Saturday, April 29, 2006

Elswhere's California Adventure: The Final Days

It's been a week already, hasn't it. Since I got back. Cripes. Amazing how quickly regular old life engulfs you with its all-encompassing mix of boringness and compellingness, no?

Herewith, before the whole trip fades into a pleasantly vague memory, some photos from last Friday and Saturday:

Grace kindly put me up (and put up with me) and also very kindly schlepped me all over the place. I bow to her amazing hostessosity! We talked and talked and talked on Friday morning, then went to breakfast/lunch. With Malcolm, who is really an excellent restaurant companion.

Capitola, this little touristy beach town near/in Santa Cruz. I'd never heard of Capitola before; it's the most beautiful place! I sat on a bench at the beach for a long time. Then I took off my shoes and waded for a while.

Mission Accomplished: Snow Globe and Fish Taco. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a snow globe in a beach town? This was one of the only two in all of Capitola. MG was very happy to have it.

As for the fish taco...words fail. Instead I quote from the immortal Jo Spanglemonkey, in her comment on her own post on February 23, 2006:

"Oooooh dude. Fish tacos are the only pure evidence that there is a god, and she is indeed benevolent. Crispy fried small pieces of fish in cabbage and sauce, on homemade corn tortillas... droool spiiitt"

Yeah. Well, yeah.

Statue outside Bookshop Santa Cruz. This visit was an orgy of bookstores: first all the used places on Valencia, and then this palace of printed wonders. Grace had to drag me out after an hour or so, and I could've spent another hour there, easy.

Herself, At Home: Bathrobe--check! Laptop--check! Malcolm--check!

Grace's balcony, where I sat and read and wrote and luxuriated. Also, photographed these cool viney branchy things.

There should also be a photo here from Osento, but I was too shy to ask if I could take one, even of the front lobby with all the notices and flyers (I figured they wouldn't want me taking any pictures of the other naked women). Ever since my friend Rosie first took me there in 1990, Osento has been my treat to myself whenever I get to SF. (There's a women's bathhouse in Seattle, too, but it's all indoors, which I understand, given the weather, but which seems to me to miss a large part of the point.) I hadn't been for years, but last Saturday Grace dropped me off there while she did a run. I had enough time to hit all the saunas and tubs twice, and to lie on the back deck and sunbathe and eavesdrop. It was heaven.

Grace picked me up on the dot of 6:15--just as I was getting dressed--so I could get to the airport in plenty of time for my 8:45 flight. But when I got there--surprise! my flight was cancelled! I was whisked right through checkout and onto an (almost empty) 7:00 flight instead, and thus got home nearly two hours earlier than I'd planned.

I came home at 10 PM to an empty house--Renaissance Woman and MG had both gone to Jessie's for a sleepover, figuring I wouldn't be home till late--and when I woke up the next morning it took me a few minutes to remember where I was.

Another picture of Grace, just because.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We interrupt this travelogue...

To record that MG was a TOTAL PAIN IN THE BUTT all afternoon.

In my mind, Tuesday afternoons--my one afternoon per week home with MG--are lovely soft-focus idylls, full of parent-child bonding, creative play, and enjoyment of nature. But more often than not they're characterized by whining, stalling, and testing, puncutated by screams on MG's part and periodic retreats on mine to avoid screaming back at her because she is driving me around the bend.

I'm off bedtime tonight; I got hardship points for the afternoon, after a quick mimed exchange with RW at dinnertime when MG wasn't looking.

Me: [You? Bedtime? Me--WANT STRANGLE CHILD]

RW: [OK!]

Me: [Fervent thanks!]

Yeah. And I don't even CARE if she reads this in twenty years. Nanny-nanny poo poo!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Elswhere's California Adventure: Day 2

(Okay: I know not everyone is desperate to see my gazillion vacation photos, but getting them formatted in a reasonable way is taking up every inch of learning-curve-steepness I can handle. So, refinements like cut-tags and Flikr accounts will have to wait until there's some more space in my brain. In the meantime, enjoy and/or feel free to skip the following!)

That lump is a cat, being very clever and sneaky and hiding under the blanket in Badger's study where I was camping out.

Bad Moms' Coffee! At long last! The conversation and the scones were both excellent.

Badger wanted to take a picture of this odd and apropos ground-sign thing on the way to the library, but didn't have her camera.

