Monday, September 29, 2003
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF BLOGGING
The extraordinary Kelley at Suburban Blight has her weekly Cul de Sac up. For those who don't read that many blogs, this is a great place to start: it's the TV Guide of blogs, and it will help you to find what you're looking for--whether it's sports, news, humor, thoughtful essays, or in-depth reporting you won't find in the mainstream media. Whatever you're interested in, you'll find it here with a lot less "surfing time." Plus--there are always extra treats you didn't know you were looking for in the first place.
9/29/2003 12:29:00 PM
AND THE WINNING MICROBE IS . . .
In this week's New Blog Showcase--hosted, of course, by the wonderful N.Z. Bear--I have to go with "Caucasion Club," at King of Fools. Go read: there is a reason this one is ahead of the pack.
9/29/2003 12:54:00 AM
FORGET BEING A LINK WHORE
I now have an Amazon button installed here. PayPal to come. Although the Amazon tip jar touts itself as a way of keeping me away from horrible salaried nine-to-five hoo-ha, it's really a site-improvement fund, and is expected to pay for the scheduled blog upgrades. So if you're hoping to leave comments here soon (and see me using Moveable Type), give generously.
Now's as good a time as any to tell you the story of an end-of-summer barbecue. I was there with all my high school and college friends. My childhood sweetheart--let's call him The Wizard--was hosting the event. (He is now a married father of three with a stable job and a suburban house.) Wizard himself has a blog, and when people started discussing our mutual online compulsion, he accused me of having "sold out," because I've posted (here, and in our group online hangout) about my deep desire for traffic. My filthy lust to be read. My general naughty reluctance to labor on in obscurity.
The next time I visited Wizard's site, he had added a tip button to his format.
But I sold out for hits. Right.
9/29/2003 12:33:00 AM
Sunday, September 28, 2003
I can prove the existence of God: the subject of this coming week's proofreading project is nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The message I get?--"Get over it, Lady. It's time."*
And I shall. In fact, I think I have.
*If you don't know what I'm talking about, you've missed a rather fine melodramatic rant about my personal life. Lucky you.
9/28/2003 01:23:00 AM
MAKE IT STOP
I wish my brain would switch off at night: it just keeps going. In fact, it revs up as I lie beside my husband trying to sleep. I find myself mentally composing little essays in the dark. Finding "solutions" to problems that aren't. Making impractical plans. Imagining rather worthless characters doing rather uninteresting things. Eureka! moments abound (but what have I found? the cognitive equivalent of navel lint).
If I could find the "off" switch, I'd be a happy woman. In the meantime, I treat my brain like one would an overly chatty friend: "that's so nice for you, Dear. Now go to sleep." Eventually, like a puppy, it gets tired and stops jumping all over things.
9/28/2003 01:15:00 AM
TAKE THAT, RECORDING INDUSTRY!
Courtesy of Margi Lowry. Finally, finally! A
practical alternative to commercialized music.
9/28/2003 01:10:00 AM
Friday, September 26, 2003
TRUST GOD, AND CLEAN HOUSE
I'm working as a cleaning woman again, trying to fill the days between editing gigs. I need to make a little money when I don't have editing to do, and this is as good as anything.
I hadn't had my "cleaning shingle" out in about ten years--since the last time I was severely unemployed, back when I was unmarried and living in West Los Angeles. Our current situation is temporary, so I'm a good choice for those of my friends who don't happen to employ anyone to do housework, but need to "catch up." Or those who are in between cleaning ladies. And those who can afford me. (I'm not cheap. I certainly charge less than I do for white-collar work, but I'm at the high end of what you'd pay to get your place spiffed up.)
I only expect this to last a few months, until I find either a staff job or a few more freelance editing clients. And that will happen. And then either my husband will sell his screenplay or I will sell my novel. Or both. And then we'll have money again, which is preferable in most respects.
