Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day Thirty

I am sacrificing my computer time and the brilliant farewell NaBloPoMoFo post that I have been composing in order to allow Mojo to finish his NaNoWriMo.

Because he got a paid writing gig after he committed to doing NaNoWriMo, he let it slide. Now that the paid assignments have been completed, he has decided to finish his novel. The boy wrote 32,000 words in the last 24 hours. He has a little over 7,000 words left.

I think I hate him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

Today's half-written post (in draft form) is being preempted to bring you the following message:

We are sick. Or getting sick. Or just getting over being sick. Three people. Three states of being. All of them crappy. Or pukey. Or just feeling "blah."

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet surfing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Eight Random Facts About Me

  1. I was born in San Francisco at St. Francis Hospital on the feast day of (you guessed it) St. Francis.
  2. I have never owned a lava lamp.
  3. I am a published poet.
  4. English is not my first language.
  5. I love roller coasters but am deathly afraid of ferris wheels.
  6. I have a clavicle rib. I am a throwback to when humans were aquatic.
  7. I can wiggle my ears.
  8. I am afraid of fire...which is one reason I became a fire performer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Challenging Day in the Life of a Teething Toddler

We did not go quietly about our day. The child is hell bent on destruction. She is fine, but she is not happy.

She only napped an hour today.

She is not eating. She refused lunch and fought getting into her highchair. I finally gave up and took to slipping her bits of food during the day when she wasn't paying attention, then making sure she actually ate them and didn't stash them anywhere.

She has taken two tumbles, one bad(ish) one not so much. She is still trying to climb despite the aforementioned tumbles. She has taken to emptying shelves of books and using them to construct ladders with which to climb on things hitherto unavailable due to their height.

We're really not very happy today.

My mother even wanted to take us out to sushi for dinner tonight and I said no. Mojo was shocked when I told him. Just the thought of trying to wrangle her in public in this state was too much for me. Plus, mom wanted to go to Costco and pick up our new cards and I just couldn't see the double excursion ending well.

Instead my mother came over for her regularly scheduled Monday night dinner with the granddaughter (a standing date since Mojo has his radio show on Monday nights). She brought me some staples from Haig's in San Francisco (buglar, mahleb, gorgod [barley], lokum, lavash hatz) and we had a nice and simple dinner of steak, mushrooms in butter and asparagus. I had made the pilaf prior to her arrival so it was perfect when she got here.

I managed to manhandle (literally) Arabis into her highchair and she actually ate a couple stalks of asparagus (which she adores) and a healthy dose of pilaf (my blonde, blue-eyed Armenian daughter!).

Got her happily scrubbed and clean in the tub without getting drenched myself and she slipped off peacefully to sleep about 20 minutes ago.

I will be delirious with pleasure once these teeth come in. She is having such a rough time and is obviously in pain. I do everything I can (Tylenol, cold things, etc. [Hylands doesn't work for us]) but it is still the most horrible thing to watch your child suffer and be able to offer only so much relief.

I am going to sign off the computer and read a two month old New Yorker. These days that comes perilously close to the height of decadence for me. Isn't that pathetic?

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I'm beyond tired, beyond spent, beyond knackered even. I am what my friends back in England would say: utterly shattered.

My internal censor just punched out once she found out I couldn't afford overtime, so here I sit, brain (such as it is) to fingers to keypad to screen and out into the ether. Maybe some of the invisible people that live in my computer will leave me comments. I like comments.

See? I've lost it. I'm exhausted. Three days spent walking more miles than I care to imagine on concrete in Victorian-inspired boots; projecting past hundreds of customers, booths, parades, other actors; on my feet with my brain engaged and going at 110% for nine hours a day for three days running. And all done wearing a corset and a Yarmouth accent. Well, there were clothes on over the corset. Obviously.

Today was the day of melt-downs. Of sick children (our young David Copperfield was feeling poorly), people with short fuses and actors with failing voices and aching feet. This third day of the three day opening weekend is always hard, but from a customer and theatrical standpoint came off without a hitch. Personally, I'm barely alive and glad to be back to my poor teething toddler and messy home.