Grace took us to The City! After a bookshop excursion, we went to a groovy coffee place where everyone had their laptop out. You could feel the Web 2.0 vibes; it was the heart of the heart of Internet Innovation-Land! I emailed RW to say hi.

More California atmposphere: an outdoor bar, for a birthday party. They just don't have flowering trees in bars in Seattle.

In our next episode: Santa Cruz, and A Fish Taco At Last. Coming soon; maybe with a cut-tag, maybe not.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Elswhere's California Adventure: Day 1

(Apologies for the random placement of photos and captions; Blogger doesn't seem to know how to deal with images. But you can figure it out!)

1) I met Ms. Jane! She took me walking all up and down the city and also out for this incredible lunch. I forgot to get a snow globe for MG while I was in the tourist district, though. It was the only thing I'd promised her.

2) When I saw the train to Deadwood was double- decker, I knew I was going to a place of glamour and intrigue.

3) check out the clock tower!

4) Badger and I meet, and immediately whip out our respective cameras to document the moment.

5) Badger, checking the Dumpster of Wonders on the way to...

6) Whole Foods! Of fame and legend!

7) Laden with snack foods, we went to the park to meet Jo and Ep. Here are Jo and I grinning womanfully as we snap our own pictures. Doesn’t she look innocuous and smiley? You’d never know she has two wives and an entire robot army at her command; her mild-mannered disguise is flawless.

More coming, as soon as I can download more of these photos to *&^^%$# Blogger...

Anne Tyler in the Port Authority

Once again, an overgrown-comment-turned-post, this time replying to Jo Spanglemonkey's post about Anne Tyler. If I do this every time my comments threaten to overspill the paragraph mark, I'll post a lot more!

When I was 16, I had a summer job in The City, at some computer place. The job itself was a grindingly boring low-level clerical gig, but the commute was thrilling: I took the 167 Bus from Coffeechin, NJ into The City every day, maneuvered my way through the (scary, filthy, dangerous) Port Authority Bus Station, and then walked a couple of (dirty, seedy) blocks through midtown to my building, then rode the genteelly dinging and whooshy elevator to the proto-cube where I typed envelopes and address labels all day.

(So dangerous was the Times Square area considered back then that my parents mapped out the route I was allowed to walk between the Port Authority and my office building, specifically emphasizing that I was not to walk on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, which would have been the most direct route. Such a Good Girl was I that I actually followed their instructions for most of the summer. At some point in August it occurred to me that they would never know if I didn't, and that I probably wouldn't be immediately raped and murdered if I walked one dangerous block on my way home from work in the sunny summer daylight, and, feeling very daring, I took That Block home. From what I remember, it was kind of creepy, without the exuberant street-scene feeling of my usual route. I think there were a lot of porn shops, from which I genteelly averted my eyes, mostly. But, you know, I was fine. I don't think anyone even whistled. (Though I'd trained myself to totally tune it out if they did, which is a whole other post.))

The Port Authority was a cavalcade of wonders: streams of people rushing and pushing each other out of the way, in business suits and commuter shoes. Escalators crisscrossing and zigging and zagging, all leading to rows and rows of plaforms down endless hallways, on different levels, enabling me to feel thrillingly adult and competent as I wove my way through the crowds and up the escalators and along the corridors to my very own platform, where I would wait along with all the other commuters for the next bus to Coffeechin.

And if all that wasn't enough, there was a bookstore right at the Port Authority! Right on the way to my bus. And because I had no responsibilities, other than to get to work and to get home eventually and not to walk on 42nd between 7th and 8th, I would often stop and browse in the bookstore.

And that's where I found Anne Tyler. Well, Anne Tyler's then-newest book, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, just out in hardcover and recently reviewed in The New York Times Book Review. (I'd read the review! Oh how happy I was to be so grown-up and literary!) One late-afternoon, I stood in that bookstore and read one chapter, then the next, thinking every once in a while that I really should stop reading and get the next bus.

But she had sucked me right into her world, the way the best books do, and I was right there with Pearl Tull and her family: the rebellious oldest son, the dreamy younger one, the baby girl, the way anger and loss circled around and shot through them all, and the mysteries they were to each other.

Finally, it occurred to me: I could BUY THE BOOK. Even though it was a hardcover and cost $13.50. I had a job! I had money in my purse! (Cash, it must have been, back then.) And here I was, practically a grownup! Why, this was only the first of many, many new hardcover books I'd be buying from now on, in my money-earning literary adulthood. And if it could keep me reading in the store like that, missing one bus after another, it was probably worth owning.