But I'm thinking a lot about what it means to clean, and why I love to do it--even though it isn't particularly good for me. (I have sensitive skin, and I'm allergic to dust and mold. On days I sweep or dust, I begin to have asthma-like symptoms, and I can feel the dust and grit in the back of my mouth, which is odd.)
A lot of my cleaning passion probably starts with my love of real estate. When I clean I'm really making love to the room I'm in--and, by extension, the building it occupies. One of the expensive hobbies I hope to take up if we ever become wealthy again (not middle-class: wealthy) is real-estate speculation. That's a business-ey phrase for buying houses and apartment buildings, fixing them up, and then renting them out or re-selling them. I'd love to do that.
Cleaning is a real paradox, because on the one hand it's a self-contained, easily accomplished little task. Understandable. Achievable. Not tied to the whim of a boss. Either the dirt is there, or it isn't. And the pleasure of wiping up dust or grime to reveal the gleaming surface of a counter, sink, or piece of furniture is very real to me. You can get an idea of whether the client is focused on the kitchen versus the bathroom, or wants dusting done rather than windows, but there still aren't that many judgment calls involved.
On the other hand, cleaning can only be finished "for now." It truly is a task that's "never done." Dust today, and the dirt is back tomorrow. Mop, and the floor is gritty again within a week. You must be in a state of surrender to get pleasure from this act, because the dirt will always win. Recognize that it has all the time in the world, and you do not. You cannot have victory; you can only enforce a sort of no-fly-zone in which the dirt doesn't overrun you entirely. Not yet, anyway.
And if someone (the little brownies I try to still believe in) would only clear the clutter out of my house, I'd even be willing to clean it.*
Take a Clarinex, and try it: there's a Zen to mopping. I swear.
* Okay. I said that for effect. My house is actually pretty clean; I go around the clutter, and I'm good at that. The place would sparkle most of the time if it weren't so untidy. (Though I'm working on this little character flaw. Stay tuned.)
9/26/2003 12:54:00 AM
If you know anyone in the military--particularly in Iraq--point them to this site. Public disgust with the mainstream media gloom-and-doom reporting has reached its apogee, and Frank J. has taken a break from humor writing and faux-blogwars to strike a blow against the "quagmire" propoganda. The site will feature first-person accounts from our men and women in uniform, unedited. (Well. There's a spirited discussion going on about fixing spelling errors.)
This is the first time the alliance has attempted anything more serious than making up stuff about Glenn Reynolds (who apparently endorses the new project).
I'm afraid I'm too old to know military personnel (other than a few assorted reservists). My middle-aged buds are all "former" this-and-that (especially my spouse, a former Marine--who even gave up his USMC tattoo to the gods of Hollywood). So all I can do is encourage those of you who know people out there winning the peace to refer them to this site, and Frank J/Susie. They are doing important work.
9/26/2003 12:39:00 AM
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
OKAY, OKAY--I ADMIT IT
I got several e-mails today with a subject line that stated my credit card had been charged $234.65.
We have just charged your credit card for money laundry service in amount of $234.65 (because you are either child pornography webmaster or deal with dirty money, which require us to layndry them and then send to your checking account).
If you feel this transaction was made by our mistake, please press "No".
If you confirm this transaction, please press "Yes" and fill in the form below.
Enter your credit card number here:
Enter your credit card expiration date:
icq: 181184; email@example.com - Err0r32;
icq: 106561; firstname.lastname@example.org - Fidel
* * * * * * * *
It occurs to me that if any group of people needs my proofreading and copyediting skills, it's foreign scammers who are formulating spam--particularly those aiming at the lucrative "child pornography or dirty money" market.
I do wonder how they arrived at the figure of $234.65 in particular.