I spent the last few days on my perambulations looking for a friend who I've known for 20 years and is one of the best stage managers I've ever worked with. I finally found him today, not doing his usual job. He hugged me and took off his hat, to show me his bald head with whisps of hair. My smile faded slowly as I realized this was not a fashion choice.

"I have lung cancer. This is from the radiation and chemo," he told me.

I was shocked. His spirit is strong and he says he is doing really well. But I came home tonight and melted into Mojo's arms and cried the tears I could not shed in front of my friend. My friend, who has managed more stages that I have either danced or acted on than I can begin to count; who shares my birthday (though he is ten years older); who has always provided me a place of safety to retreat to in the crazed world of the theatre and the insane world in general; the friend who many years ago wanted to be something more and I kept him at bay; the friend who remained a constant and true friend.

I can't write anymore or make heads or tails of the world right now.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Almost Forgot!

I'm almost through the entire of month of NaBloPoMo without missing a post and just now was about to slip into the land of dreamy dreams when I awoke with a start. I'd forgotten to write! I'd of kicked myself if I'd drifted off and missed a day so close to the end.

I'm tired. Beyond tired. The Dickens Fair is off to a rousing start. We opened on Friday, so for the last few days I have been on my feet from 10:30 in the morning to almost 7:00 at night. I'm exhausted and sore yet having a lovely time. And we have one more day of this weekend to go.

I've forced myself to slow down today and pace myself a bit more, not take that extra street improv gig, be sure to go into the green room to rest, warm up my voice and get plenty of liquids as well as get some down time between scheduled bits and the more spontaneous theatrics that also happen.

I'm staring at the words on the blank screen before me and they begin to swim. They look like ants, indistinctly scurrying on away on some important errand. I think this is a hint that I am in no shape to write. The exhaustion is complete.

Be in suspense for a few days more. Hopefully on Monday (or at the latest Tuesday) I will be in better shape to write and explain more about what I am doing and my own history with the institution known as the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Pickwick Comic Annual.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Here's Where I'll Be Every Weekend 'Til Christmas

including the FRIDAY after Thanksgiving,
and the SATURDAY before Christmas!
Fri. Nov. 24 through
Sat. Dec. 23, 2006
In San Francisco's Cow Palace Exhibition Halls
Celebrate the Holiday Season in Victorian London!

The bustling streets of London, immortalized for all time by the mighty pen of Charles Dickens, form the living backdrop of your excursion into Christmas Past. You are a living part of a Victorian Christmas card come to life!

A Bay Area tradition for 27 holiday seasons, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair returns to the San Francisco Cow Palace Exhibition Halls for five weekends , including the Friday after Thanksgiving and the Saturday before Christmas in 2006, from Friday, November 24 through Saturday, December 23, from 11am 'til 7pm.

Created in 1970 by Ron & Phyllis Patterson, the fair is now produced by Kevin & Leslie Patterson and Red Barn Productions, who continue the family tradition of theatrical excellence through authenticity, participation, and playfulness.

Come wander the lanes of Victorian London, as the glow of twilight settles upon the city. With the scent of pine boughs and freshly baked scones floating in the air and the sound of carolers and holiday merrymakers accompanying your stroll...
  • Visit shops bedecked withChristmastime finery and filled with unique treasures.
  • Stop in for a hot toddy or a pint of Boddington's at Mad Sal's Dockside Ale House, where the low-life hang out and the high-born drop in.
  • Raise a champagne toast to the holidays at Fezziwig's Warehouse, the most cheerful spot in London.
  • Enjoy rollicking entertainments on four stages and in the streets.
  • Feast on fine foods from the British Empire and beyond.
  • Rest a spell in Cuthbert's Tea House, for a sip of hot tea and cucumber sandwiches or scones.
A holiday adventure into Victorian London, celebrating with hundreds of costumed players in 90,000+ square feet of theatrically-lit music halls, pubs, dance parties and Christmas shops on winding lanes. It'’s a twilight evening in Charles Dickens'’ London Town: a city filled with lively and colorful characters from both literature and history. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. Cries of street vendors hawking their wares ring out above the bustling crowd. Dozens of lamplit shops are filled to overflowing with Christmas presents.