So I bought it, and read it all the way home, and have it still. I was wrong about some things: I think I could count on one hand the number of hardcovers I've bought new in the last 24 years (not counting remainders and books for school). My bookshelves are full of paperbacks, used books, handed-down books, books scrounged and scavaged and given to me.

But I was right about that book being worth owning. Anne Tyler nails family like nobody else: the grudges, the kindnesses, the alliances and betrayals, the unspoken promises kept and broken. Every few years I pick up Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and read it again, and fall right in, and remember parts I'd forgotten, and jump back a little at the stuff she gets just right.
I know things now that I didn't know at 16, but Anne Tyler knew them all along.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Double vision

A year or two ago I was going through my old letters and I found one from my mom from the year I lived in Brooklyn right after college. I think I must have just written to her that I didn't like my roommate, so I was going to quit my job and leave and go to Alaska for the summer to can fish with my friend Nora. My mom wrote something like, "Don't you think going to Alaska is a little extreme? Couldn't you just stay in New York but look for a new apartment?"

In retrospect, Mom had a point. On the other hand, going to Alaska was the kind of pivotal, once-in-a-lifetime experience I never would have had otherwise. So, maybe sometimes a drastic response is the best kind.

Viz., to wit: sometimes, blog friends like to meet up in person, to see if they might also be friends in what we call Real Life, and to infuse their everyday humdrum lives with a jolt of that surreal omigod-you're-a-literary-figure-but-also-a-human-being experience that's sort of like...well, like nothing else exactly that I can think of. Sort of like meeting a celebrity, and sort of like meeting a character in a book you love, and sort of like *being* a celebrity or someone's favorite book character, and sort of like seeing your long-lost friend from elementary school. A thrill, in short.

Normally, this involves a brief daytime get-together in a neutral place, like, say, lunch at a restaurant, or maybe coffee somewhere. Seems reasonable, no?

But if you're the drastic sort, like I apparently am, it can involve taking a plane to a city you've never been to before, and crashing for three or four days with people you've never met!

And so it is that I am typing this from Badgerbag's couch, in her house, having gotten up at 5:30 this morning and taken the plane down to Deadwood City, CA, by way of San Francisco and lunch with Ms. Jane and then dinner out with a bunch of bloggers and and their various totally charming family members, and in between much much book talk as I pawed through Badger's shelves and delightedly cried "Oh! I have this one! Have you read..."

I keep insisting how thrilled I am to see Deadwood City, Of Fame and Legend, which makes everyone around me snort and chortle and generally fall over with mirth, but it's true. Here's the thing about blogging: not only does it let everyone be a published author, but it makes everyone's town a potential literary landmark.

I mean, I've read so much about Deadwood! I feel the same way actually being here, seeing the Jo at the park and Badger's study and the Wholle Foods, that I felt the first time I went to London and there right in front of my jet-lagged eyes, right on the street, was a real live red double-decker bus, just like in the books! And people spoke in real English accents!

Last week I read "The Plot Against America," which is set in Newark, and I think everyone would agree that Newark is not one of the Great Wonders of the World, and yet now I'd love to go there and see the actual streets and places he wrote about. It's like that. I'm happy just to be in a place that I've read so much about, matching people's real-life personas to their online/writing ones.

I brought the camera, but unfortunately forgot to bring the cable to connect it to the computer. So, pictures to come in a few days.

Meanwhile, here's Badger's post covering some of the same territory, only with much more coherence and actual detail and less recursive nattering.

Going to sleep now. Really. I mean it, this time...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Question of the Day

"Mommy, I have a strange question for you. If oranges are called 'oranges,' why aren't lemons called 'yellows'?"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tradition! With ecumenical linkage

This morning in the kitchen while Mermaid Girl was pouring herself some kosher-for-Passover cocoa cheerio knockoffs, I was idly thinking about how she'll remember this, with the sensory memory of special Passover foods, the way I remember the boxes of kosher-for-Passover chocolates that my grandparents always sent us.

I hope she'll remember standing on the stairs singing the Four Questions on Thursday night, with her friend Soralie holding up the puppets and MG getting to be kindly but slightly bossy and showing her which puppet to hold up when; and tossing cotton balls around for Hail when we got to the Ten Plagues; and gobbling up the parsley on the plate; and all handing around the pitcher, ritually washing our hands. How Soralie played the Pharaoh's daughter, and MG played Miriam, popping up out of the alcove by the sideboard and asking, "Do you want me to find someone to nurse that baby for you?" while Soralie cradled the doll-Moses and cooed "He's so cute!" How we all danced around at the end of acting out the story, MG/Miriam shaking her penguin tambourine/timbrel, singing the Miriam song that we learned at the Groovy Synagogue, and being so happy that we'd escaped from slavery and crossed the Red Sea (my scarf on the floor) into freedom.

