Saturday, October 31, 2009

Michael set up his turn table in the basement (which is still having it's own remodeling work done on it - oh the mess!)

Anyway, we put his records on shelves. He hadn't even even taken the records out of the boxes they came in when he moved from Boston to Chicago twelve years ago!

We listened to The Kinks, The Go-Gos, Bruce Springsteen and Jefferson Airplane. Mulan danced around. Wow, the slowness of getting the album on the turntable, setting down the stylus, sitting back and listening to entire albums - not just songs - it demands a different kind of listening. Even the scratches and pops, I miss that in music!

Friday, October 30, 2009

This picture has nothing to do with anything. Except it's something I own that I absolutely treasure. It's by a Oaxacan artist and I have several pieces of art by him. It's a wall hanging and about 18" x 12". This was sitting in the basement on a fold-out banquet table because I haven't found a perfect wall to hang it on yet. Anyway, I grabbed a camera and took this little picture. What about the woman underneath with the veins that reach up, above ground? That is awesome! Oh, the guy's hand broke off and I have to re-glue it. I just realized that looking at the picture. Ha.

I did "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" last night. I have such a blast doing that show. The other panelists were Amy Dickenson and Luke Burbank. They were hysterical. I was so nervous to do the show. This is my third or maybe fourth time to do it, and I just get nervouser each time. My hands were actually shaking I was so nervous. To me, this show is much scarier than doing Saturday Night Live. In the lightening round, when Peter Sagal goes through the questions very quickly, I swear I cannot even understand one word he's saying. Then I get panicky about it and say to myself, "Just listen, just breathe and listen." But then that almost makes it worse, my anxiety about not being able to listen, just compounds everything! Dear God, I am so not cut out for this show and yet I really want to be because hanging out with these people is a thrill I wish to experience again and again.

I had a friend, Rhonda, in town and we all went out for drinks afterwards. What a great night. But I didn't get to bed till almost 1:30 a.m. and I will probably be paying the emotional price for this later today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too tired. This is my family room just off the kitchen. I cannot find anything. It's a sea of junk amidst a sea of plastic wrapped furniture. Two more days and it will all be done. This part, anyway...

Mulan has a birthday party here on Sunday. I have to clean the house, I must put everything away, I must find my MIND. Then my hostess SMILE.

I was supposed to go to L.A. to pitch something next week but it's been postponed. Jim and I continue to talk through the movie we're writing. The process is so much fun, I would do it for free.

Wait a minute, we ARE doing it for free. Ha. Anyway, we're making real progress and I am enjoying the entire process.

I'm obsessed with Mad Men. I can't stop thinking about the last episode.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My camera broke, again.

So this is a picture from the other day when it did work. It's on my dog walk. Lord in heaven, I love that tree.

I listen to audio books on my walk and am now entrenched in "Super Freakonomics." Oh god, it's good, too.

I'm listening to a birthday present CD of Iris Dement's "Lifeline." The song, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" - well, if that song doesn't make you tear up, well, I would wonder about you...

I'm reading "Three Wishes" - the publisher's copy (they want a quote.) It's about three women who become single mothers by choice and it's riveting. God, I feel so deeply happy that all that part of my life is resolved and the turmoil over the decision is over. Now, looking back, I see how brave it was - or really maybe how naive it was - for me to just adopt a kid all on my own. It's like looking back at a high wire act you used to perform and suddenly realizing that there was a canyon below you. And you'd just skipped across it like it was nothing!

The thing that I now realize is how exposed you are becoming a parent. These women were just like me, thinking, I can do this all on my own and it's not gonna be all that hard. And the thing is, now I see, we are so hoodwinked by nature into thinking like that. It's terribly risky and overwhelming, but it doesn't seem like it at first. At first it's all baby smells and teeny toes and cute, cute, cute. You want that chubby gurgley unconditional love. And yes, it's worth it and the best decision I ever made and blah, blah, blah, but damn! It's scary and overwhelming and you barely have a thought for yourself forever after.

My kitchen and family room are still mid-paint and I'm nearly crazy with the disruption and I cannot find anything and Michael cannot find anything as everything's all piled in the dining room and this makes all of us pissed off all the time.

Mulan is getting her ears pierced. I said she could get them pierced when she turned ten. And she will apparently turn ten, according to my best available information, next week. I don't look forward to having another many-small parts-to-it group of Mulan's things to find embedded in the carpet like I find legos and groovy girl shoes and polly pocket accessories. Argh. I wonder if Arden will enjoy chewing on her earrings like he does everything else.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" Ecclesiastes

The proof of my own vanity is in me thinking I am beyond it, never had it, or am too over-the-hill to put any energy in it. And yet, it comes to this: me... almost crying at the DMV as I got my new Illinois drivers license.

