature, then maybe someone who knows her will see this and ridicule her in real life, and she'll then learn a valuable lesson about communicating with people on the Internet. Also...
4. If I get murdered any time soon, y'all can give the police Melissa's name, and, most of all...
5. This email does double-duty as advance promotion for my next book!
And now, here it is. My hate mail, by Christian tamale-maker (and aspiring author?) Melissa Mahoney, uncensored and unabridged:
fucking stupid ass bitch. Me and my family make tamales too by Gods grace. FUCK your 'petty judgemental evil thoughts' you fucking antiChrist bitch. dont say 'Jesus Christ'! about some book you like. dont take my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Name in vain. He is Almighty God, and He saves. God gives me deep, merciful, non-judgemental thoughts by His grace. you shouldnt have judgemental evil thoughts. judge not, lest ye be judged. when you judge others with your evil thoughts, God will judge you. God has mercy upon us, and we should have mercy upon all by Gods grace, and not judge one another but LOVE one another by His grace. who the fuck would want to buy a childrens book for their children from you. Jesus Christ saves.
Thanks, Melissa, for reminding everyone that I have a children's book coming out in May, and it is called Growing Up with Tamales, it's in English and also in Spanish, and it is suitable for young readers, as well as for reading aloud to children who are too small or lazy to read it themselves. Email me your mailing address if you are an educator, librarian, reviewer, or book blogger and you'd like an advance copy to review.
:) 5:44 AM # (25) comments
Thursday, December 13, 2007Let's be shallow now.
Usually, I don't find too many guys attractive. Not even the ones on TV. And I tell myself, "Maybe I'm just too picky. Or maybe I really am secretly a lesbian."
But then, sometimes, I see some man who is very, very beautiful. Like this one. And I think, "I want this man to bear my children. And to win the reality show on which he's competing."
Sometimes I say that aloud, and my kids and my boyfriend hear me, and they either roll their eyes or shed a tear, as applicable.
Okay. That's all. I just wanted to tell y'all about an attractive person on this earth. (I think it's okay to talk about his looks, seeing as how he's trying to make money off them and I'm not saying anything mean. Right?)
Labels: lookism4:44 PM # (3) comments
Tuesday, December 11, 2007big announcement
It's funny... Sometimes I feel like I live my life really fast. You know?
Last week, I got the first inkling of good news while I sat at my desk at work. And I was so, so happy that I had to go into the stairwell and jump up and down a little. And I wondered how I would be able to contain myself throughout the day. But I told myself to calm down and wait until the good news was finalized.
Yesterday, my agent got permission to post the good news in Publishers Marketplace. I was excited. "Yay, now it's official and I can tell everyone!" I thought. And I emailed my friends. And I thought, "I need to announce this on my blog. But maybe I should wait until tomorrow..."
And then, I started with the planning. There's a lot of stuff to plan, and I like to plan the hell out of things, to the furthest extent possible, with contingencies and back-ups and variables and weather charts and Excel spreadsheets and protractors and everything. So I started doing that. And my friends were like, "So, do you want to have a drink this weekend, to celebrate?" And I was like, "I can't. I'm so busy; I have so much stuff to do..."
And they were like, "Have you noticed that you've never celebrated any of this? We're still waiting for you to celebrate your first four books. When are you gonna get around to it? The vodka bottles are stacking up over here."
And I laughed, because they were right. And then I said, "Seriously, though -- I have a ton of stuff to do. Not just for this book, but for everything."
So, yeah. I'm really busy lately, and I have a lot of writing to do, and my mind is spinning with all the plans and lists... Oh, and...
I sold another novel to Grand Central Publishing!
My second novel!
My fifth book!
