Friday, July 31, 2009

a little discipline. a lot of hope.

I have been revising stories like a maniac, and I think I've got 2 of them to a place that I am happy with. Therefore, I'm going to stop messing with them and move on to revising another story.

In the meantime, this week, I got 1 of the 2 stories out to 4 journals and the other of the 2 stories out to 2 journals. I'm going to send the latter to 2 more places as well, but the places I have in mind won't take submissions until September.

I've definitely come up with an overall strategy for submitting. I'm always sending to my top 4 choices first - no matter how much of a crap shoot it is. When I get back rejections, I'll resubmit to my next highest journal choices, and on and on. And incidentally - I have different journal picks for different stories. As it should be.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

where's fluffy?

Oh. Right. Right here in this movie. I mean, this movie is fluffy, like cheez whiz.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I just watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and kind of liked it. Even though I know it's a really terrible movie - Hershey's kisses instead of Godiva truffles. And even though I know that my 15-year-old niece also probably saw it at some point and also liked it. It is so her; I'm willing to bet that she has a huge crush on Michael Cera, whose character, Nick, is sort of the John Cusak/Lloyd Dobler of this generation as far as I can gauge from Juno and Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.

Me to myself as the credits roll: Sucker. I am so lame.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Toyota is really marketing the Prius hard these days, at least here in Austin they are. Is everyone else in the country sick of seeing this commercial, but also strangely drawn to it? I swear to God, I think it's an antidepressant ad every time it comes on.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

a day in my life. lives.

In a parallel universe, I woke up at 7 a.m. this morning, ate a fine breakfast of yogurt and berries and oats, went to an ab class at the Y and then headed to the farmers' market to pick up some fresh produce.

In this universe, I slept in, rolled out of bed closer to 10:30, threw on some clothes, didn't bother to comb my hair, poured myself a bowl of cereal (I did put berries in it), and then c. and I went to the farmers' market at noon only to find that it was closing down. New summer hours - it no longer closes at one. In this same universe, I'm now home sitting in the ac and wasting time on the computer.

In the parallel universe, I am doing something like sailing on Lake Travis, maybe diving in for a dip in the water. I look fabulous, by the way.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

thoughts about india: one

When you return from a trip, people ask: “How was your trip?” You answer: “Great,” or (but hopefully not), “Terrible,” or whatever other simple statement you can make to summarize your vacation. I have been asked this very question over and over since returning home. While my response is always, "Great,” I haven’t figured out how to tell the truth, or even what the truth is.

I have fantasized about going to India for – ever, but also, I have dreaded it on some level. Maybe I wouldn’t be Indian enough. Maybe I wouldn’t like my own family. Maybe they wouldn't like me. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I did not hate India. I did not love India. I felt awed by India, by its good and bad, and I just tried to take it in to the best of my ability. A friend asked if I had an awakening moment when I felt like I had somehow returned to my roots. I told her this: The closest to an awakening of this sort occurred when I met relatives, when I saw cities my parents had lived in, when I experienced day-to-day life in India. During some of these instances, much to my own surprise, I could hear the voice in my head remarking, "Oh. My parents make so much sense to me now." Prior to these tiny and unexpected moments, I did not know that they had not made sense to me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

to market, to market.

I am wondering when the nearly entire United States population suddenly became lactose intolerant. Did we find en masse that we had a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that aids the digestion of lactose, before or after every product in the grocery store that contains a trace of dairy began marketing itself as "lactose free" ?

I am one of those people who reads every label at the grocery store. My current fixations include scouring the fine print of non-perishable and preserved items to determine if they contain high fructose corn syrup or any related ingredient; seeking out produce that is not from CA, but from TX, LA, or Mexico (usually unsuccessfully); and squinting my eyes at the signs in the seafood section to figure out which fish is from my region, which is farm raised vs. wild, and to weigh whether purchasing the wild Gulf-caught fish that could be high in mercury is better than purchasing the farm-raised fish that is probably mercury safe but also probably putting a lot of fishermen out of business (Norwegian and Finnish fish are a no brainer - I'll eat those when I finally visit Scandinavia, but I don't need to cook them in my own kitchen at home.). Sometimes, I stare at the produce and try to figure out which items are actually in season as opposed to available at my fingertips because I am a spoiled American and I expect the seasons to keep up with my wants.

Reading the fine print means it takes me twice as long as it takes most people to shop. Taking twice as long in the supermarket means that purchasing groceries is a chore that I get a lot of angst over; I don't like to be in the grocery store. But usually, I manage to occupy my mind with some food-related train of thought. Today, it was lactose.

I am really anxious to see the movie Food Inc. in good and bad ways. Will it take me 3 times as long to get groceries once I've seen the movie? Today I didn't buy any chicken, pork or beef products, because I'm already anticipating that I won't want them once I see the movie. On Saturday I'll try to wake up in time to check out the meat and poultry at the Farmers' Market. Yes, I think it's worth the extra money. I don't care how poor I am, my financial matters need to be pretty dire before I stop thinking it is a priority to put good food in my body.

All this said, food is not something I truly obsess over, but once or twice a month when I go to restock my refrigerator, this issue rises to the surface of my thoughts. I've already made the leap in my mind about certain things: buy locally grown (but not pesticide-free) produce over organics from other regions and countries (which may not contain pesticides, but do contain chemical preservatives and ripening agents). Got it.

But now, what am I to make of the lactose issue? Is this savvy marketing on the part of the soy industry, or are we really, as a nation, all prone to lactose intolerance? Food is hard to get right. As a person who really loves to eat, I find food as a business to be a frustrating reality.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

back on the blog wagon.

A week ago, my husband and I returned from a 6-week trip that included a month in India, two overnight stops in New York where we caught up with a couple of my friends, and a full week in Puerto Rico where Chris’s good friend and his brother guided us from one amazing sunny beach to another.

Anyone who has kept up with this blog over the past couple of years will know that I have wanted to take a journey of this nature for a very long time. I'd hoped for six months, but six weeks proved enough for now. While I find it nearly impossible right now to articulate the amazing experiences and sights in India and Puerto Rico, I know that it was a worthwhile trip. On the one hand, my desire to see the part of India where my family originates and to see some of India in general is satisfied, and on the other, I am hungrier than ever to see much more of the world. But taking this trip was, in and of itself, reassurance that my husband and I will indeed make other extended trips in the future, with or without a family in toe.

I noticed something while I was traveling that made me a bit sad. I find it nearly impossible to write in a journal anymore – pen to paper writing. I need a keyboard to tap away at in order to properly record my thoughts. The journal I brought to India is not nearly as full as I’d anticipated it would be.

Today is the first time in a very long time that I have sat at a computer to vomit words onto the screen. I did a little blogging in India to keep people posted on our travels, but I have not done any reflective writing in a long time.

For that matter, I have not really done any fiction writing in a long time. Ideas have slowly begun working their way into my psyche. Last night, I jumped over to my laptop when the makings of a story started percolating inside my brain. I typed out the words that were dripping and felt a bit relieved: Maybe I have not forgotten how to write a story. I guess we shall see…

Next week the summer session for which I am IA-ing begins. It ends two weeks before my classes start and before I begin teaching my own classes for the first time. I have a lot of anxiety about teaching two freshman comp classes while I also attempt to write and keep up with my other schoolwork. A LOT of anxiety. I also have a lot of resentment about having to teach while I try to write. But I’m trying to keep both the anxiety and resentment at bay and trying to remember that these are temporary conditions.

I’m aiming to get back to a regular blog routine too. My goal is one post a week. Something else we shall have to see about. I'm happy to be home and happy to have a laptop at my fingertips at all times. So cheers.