I have put off getting an Illinois license. I liked my California one, it's so sunny and California-like. Bold colors, shiny and modern. You can almost hear the soundtrack playing, "California, here I come" when you look at it. But mostly I liked it because it had a picture of me that looked really great... from about fifteen years ago. They never insisted I get another picture and so I just renewed and renewed and every time my old picture came back. It's funny, but the picture of me on my California license seemed to get better as I got older. Of course, I was getting older, that's the point. But it actually did truly and honestly seem to get better - a Dorian Gray driver's license picture - my lips got redder and my hair a richer shade of brown just as my own hair got duller and thinner and my own lips began to fade slightly into the rest of my face.

There was that moment at the airport when the person inspecting my license looked skeptically at me. I was older, larger and much grayer than the picture purporting to represent me. But c'mon, that was me, right? Right? I remember we both laughed a little, but he let me pass on by.

I procrastinated about getting a new license once I moved. But, then my car insurance company wrote, admonishing me for still having a California one - in fact it was a bit more dire than "admonish me," I guess if I got in a car accident here my insurance could be invalid because I needed to show I was an Illinoian.

I was afraid of the test. One is required to take a written test and then, if you don't pass it, you not only have to repeat the written exam, but you could be asked to take a driving test, too! And although I'm a good driver it all just scares me because I think they try to get you to fail by making everything so convoluted.

I had fears at night. True or false? A, B, C, or all of the above or none of the above? These words danced above my head as I tried to go to sleep.

Plus, these kinds of questions can get me pondering for hours. Multiple choice questions that are not clear and obvious can become existential jumping-off-points for me.

I got the pamphlet you're supposed to study and came home and promptly lost it. I asked Nadia (who babysits and lives in an apartment in back of our house) to pick up another one, and she did. I promptly lost that! I couldn't get myself to really even open the pages of the pamphlet. Just thinking about it made me want to lie down in the fetal position.

So, yesterday, I set out to get my driver's license, GODDAMNIT!

I went into the DMV, got the little book and sat down, right there, for two hours - from 9 to nearly 11. I read every word of the book. I took the test questions at the end of each chapter of the study-booklet. I corrected my test questions and I had missed only four out of fifty or so. I reviewed. A DMV worker teased me gently for sitting so long. Another one recognized me and came up to say she enjoyed my "work." Oh god, the pressure was on. Work? This is my work!

I watched many others come in and take the test. Many of them failed. You can only get 7 wrong out of over 50 questions. You have to wait a week to come back to take it again. Oh god, oh lord in heaven.

I finally took the test. I wanted to write "JMJ" on top of the test, which is what I put on top of every school paper and test I turned in, in my Catholic grade school. It stands for Jesus, Mary & Joseph.

The questions seemed much - well, I won't say "harder" than the booklet. I would say more confusing. For example the law states that if you're under 18 you cannot have any more other people in the car you're driving than one, except if it's a sibling or if you have special permission from the Secretary of State of Illinois. How do you answer this question: how many people can a person under 18 have in the car under any and all circumstances? One, Two, Three? There is no answer "It depends." This is the kind of question that can have me sitting there for twenty minutes.

I passed the test. I was overjoyed. And then I remembered, I had to get a new picture. I didn't have lipstick with me. OH SHIT.

They took away my California license. I was so sad. They handed me back a license that had a picture of an older gray haired lady with a thick neck and a badly fitting sweater. I got a lump in my throat. I felt I was trading in my youth and getting an official You're Old card.

Of all the things: getting married, moving here, turning 50, none of those things phased me at all that much. But this license... turning in my old brunette California girl self and receiving my matronly midwest membership card, dear Jesus, Mary & Joseph, it turns out I am vain after all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I made the mistake last night, after finishing the book, "City of Light" (which was riveting...) and wanting to read just a wee bit more, of picking up a TED book (I'm attending the conference in Feb. and you get books all year in connection to this) "Whole Earth Discipline" by Stewart Brand. I didn't read all that much of it, maybe thirty pages. But I was up in the night filled with fear for the future of mankind, the future of all those I care about who will presumably outlive me, and then of course myself.

This is not new for me. I've read all the books, I am a devotee of James Lovelock for chrissake. But still, all the information being hurled at me once again, it freezes me up. I think people who are think they are doing something by buying and driving Priuses (for example) are in denial about the true state of our human climate impact that is well underway. I have to say, from everything I've read, trying to do something about the climate by reducing oil and gas consumption, for example, is well... too little, too late. I really don't want to make myself feel better by doing things that only do that, make me feel better but make no overall impact.