Today I'm wearing a $5.97 pleated cotton Ann Taylor Loft skirt. It's brown and white with flowers in the color I call persimmon. Not burnt orange, which makes me look corpsical, but persimmon, which is blue-er and much more flattering. I have paired this with a brown Carole Little top from Ross Dress for Less, and brown shoes. Creative, I know. I told y'all I wear boring clothes, though. Even though I do have this one persimmon satin top (of Target) that someone implied the other day was something only a Latina would wear. For a Latina, I am boring. For a white person, maybe my colors get a little bright sometimes. Fuchsia, orange, light pink, bright green. But my skin is light olive, so those are the colors that help me. I think that means I'm "a Summer." Being half white makes me Summer instead of Winter. Winter was what every non-white person had to be, back in the '80s, when such things got said.
Oops. I didn't mean to go off on the political train there. But that is a personal pet peeve of mine -- the American beauty trends and science ideas that non chalantly exclude non-white people. Like the Color Seasons lady saying that white people can be Spring, Autumn, Summer, Winter, and then lumping all the black and asian and dark-skinned latina chicks under Winter, in her best-selling book, back in the '80s. Like all those '90s toys for babies with the white faces, black eyes and smiles. Because it was proven that babies were attracted to high-contrast face, meaning white faces with dark eyes. Because... dark-skinned babies don't care to see their dark-skinned parents? Like Karl Lagerfeld saying, just last year, that tans are out, and only pale skin looks fresh right now.
Okay, back to the thrift report. Last week's find: a black Armani Exchange sweater, little plastic tag thing still attached, for $9.97. Yay.
Jungle love is driving me slightly mad. It's making me a tiny bit crazy.
I realized that Houston does have a Bob station, after all. Well, Hempstead, Texas does, at least. Hempstead and Cypress and Tomball and the Woodlands, and as I travel east on 290, the station fades.
I like the Bob stations because they are the masters of busting out songs you haven't heard in a billion, jillion years. Like Uriah Heep's "Thirty Days in the Hole."
So I'm listening to it the other day, and they play that song "Jungle Love" (by Steve Miller Band, I think?) and at first I think, "Oh, not that cheesy freaking song." But then it cranks up and I realize I don't hate it too much, after all. And I'm listening to the lyrics, and it's about some guy meeting some chick on somebody's island, and giving her a crate of papayas (euphemism?) and then, presumably, having sex with her in the ocean and maybe in the jungle, too.
And I thought, "It's so lame, how guys will think that a song-worthy topic is the fact that they had sex with a hot chick."
But then I thought about how nice it would be, not only to have a romantic liaison with someone attractive, but to be on a tropical island with no cares in the world, back in the days before HIV. With papayas and maybe other fruit, including hopefully mangoes. That is songworthy after all, isn't it?
Then Steve Miller sings another verse, in which they're off the island and life is like a jungle and I guess he's not having sex with the hot chick anymore, but wishes he was. Or something. I spaced out on that part. I booked trips to Fiji and Bora Bora in my mind, instead. I looked forward to the day that I'd be able to spend money on traveling instead of on credit card interest. That lasted me the middle 20 minutes of my commute, and then I went back to fantasizing about being a preferred shopper at Neiman Marcus, and then planning the next thing I have to write. 5:54 AM # (11) comments
Wednesday, December 05, 2007Sad News
My middle son is going to live with his father for a semester.
I'm sad about it. But it's not about me. It's about him, trying something new and hoping for certain improvements in his life. So I support his choice, like any parent would.
It's apparently a more common occurence than I'd previously thought -- kids wanting to try living with the other parent; courts allowing siblings to live apart. It's all been arranged better than I could have hoped, and all three brothers will still spend most weekends together, happily.
And that's it on this topic for now. Even if I felt like saying more about this, I wouldn't because I've agreed not to. In advance, I'd like to thank anyone who wishes to express concern. And I'll ask that they instead just send my son good vibes. Thanks.
We also got some good news recently, concerning my writing.
Annoyingly, I can't disclose the details of that, either. Yet. Sorry! I just wanted to tell y'all there was good news, too, so the more sensitive among you wouldn't worry too much.