Experience the joys of Christmas past at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Baby Shiva, Mini-Goddess of Destruction

Thanks to all you mamas out there for the teething advice. There is always the worry that she is actually physically sick instead and I am pleased to announce she is not. On a psychological level...well...let's just say that her behavior of late would send any psychiatrist in their right mind running for the straight-jacket.

The teeth. The gleaming ivory fangs that will one day completely adorn my toddler's gaping maw, truly rendering her the most horrific beast in the World Monster Almanac, have still not made their appearance. I can see the canines hovering just below the surface and judge by her behavior (sticking her fingers far back in her mouth, rubbing and then crying) that her second-year molars are coming in six months early.


Last night, at 11:30 PM, Arabis wakens with a start and begins to scream. And scream. Did I mention the screaming? Raving shrieks of unholy infant terror that could not be calmed. She wants Papa. Okay, that's good. Then, the breathing becomes more rapid, the face reddens, the mouth opens, sound bursting forth unremitting. Not Papa? How about Mama? Yes. That's the ticket. We want the mama...or DO WE?

Back and forth for half an hour. Is it the diaper? Change the diaper. Contrary to the sounds being emitted from my baby's mouth, this did not involve in any way, shape or form hot pokers.
Okay. Diaper is changed. Is she hungry? Get the bottle. Obviously the bottle is filled with acid of vitriol, or so her howls would have us believe.

Is is the teeth? It must be the teeth. Where's the Baby Orajel? Okay, can we get it in her mouth? How is she managing to yell without opening her mouth? Do we have pliers around here anywhere? Get the Baby Tylenol in at the same time.

Phew. Baby Orajel rubbed on the gums. Mama got a little in her mouth too, that's why we're both drooling. The screams have abated and we are left with a red-faced, watery eyed and runny nosed being who vaguely resembles our daughter.

Papa puts a saved version of Bear in the Big Blue House on the telly, then calmly announces that he is going to bed. Good night.

The sound you now hear is me, breathing heavily through my teeth like Darth Vader, plotting Papa's demise.

She was up until 2:00 AM. I don't know how we finally managed to fall asleep. I remember there was much singing in Armenian (one of the few things that almost always works to send her to sleep). But I am so sick I sound like a cross between Carol Channing and Bea Arthur. And whenever I say a word with a deep throaty guttural sound I end up hacking like a three-pack-a-day smoker. And where was Mojo? If we are very quiet we can hear the gentle snores wafting down from the loft. He is upstairs. ASLEEP.


This morning? She goes back and forth. The cursed fangs are right there, so close to the surface I can *see* them, but they stubbornly refuse to emerge. Does the damned thing want a marching band, because that can be arranged. I have not dressed. Nor brushed my teeth nor put in my contacts. My hair is still in its braid from last night, much of it now come loose around my face like a Halloween fright wig. Mojo actually had the testicular fortitude to *LAUGH* at me this morning. There is a special circle of hell for him. Unfortunately he is such a sweetheart most of the time, he really doesn't deserve it. Plus he's working this extra contract writing job so we'll have a nice holiday when his son comes out in December, so I can't be hard on him at all.
Oh, and my fever's back. Can you tell? Am I delirious? I *hate* being sick. I am a horrible patient. I revert to being a petulant eight year old.

They say Shiva is the goddess of destruction and renewal. The destruction is self-evident. The renewal I will gladly accept in the form of her learning that the toys go *in* the box when we are done playing not *out* faster than mama can shovel them in.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Brevity is the Soul of Wit? Really?

Another truncated post. I'm tired and fighting a bug. The kid is cutting four canines and appears to be working on her second-year molars six months early. I only just managed to get her to sleep and I am quick to follow.

NaBloPoMoFo is kicking my butt right now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Night Update

Arabis has been asleep for half and hour. Merciful deity of your choice, thank you! The poor child didn't go down until 10:30 PM last night, then awoke screaming and inconsolable two hours later.

