Sunday, July 31, 2005


It's been a couple of weeks now since I've gone back to counting points Weight Watchers style in an attempt to lose eight pounds before classes start back up at the end of August. Why the number eight? Because that will bring me back to what Weight Watchers deems the maximum recommended weight for someone my age and height. Also because I had put back on more than half of the twenty pounds I lost when I was following the program and going through some serious life crises. It's much easier to lose weight when the situation is dire. It's a reliable appetite depressant. But get all happy and content in a relationship and the general direction that life seems to be heading in and I can pack the pounds on in no time at all.
I want my clothes to fit well and I don't want to stand in front of the classroom and turn to write on the board feeling self conscious about the size and shape of my ass, so I figured eight pounds in six weeks is a very realistic goal. It is. I've already taken off three pounds in two weeks. Lovely, right? Sort of, except for the fact that I feel grumpy as hell half the time because I want to eat but I don't want to blow my points balance. In a way I think it's stupid because who really notices six or eight pounds other than me? Then again, I'm doing it for myself anyway so who cares who else notices? I'm sure I have more important things to concern myself with, but sometimes I get this way.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Night Out on the Town

Last night my honey and I went to catch the Friday night concert of the Cocheco Arts Festival. The concerts are held at the Rotary Arts Pavillion in Henry Law Park in downton Dover. It's a pretty nice place to go see a show, and it's free. The "headliner" last night was Pondering Judd, a roots rock band from the area that is one of the best bands around. My desire to see them play live is what helped me to live through the set of the 80s cover band that preceded them. Thank god I had my boyfriend there to whisper snarky comments to or I would have combusted as they went through their set of Def Leppard, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, etc, etc, ad nauseum. I'm sorry, but the majority of 80s pop music sucked badly enough while it was happening. I don't want to be made to live through any sort of "revival" of that crap. Much of the audience must have been insane because many of them packed up and left after the first band. Or maybe it was just past their (or their children's) bedtimes.
The last time I saw Pondering Judd they had a different lineup and a mandolin player. Now they have a new drummer and local legend Hank Decken on all kinds of guitars. They put on a great show. There was a little boy named Pete, maybe four or five years old, who came up on stage with his acoustic guitar to rock out with the band for maybe half the set. He stole the show for a song or two but by the end of the set he was still there and I hardly noticed anymore. That's a damn good band that won't be upstaged by a little dude with some serious rock and roll stage moves. Pondering Judd will be playing the same spot on August 11 from 12-2pm for the lunchtime Shark in the Park series. I'm going to make a point to get down there to see them again.

Books Books Books (and some bitching)

I've been on a little reading jag recently. I whipped through Parched by Heather King like some kind of possesssed maniac because it was such an engrossing story. First of all, she is a very good writer and a lot of the story is set here in the NH Seacoast area, my home turf too. I got to see her read in Portsmouth last month and would love to read about how she got from where she left off at the end of Parched to where she is now.
After finishing such a good read so quickly I was suffering from book withdrawal (and a good funk on the occasion of what would have been my fifteenth anniversary) and headed off to the library before I had the chance to consider the recommendations I received from some kind folks in their comments. I need to start a list of books to read and keep it in the little notebook I just bought to keep in my bag. I went without much of a plan other than the vague notion that I'd like to read John Irving's latest, knowing full well it wouldn't be sitting there on the New Books shelf waiting for me. Instead I found I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe waiting there for me. I'm about 100 pages into it and some of it screams of old man trying to write about a world he doesn't really know anymore, but it's still entertaining. His eye for detail seems to be most accurate when he writes about the rich and spoiled people, which is probably closest to the world he knows now. I don't know if young men walk around consciously thinking thoughts of entitlement and superiority like some of his young male characters do, but maybe that's something he knows more about than I do. Anyway, the book is helping me remember how clueless freshmen really are when school starts which is something I should keep in mind as this next semester approaches.
I also found a very little book titled On Bullshit written by some professor of philosophy. Apparently it stirred up some kind of hoopla when it came out but I missed all that. I read it in under an hour and my basic feelings about it were 1) I now remember why the only class I dropped out of and failed in my entire academic career was a philosophy class and 2) it was pretentious, pointless and basically reaffirms everything I hate about academia, academics and liberal arts.
Which brings me to my plan of escape from that world. I've decided I can't take it anymore. I don't want to live with the shitty pay and no benefits and full responsibilities of running a one woman show in my subject at that school anymore. So I now have a plan. My mother has commented to me before that I always have a plan and am happiest that way. She's right. My current plan involves making fuller use of my language abilities and going back to translation,this time with a specialization. When you specialize you can charge more and it becomes easier to do the work because you're familiar with the topic and spend less time in dictionaries and worrying about the correct way to word things in your own language. It means more money and less time on the job. I like that. To accomplish this, I am going to take an online paralegal course starting in September and use what I learn to specialize in Japanese to English legal translation. I figure I'll be able to make double what I'd make even if I had an instructorship at school (which I don't. I'm there on a per-course basis) and I'll be able to work from home and live the groovy freelancer lifestyle.
All I know is that being poor sucks and I make a third of what I used to make when I lived in Japan and I'm too stubborn and proud to ask the people around me for help too often, so if I'm going to be able to satisfy myself at all, I need to figure out how to make a decent living. And if the freelance translating doesn't work out the way I hope it will, I can always go get an office job with the education.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Cure

I'm going to the library. I need a good book to lose myself in.