(This is me keeping my chin up. I'm like a British soldier in a Vonnegut novel, that way. Keep your chin up, keep your dignity intact, keep your stoicism fresh, etc.)
something different on which to conclude
I found a really exciting magazine. It's called Shop Smart. I'd seen it before, but assumed it was a knock-off of Lucky. Then, the other day, its cover caught my eye, and I flipped through and realized it was actually Consumer Reports, but for smaller things.
Are you like me, in that you've always loved the idea of Consumer Reports, but don't buy enough cars, trucks, washing machine, or bagless vacuum cleaners to make a subscription worth it? If so, I'm thinking they made Shop Smart for us. This month's issue rates hot cocoa mix. (Nestle's got hated on.) It calls out department store "sale" prices, comparing them to MSRPs. (Sears got burned.) It shows you which Barbies are worth money and gives you tips on decorating for the holidays. In short, it's awesome, and it's all I can do not to call in sick so I can read it cover to cover instead of going to work. 6:06 AM # (12) comments
Monday, December 03, 2007A Plainclotheshorse
Sometimes I want to tell y'all what I find at the thrift stores, and maybe post pictures of my finds, but then I don't, because I've realized that I like pretty boring clothes.
Today, for instance, I am wearing black pants, a white shirt, and a fuchsia silk cardigan ($1.91 with orange tag markdown). And black loafers. And no jewelry, because I forgot it. And that's pretty much about as exciting as my wardrobe gets, unless I bust out a dress or the knee-high boots or something.
The other day I found a brand new pair of brown, unembellished, Unlisted loafers at my second-favorite thrift store, for $6.97. I found one of them on the floor, and I searched the store until I found its mate. And I was so ecstatically happy. "I should take a picture of these and put them on my Flickr page!" I said to myself. Then I realized how underwhelming a picture of brown loafers would be.
Oh, well. I'm still happy about them.
But, if you'd like to see something semi-exciting, go on over to my Flickr page and see that paintings I did to go above my fireplace.
The YouTubes and the CSSes and the BloggerWriters and the InterWebs
I feel kind of sad about the fact that I haven't posted anything on YouTube yet. I feel un-Web-pioneer-y. I even have stuff to post -- two or three readings and lectures I did that people were kind enough to videotape for me and then make DVDs for my use, to post on YouTube as I'd promised I would. And I haven't yet done it. I even have the video editing software on my computer. I just haven't had time to get it done.
Other information highway merge lanes I haven't had time to drive on:
- podcasting with the MP3s I have of myself reading and yakking at radio show hosts
- putting something about my books on the domain GwendolynZepeda.com
- getting on any writer-y sites and telling people I'm a writer
- updating the design of this here blog
How do y'all web mavens have time to do all this stuff? Is it because you do it as a career? Is it because you don't have 28 kids, like I do? Are you doing it at your day jobs? Are you tricking high school students into being your web content interns? Help me, ObiWanKenobis. Tell me your secrets.
It just takes time, I guess. Maybe I can do something on the web, next time I feel like painting a bunch of birds and hanging them up above my fireplace.
Weekend Adventure: Farmers' Market
One of my kid's friends spent the weekend with us, which was all the excuse we needed to conduct weekend adventures. We dragged that little boy to the Asian grocery store to see the live frogs and purchase cha siu for the fried-rice feast my boyfriend later cooked. We dragged him to a park that we'd never seen before, and that park ended up having bison and pigs and emus, oh my! We sought out a new (to us) carniceria, next door to our second favorite panaderia and ate a fabulously traditional Mexican Sunday breakfast of tacos, pastry, and insanely spicy hot sauce.
After we dropped the boy off at his home, my boyfriend dropped me off at my favorite thrift store for a few hours, which is always a very exciting adventure, for me at least. (Three skirts in gray and taupe! A light blue button-down!) Then we reconvened at Empire, which is the best coffee house in Houston.
(Please don't write and tell me that Brazil or Dietrich's are the best. They aren't. Empire is. Sorry.) (Just kidding. Feel free to tell me which is your fave, and why. I always want to know y'all's fave restaurants in Houston, okay?)