The thing that really got to me was his chapter on war and how war is endemic to humankind, an integral part of our species behavior, and there have only been small pockets of time - including this one! - where humans are relatively peaceful. He argues that in the ancestral environment approximately 25% of young men were killed in battle. This comapares with roughly 3% now. I remember Steven Pinker pointing this out at a lecture I heard him give - that our world - on balance - is significantly less violent (in terms of death by combat) than it ever has been. The idea of the noble savage is outdated and wrong. We are living now in a world with relative freedom from violent death - percentage wise. In any case, Stewart Brand makes the argument that as resources are reduced due to climate change there will be more and more wars. He argues that all of civilization could be lost. In fact, is perhaps likely too.

Oh god! So... I'm up in the night with these thoughts. Is it better to die from violence, drought or disease? I have to say, disease wins hands down in my book. It's horrible to contemplate that a large scale population reduction due to disease may be the best chance for civilization. I shudder to think.

Brand also talks about how climate change can happen quickly - all the models we now have are for this slow gradual climate change, when in fact, several times the climate has changed dramatically in three years to ten years.

Anyway, as I said, I haven't read the whole thing... Can't wait till he gets to the uplifting part!


Well. nighty night!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Arden poops and then he scrapes away at the grass or gravel just afterwards. I imagine that he does this because of some type of adaptation - a desire to cover up his excrement -- the smell I imagine. I read that dominant dogs and cats do not do this, they want their shit to smell. Advertising, you know.

But Arden is very dominant and every cat I've ever known does this, no matter their supposed rank, and Arden pees like a banshee on everything to mark his territory, so I don't buy it. But no matter, he does this. I can't make him stop it. He is never anywhere near his droppings. He's always two feet away, happily throwing dirt or grass into the air.

It makes me laugh because I know that he doesn't know why he does this. It just feels right. I often wonder how many behaviors I have that are just like that behavior - divorced from necessity by time or culture or what have you, divorced even from exigency, because it's done no where near the act that precedes it - the act that prompted it - the act that instigated it! And all of it unknown to myself.

I truly wish there were a God, simply for all the giggles that are left un-giggled, because there is no supreme all-seeing-one to witness them.

The bottom line is, I have to stand away from Arden as I pick up his poop to make sure I am not hit with a head-full of dirt or grass even though he is always well away from the scene of the crime.

This morning I was filled with a joy about the autumn here. It feels trite to say that fall is my favorite season. I have ached for fall like for a long lost lover. It's not the same visiting places where the leaves turn either. For me, it's the day to day watching the change. The trees that have one or two days of brilliance before they're gone. I love the familiarity of it, the astonishment at the changes which are small, but then surprise me with a shock of red.

In any case, I took my camera along this morning to take some snapshots of trees and paths that I like. Above is one that came out almost right. The truth is I can't capture it. The pictures I took at the water - at Lake Michigan, the end of my daily walk, look horrible. The water simply washes out the colors and I am not an experienced enough photographer to learn how to do it properly. And I guess too distracted to learn better, at least for now.

In any case, Arden relieved himself and I had to put the cap back on the camera before I fished around for a poop-bag. While this was happening I absentmindedly pulled Arden back towards his recent donation to the ground. You can probably see where this is heading. This is heading to Arden projecting a substantial amount of grotesque gooey crap all over my legs, all over my shoes and all over the bottom of my coat, narrowly missing the camera itself. You see? You take a moment to try to capture the beauty and you're dealt a shitty punishment for the arrogance.

The sin of pride, I think.

Penance: I'm doing laundry today too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Two pictures today. The second one is of Mulan, with Arden, our dog, and Betty, our neighbor's dog. Mulan is shaking Betty's paw, which is Betty's new trick. Betty is over all the time and Arden and Betty are very good friends. They sleep on each other, they lick each other, the fight and make up, they jockey for food - you know all the couple things. Betty is only 12 weeks old and already she's the size of Arden. She's going to be over 100 pounds, up to 120 pounds. She's 1/2 Bloodhound and 1/2 Carpathian Mountain Dog. I took both Arden and Betty on a walk together yesterday. Arden just wants to run after small animals - his eyes are always peeled looking for squirrels and chipmunks. Betty wants to smell. Betty's brain is a smelling computer with ten times the hard drive that Arden has. The movement of her face as she smells, it's really something to behold. Every muscle jitters and undulates, rippling micro whiskers registering, her mouth agape, even her eyes look like they're drinking in -- and then factoring in -- the odor. The world is an orgy of smells and she's intoxicated!

The other picture is of the kitchen/family room in mid-repaint.

