Procrastination (But I Digress)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beautiful Girls

The sisters in "Shanghai Girls" are Beautiful Girls in the 1930's. They were models at a time when advertising was started with a painting of Beautiful Girls to sell a product. The author described a poster that she has of two Beautiful Girls--One standing and looking so wholesome and lovely, demure and the other sitting also, very lovely and wholesome with a wonderful inviting smile. They are dressed beautifully in silks and pastel colors and there are dead bugs falling all around them. They are selling bug spray. The girl sitting down has a bug spray fogger in her hand.

The idea was that Beautiful Girls could sell anything and the author described numerous products that they were used to sell. Such a little detail in history, but so rich and interesting.

Lisa See was asked about foot binding. Now I had learned that foot binding was a process by which girls were judged. They were more valuable as wives if they had tiny feet. I had learned that the reason that the husband's wanted tiny feet was so that the wife could not run away. To me it was barbaric and horrible. Lisa See decribed it much differently. She has the perspective of having relatives who knew women who had their feet bound and having a family who understood the benefits that allowed the barbaric practice to continue for a thousand years. The first woman who bound her feet to make them smaller was a courtisan. Her feet became so famous and popular with men who found them incredibly sensuous, that other courtisans began to bind their feet as well. Well wives didn't like their husbands being lured away by courtisans, so wives began to bind their feet as well and soon it became something that a mother could do for their daughter to insure a better life with a richer husband--bind her daughter's feet so that she would make a better marriage. The better the tiny feet, the richer the husband.

The way that Lisa described it was that the tiny feet came to be viewed as so beautiful. They would have beauty contests with only the feet showing and the winner might be a 70 year old woman. Women could not control other aspects of aging to retain their beauty, but they could bind their feet. It makes me think of incredibly high heeled shoes that I see around me. How can those women possibly walk in those things, but gosh they sure are pretty shoes.

I'm only on page 61, but "Shanghai Girls" is really good. I've found a new author.

Back Story

Where to begin--this is a blog so I get to start at the very beginning (well sort of anyway).

I am trying not to go to ABWA meetings. Whenever I go to ABWA, I get sucked into more and more responsibilities that I do not have time to do. It has been that way for years. I've tried to say no, I've tried to sign up for smaller jobs, but I have failed miserably and often end up volunteering for much more than I have time and energy to do. The chapter suffers when someone who doesn't really want to do something does it. Other members miss out on growth opportunities and the chapter misses out on fresh ideas. Hey, I'm not a lawyer for nothing.

Anyhoo, we were going to have a Bingo last week that I couldn't go to because of Marisa's birthday (excellant, timely and absolutely true excuse), but the bingo got cancelled. Normally, this is not a bad thing--I couldn't even go, so why would it mean anything to me at all. Go explain that to my psyche--the cancelling of the event that I couldn't even attend made me want to commit that I would attend the next meeting, even though I had decided to myself that I would not be going.

I was having a little war in myself over the issue, when my friend Elysa (who is also in ABWA) told me that she couldn't make the meeting because the library was having an author coming to speak that she wanted to see that night. She decribed the author as someone she really admired and she was quite excited at the prospect of seeing her. She got me intrigued. I've been wanting to get involved with the library and I certainly need a new author. (I am up to reading some Nora Roberts' book three times--I really need a new author. The reason I read the book a third time is because it was the only one available on e-reader on my iphone--I love reading books on my iphone. Talk about convenient--except for the run out of juice part, but I digress.)

So I ditched ABWA and made plans to go to the library event with Elysa. Then it turned into dinner first at Outback and then the library event. Talk about icing on the cake. If I know that I am going to Outback, that $20 meal provides days of happy anticipation. [As a haunting side note, the idea of going to lunch at McDonalds has started to become a "look forward to" event--now that is scary, but I digress.]