We offered milk, we walked, we bounced, we sang, we cuddled. We tried lying on Mama's chest. We tried lying on Papa's chest. We hit the Baby Tylenol. We pulled out the frozen teething rings. All to no avail. The wailing continued for three hours. We ended up taking her downstairs. I curled up on the couch and Mojo tended to her all night long on the day bed. I think they ended up getting a few hours sleep between 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM, but it was a long, painful night.

It's the teeth. I believe the canines are coming in. All four (of course). Possibly a molar, too, but it's hard to say because she won't let me look. Mojo thankfully wrangled most of the night, as I had a long day of dress rehearsal looming.

Dress rehearsal? What's this you say? I've not mentioned this year's theatrical endeavor? No, I don't think I have. And, quite frankly, I must leave you all in suspense a little bit longer. I'm tired. I'm cranky. My feet hurt from walking around and standing on concrete all day. I am a tad headachy and tired beyond belief.

So I'll leave you with this thought:

"You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. "

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thought for the Day

Suppose you had to describe your life as if it were a journey, then what would you say about it?
Charles Palliser
from The Unburied

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grover Is God

This has made my day. Arabis and I have been watching classic Sesame Street on You Tube. She is feeling under the weather and refusing to sleep. So here we are. Because of the Sesame Street: I am in heaven.

Sad? Bluesy? Life got you down? Grover can make it all better.

Remember this one? Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep!

I'm going to watch more for as long as Arabis fights sleep.

Elmo's got nothin' on Grover.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gone Already

So much to write and the day ends in ninety minutes. My eyes are heavy and struggle to stay open, much less focus.

Arabis is a little under the weather. We've been up since 3:00 AM with a few pockets of sleep. So please forgive my brain for not showing up today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What the Drums Gave Me

Inspired by San Francisco Taiko Dojo performing "Tsunami."

I am in the water. Alone. Facing into the setting sun. One of the joys of surfing is the wait; sitting on my board in the swell.

There is a wave. I am momentarily blinded by the sun's rays but I can feel the pull on my legs and know the power of it. It's big. Bigger than I am comfortable with. There isn't enough time to paddle into the sun and past the wave, avoiding it. It's coming for me and I am alone.

I turn my board into the twilight and, glancing back over one shoulder, start paddling to shore. I paddle hard, harder than I've ever paddled. I dig in with both arms and feel the wave lift me. Pressing up with my arms, I pull my legs beneath me and spring to my feet. Crouch. Grab the inner rail of the board. I am flying.

I creep up the board to compensate. I am aware of the power of the ocean, the sun painting the foam before me, the beach almost black. This is more wave than I have ever ridden. This is more than I can handle.

Don't think. Just feel. Feel the water, the heat of the sun, the solidity of the board. Breathe. There is a moment of tranquility and I am filled with a sense of exhilaration. This is freedom!

It vanishes suddenly. I feel myself floating. There is no wave. I step back and crouch down, reconnecting with the water and slide down the wave's face. It is bigger than I am.

At the bottom of the wave I turn back into it, try and cut up and over, try to keep standing. This is too much wave and I am insignificant. I am nothing.

Back up the face, white water chasing me. It breaks to the right, and as I surf goofy-footed my back is to it. I can't fully see the monster. At the top of the wave I turn back down, aim my board, head down, breathe a sigh. I am okay. I can ride this.

That is when my board disappears. That is when I see my feet before my face and realize they are not under me where they should be. I have barely enough time to thrust my body away from where my board should be and twist backwards into the deepest part of the wave. Instinctively my arms cover my head. I feel the impact of the board, the violence of the wave, the water churning. I don't know which way is up.

The ocean surrounds me, presses me down, compacts me. My lungs scream with heat but I don't open my mouth. Try to stay calm. I struggle to reach my left ankle and fumble for the leash that is attached to my surfboard. Follow it hand over hand. The board floats. That is up. Find the board. Hand over hand.

My head breaks the surface and I take great gulps of air. My hair has come loose from its braid and is plastered to my face, obscuring my vision. But I don't need to see. The wave has passed. Another comes.

I scramble quickly onto my board and lie on my belly. Hanging on, I let the white water push me to the shore.

On the beach. Darkness. Moonlight. Vague phosphorescence. Crash of waves. All I hear is my heart, in my ears, in my chest. My whole body throbs. I can feel the dull ache of what will later be horrific bruises on my forearms, from where the board hit.