In spite of the commotion, I got a lot of writing done today. I feel optimistic and it's before 6 so I thought this is the best time to post.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I have new, lithium batteries. (thank you blog poster!) Now, I believe my camera is working!

But alas, I am too tired to post.

The quote is something I liked when I heard it (yes, on an audio book) in Christopher Buckley's memoir, "Losing Mum and Pup." I guess William F. Buckley said that all the time and, I dunno, I thought it might help me plow through. And I put it up on the bulletin board and y'know, it has helped when I get that sinking feeling.

Then, this morning I thought: My life has never been more boring. And it's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me.

And it's very true on all counts.

But tonight I'm thinking that no, it's, "Industry is the engine of melancholy." Because I made many meals today, I made a big chicken soup from scratch and chopped vegetables for two hours straight. I did laundry, I ironed (I know, I like that part but still I want to bitch about it - it's part of what I like about it!) and I read with Mulan and got the kitchen sort of together because tomorrow morning at 8:15 Isaac arrives who is going to paint the kitchen. And I am weaving and cross-eyed and that is not a good time to write. And then I get this tired, I tend to get sad. And I really have nothing to be sad about.

Well there is the state of the world.

Oh! Last night Michael and I watched the Werner Herzog documentary, "Encounters at the End of the World." It's about the South Pole and the people who work and live there and the science that's being done there and the animals under the ice. It's so damn good. I was up in the night, haunted by the sounds of seals chattering under the ice. The people were great too. I really loved it.


Friday, October 16, 2009

I am still dealing with the camera that is acting wacky. I will get some lithium batteries to see if that's the thing. Still, I was able to get this FABULOUS! shot. ha.

This is my messy office desk, a moment in time. As I look around, I feel it truly represents Oct. 16, 2009. The Letting Go of God DVD is next to the booklet from the Letting Go of God CD. I'm working with my old graphic designer - the one I used for the CD to redo the cover of the DVD before it premieres on Showtime, which by the way, will be December 8. Next to the DVD are all my notes from the past three years of Jill & Julia Shows which I am trying to adapt (the stories I tell anyway) into a book of short stories. A Bill Bryson book - a Dictionary for Writers and Editors is under my main big screen. (Praise be for Bill Bryson.) The last tried batteries for the camera are off to the right. Kathy Griffin's book which she just gave me is off to the left. In the far right, on the wall there is a picture of me and Elvis Costello at the 25th Saturday Night Live reunion which, aside from that one moment, was one of the worst nights of my life. Longer story for another time. Oh, in the corner of my desk is a lobby card of The Killing Of Sister George that my friend Gino gave me recently. Anyway, no, not very momentous or profound. But a moment in time, for sure. And I got a picture for the day up.

Today I felt much better, thank you. The cake was appreciated by children on the way to school, and most importantly, Mulan seemed proud. We went to the Fall Frenzy (that's the real name of the event) tonight. It was frenetic and fun and dear lord, Mulan is growing up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm in such a bad mood. I promised to make a cake for the Harvest Festival at Mulan's school tomorrow night. The cakes have to be delivered at 9:00 a.m. They are for the winners of the musical chairs contest. In the abstract, in my midwestern mom, suburban kitsch oblivion, I thought it would be really fun to make a cake. That is, until it was 8:00 p.m. tonight and I was making a cake. A cake that had to cool before decorating it. And decorating it before bedtime was important to Mulan. And by 9:00 p.m. it was very, very, very not important to me. Instead of a happy mother-daughter decorating experience, poor Mulan tried to have fun while I huffed and puffed and grimaced and wanted to blow the house down.

I so often wish I could clock out as a mom. I wish I could say, "Hey, I put in my 14 hours, I'm out! G'night!" So we decorated the cake, me in a poopy mood, and now it's in the refrigerator in hopes that it doesn't turn into a big puddle because it was really still too warm to decorate. I hate Fall Festivals. I hate goofy cakes. I thought I would love all this and I don't. I really don't.

Also, my camera is on the fritz and it will only take one picture without a flash before it closes down and insists on new batteries, even though THAT IS CLEARLY NOT IT'S PROBLEM! So I had one shot, and that's the shot - the poor cake in the fridge.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My camera is acting up. This is the only shot I could get today. Curse me for promising a picture a day! But alas, here is dear, sweet Mulan with her most prized possession of the moment, her Sketchers Twinkle Toes Shoes. She coordinates her outfits with the shoes and there is much talk about the exact perfect sock that will go with them - which is, btw, a sport type of sock, not an anklet -- SO not an anklet.