Elysa had the book, so I made plans to go to Borders (which is right on the way to Outback, all within walking distance of the library and my office) to purchase "Shanghai Girls" by Lisa See. Now I have been getting lots of e-mails from Borders--I think I signed up for a discount card at an Airport Borders. When you are at an airport, you feel so grateful for being able to find a book that you really want. You feel disconnected from reality--a little universe of the airport makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do, like say yes to purchasing a discount card that you will never allow yourself to actually use. I promptly filed the card away so that I would not be tempted to go buy books. Anyway, one of the e-mails from Borders said 40% off of the new Nora Roberts book. 40% off--I'm there! It was a one day coupon and you had to have the card and you had to buy other stuff too. I hate those coupons. I had a left over gift card from last christmas though so I reasoned that was just as good as a coupon. Borders had the new Nora Roberts book, but not the Lisa See, which surprise, surprise was sold out because of the author event planned at the library. I was disappointed that I wouldn't have a book to be autographed, but such is life.

I should not have worried--the library was selling the book and lots of Lisa See's other books. Between Elysa and I, we bought most of the book titles that we will share with each of us having our own copy of the new book "Shanghai Girls" to be autographed. I didn't look at the bill and I'm not gonna until the credit card bill comes next month, but I digress.

I saw so many people that I knew from Kiwanis, Glendale Beautiful, Curves, working at the elections, PTA and Toastmasters. There were about 200 or 300 people and more spilling out behind the area with chairs. Lisa See was signing books prior to speaking, but the line was cut off and I didn't make the cut off. We got terrific seats because Elysa works for Friends of the Library and they had reserved seats up front. We sat in the front row. Over to the side, but the front row. I did make a comment that we should sit in the back to be first in line after the event to have our book signed, but that comment was quickly forgotten at the opportunity to sit in the front row.

Lisa See was a wonderful speaker. The information was so interesting and enlightening. Her great-grandfather was a Chinese immigrant and her family is well known in Los Angeles. I'm not sure if it was part of her talk or if it was to answer a question, but she also told us the process of how she came to write fiction. Her first book was non-fiction about her own family's story. Her first fiction books were murder mysteries and then she wrote more about women and now her latest book is about two sisters coming to the U.S. after Japan invaded China in the 1930's. Her books are filled with nuances of the culture that she learned growing up and from stories in her family and from planting herself on the sofa across from anyone who would talk to her to give her information. She described herself as very stubborn about getting the whole story out of people. She described the 1957 amnesty law for Chinese immigrants. There were lots of loop holes that Chinese immigrants used to get into this country. The 1957 law allowed immigrants who had cheated to come into the country a chance to confess and then they would be given citizenship. The catch was that they had to rat out family members and friends who also cheated, who were then deported and if they happened to know any communists, well that was pretty good too. She said that people who did that and saw their friends and family (one guy saw his wife) deported were so ashamed that they would never talk about it or admit it, even all these years later. She is facinated by history though and she really wants to get all these stories before they are gone forever.

It was such a wonderful talk. Afterwards we waited in line to have our books signed. She asked me if I had any sisters. Later I thought I missed my golden opportunity to tell her about my Amazon Van Houten Sisters. So many stories, so little time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pass the Baby

That is Madilyn's favorite game. She holds her arms out to go to you and then as soon as you have her, she twists around to hold her arms out to the next person closest to her. This morning, she held her arms out to come to me and then she settled in to stay there. Meanwhile, Matthew looked on with a pleading kind of envy like he wanted me to hold him too. I wouldn't hold both of them when they were a lot smaller and I'm not going to start now, but I have held one of them and Caitlyn (who although she weights a lot more is also much better adept at holding on). I can see a time in the future when I will not be able to resist and I will try to hold Madilyn and Matthew, but I really hope that Caitlyn is over me holding her by that time. I carried Adam around until well after five years old, but Marisa would not let me carry her after about age three (although she didn't live with me at the time--being 3,000 miles away might have contributed to the aversion). This does not bode well.

We had a lovely birthday dinner for Marisa last night. We called in a reservation for 10 and we needed three high chairs. It seemed like there were so many menus and place settings on the table. Caitlyn had not had a nap--always a challenge. Somehow we boxed Chris all the way in the corner, but eventually the babies and Caitlyn made their way around to being held by everyone, even Chris in the corner.

The babies are getting very distinct personalities and for twins, they are so different. I want to say that Matthew is more compliant, even though he can be quite loud and demanding. It seems like he is more easily consoled and amused. Madilyn is quieter and can be left to her own devises more, but she is not easily consoled and is harder to settle. That doesn't make sense--you have to be here. They both have the most beautiful eyes and huge smiles. I haven't heard them go on the crying jags that Caitlyn used to do, but maybe they are still a little young for that. I guess we'll see.