I was thinking about all that, and about how I'd be tickled if she grows up to want to be actively Jewish, but that even if she doesn't she'll have all those memories, and the knowledge of the rhythms of the Jewish year, the holidays and the history that goes with them. How yesterday she ran all across the mat in the indoor pool by herself and splashed into my arms and I said, "It's a Shehecheyanu moment!" (The shehecheyanu is the prayer for new things, good things, first-time things, like the first day of a holiday or even losing a tooth) And she said, "Mommy, let's wait till we get home. Let's start a tradition of saving our Shehecheyanus for Shabbat night, and say them all and sing it then."

Now, probably she said that because she didn't want me to sing this foreign and weird and possibly embarrassing song in public, but my heart swelled--I swear it did, I could feel it--at this daughter with her sense of tradition. Tradition! Everyone who's seen "Fiddler on the Roof" knows that's the watchword of Jewish culture. But she gets it, on a deep level. How traditions make a link between you and the past. How you can change them, make them your own, tap them to keep the past alive and make your own present-day life deeper.

I mean, I'd be tickled if MG grows up to be actively Jewish, but even if she doesn't, she'll have all this: the shiny candlesticks, the play, the songs, the strange aural taste of prayers in a foreign language, even the ritual of getting dragged to shul every couple of weeks. She'll be able to explain what a seder is to her college friends who only know from the Easter bunny. She'll know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, that not everyone believes the same things. She'll remember--I hope--not to oppress the stranger, for her relatives were strangers in Egypt. She'll know that slavery of any kind is wrong, that injustice must be fought, that difference, in herself or others, is not to be feared. That the past--her own, or a people's--can be a touchstone and a guide for the future.

So, I was thinking all this, in an aimless, nonlinear, kitchen-pottering-around way, and then RW took the Girl out for an egg hunt (Did she score, or what? Growing up in an interfaith household has its charms. (Actually, I have very fond memories of dyeing eggs myself. Both my parents are Jewish, and we never had a tree or anything, but I distinctly remember hollowing out eggs and dyeing them lovely colors. And I SWEAR the Easter Bunny came to my house on more than one occasion. Go figure.)). I had the house to myself and so I meandered around my sadly-neglected blogroll. And read Grace's lovely bittersweet piece on Good Friday and the Good Catholic girl who still lives inside her.

And I started to write her a long, long comment about what you take with you from growing up in a religious tradition. And it got too long, so I deleted the comment and wrote this instead.

Chag Sameach, all. And Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Passover Putty Prize Palooza (with Paddles)

At the request of the hostess, I brought Silly Putty to give out as afikomen prizes to all the kids at last night's seder. It was a great success, until the Mermaid Girl decided to make a necklace out of hers and it all got stuck in her long hair.

Amidst the suggestions of the other guests, including the kids ("I got gum in my hair once and it came out with peanut butter!") we borrowed some scissors and cut out the putty. MG sat patiently during the process, then politely asked for the putty back. RW gently broke it to her that hair-laced putty is no longer a toy, but is in fact ex-putty, that it had run down the curtain and joined the choir invisibule, and that, not to put too fine a point on it, we were going to throw the stuff in the trash.

And *that's* when the putty hit the fan, and MG, who had been the picture of polite guesthood for four straight hours, opened her mouth and screamed bloody murder. RW dragged her into the bathroom, where she alternated screaming and tearful sobbing farewells to the putty until we dragged her out of the house, calling goodbyes over our shoulders and promising to send the Prophet Elijah their way if we saw him on the way home.

The worst part: all the while, we knew there was an extra putty. But the second MG screamed, we knew we couldn't give it to her, at least not that night. The hair-trigger whining/screaming/crying combo is her Tragic Flaw, and we are determined to help her Overcome it (whether she wants it Overcome or not) by not reinforcing it in any way. We secreted the extra putty egg in our bags and will give it to her later.