Today I took a singing lesson. Yes, it's come to that. Actually I'm doing it for pleasure, and what a pleasure. I am obsessed with Lorenz Hart at the moment, but still am learning "Blue Skies," by Irving Berlin. I was able to use Irving's name later when Mulan had an assignment that for some reason required her to know first names by certain letters, and "I" was a category. Irving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yesterday Michael, Mulan and I went to the Chicago Botanical Garden. Our first visit to this magical place was over Labor Day, and I was stunned that in our midst we have one of the most arresting, well-organized, peaceful, and gorgeous botanical gardens I'd ever been in. I love Huntington Gardens in Los Angeles - well technically it's in Pasadena - and have so many memories being there with different family members and friends. But I think the Chicago Botanical Garden is even more beautiful.

Michael teases me (to cover his more sincere irritation) that I join every museum I go to (and for the most years possible) even if I'm sure not to be returning enough times to justify the expense. However this time he happily signed us up for two years. The museum is free but they charge $20 for parking, so in essence you're buying a reduced parking pass. But of course really it's to support this holy place in our midst. We wandered around for over two hours, seeing all new places since our last visit.

I do not have a green thumb. Michael says that when people say someone has a green thumb all they really mean is that the person remembers to water the plants. I do want to learn. My experience gardening is limited to buying plants randomly in Los Angeles and plopping them in the ground, only to look up surprised a few months later and see that they're growing over the rooftop of the house. Not much was required. Here in Illinois it's a different story. I'm just beginning to understand how the growing-things-endeavor works. On the larger plant side of things, I'll admit that I'm mad to have a weeping willow and a sugar maple in the front yard. Somehow, someway.

Last night we had mexican hot chocolate and watched about four back-to-back Tivo-ed episodes of "The Big Bang Theory." I love that show.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Well, I guess I should have said I'd post a picture MOSTLY every day. Ha. Yesterday got the best of me. I went to an Art Show opening where my friend Annie Morse had an installation entitled "Impregnate." She had a pile of old, black, kind of rotting avocado skins with a wee green shoot making it's way through the dying mess. She'd gotten her verb - impregnate - as an assignment. There were 36 - around that number anyway - installations all based on verbs.

Someone had gotten the word "ask" and had a real Catholic priest who sat in a corner with a blackberry and he would forgive your sins by text for the two hours of the installation. I texted him, "I want to forgive you for even being a priest. But I just... can't. Will you forgive me?" I got his reply a few minutes later, "Sure..."

Then we went to see Kathy Griffin at The Chicago Theater, the last night of a five night run. She is bigger than Leonard Cohen! (That's who I last saw there and he did only two nights.)

Kathy is an old friend from The Groundlings. We were very close while I was on SNL and she came out several times to visit me each year while I was on the show. She always appreciated the celebrities and back stage gossip so much more then I did. And looking back on it, so much happened, so much craziness and tragedy was revealed - why wasn't I more into it? I don't know.

In any case, as you all know she has made a very big career out of her enthusiasms. Her show was really good. She did two hours - and it felt like less than an hour. I could have listened to her for three more hours. It felt weird, like my Kathy, who I used to get to listen to rant about everything all the time - just for me - or us - our friends - and she always was hysterical - and now the world is watching her rant! She has worked so hard and deserves all her success. I told her that she reminded me of Fred Astaire last night on stage, because he always made dancing look so easy. But it's actually really, really hard. That's how she was onstage, like a girlfriend you ran into on a street corner spilling her secrets and making you laugh hard. Seems easy, but it's not.

Afterwards we ate burgers in her hotel and talked until nearly one when I - we were falling apart from exhaustion. It was a great night.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A perfect birthday, I must say.

I remember when I turned ten pretty vividly. I remember my dad saying, "Now you're a decade old." And I asked what a "decade" was and I thought, "My dad is a genius to use ten-dollar words like that!" And my dad told me and I felt it was this big accomplishment. I had reached the age of ten.

I have no memory at all of turning 20.

I remember I turned 30 at SNL when I was lying about my age and ridiculously saying I was one year younger than I was. Partly this was because I had just been hired and when they were casting they said they wanted girls under 30. So I gave myself an extra year. (BTW, they said guys could be up to age 45. Also, if you are going to lie about your age, don't make a measly year - go for it, make it make a difference! One year is just a constant math adjustment and means nothing.) Anyway, I was turning 30 but everyone thought I was 29. I remember there was cake and there was Phil Hartman and all the rest. I remember to be so glad to be out of my twenties. Even if only I knew it.

When I turned 40 I was single and i knew I was about to adopt a baby. I wanted to be somewhere exotic where I didn't know anyone. So I went to Bhutan (with a hiking group - so I guess I did kind of know people by the time my birthday rolled around...) I remember looking out the window of my hotel room at the glorious mountains.