The Dog Days

It is very hot and humid once again today. I just dropped my girl and our dog back off at her father's house. Today would have been our fifteenth anniversary. I suppose it still is since the legal crap isn't finished yet. I don't even understand how I can be old enough to have been married that long. That's a big chunk of time.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Shades of Things to Come

My girl spends half her time with me and half with her father. It's not my ideal scenario but it was the best I could come up with when I had to and now it can't change until the court says it can. Even still, it starts to drive me a little crazy as summer wears on and she complains of boredom. So, I should be thrilled that a friend invited her to swim and play up in Waterville Valley for the day and both the friend and the friend's mom enjoyed my girl so much they invited her to spend the night with them (back here in town), as well. I should be pleased that my girl is so much fun and so pleasant that her friends and their parents find her a joy to have around. And I am pleased. Part of me is pleased. The other part is sitting here with the dog, about to kick back with a new book in peace and quiet and wondering if that's so wonderful why do I feel so conflicted. I also realize when I felt like I had to create a life I could live with and be happy with myself in a few years back, I wasn't wrong. She's going to grow up and move on with her own life. That means I have to have one that isn't all about her, too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

If I Wasn't Me

I've been approached about a translating job that I know some people would give up crucial bodily parts to get. It's translating manga. There seems to be a decent amount of (indecent) material and I'm being told it could develop into a steady gig. The thing is, I could really give a shit about manga. I don't particularly like manga, anime, RPGs, J-Pop or any other of that crap. Guess it'll boil down to the money. Kind of funny to think I'd rather work on translating contracts than comic books.

Monday, July 18, 2005


As I was driving around town today running errands I noticed hydrangeas are coming into bloom. That seems kind of funny to me. There are a lot of hydrangeas (ajisai) in Japan and they bloom throughout the rainy season, which runs from June until about mid-July. They start out blooming blue and then change colors as the weather gets damper and hotter. By the time they are a faded purple (or maybe it was pink) summer has hit with full force. So, it seems weird seeing that early blue hydrangea in July, smack in the middle of what is our short summer season. They just don't look quite right to me unless they are offset by a concrete block wall and the sound of rain on my umbrella.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Oh Well

Sometimes despite my best intentions life turns into an O. Henry story. Then again, "despite best intentions" tends to be what a lot of those plot twists are about. I just get so busy thinking about other things that I forget to pay attention to what's sitting right in front of my face.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Grammar, Anyone?

Am I being a prig for being disturbed that a column written by the chairman of the state university system Board of Trustees and published in the local paper is titled "Tuition increases unfortunately but necessary"?
That just sounds wrong. You can't mix an adverb and an adjective like that. It needs to either be "Tuition increases unfortunate but necessary" or "Tuition increases unfortunately but necessarily" (which in my opinion sounds sucky.) It also seems to be missing punctuation, a comma or an em dash or something. "Tuition increases-- unfortunate but necessary." Increases could be in the singular rather than the plural. I suppose I shouldn't let that kind of thing bother me, but it's just so sloppy.

Ass Pants aka Non Mom Jeans

I'm wearing new jeans today. They are not the "mom jeans" my 40 whatever year old sister and 13 year old niece have accused me of wearing in the past. I think my previous jean choices (non-lowrise, boot cut jeans) and a particular jacket I used to wear in cold weather are what led to my niece labeling me a soccer mom. Yes, I'm a mom. Proud of it, too. Since I was away living in Japan for most of that decade when the term soccer mom came into fashion, I'm not even really sure what one of those is. To the best of my understanding it's a mother who drives a minivan and chauffeurs her kids to their soccer games, stopping at some fastfood restaurant along the way to feed them while she chats with whoever on her cell phone the whole time. Doesn't sound all that much like me. I guess appearances can be deceiving. I tend to use them to deceive actually. Well, not so much to deceive as to project an image that will help me achieve whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish. So when I go to teach, I dress like a teacher. When I go to my girl's school, I dress like a mom. When I go out to see a band at a local bar, I dress like I don't care because I don't, so it's jeans and a tshirt that isn't black because it's guaranteed that at least 85% of the people there will be wearing black. When I work at home where no one can see me, sometimes I stay in my robe until noon. But today I am wearing my new lowrise (but not embarrassingly or uncomfortably so) jeans and a black tshirt because I'm at home working (well, slacking from working as I write this but it's all on the same computer anyway) and then I'll go pick up my girl from her morning activities at noon and if anyone wants to label me one of those lowrise jeans wearing soccer mom types that's really not my concern. And this whole little tirade should teach me not to read stupid articles and advertisements posing as essays on anymore because they're still paying women writers to obsess over this kind of shit in public and I think it's just more of the same crap you'll find in any glossy women's magazine you'd find at the checkout counter at the supermarket. Not sure why I'd actually expect anything more from though. They're just trying to make a buck like every other publication for profit.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Made Me Stop and Think