The other worst part: Our hostess asked me to bring the putty partly in order to offset the paddle-ball sets (you know, those wooden paddles with a ball attached with elastic) that her husband insisted on giving, because it's his family tradition. She and I were both sure they'd be a disaster, that the kids would start zinging the balls at each other in a great Paddle Ball War. (Which, needless to say, never happened.) The putty was supposed to the the low-intensity distraction.

So, how were your seders?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

In which my Jewish geekiness emerges

I'm home! I'm home on break! Been home for a few days, in fact, so you'd think I'd be hitting the "post" screen nonstop with all the pent-up updating I have in me. But no, suddenly when I was home all day with all this lovely expanse of free time ahead of me with nothing to do but take care of MG (which as the at-home parents among you know, is not quite nothing, but on the other hand she's on the far side of five and quite capable of wiping her own butt, not to mention entertaining herself for hours in her room with her gazillions of tiny plastic objects and the new smelly markers we just gave her to pacify her about something)--where was I? Oh, right, nothing to do but post.

And yet...suddenly, the second the pressure of work was off me, I lost my compulsion to scurry to the computer at every free moment (and admittedly at some moments that are not quite free). Not that I didn't check in, but not in quite such a compulsive way. Zees tells us, I sink, that I have to do something about how bored I am wiss my regular life, no? I think Rachel is onto something and you have to have something going on besides the routines of life (and, in my case, the routines of work, at a job I (mostly) love but which I have nonetheless been doing for EIGHT YEARS, which is longer than I've ever done anything and is I think--shhh! Don't tell them at work!--quite long enough for me). Blogging is for me that Something. But it turns out that when I have time and space to think I have room for other things that feel bigger.

Want to know what I was doing all day yesterday so absorbedly while MG was playing (or procrastinating on cleaning her room, which comes to the same thing)? I was WRITING A HAGGADAH! For just five people. Us, and the mom-and-daughter duo who are coming over on Thursday. I'm not linking to it because I swiped tons of things from other sources (including this wonderful one by the Velveteen Rabbi) and didn't credit them properly, but just about all the English verbiage (besides the translations of standard prayers) is mine.

I cut it down to the bare bones, didn't put in almost any of the lovely philosophical or political stuff I wanted to, and left out a ton of the traditional filler: the Four Sons and all that nattering about the rabbis staying up all night studying and the Kabbalistic yammer about exactly how many miracles were performed, et al. After all, the intended consumers for all this are two five-year-old girls, one of which has practically no Jewish background; one bemused non-Jew (RW); one grownup who's technically Jewish but whose main experience of that is a few dimly-remembered seders from her own childhood; and me. So, not too much on-and-on; we need to cut to the chase. On the other hand, I didn't want to leave out any of the important stuff, like the story itself and the fun things they might remember in fifteen years when it occurs to them that they're in college (or wherever) three thousand miles from home and seders are no longer grownup things that they're dragged to but something they might just possibly miss and want to put together on their own. The future of the Jewish people rests in my frantically cutting-and-pasting hands!

I knew I'd gone over the edge when, last night after our Internet turned into a pumpkin at 10:30, I stayed up for another hour or so reformatting the whole thing into Landscape with two columns, so I could make it into a booklet instead of an 8x11 photocopied packet.

Okay. Gotta go. Pages to order, clip-art to swipe, that kind of thing.

(And did I mention all the cooking and cleaning and calling-of-the-dentist and stuff that I'm managing not to do while absorbed in this project? No? Hmm, guess not.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A contest! A contest!

Quick post before I pack up leftovers, make lunches, and write my reviews for the librarians' meeting tomorrow:

I've been remiss in publicizing it, but it's not too late for you to enter the fabulouso Blogging for Books contest, hosted by the even more fabulouso Joshilyn Jackson at Faster than Kudzu.

Here's the deal:

1) You write a blog entry on the assigned topic. This month, it's "A fly on the wall." See the contest post for details.

2) You post said entry by midnight your time this Monday, April 10, and post your link in the comments of the contest post.

3) The Special Guest Blogger will choose seven finalists.

4) This month's judge, author E. Lockhart, will choose a first place, second place, and third place winner.

5) The winner gets a new copy of E. Lockhart's new book, coincidentally titled fly on the wall!

I can't say enough great things about this contest, as a writing spur and a community builder. I entered it several times, and it was one of the ways I got myself to write some Real Essays and put my writing out there. The only comment I got on my first entry was from Anna, who became my first blogging friend.