9/23/2003 10:27:00 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
My husband and I had our first appointment today at the adoption agency, and I feel like the clouds are starting to part. I wonder how much of my latest three-month funk had to do with my absolute rage at not being able to have children biologically. I had thought my frustration was all about money, but I'm not so sure any more. In fact, it's during the past three months that I believe I've stopped ovulating entirely. (I won't get graphic, but the mid-cycle signs are pretty distinct--and simply haven't been there. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.) Game over.
To add insult to injury, the adoption process is, on the face of it, pretty degrading. Teenage girls are encouraged to keep their kids if they deliver them--but people in their forties (with jobs, houses, a few decades more of maturity and a network of retired grandparents and other family help) have to fill out paperwork and say "Mother, may I?" and "pretty please" and somehow prove their worth as parents before the state will certify them as fit. There are the invasive questionnaires, and the stupid questions, and the "home visits." We were just handed today--and I tremble with rage to write this--a piece of paper that has on it spaces for a list of emergency contacts to put by the phone: pediatrician, sheriff, fire department and the like. The idea is, we fill the top copy out, and then the bottom copy goes to the fucking agency. So they can establish that we have emergency phone numbers by the fucking phone. Because we don't, of course, have the fucking sense to do this by ourselves.
I am supposed to send a form to my former doctor, the one who performed my various "infertility treatments" (three rounds of in-vitro fertilization). He is supposed to tell them what he did to me, and what the results were. I politely enquired what the purpose was of that, and was told that giving up on infertility treatments represents a sort of loss, and they need to be sure the adoptive couple has grieved this loss. I bite my tongue so as not to ask what the hell the procedures themselves have to do with whether I've processed them emotionally or not. But then the social worker relents and admits in a backhanded way that he doesn't necessarily agree with their asking for this level of detail.
I agree that most or all of this is necessary, that it has to be done. But how many of you who had children biologically were required by law to take 12 hours of parenting classes, in addition to infant CPR? Come on, you can tell Aunt Attila: you just took the infant CPR, read a few books, and called it a day, right? We can't. The state cannot trust us to research this on our own. It has to supervise us. It has to hover.
So there's all that. You go through the rather infuriating process of trying to have children naturally. If you are a real ass about it, you go to the Catholic Church's classes on natural family planning, to learn about tracking your cycle and trying to optimize the chances of conceiving. (For a year, I was getting phone calls from the well-meaning teacher, who would suggest nutritional supplements and relaxation techniques to help me conceive. I finally had to tell her as gently as possible to stop calling: it just hurt too much.) Then when you finally ask the OB-GYN for help, it turns out that all this "conceive naturally" business was a waste of time. Then there's that year of in-vitro treatments, shooting yourself up with several drugs a day and undergoing invasive procedures. Getting moody from the hormones and having to take prenatal vitamins "just in case." And all the negative tests that are just heartbreaking. Not to mention all that lost money.
On top of that, there is the adoption process. Form after fucking form. Interview after interview. And another small fortune in fees.
And suddenly it begins to look, for the first time in a long time, like you might be able to be a parent after all. And maybe it will be the great experience you thought it would. Maybe you'll be up to the task. Maybe you'll even be good at it.
And if that happens, and my husband and I have a daughter or son who can live with us and laugh at our jokes and understand how fallible-but-terrific we really are, and learn what we have to teach them, it will all have been worthwhile.
We will be good at this. I believe that. I finally remember that I believed it all along.
9/16/2003 11:57:00 PM
MOCK THE VOTE
As far as the New Blog Showcase is concerned, I have to vote for this one from Darren Kaplan: it's a pretty compelling account of the day after 9/11. (His story of the day itself is spooky, too. He works in NYC, so it's all up close and personal.)
9/16/2003 11:41:00 PM
Monday, September 15, 2003
THE NINTH CIRCUIT . . .
is not, apparently, tired of having its rulings overturned by the Supremes. Now they will probably have to step in on this silly "no recall quite yet" decision. Next thing you know, all the tiresome conspiracy theorists and Dem-party hacks will come out of the woodwork and start yammering about the Thwarting of Democracy Through Holding an Election.