I took my girl and my nephew to the outdoor city pool again today. I had planned on digging in to the newest freelance job that just came my way, but it was hot and sunny and the girl was bored so I decided to play summer angel of mercy and rescue her and her cousin from the stay at home summertime blues.
The pool, as usual, was undisappintingly refreshing and I spent more time in with the kids than I had before. There were the usual batallions of day campers there. I noticed some very young boys going off the high diving board and wondered if that was really okay. Turned out for one little boy not to be. He was little. I'd say five or six years old with a crew cut. I saw him spring up from the board and turn in a perfect little circle over the board. Then I saw the board vibrate as it grazed the back of his skull.
Neither of the life guards at that end of the pool did anything. I saw one look at the other questioningly and hold out his red flotation device as though he were about to jump in. Then he sat back down in his chair. The little boy made it out of the pool by himself. I saw him holding the back of his head. He wasn't bleeding or anything, but he hit hard enough that he could have gotten a concussion. A couple of his camp counselors and a female life guard went over to him and then then led him to the side of the pool where they had him lie down and keep still. The rest of the kids in his day camp left. About ten minutes later the EMTs showed up. They braced his neck, then moved him onto a flat board and a big heavy duty stretcher. His limbs were all strapped down and his head and neck were held in plastic braces. My girl and my nephew said they heard him crying as they wheeled him out. I saw one of the female pool staff rubbing his arm to try to console him. It must have been really scary.
My guess is that the EMTs were called in as a precautionary measure since the accident happened at a public facility and he was attending a camp so his parents were not around. They probably have to be very careful to make sure they do everything they can to avoid being held liable. The whole thing made me grateful that I never had to put my girl in day camp as a means of day care during the summer. Working a school year teacher's schedule and freelancing from home definitely has its advantages.
One other odd thing that happened is that a mother and daughter who, along with their husband/father, are very good friends with my ex and presumably my girl were at the pool today and neither of them really acknowledged her. My girl made a couple of half hearted attempts to wave and smile at them but she was too shy to go over and said hi. She said she thought the other girl smiled at her, but she wasn't sure. I found this weird because my girl has told me a lot of times about going to dinner at their house and how much fun she has with them. I've only met them once or twice and that was about 4 years ago. I may be over analyzing, but I felt bad that it seemed like my girl was ignored by people she considers her friends because she was out with me and not her father.

Crochet Conquers Advanced Geometry

Any of you out there who are familiar with my love of making things with hooks and needles and yarn will understand why I think this NYT article about a Cornell University math professor is absolutely all that is right with the world.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Boost This

I've had a cell phone for over a year now, not because I use it all that often but because as a single parent with shared custody of my girl I want to be able to be contacted at any time. I've been paying Sprint about $37 a month for phone service and I use at most maybe 90 minutes a month, usually fewer than 50. So, I finally decided to stop obsessively checking's prepaid comparison charts and make a decision already on a prepaid cell phone with no monthly contract. I chose Boost because, despite the annoying hip urban image they are trying to sell, they appear to have good coverage in this area and the rates are decent too.
I got the phone at Walmart. The activation process was pretty easy to get through online. The website said to call customer service about porting numbers from other carriers to the new Boost phone, but once I called and lived through the painfully "down with it" menus choices and messages spoke to a cs rep who told me it wasn't possible to port numbers from another carrier. Since I'm not a big cell user anyway, that's not so much of a problem for me. But really, the phone picks up with a young woman saying "Hey! (pause) This is Boost!" and I got treated to other groovy lines like "to avoid all the drama, make sure you don't run out of call minutes" and a "just a heads up" about something else. I was so busy worrying that I wasn't young, hip or urban enough to be part of this that I stopped paying attention to the information. I don't want to join the cult, I just want a reasonably priced phone service with decent coverage. And I guess the GPS feature will be good when I need to provide my coordinates to my operatives. Oh lord, I just discovered the ringtones. Some of them make me want to throw the phone against the wall. Guess I won't be choosing any of those.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


The crappy thing about freelancing is having to chase people down to pay you.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Just Give Me A Chance

So, this week Michael Lutin says to us Pisces "Self-indulgence on any level gets old after a while, even for people who want to believe they were put on this Earth to make love three times a day and eat chocolate in between." I'd like a chance to test that hypothesis. I think I'd have a fair shot at proving him wrong.