Now, another decade has gone by. 50. I would never have guessed i would be living in Illinois. Never in a zillion years.

I spoke this morning at a cancer convention in downtown Chicago - the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. I listened to a few panel discussions. It was really interesting. A revolution has happened since I had cervical cancer. I gave my speech and it went well. Then they surprised me with a cake! They sang "Happy Birthday." I was so tickled.

Then I gave myself about four hours alone at the Art Institute. This was my gift to myself. I had lunch and a glass of wine, I read my book (City of Light by Lauren Belfer) and I wandered around that fabulous museum. I came home where Michael and Mulan had been planning a celebration. I got flowers from my dear, dear friend Donna (that's the picture) I got gifts from Mu and Michael, (Michael also gave me flowers, but alas, they didn't get photographed - maybe tomorrow...) we ate pizza and had gelato. I laughed a lot. And now I'm pooped and I suppose ready for another decade.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Here is my beloved, Michael, in his beloved garden. We are off to see "A Serious Man" tonight. Thanks for the birthday wishes, I'm having a little trouble with the idea of being 50. But ah, life stops for no woman, or marches on for all women, or it's not so bad getting older when you think of the alternatives? One of those cliches surely applies here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Not much today. A low energy, downbeat kind of day.

This picture I took out the front window of the car, as the rain poured down. It's of the garden in the backyard. Soon it's going to freeze and it'll all be over for the dear garden that Michael has tended to with the patience of a mother-with-a-newborn. We have eaten so well from this garden too - just last night we had cauliflower from it and today M and I had a tomato-tuna sandwich with the last tomatoes from the garden.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This picture is of a church that I pass by every single day as I walk to the beach with Arden. This morning they were putting out pumpkins and it was so beautiful I determined that I just had to return and take a picture. When I did, much later today, it was nearly six. The light was soft and the day was fading away. I feel so lucky to live here. I often have no other comparison than that I feel I am living on a set at the studio for "quaint home town."

Today I attended a lunch for many local ladies who are mothers at the nearby public school. It's a totally different breed of cat, these women I meet here. I like them very much and I feel so fortunate that Mulan gets to have this place be her growing-up-town.

I go back and forth about big towns vs. small towns - but I must admit that I was moved by the response I got yesterday from the person who moved to the village in Cornwall, England. This is my Cornwall, too! I really feel very content and slow here. And I mean slow in the good way. I can think better. I don't feel on-the-spot somehow. I can fade in and out at will.

I just finished listening to the book on tape which I want to enthusiastically recommend. I always listen to a book-on-tape while I walk the dog, This one was by Christopher Buckley called, "Losing Mum and Pup." It moved me so deeply. I recommend it and I encourage downloading the audio version which is read by Christopher himself. I am obsessing over him and his parents at the moment, and it's all because of this book. Listen to it!

That's all for today. Tomorrow we are told to expect rain.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This is where I spend a few hours a week. I mostly read while Mulan is taking gymnastics classes. When we lived in Los Angeles, gymnastics for Mulan was 45 minutes away - that's one way - in often terrible, crushing, soul-stealing traffic. I felt my whole life was eaten up with the drive. The parents/caretakers area was very small and crowded and it stunk of sweat and exhaustion and old stale candy. It was loud too because many mothers had younger children in tow. It's hard to become engrossed in a book when there are literally children screaming at your feet. Parking was a nightmare, you had a choice of a valet who would stack the cars, making it a lengthy process getting your car back at the end of class. You could park on the street - four blocks away but only if you were lucky. Typically you could only park about five or six blocks from the gym. Mulan went to gymnastics four or five times a week. There was an internet connection but for reasons I still don't understand, it would only let you be online for fifteen minutes and then it would cut you off. There was no way to even buy more internet time.

Now we are here in Wilmette. There is plenty of parking - god I almost cried the first time I pulled into the embarrassingly large parking lot. There are lots of places to sit and read. There is reliable and abundant wi-fi.

So now I read in quiet. I get excited when I realize it's gymnastics day.

But there is something sad too. I miss the old place in L.A.! Yes, I'm going through a romanticizing-my-life-in-L.A. period, but I miss it weirdly. The smallness of the parents room forced me to know the other parents, to overhear their phone calls, to help with a screaming kid. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to engage any more than I am right now. But there was a camaraderie I felt there - the exasperation was so communal, I felt those other parents were my peeps. Of course, I'm forgetting the ones that drove me crazy... But still... This is different, here. It's everything I wanted, yet I feel it's a little sterile and cold. This does not come from the people - at all - the parents here are warm and inviting. It's just, in L.A., the hustle-closeness-difficulty of surviving in a big city versus the expanse and luxury and isolation of the suburbs. I dunno. I kind of miss the misery.