Which, if you think about it, should be an interesting little act to watch.
9/15/2003 11:07:00 PM
For those of you who have criticized me for my stance on California Driver's Licenses for "illegals," I do acknowledge that the big problem here is security: there are plenty of non-Latins coming up from our Southern border (and a few from Canada as well)--some from the Middle East, a region with which we've, uh, had a problem or two. So this is a concern. But I'm afraid I ultimately see the solution as some sort of "work permit" program, wherein we let people come up here, but screen them first and keep information about them on file. As opposed to the system we have now, wherein cheap labor is essential to the working of our economy, but we pretend it is not.
I'll read Michelle Malkin's book, but do not expect me to see the light after having done so.
9/15/2003 10:37:00 PM
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STORIES ABOUT GLENN REYNOLDS, AKA THE GREAT WHITE BLOGGER
With a great sigh, I have decided that the research involved in coming up with a Filthy Lie about White Glenn is simply too great. I don't have the time to find out what others have fabricated about him.
So I'm settling for a Filthily False Quote, and hope my fellow Alliance members will understand.
9/15/2003 10:26:00 PM
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?
Rumor has it that the Alliance is kicking me off for not writing a Filthy Lie about White Glenn, and not displaying our icon. Problem is, to display the icon I need it in html format--not as an actual image. My format in Blogspot is sooooo restrictive.
Anyway, N.Z. Bear is trying to figure out what side of the comb his honey is on: he's been comparing links from the Axis of Naughty and White Glenn to those we provide. So, it's off to the showcase for me, and this nice young man:
Q & O
The entry title is supposedly Postwar Iraq is (Gasp) Difficult. And I didn't happen to see it there. But do browse through his entries, lingering in particular on the Geneva Convention for Bloggers.
Give him a try; he's funny. Despite the Blogspot problems.
9/15/2003 01:05:00 AM
Sunday, September 14, 2003
I love ego surfing; I like finding out who's linked to me and who's just added me to their blogrolls. I like the fact that I can miss posting for a few days due to temporary employment or other catastrophe and people seem to still "drop by" my site.
I only check referrals and the stats themselves, so I'm not always sure whether any particular blogger came here himself/herself, or sent someone else along. And it doesn't matter.
But what I really dig* is when I follow the link back on my referral log to find that another blogger visited me after finding me on his/her own referral list. It's like the chapter in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass when Alice comes across the Red King, asleep. Tweedledum and Tweedledee inform her that he's dreaming about her. They also tell her she doesn't really exist, that she's only something in the Red King's mind.
Alice is upset by this--as anyone would be. (I know I am. Would the person in whose novel I reside please try to understand? How would you feel if you suddenly found out you were a fictional character, being written about by neurotic English majors in their wordy papers?)
Martin Gardner, writing in The Annotated Alice, points out that the Red King/Alice chain goes on to infinity: the Red King is dreaming about Alice, who is dreaming about the Red King, and so on. It is, he writes, "like a hall of mirrors."
So ultimately there will be no need to blog in order for us to get traffic. We can spend all our time simply spying on each other and following the links back to each other's sites--creating a sort of perpetual-motion machine.
Quite the labor-saver, huh?
I'll go first: no more blogging for me, Boys and Girls.
* I was born in 1962, and am therefore (barely) old enough to use the word "dig" in this way. Don't try this at home.
9/14/2003 04:20:00 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2003
TELL ME, PLEASE
I'm as conservative as the next girl, but I just don't tend to understand all the hysteria about driver's licenses for "illegals." It seems to me that from a law enforcement perspective, it's better to have a thumbprint on record than not to. How does it hurt to have more information on record?
It does bother me a little that Latin American immigrants (and other brunettes who can fake a Spanish accent) will be able to get additional IDs and I will not. After all, you never know when the crazy gun-control nuts will have their way and implement a gun-registration scheme (always a precursor to a gun-confiscation scheme). It would be lovely to get an alternate ID and purchase a few "off the grid" firearms. Oh, well. Maybe a dark-haired friend will help me out, here.