Today, I felt that same intensity in my heart, the same rhythm as the drum. It fills me. And I remember the water. The moment in the darkness, not knowing surface from ocean floor. The moment of choice.

The drums bring the water and I feel Robin, diving down.

For R.W.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Special Quote and an Ass Kicking

This is especially for Boogiemum. I thought of this quote as I read her entry today and wanted to share it.
If you meet a woman of whatever complexion who sails her life with strength and grace and assurance, talk to her! And what you will find is that there has been a suffering, that at some time she has left herself for hanging dead.
Sena Jeter Nasland
from Ahab's Wife

In other news, NaBloPoMo is officially kicking my butt. Here we are at the 14th day of the month and I sit becalmed, stuck in the doldrums.

Is it that I am constantly interrupted and never have enough time to form a cohesive thought? Or could it be that I am afraid to give myself the time necessary to actually explore some of the dusty, cobwebbed corners in the back of my brain? Is this just a middle of the month slump?

I fear I am sacrificing quantity for quality.

How is everyone else overcoming this?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

"As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe the only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth."
Edward Abbey

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dragon Tales

Mojo brought home a fresh, massive bag of cat food that we have yet to put in the cupboard. Wolfie lies sprawled on it like some great dragon guarding his horde. I swear, if I look closely, that cat is smiling.

Wolfie in the Sun

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Arabis and Layla met for the first time when they were less than a year old. Being three months older, Layla was already pulling herself up to a standing position while Arabis was just beginning to really explore the world of the floor.

At a party with friends I've known for more than half my life, I sat in the living room, my daughter on my lap, chatting away happily. Layla was brought in and instantly squealed in delight at the sight of another small human. Her mother (my friend Michelle) put her down and she balanced by holding onto my knees, cooing at Arabis and bouncing in that bow-legged, bent-kneed, in-place monkey dance that toddlers are wont to do.

Without warning, Layla reached up and grabbed Arabis' pacifier out of her mouth and put it into her own. My girl looked down her nose with disdain at the thief, then firmly turned her back to her.

Move forward nine or ten months to last evening. We arrive for dinner while Layla is in her high-chair, her Papa-rah feeding her the last of her dinner. She waves hello and then demands more guacamole (I'm still in awe of a 20 month old with clear command of a four syllable word). Arabis is enthralled by the new toys; toys that blink and light up and make noise. She barely notices Layla in the chair.

While the adults sit around chatting and Arabis explores the world of someone else's toys, Layla finishes her dinner and is released from the chair. She dances around excitedly, showing off for company and being a joyful imp. She wanders over and selects a pacifier from a small pile in the corner, then resumes her play.

Arabis eventually deigns to notice Layla, strides up to her and snatches the pacifier out of Layla's mouth. She pulls out her own and uses Layla's instead, walking away defiantly. Poor Layla stands in shock for a moment, before tottering after Arabis, shaking her finger and admonishing her to "Be nice."

The adults, of course, erupt in gales of laughter. It is only this morning that I remembered the incident at their first meeting and Mojo and I chuckled.

"Boy, that kid can hold a grudge. She sure doesn't get that from me."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday? Yeah, Friday. Oh Good. It's Friday.

Home late from a lovely dinner with friends, something I rarely get to do and that Mojo and I almost never do as a family. There were six adults and three kids (ranging in age from six months to 21 months).

It was just lovely and comfortable. I've known all these people for more years than I care to mention and one since high school. Says Mojo, "It's a little like picking up a novel in the middle." But he, too, was relaxed and personable.

All in all a wonderful evening.

I had a beer even. One beer. Not even a full beer. Mojo and to help me with it and I don't think we finished it between the two of us. But it was nice and had a tranquilizing effect on me. I am almost asleep at the keyboard.

Thus ends one of the roughest weeks we've had in quite a while. This will be a busy weekend, with auditions and rehearsals for me and Mojo wrangling the Weasel Grrl during the day. I am looking forward to it, but need to sleep, else I will be in no shape to do anything remotely entertaining tomorrow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day Nine. Move Along. Nothing to See Here.