If you've been blogging and want to try something a little more formal, or just want to expose your blog to more readers, this is a great chance to do that by writing an essay and posting it. If you've got an old entry that fits the theme, send it in! If you want to find great new blogs to read, cruise the entries and leave supportive comments--all these people are being really brave.

(Full disclosure: Back when B4B was hosted at The Zero Boss (unlinked to because it has since gone to blog heaven), Joshilyn was the judge one month and she picked my essay! I won! (Though the real credit should go to Frances Hodgson Burnett and the guy on the plane.) Anyway, my prize was a signed copy of her book, gods in Alabama, which I might as well plug while I'm plugging the contest because I hear it's coming out in paperback soon and it is SO GOOD. And I would say that even if I didn't have a free copy. RW will tell you, if you ask her, that I risked carsickness and missed much of the breathtaking scenery of Eastern British Columbia last summer because I kept reading and reading in the car, over hill, over dale, into valley, so riveted was I to this book.)

(So if you're wondering why I'm not entering, that's why: I'm not eligible, cause I won, which was/is a total thrill and ego boost but also I keep thinking it'd be so cool to enter. I mean, A Fly on the Wall? How great a topic is that!? Pretty great, frankly.)

Now, go! Write! Read! Link!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Eavesdropper's report: Booland Radio Medley

MG, while drawing on her homework packet, segueing directly from one song to the next:

"Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things. When the dog bites, when the bee stings...

"Mick-ey mouse club! Mick-ey mouse club! Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!...

"No life! Without wife! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, No life! Without wife! Whoa whoa whoa whoa, Whoa whoa whoa whoa! I just want a man who's good and smart, a really [unintelligable] and a really big heart....

"Ohhhh, the buzzin' of the bees, in the cigarette trees, and the soda waaater fountain, the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings, in the big rock caaaandy mountain! In the big rock candy mountain, you never change your socks ([aside to herself:] That probably means they stink!), and little streams of alyhol come tricklin' on down the rocks..."

All those tricklin' streams must have triggered something, because now she's in the bathroom.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Taking deep breath, jumping back in


It's nice to be back. I've been blogging in my head all month, frankly. But it was good to stop for a while and think about why I started doing this, why I want to keep going with it, and, most importantly, how I'm going to garner the most readers and comments possible in order to feed my ravenous ego while not ruining my offline life or being a jerk.

Here's the thing. What we call "blogging" is really at least three four five distinct things:

1) Writing posts
2) Maintaining your own blog's design, sidebar, etc.
3) Reading other people's blogs
4) Writing comments on other people's blogs
5) Responding to comments on your own blog (within your own comments thread, and/or via private email, and/or via return comment on the commenter's blog, and/or by writing a post inspired by someone's comment and/or linking to them within your post)

During my hiaitus I took a total break from 1) and 2) and 5), but I kept right on with 3) and to a limited extent with 4). It was restful. Like getting to be a guest at other people's parties but not having to host my own, make runs to the store for chips, clean the house, get people to mingle, etc. I'm not a great party host in real life, but I missed it after a while here in the World of Text.

Turns out, I'm not so great at balancing all five of these Blogging Things. I'm especially negligent about 2) and 5), which are the most hostessish aspects of blogging. I apologize--retroactively and, I'm sure, in advance--to all of you whose comments I haven't acknowledged adequately. I always feel warm and fuzzy whenever someone takes the trouble to acknowledge a comment I left: like (to continue the party analogy) they haven't just left me alone on the sidelines with my drink, but they've drawn me into the circle of laughing talking people. I don't know how much better I'm going to be about this, but I'll give it a shot. Sometimes I can't think of anything to say except "thanks for commenting!" so just please know that if I say that, it's sincere, even if it sounds dumb.

The other comment-ish issue is that I mostly have time to post on weekends, when a lot of the blogosphere (especially the momly circles where I tend to run) slows down. So I have that tree-falling-in-a-forest feeling a lot of the time, like I finally made it to the party but all my pals are out at the park with their kids. I'm going to try seeing if I can save a post or two to publish belatedly on Mondays (though that requires me to be a little more organized and loses some of the spontenaiety which is what gets me to post anything at all), and also to accept that I'm not going to be one of those super-prolific bloggers; one or two posts a week is about the best I can do during the school year.

And I'll just to try to be less ego-driven and write without being so obsessive about comments.

(Hah! That said, let's see how long I can stay away from the computer this afternoon before I check to see if anyone's commented on this post!)

Okay; off to update my blogroll, and maybe see if I can change this color scheme without losing my customizations...