Seriously, boys and girls: if you were born in Mexico or Guatemala and wanted a better life for your family, wouldn't you consider coming up here to get a better job, at least for a while?
As for those of you who complain so bitterly about the presence of illegal aliens--I assume you're willing to wash cars, clean houses, pick crops and perform childcare on the weekends to keep the state's economy going . . .? No? Not willing to put your free time where your mouth is?
And then there is the issue of how expensive produce would be if we didn't have cheap labor. This doesn't just apply to California: we grow food for the rest of the nation.
Answer those questions, and then come back and complain to me. I'll be willing to listen to you then. Because then I will know that you're for real, and not just operating out of prejudice against Latinos. (I know plenty of you aren't--but so many are. I hear it every day on talk radio. It's real.)
P.S. No, I don't yet have anything to say about the anniversary of 9/11. It's too big a subject for me to just toss off a post about it. But I will tackle it someday soon. Light a candle, say a prayer. Support the president.
9/13/2003 01:21:00 AM
Monday, September 08, 2003
ALMOST THERE, BABY
Just 4-12 hours of cramps, and then the happy hormones will come back. My mind will begin functioning again (as something more than an echo chamber of negativity and paranoia), and my husband will have his wife back.
Hooray for estrogen; as far as I'm concerned, they can put that shit in the drinking water. I'd be a happy camper.
9/08/2003 06:15:00 PM
YES! IT'S ANOTHER ONE!
Apparently my worst fears can be confirmed:
My inner child is six years old!
Look what I can do! I can walk, I can run, I can
read! I like to do stuff, and there's a whole
big world out there to do it in. Just so long
as I can take my blankie and my Mommy and my
three best friends with me, of course.
How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla
And they don't let six-year-olds play with guns or model trains. It's a serious bummer in some ways. But when we play with our dolls, "I call the shots, Baby. I say when. I say when."
UPDATE: I had to add quotation marks in the paragraph above so people would know where I stop and Lene Lovich begins. It's so sad that I should have to do that. (Next time you get me confused with Lene Lovich, remember that she is the normal one between the two of us. This should scare you.)
UPDATE #2: Dang, dang, dang! I forgot to give wonderful Kelley her link for the quiz! Second time in, like, a week that I've forgotten (or been too tired/lazy) to link someone. I think I'll blame it on copyediting: one gets so caught up in the petty details--like the accuracy of a caption, or how someone spells his/her name--that important things, like linking one's friends, fall by the wayside.
And for those of you who will be scouring for typos and grammatical errors in my posts--have at it. I ain't getting paid here, so I try to turn that part of my mind off, if/when possible. ("Shall I check that spelling? Hell no! Yee-Haw!") If any of you want to pay me $20-$30 an hour to check my entries over, that's a different matter, and we can negotiate such a thing. Absolutely.
9/08/2003 01:16:00 AM
Sunday, September 07, 2003
JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM
I worked all this past week in my freelance gig for a magazine, where I spend time periodically helping them "ship," as we say. I'll be doing it again this coming week, either Mon-Wed or all week long, if they need it.
The strategy for the past six months or so has been to acquire freelance clients so that I wouldn't have to go get a staff job--because my last three full-time, permanent jobs have all ended miserably. (Why? Because I tend to give too much, and then resent that later on--once I get canned and think about all that freaking overtime. Also, I hate having to be someplace at 9:00 in the morning. If you've looked at a few of the posting times for my entries, you know why.)
Lately, though, things have been bad enough financially for me to consider taking another permanent gig. I hope that if I do I am careful, and don't just say "yes" on the basis that "well, they do cut checks." I hope being hungry doesn't make me clumsy.