WAIT A SEC. No, I don't! I am reading, I am writing, I am focusing my time, USING my time much better HERE than in L.A.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Okay, I'm so committed right now. I'm going to post a picture a day. For a year! But I won't always be able to write.

I loved all the notes from yesterday's posting. Ah, I must write an Ode to Ironing. Tomorrow, perhaps.

This picture is of a Oaxacan - Mexican - lizard - painted in the style - anyway, he was part of my husband's dowry. I have it on my mantle. Our mantle. I love it. There are other insects too. Maybe I'll get them in a picture someday.

I am so tired! I spent so much time today going back and forth with Showtime about weather (that's funny - weather - of course I mean whether...) the movie ("Letting Go...") should be letterboxed in HD or regular TV sized and not HD when it premieres on Showtime in November. We went with HD. I barely know what all this means. Well, I know what HD means. The point is, it's going to be GREAT! I'm so excited. It's finally going to be legit and on the telly.

I made dinner - pork chops with a marscapone cheese-capers-lemon rind sauce. Also steamed artichokes and broccoli. Mmmm...

And much wine.

Michael is home and I am glad.

Jill Sobule and I booked a show in Park City for the spring, I think March 17. Yippy.

Today I listened on my ipod, while walking Arden to the lake, a downloaded recording of the book by Christopher Buckley about his parents, who he called Mum and Pup. I think the book is, "Losing Mum & Pup." It's so stirring and engrossing and heartfelt. I have never read any of his other books, (C. Buckley) but I'm completely taken with his point of view. God, imagine having William F. Buckley be your dad! It made me think a lot about my own dad - so dissimilar and so similar in his smaller-than-life way to William F. Buckley. Christopher talks about the first time he had an open crisis of faith and his father took him to Mexico and they read G. K. Chesterton and Evelyn Waugh aloud. If my father had been able, this is exactly what he would have done with me.

I also read some poetry in Katha Pollit's new book, "The Mind Body Problem." The poems are breathtaking, especially "Shore Road." And the poem that is also the title of the book - that's a great one too.

I'm doing Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on Oct. 29 & Dec. 3rd. This is good news.

Good night.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I'm in a bad mood and I should be in a good mood.

Michael, who has been gone almost two weeks to Australia, is coming home in the middle of the night. I miss him terribly. I cannot wait for him to be home. But I decided to launder our sheets and duvet cover before he returned and of course, because I am insane, I must iron them. Which takes a long time. I am crazy to iron our sheets but to me the difference between sheets that have been ironed and sheets that have not - well... there is no comparison. Even when I had a housekeeper, (and at the moment I do not have one,) I could never ask anyone to iron my sheets. I just did it myself. It's too indulgent and I admit it. I couldn't see those words come out of my mouth, "Please, I like my sheets ironed." I just could never say that to someone. It would be like saying that my underwear had to be hand washed. Which is not something I do. I'm just sayin'. There are some things that if you really want them you must do them yourself, lest you turn yourself into someone who wouldn't be yourself.

Also, I happen to love to iron. My dream job is to be an ironing lady to - well not to anyone mean and cranky and persnickety. To me, I suppose. (Ha! The irony!)

So, my dream job is to be the ironing lady to myself - only the part of me that is going out places where I need clothes that are ironed. And the part of me that isn't persnickety. (Which may mean no ironing lady would be needed.) Oh, it's all so complicated.

But the day got away from me. This morning it was a vast wasteland - hours of desert and luxurious time to just do what we wanted to do. But then, we had so many errands to run, the grocery store, the pet store, the bread store I like in Evanston.

And then I insisted that we watch "Gallipoli" and "The making of 'Gallipoli'" in the middle of the day. There was that.... I had ordered it on Netflix before we went to Turkey and then never watched it and I felt we had to watch it and then it meant explaining the first World War to Mulan and then I began to sob and Mulan really just wanted to read her special People Magazine issue dedicated to "iCarly." And not hear about the Turks and the ANZAC forces in the Dardanelles in the First World War. Imagine the selfishness!!!!!

In any case, the sheets were not done until late tonight. So here I am frantically ironing when I normally enjoy ironing but tonight I really, really don't feel like it all of a sudden. But I started so now I gotta finish it.

See? This is how I set myself up to be in a bad mood when I really should be in a good mood.

Btw, Michael never knew I ironed the sheets until a month or so ago. He cannot tell the difference. He cannot tell the difference! So why did I have to do them tonight? Why I ask you? Because I am a little off, that's probably why.

So, the picture of the day (above) is from a book I'm reading with Mulan - "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe."