I just got Arabis to sleep and am desperate to join her, though it is not yet 9:00 PM. This has been a long and difficult day. We've been up since 5:30 AM, an ungodly hour and not one that any reasonable person could enjoy.

Bit has been my little barnacle, attached to my hip or clinging to my leg and not wanting to let go. She has a new trick. If I have her slung on my hip and am toting her around the house and make a motion to set her down she has developed a nifty new way to express her displeasure. As I begin to lower her to the floor, she will reach out and grab my left nipple and pinch. Really hard. I am trying to put a stop to this new habit quickly as I am developing a bruise.

I think she may be feeling a little under the weather, but it's hard to tell with the pre-verbal set. She's only actually been sick once, with a cold that she caught the day before her first birthday. She's been listless and seems to bore easily these last few days, not content to play but rather to just sit curled on my lap or leaning against the back of my legs if I dare do something like the dishes.

I actually nixed her bath tonight and let her just hang out and cuddle with Papa and then me until she fell asleep. She feels a little warm but not feverish. I'm hoping there is nothing really wrong, since we are actually going out tomorrow night and I am looking forward to it. Nothing fancy, just a nice dinner at some very dear friends' house whom I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like. They have a daughter a few months older than Arabis and I've been wanting to get the girls together for a long time. Mainly so their mothers can hang out. But we've had a hard time getting it together. I'm not sure if Mojo's going to make it or not.

This has been a rough week on so many levels. Mojo's taken some contract work writing a series of articles so he's been working into the wee hours of the morning after getting off his regular job. We need the money but it's been a struggle on all of us; him for the lack of sleep, me for the lack of parenting help and adult conversation and Arabis for minimal time with Papa.

And I still haven't gotten my filing cabinet excavated.

No gems, no literary pearls in this post. Just a really tired woman with a damaged left nipple who never bothered to get out of her pajamas today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One Rule Broken (Kind Of)

Everyone has a Peanuts character they identify with. For me it was always Linus. From the time I was a little girl, Linus had my heart. He was smart. He was sensitive. He was good in a tight spot. He carried a security blanket. In short, he was my childhood ideal. As an adult, I can appreciate his wisdom and compassion in a way I was never able to as a child.

One of Linus' wisest sayings is from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and is one that I have agreed with and followed most of my life:
"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."

While I know there are a slough of post-election day bloggers waxing poetic, jubilant or irate, I will not be one of them. I was raised by my mother that voting was a private act and not something you discussed wantonly. I still feel that way and know that I am in the minority in this day of frank confessions and "too much information."

But I have to draw your attention to Jill over at Securely Fastened. Because if I were to ever write a political post, this is the post I wish I would've written.

Day Eight

I just realized I posted twice on 3 November. A strange part of me feels cheated. I could've saved one, held it in reserve for the day when I have no time and no brain cells left to compose something even vaguely legible and interesting.

Or I could just bitch about it and thereby have a built-in topic to warble about for a few paragraphs and satisfy the day's requirement.

What would Dickens do? What would Proust do?

Heh. They were both men. They actually had time to write and synapses nicely firing due to adequate sleep and regular meals.

Besides. Dickens got paid by the word. I can only imagine the stuff I could crank out if I got paid by the word. Or paid at all.

I promise there will be actually interesting content here soon. What with teething woes, sleep strikes, sentient laundry piles and battling felines, I'm a distracted little mess these days.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


With the baby down early for her nap, I am feeling a little dangerous. Venturing into an unexplored corner of the studio I discover an old, dusty desk organizer. Within I find:
  • My passport (good until 2009-woo hoo!)
  • A British Metropolitan Police whistle on a leather lanyard
  • Two calligraphy nibs
  • Two strands of gold Mardi Gras beads
  • My social security card
  • A credit card that expired in September 2000
  • A very tiny (one inch round) globe that still lists the USSR (this shouldn't be surprising based on the date of the credit card mentioned above)
This excavation was an attempt to see if I could access my two-drawer filing cabinet. I have some older writings in there (musings on family, notes for a novel unwritten and other random miscellany) that I'd like to dust off and explore during NaBloPoMo. The file cabinet is firmly blocked by Mojo's card catalogue, so there is no way to get into it that doesn't involve major furniture moving. With the baby dozing on the day-bed behind me, this is obviously out of the question. At least for right now. Perhaps this evening I can get Mojo to pull it out for me.