Copy-editing, by the way, is a difficult, stressful job--particularly when you are doing it as a freelancer, and basically have no standing in the company. Whenever a detail catches your eye you have no way of knowing whether it is something others will consider important. And fact-checking is part of this gig. I once caught a potential inconsistency in a story. This impressed my boss, who suggested that I call the author to check on it. The writer was also impressed that I'd caught something so subtle, and said, "yes. Change that." I told him I could only bring it to the attention of the editors. One of the associate editors had overheard me on the phone, however, and chewed me out afterward for checking on what she considered to be a tiny detail.
And my boss didn't back me up.
My point? I despise the subjective nature of my job--never quite knowing where the "sweet spot" is, and what constitutes a helpful vs. an annoying query. And not being sure to what degree one should try to educate people about such things as the finer points of grammar and word usage.
I have a friend who is in sales once describe to me the nature of his compensation. My jaw just dropped: there was nothing subjective about it. All his money--salary, bonuses, "raises"--came from a spreadsheet. There wasn't anything fuzzy. No having to massage people's egos. No kissing ass. No having to act like you don't think people are idiots even when they are. No "don't crush me like a bug, but I really think you should re-consider this rather idiotic and self-contradictory phrase the writer has come up with."
If it comes across like some of this has to do with my arrogance, I'm sure that's true. I don't always get along with my species, since I require tolerance for my absent-mindedness and fuzzy thinking, but turn around and have contempt for the unwashed masses and their perfectly unsatisfactory analyses and turns of phrase. I believe the usual term for someone like me is "misanthrope." Or, sometimes, "asshole."
Considering the fact that people like me tend to earn half of what others do who do not know how to use "which"/"that" correctly, I think it's understandable that we tend to be a little anti-social. That and the asberger's syndrome explain a lot.
I'm expecting my period any day now. Can you tell?
(No, no. I haven't sprayed anyone with bullets yet. But give me time. Mostly I've gone in and smiled at people and tried to be pleasant and helpful, and looked forward to the weekend, when I could say what I really think in this blog.)
9/07/2003 01:26:00 AM
Friday, September 05, 2003
AND SPEAKING OF RACE...
How come no one's upset at me for running a segregated blogroll? Are my readers all crackers? I mean, it's okay if they are. But just let me know.
Okay, here's one for you: What distinguishes a cracker from a redneck? Please clarify/explain. Thank you.
(Yes. E-mail is fine on that one.)
9/05/2003 12:42:00 AM
PUBLIC CERVIX ANNOUNCEMENT
Light blogging for at least the next 24 hours. I know it's been a light week, and you are all Jones-ing for my brilliance. But I have a day job (a freelance office gig, with almost-office hours) and cannot tarry over the laptop.
I'll catch up over the weekend, though.
Thanks for the traffic on my "Clint" entry, if that's why you're here. Huzzah, Carnival of the Vanities.
Stop on by again in a few days; I'm generally insightful, amusing, and compelling.
For a white chick, that is.
UPDATE: I found the link, and at least recognized the hard work of the divine Dr. Cline at Rhetorica, who did a great job on the "Carnivale" this week. And . . . who knew he had such a hot blog anyway?--he's definitely bookmarked.
9/05/2003 12:37:00 AM
Monday, September 01, 2003
HISTORY WITH YOUR TEA?
Be sure to check out Jen's blog at her new address; she is the queen of intriguing historical tidbits. A veeerrrry interesting blog. (Despite her "axis of naughty" affiliation. As I understand it, most "axis of naughty" members consider themselves to be allied with White Glenn--though some say they intend to eliminate Glenn and Frank J. I can dig it--we all want to rule the blogosphere when it comes right down to it, no?)
9/01/2003 12:56:00 PM
OKAY. I'LL YIELD TO THE PEER-GROUP PRESSURE.
Unlike everyone else on the block, I'll actually give you the link to go there directly and getcher own war cry. Would I be Attila Girl if I didn't?
9/01/2003 12:21:00 AM