I always avoided C.S. Lewis because - well back when I was Catholic I felt he was just too Protestant (we Catholics read The Hobbit and pointedly NOT the Narnia Chronicles) and then when I lost my faith I thought Lewis was too Christian. Then I read Laura Miller's book about the Chronicles of Narnia called "The Magician's Book" and it made me really want to read C.S. Lewis. (Fantastic book btw.) So now, when Mulan takes a bath - which is a few times a week - I read a chapter to her. And the picture is from the book.

I cannot write more, I have a hot iron calling out to me!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My Big Brilliant idea for my blog was to post one picture a day. A picture I took during that very day. And then add a few lines to go with it.

Now, it's day two and I'm already failing my plan!

My camera needs batteries and alas, I didn't get to a drug store today in order to buy any. ARGH. And it was such a good, photo worthy day! Mulan had a guitar class, and afterwards we went to the Chicago History Museum. (I am now intrigued by Bertha Palmer, an early Matroness of the city and have been web-surfing about her on and off today...) We had a mother-daughter lunch of hot dogs. We got her shoes and socks. We came home and made lobster ravioli for dinner. I walked Arden to the lake and back.

So, in lieu of a picture from today I am posting a picture taken in August. Michael, Mulan and I spent two weeks in Istanbul. We saw the whirling dervishes twice. I wanted to whirl. I wanted to dervish. I was really floored by Turkey. I'm currently reading a very well written and impossible to put down history by Judith Herrin called, "Byzantium."

Also, I am sad to be reading about the state of California. And I mean the state not the State. It's very bad. Teachers are on hunger strikes. 12 % unemployment. It's very worrisome.

Tonight Mulan and I watched A Charlie Brown Special - not THE Charlie Brown Christmas Special, but some later-made Christmas special called, "I Want A Dog For Christmas." Mulan picked it out at the library because she... wants a dog for Christmas. Of course, we have a dog. But she wants a "cute" dog. A "smallish" dog. A dog she can walk herself. This is not going to happen. But I did give in and rent the movie. Then we watched the making of the movie. I had no idea how precarious it was getting the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on television! The making of was about the x-mas special, not the movie that was on the DVD we rented. In any case, the part I found most interesting was how they - Charles Schultz and his producers felt so renegade and defiant because they insisted on keeping the religious end to the story. And it made me remember how we all used to feel that Christmas was not supposed to be this commercialized, secularized holiday, it was supposed to be about something SUPPOSEDLY deeper than that. And how now that's all mixed up for me. Like it was religion that highjacked this perfectly sweet holiday and made it about being a blind, superior in-your-face-Christian. Or that's the way it has seemed to me these last few years when the worst sort of people were hollering about saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." In any case.... ah... those were the days. The days of 60s liberal Christianity - the good kind. Except did that really happen? Or did it just seem that way?

Which got me to thinking about Unitarians. I should be a member of a Unitarian church. I suppose. I mean, I did this show all about how much I loved being a Catholic, how I wanted to be a member of this church and then just couldn't believe what they expected me to believe. But I don't want to be a member of anything anymore. I feel too membery in the groups I must be a member of already. And then today I was thinking about how Catholicism, like missing Spokane, and Seattle and even Los Angeles, is all - or WAS all about nostalgia. And when I think about it, it's a nostalgia for something that I'm not sure really ever existed in real life anyway. It's this romantic after-the-fact-remembrance that I sprinkled all over it and then enjoyed in this melancholy sort of way later.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mulan, age 9. Knitting. She's very much into knitting. Also "iCarly." Which is what she's watching right now.

I have to admit, the show is funny.

Why am I glad that the Olympics are not going to be in Chicago? Probably because I would worry too much. Why? What a symbol it would be, the Obama, the Olympics - the whole thing made me nervous. Anyway, Rio! I'm glad, I'm glad I tell you. Even though i'm glad also to be here - in Chicago - with it raining and threatening us with autumn no less.

My inaugural picture - a typical Friday night. I'm going to watch a netflix doc. about Lorenz Hart. Mulan is going to watch iCarly.

Dinner tonight: grilled salmon and steamed artichokes. Odd but somehow perfect.

Today I had an attack of missing Los Angeles. Jitlada, Loteria, Surfas,the Larchmont wine and cheese shop, Susinas, Sunday Hollywood Farmer's market - ALL YEAR LONG - OH, and the Academy theater! - Kate Mantinis afterwards, the hot, sweaty Octobers. What was I thinking, moving here?

I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles missing Seattle and Spokane. I guess you - I - can't truly love a place until I've left it.

"Bright Star" - my favorite movie this year..... I have to see it again. And again.