Independence Day

I hope everyone who reads this and celebrates Independence Day here in the US enjoyed it. I've had a pretty nice holiday weekend. Yesterday I got together with what appears to be my new band. More details to come on that when they become available (as in, when I know what the hell is really going on with it). We had a hot dogs and hamburgers barbecue at my sister's place in the afternoon. I didn't say anything about it to anyone, but I did take a little satisfaction in realizing how far we have all come in the span of a year. We drove down to Portsmouth for the fireworks. The traffic wasn't too bad getting there and we parked down at the Little Harbour Elementary School, my alma mater. Getting home took quite a bit more time because those old, narrow south end streets just weren't designed to accomodate 21st century traffic. I made the most of the situation by taking the opportunity to look into some of the houses along the way to see how they were decorated.
Today I slept in until 8, thanks to the fact that the dog didn't stand whining at my door at his usual 6-ish hour. He was in a bad and babyish mood when we got home last night. He usually isn't left alone at night or for so many hours, so he was bratty and kept trying to chew on my hands. I think it was his way of expressing "bad mama". He was fine after a good night's sleep.
My declaration of independence came in the form of a new grill today. I lost my grill when I moved out last year and even though I have the perfect backyard patio with a lovely little flower garden, I hadn't bought myself a grill. In the course of talking with my girl today I realized that grilling is something I had always considered The Man's job, but it really didn't need to be that way. Buying a grill on the 4th of July is a pretty dicey proposition since most of the decent and reasonably priced ones are sold out, but I did manage to find a nice 22.5 inch charcoal grill with side shelves and utensils hooks for what seemed like an acceptable price. Of course, once I got home I had to assemble the thing, which is another job I tend to consider a "guy job". But it was a beautiful day, so I went out back to the patio with my tools, my new grill pieces and a can of soda and put it together without much problem at all. Then I lit some charcoal, cut up red and orange peppers and a vidalia onion and drizzled them with a little olive oil and put a spice rub on the boneless pork ribs. I grabbed a magazine and a nice cold beer and tended my charcoal and when that was ready, grilled my meat and veggies. It was relaxing. When it was all done my girl and I enjoyed a nice dinner. Oh my god! I'm a woman and I can grill! How's that for some independence?
I'm not saying I have no use for a man. Being in a healthy and loving relationship with a particular man is something I cherish. But I don't need a Y chromosome to get some grilling done. And I don't need it to get the grill aseembled either.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Most Disjointed Reading Review

Last night I went to Portsmouth with my boyfriend and my sister to see Heather King read from her book Parched at River Run Bookstore. Sis is a friend of the author's brother Joe and that's pretty much how I ended up going, but I really enjoyed it.The store is a small brick and exposed beam, quintessentially Portsmouth kind if space and the weather was cool and foggy the way I like it to be in that town. There were a dozen or fifteen folding chairs set up facing a wooden table and a music stand. The author arrived a little on the late side as she came right from an interview on WSCA, Portsmouth's community run and driven radio station. God, Portsmouth is just so artsy and precious sometimes I want to scream but I know all those streets like my own dreams and nightmares since I spent the first eighteen years of my life within walking distance of downtown. But I digress...
The reading was excellent, very heartfelt and sincere and her writing is tight and evocative and part of that is she's writing about places that are pieces of my heart too. Different years and slightly different locales, but when she decribes the sea and the summer gardens at her grandmother's house and the way she loved books so much as a young kid I felt it all like it was mine.
The book is about her two decades of being a drunk and her recovery. Her mom and some of her brothers, family friends and and her ex-husband who she said she loves to death were all there. I can't imagine anything more difficult or more rewarding than reading to an audience made up of people who knew you the whole way through. She read some sections from the beginning of the book about her family and growing up. Some of it made me laugh or smile and other time she made me cringe, like when she talked about having given up drinking but going to bars and drinking soda water and then going to doing coke in the bathroom. Ouch. It's amazing how much we're willing to deceive ourselves sometimes.
I know I don't know her but I somehow felt proud of her as I sat there and listened to her read and saw her continue on at parts that choked her up. What an accomplishment to have come so far from that life she was living and bring it all full circle to be back on her home turf with her family there, as a published author on a book tour for her first book, reading in a brick and exposed beam independent bookstore. She said all she went through was worth it because it brought her to where she is now. I think where she is is somewhere awesome.