Monday, September 29, 2008

Good to Know

When I get all full of the writing angst, Brandon reminds me that, if all else fails, he has the inside scoop with a certain publisher.

When he was nine years old or so, Brandon had a Commodore computer, a dot-matrix printer, and a concept for a novel. He saw an ad somewhere: an offer to Get Your Book Published! He got on the Commodore and wrote a letter to the company. He wanted to make sure he got the format right. He gave them an example of what they could expect from him:

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz.

He also typed out the numbers and punctuation marks, and printed this out on his dot-matrix printer.

(He wasn’t going to put all the work of writing a novel if the the publisher didn’t even accept the dot-matrix print-out.)

Eventually, someone at the press wrote him back, someone who figured that he was a kid. The person wrote that they did accept that sort of print-out, but reminded him that, at this publisher (a vanity one), it was very expensive to publish a book, yadda yadda.

I love this story for so many reasons—for one, we laughed and laughed and laughed—but part of the reason it sticks with me is that it pretty much nails the writing angst at whatever stage of the game you're at: The combination of being earnest and afraid of messing up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Young Man!

Guess what I learned? How to use the video do-hickey on my camera.

[Now, a good forty-five minutes later] But apparently, I don't know how to get the motherfucker up on Blogger. I need some soothing sort of tea.

Or maybe a picture of some cute cousins. Why, look! Here's one!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh, Canada!

Next month, I’ll be taking my first international flight. That’s right. I’m running for vice president. Oh, I kid, in an already-lame way.

No, I’m going to Toronto for the Association for Research in Mothering conference. I’m on a panel with some fine company, talking about “Creativity, Expression, and Agency.” In case you couldn’t tell from the title, it’s an academic conference, and I really have no idea what to expect, here with my aging B.A. Many of my friends are in academics, so I’m not fearing that people will suddenly start questioning me, using words like "hegemony." (I imagine they do that to each other when I'm not around. Kinky!) It’s just sort of the great unknown, both the conference setting and Toronto. True, my friend Trisha is from Canada (and thus gets first dibs on all Canadian karaoke, meaning the Barenaked Ladies and Alanis), but other than knowing the Canadian way of pronouncing “sorry,” I’m a blank slate.

Are you going? Will you? If you can’t, will you at least leave some tips on Canada and/or academic conferences?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Things You Should Know About Pit Bulls [with Lipstick]

A common misconception is that Pit Bulls [with lipstick] don't feel pain. Pit Bulls [with lipstick] have the same nervous system as any other breed, and they can and do feel pain.

Allstate (depending on the state) may not insure homes with Pit Bulls [with lipstick] ... The Automobile Club of Southern California will refuse to provide homeowner's insurance if a dog living in the home "looks like a Pit Bull [with lipstick]".

Pit Bulls [with lipstick] have been reported in the news media as "adopting" other species of animals, such as kittens. This is one possible origin of the breed nickname "nanny dog". However, it is more widely accepted that the "nanny dog" nickname comes from the Pit Bull [with lipstick's] innate love and tolerance of children.

The Canadian province of Ontario, on August 29, 2005 enacted a ban on Pit Bulls [with lipstick].

Pit Bulls [with lipstick] are said to be popular with irresponsible owners, who see these dogs as a symbol of status or machismo.

Pit Bulls [with lipstick] are often used for dog fights, due to their strength, courage and widespread availability. Fight training often means using other dogs of the same sex, as most dogs will not show aggression towards the opposite sex.

Most people who own [Pit Bulls with lipstick] direct their dogs' plentiful energy toward nonviolent athletic tasks.

[Thanks, Wikipedia!]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hitting the Road

Whew! I'm back. The nephew? Gorgeous. His parents? Fabulous.

Guess what else happened this week. Stephanie Wilkinson, my pal and partner at Brain, Child, opened a gastro pub with our friend John Blackburn in Lexington, VA. They both have been busting some major ass getting it ready, and the pictures of it look gorgeous. Their chef is Tucker Yoder--he used to work at Oxo, which, if you're from C'ville, is known to have been super-delicious. The restaurant is called The Red Hen, and Steph just astounds me. I can't wait to go and chow down.