We shall see...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Did Andy Warhol Start This Way?

I don't know why people bother buying loads of plastic toys that require batteries for blinking lights or shaped like trademarked television icons. My kid loves the contents of my kitchen cabinets. The pots. The pans. Their accompanying lids. Wooden spoons. Even the colander seems to hold a special place in her heart.

Now that a chill is in the air we here at Chez WTF have been stocking up on soup, in anticipation of a cold winter. This has caused no end of fun, as shown below.

Folks, she's been playing with these cans all week. I've been finding cans all over the house. I found a can of tuna in the bathroom and one of condensed milk under the sofa.

Today we have been working on returning the cans to their proper home after play and have been mildly successful. Or were. Until she found the bag of walnuts.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bonfire Night

Guy Guy Guy
Poke him in the eye
Put him on the bonfire
And let him die

I have the urge to burn things tonight. To light a fire and cleanse myself of the debris of my past that hangs from me like barnacles on a ship too long at sea.

This is a difficult post to write. It is 11:00 PM. The baby is asleep, albeit quite fitfully. I told her a tale tonight to send her on her way, about a girl called Arabis who lived by the shore, with hair the color of sand and eyes like the sea in a storm. How she smiled and the weight of the world was a little lighter on those around her. How her laughter was like the gentlest of rain on a sky-lit roof, crystalline and pure. I told her that her mother loved her. And her father did as well. And we lived with the cats, Isabelle and Wolf, who kept the night terrors at bay. Wolfie must have been sitting nearby, listening, for he came and curled up at her feet. They sleep peacefully now, both snoring softly.

I told her we were all happy together. That is how one can tell it was a fairy story.

It's quiet and dark and I sit here smoldering, unsure how long the fire will continue to burn buried so deep. It will either erupt into flame and engulf me or burn out all together and I'm not sure which one I fear more.

We are all traitors in one way or another.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Friday, November 03, 2006

Day Three

So tired this evening. It's late and I have an audition tomorrow that I am totally unprepared for.

Today was a hectic day with bright spots within and this evening gave me the brightest of all. Arabis and Mojo, post bath and just prior to bed, watching Pingu and laughing hysterically.

This is what makes it all worth while.

All Hallow's Eve

Arabis has slept for three nights in a row and I am in heaven. I am almost giddy with sleep.

She was an adorable witch on her first actual trick-or-treating excursion and got lots and lots of candy which I am now munching on as I sit and write. A few people looked askance and asked how old she was. "Seventeen months," we proudly proclaimed. We could easily read the thought process on their faces. Is the candy for the baby? She's too young for candy. Am I giving my chocolate to the parents?

We did visit one house who had Playdoh for the non-candy-eating set, which I found wonderfully thoughtful. She gets to play with that, with supervision of course. But the door-to-door begging? That all goes to mama and papa.

Last year, Arabis' first Halloween, we stayed in the building and celebrated Halloween with the two toddler hellions, Viggo and Avo, by running up and down the halls and harassing tenants (who are generally unprepared for this sort of thing).

Here's Arabis and Papa last year.

Halloween 2005

This year, Mojo and I pondered what exactly to do with the Bit on Halloween, only to come up short each time. At the last minute we decided to trick-or-treat in Albany, where Mojo works.

We wandered for about five or six blocks down residential streets adjacent to the main strip. Arabis started out the journey on Mojo's shoulders but decided after about a block that she would much rather walk.

Mojo and Arabis

She was happy, climbing steps to stranger's houses, clutching her pumpkin in hand, thrusting it at the poor person who answered the door. She stared down kids in ghoulish masks to climb stairs (a favorite pastime that she doesn't get to do nearly enough of in her opinion) and shaking down hapless adults. When someone would drop a treat into her bag, she would look at it, grunt and climb back down the stairs.