Best of all, though: We went to the farmers' market on Airline, which neither Tad nor I had been to since we were children. The Airline farmers' market is, as my youngest son put it, a "fleamarket of food." Their restrooms are nastier than those of the nightclub #s. But still -- they have beautiful fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs for dirt cheap. We're going back again very soon. Every single week for the rest of our lives, maybe.
I've been meaning to tell y'all this for weeks now...
I no longer like Billy Joel's music.
You know why? Because, the other day, I heard a song of his I hadn't heard since I was a kid with snot running down my nose and no sense of what was happening in the world. That song was "Big Shot."
Here is the chorus and two verses of the song:
Because you had to be a big shot, didn't you
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn't you
All your friends were so knocked out
You had to have the last word, last night
You know what everything's about
You and to have a white hot spotlight
You had to be a big shot last night
They were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people you knew at Elaine's
And the story of your latest success
Kept 'em so entertained
But now you just can't remember
All the things you said
And you're not sure you want to know
I'll give you one hint, honey
You sure did put on a show
Well, it's no big sin to stick your two cents in
If you know when to leave it alone
But you went over the line
You couldn't see it was time to go home
What the hell is this guy's deal? The narrator of this song is mad at some chick because... why? Because she talked a lot? Because her friends were "knocked out" and "entertained" by her stories? Because she wore an expensive dress?
Maybe I'm just reading way too much into it (as I will sometimes do with lyrics when I'm in my van, listening to the radio during my 1.25 hour commute), but it sounds like the narrator just can't hang with women getting attention. Maybe attention that he feels is rightfully his?
Read those lyrics, then consider the lyrics to "Uptown Girl," which Mr. Joel presumably wrote later:
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she's never had a backstreet guy
I bet her momma never told her why
You know I can't afford to buy her pearls
But maybe someday when my ship comes in
She'll understand what kind of guy I've been
And then I'll win
Watch out, uptown girl! Don't do it! Don't marry this backstreet guy, because every time you want to have a little fun with your friends or dress up a little or tell anyone about your accomplishments, he'll ridicule you and your white-bread world. Then, years later, after he's erroded your self esteem, the two of you will divorce and then he'll replace you with a younger woman too meek to hold her own on a cooking contest show!
Just kidding. Heh. I'm sure Billy Joel is a very nice person, and his song narrators are no reflection of his own views on women. I just like to listen to music and make up funny little stories for myself when I'm alone in my van.
When I was a child, I memorized lyrics without thinking about them. I also liked Billy Joel and hated Bob Seeger.
But now that I'm older, I can't help but think about lyrics. Do I want to listen to songs that say "Ha, ha, you rich bitch, I did donuts on your lawn with my motorcycle," or lyrics that say "I had sex with a rich woman in Hollywood and it was awesome, and now I'm an old, worn-out cliche of a rock star and I only have myself to blame"?
Or do I want to go back to my old favorite, with lyrics that say "It seems like we really hate women, but then again, we did steal most of this music from black musicians nowhere near as famous as us"? Now that Led Zeppelin's having a little comeback, I mean.
Silverfish, silverfish! It's Christmas time in the city!
I decorated our Christmas tree (Douglas fir, $17 at Lowe's with $10-off coupon) last night.
I'm not even going to tell y'all about the all-new holiday trauma tradition we started, which involved the whole family and the meticulous slaughtering of the silverfish that have been breeding in our garage, in the boxes that came over from our apartment more than a year ago, which contained all our Christmas ornaments and decorations.
I'm not even going to tell you about it.
Suffice it to say that tree is up, the garage is clear, and my children will grow up with beautiful holiday memories -- the strains of "Deck the Halls" intertwined with the dulcet tones of their mommy's voice, screaming, "There's one! KILL IT!" and "Bang it on the floor until they all fall out!" and "Because I gave birth to you, that's why!"
Beautiful. Priceless. You're welcome, kids. I love you, too. 6:04 AM # (14) comments