Speaking of traveling, do you know Travel Savvy Mom? It's a website run by the writer Jamie Pearson, and if you're looking for a family-friendly hotel, she has reviews of them, all over the world. (I wrote a little piece on The Anchorage in Ocracoke, if'n you're interested.)

So, I'm still catching up with stuff, which is what happens when you lounge around reading during the day and do karaoke two nights in a row. (I still don't know what I'm going to do with all that ass inside these jeans.) Be back soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dear Nicholas,

First of all, welcome to the family. We’re all thrilled to have you.

I know you’re busy being a newborn, but when you get a spare moment, I’d like for you to consider my case for becoming your favorite aunt:

1. I have the experience. I’m the oldest of your aunts, and while Erin and Jill are admittedly more fun than I am, I do bring a certain dedication to the job. For example, a few months ago, you cousin dropped her new mood ring in the public trashcan of a ice-cream/ coffee shop. You know what I did? I fished the ring out of the milky coffee mess at the bottom of the barrel. For real? Yes, sir.

2. I come with a good entourage. I have never known Brandon to turn down a good game of sword-fighting or pretending to be a plastic dinosaur. Caleb has proven himself to be very good with the little ones. Keep in mind: They are both part of the Aunt Jenny package.

3. I have ingredients to make Shirley Temples at my house.

4. You may have heard that I take Caleb to the bus stop in my pajamas, braless, but this should not influence your decision. That’s Caleb’s cross to bear.

5. If you don’t find anything you like on the restaurant menu, I will permit you to order dessert. I will offer you the garnish on my cocktail. I will taste the salsa first to make sure it’s not too spicy for you. When you leave my house, I will make you a small bag of goodies for your trip back home. I’m pretty good at birthday gifts (although I concede that Erin and Jill are my equals in that department). I’m good at tickling, and at the same time sensitive that some people dislike being tickled. I know the names of almost all the dinosaurs and am currently being schooled in Pokemon.

Lots to think about, I know. No rush. Good luck with the sleeping and the eating and the developing!

Your Favorite Aunt

P.S. I know that was a little pre-emptive!
P.P.S. I cannot wait to meet you tomorrow. I adore you already.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Maybe you're waiting. For what? Oh, I don't know. For an important email, maybe. Or for election season to be over. Or for your nephew to be born.

In any of these cases, I'm pretty sure this will help you pass three minutes and thirteen seconds of the time. Andy Borowitz on The Facts of Life:

(It's from Annabelle Gurwitch's documentary Fired! Have any of you seen it?)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Columnist Michael Graham, Now Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Last month, I wrote up a little news analysis piece for Brain, Child about the media coverage of the seventeen expecting teenagers in Gloucester, Massachusetts. They’re the ones who supposedly had a “pact” to get pregnant and raise their babies together, except that, whoops! There wasn’t any evidence a pact existed.

Anyhoo, I watched a youtube clip of conservative columnist and talk radio host Michael Graham skewering the school system that supports teenage mothers by providing services like day care. He also called the mothers-to-be “stupid” and got his undies all in a bundle on his blog:

“What [Dr. Brian Orr, who advocates for birth control without parental consent] and the Gloucester schools have done is to encourage the idiotic notions in their girls' heads that they are mature and responsible enough to be making these decisions. They are "choosing" (pause for a moment of sacred chanting from feminists) to go get pregnant and become moms at the age of 16. That is their "right" (pause again for cheers from opponents of abstinence-based education). Parents? They don't need no stinkin' parents. … And as a result, these girls will soon have a taxpayer-subsidized bundle of joy.”

Well. That was so two months ago. Now teenage pregnancy isn’t idiotic. It’s … “normal.”

Graham in the Boston Herald today:

“[VP hopeful Sarah Palin’s] daughter’s pregnancy highlights another part of Palin’s appeal. Her normalcy. Here’s a woman who has run a business, raised a family, who is sending a son off to Iraq, who has another son with a disability, and now has to help her teenage daughter face motherhood. These are experiences that millions of American moms have shared, can relate to and understand.”

Dude. Let’s now pause for the enormous whooshing noise your backpedalling makes.