First House

Scary Skull Pumpkin-Closeup

We saw great pumpkin art and chatted with other folks out with spawn of various sizes. It was lovely to walk in a neighborhood, so different from industrial West Oakland, where we live in a warehouse across the street from a steel mill and the mournful cry of the freight trains lulls us at night. There were lawns. Gardens. Lovely cottages with overgrown wild yards. Something in me wanted this life. Arabis went wild whenever we saw grass and wanted to roll in it.

After an hour we headed home, stopping at the Emeryville Public Market for cheap dinner to go.

We all changed into our pajamas and curled up on the day bed in a big pile to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Arabis was fast asleep within ten minutes. Lovely.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dia de los Muertos

A grey, rainy day. I used to love this weather and would find an excuse to bundle up and venture out into the world. I loved the smell that comes with the first rain, the deserted streets, the windswept trees.

Today my mood has been as grey as the day. I've wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed with my Dickens and tea, the cats cuddled up around me, to alternately read and doze. Life with a baby means those lazy days are long gone. Though the cats thought it a capital idea, Arabis would have none of it.

So we played with the blocks on the floor and had races between the kitchen and living area. She emptied out her dirty clothes hamper and put all the soiled sleepers and shirts and pants back into a drawer with her clean clothes. She wore the colander on her head and beat on the pots and pans while sitting in a big plastic tub. Good times.

There was a long and luxurious nap in the middle of the day. Both cats and the baby huddled in a pile on the day bed for three hours. I napped with them for the last hour, which was bliss but the two baby-dozing hours leading up to it were restless.

Today is Dia de los Muertos and for the first year in many, I have made no ofrendas for my ancestors or fallen contemporaries. I have lost so many people over the years that this ritual has become an important way of remembrance and honoring those I loved. I place photos, small keepsakes, flowers, water, salt, candles, bread and anything else that strikes me as being appropriate. The house is cleaned and incense is lit. It is a welcoming, refreshing feeling, the building and cleaning, the tears and joy that come with memory.

This year there has been much death and no time to ritually mourn. I cleaned today. Not as extensively as I once would have, but cleaned nonetheless. Arabis helped me with her little broom that my mother bought. I told her stories of our past and her ancestors, who were a beloved and integral part of my childhood but will be only tales to her.

I have been making a list through out the day, in my head, on scraps of paper. I will think of a person and remember a moment in time that once we shared. As I sit here I am trying to remember them all and I am forgetting. There are people missing from my list. There is too much in my head...or too little, I can't remember which. I write their names and bring them to me for a moment in time. And send them on their way.

Bob Thomas
Dave Ricker
Robin Wadsworth
Michael Hefflin
Mary Movsesian (Auntie Mim)
Maxina Danner (Snookie)
Jennifer Lee
Patrick Lee
Jerry Lucey
Mace Hanley
Rose Rushdoony Deovlet (Grandma Rosie)
Rose (Vartoohi) Mahdesian Deovlet (Grandma Darling)
Benjamin Deovlet (Grandpa Darling)
Rose (Vartanoush) Rushdoony (Grandma Rushdoony)
Y.K. Rushdoony (Grandpa Rushdoony)
Shelly Munge
Dan O'Brien
Ricky Paul
Skot Travis
Spurgeon Avakian (Uncle Sparky)
Ruth Avakian (Auntie Ruthie)
Barbara Rose
Ronnie Geoffrion
Auntie Margie
Evelyn Cooper Smith (Grandma Evelyn)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Blog Posting Month

Okay. What the hell. I'm doing it. NaBloPoMo.

I made the commitment and sent an enrollment email to the Powers-That-Be. The internets now know that I am a crazy person with too much to do who just gave herself something more. But I know that deep down it will be a gift to myself. I hope. There is within a desperate need to get back into the habit of writing and I have been lazy and lax.

It took me forever to realize that in order to write I just have to turn up at the desk every morning at 9 A.M. and do it. I can never convince kids of this. Faulkner said something wonderful about it when somebody asked him, 'Mr. Faulkner, do you write by inspiration of perspiration?' He said, 'I write by inspiration, but fortunately it arrives every morning at nine o'clock.'

--Reynolds Price