Caitlyn is less and less willing to sit still to hold a baby. She has become more agressive at trying to pick them up or take them out of someone's arms to carry them around. Last night her mother let her walk with a baby (Ris was right there with her, but to me it was a scary precedent). She is still way too small to be able to carry a baby, but she'll tell you quite forcefully that she is big. Last week, Adam had my car and Caitlyn commented that my car was gone. I told her that Adam was very big and he was driving my car. She said, with a kind of amazement--"I'm very big, I can drive your car." I backpeddled quickly and said, no, no, Adam took lessons to learn how to drive and she said, "Papa is teaching me how to drive." I asked Taj about it and he said, "How does she remember that I told her that one time when she got into the front seat--months and months ago?"

I have to go lift weights now--I see holding a very big girl and her baby brother and sister all at once in my future. I need to be prepared.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Applications The Wonder

I was recently in the AT&T store and I complained that I could never find all these wonderful applications for the iphone that everyone was so crazy about. Sure I have scrabble (that I can even play on facebook from my phone) and I have spider solitare (very addictive--puts me right to sleep at night when I play until my eyes won't stay open anymore) and I have a budget program that is useless and a map application that is magic and wonderful and a compass and google earth--that's kind of fun and e-mail and an app that looks like a pad of paper to take notes on and my calender and an ipod and .... Let's face it, they had me at hello, but of course I want more. Why can't I have books I want to read on ereader--why can't I have yatzee.

Turns out I can have yahtzee--I just need to know how to spell. And it turns out there are books for sale on fictionwise that I like, I just need to shop now and again. I have one now and I am loving it on the iphone, except my battery is running low more and I am distracted by how often I am flipping the pages (because I read too fast and the page is so small).

Spelling--what a pain. I wonder if they have an app for that?

I recently looked into the power mac--you just put your devise on a pad and it charges by remote. You have to have a receiver and they don't make receivers for all the devises yet. At first I thought what a waste, I only have the one devise to charge--my iphone. But now I'm thinking, I could have the pad at the office and my iphone could live on the charger at the office and I'd never have to worry about remembering cords and running out of a charge again while I play with all the wonderful applications. Now it is looking so much better. Food for thought.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fifty Going On 100

I've only been 50 years old for four or five months, but I feel 100 years old. I had to move some boxes in my office and you'd think I was having a heart attack, I got so weak. Measley boxes should not wind me. Yesterday I walked my mile up hill to the park that I walk every Sunday. For the first time, I was so winded that I didn't think I could make it. WT...

I really did not like turning 50, let me tell you. I was opposed to the whole thing. 49 sounded old, sure, but 50, that was unbelieveable. Then I was 50 and the world did not come to an end or anything dramatic. So I started to think--hey, this isn't so bad. I can be 50. No problem--you're only as old as you feel.

So now that I feel 100, what am I supposed to do? [Don't say eat vegetables. Say eat Chocolate Cake--I could stand being 100 if I got to eat Chocolate Cake all day.]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flood and Pestilence

Well maybe not that bad, but bad. I have a leak in my roof, which would not be so bad, except it is in my bedroom, which also might be tolorable, except it is in the closet--hard to get to and lots of stuff to get wet. But I dealt with it (at 4:30 in the morning)--I went out in the rain to the shed and got a bucket and dryed what I could and got the bucket lined up to take in the water and listened to the drip, drip, drip for the next couple of hours until it was time to get up. Last night I asked Adam to come in to empty the bucket. It is up on a top shelf and I was certain that I could not lift it with all that water. There was a couple teaspoons of water. Adam got a big laugh and I thought good--not much of a leak. Then I thought, or bad, the bucket wasn't under the right place and when I completely empty out the closet I'm going to find a bunch of wet stuff. Luckily the rain stopped.

After Adam emptied my couple of teaspoons of water, I found a grasshopper on my bed. A baby grasshopper that I promptly killed. Then a few minutes later, I noticed another baby grasshopper on my bed which I also promptly killed and I took off all the blankets and pillows and shook them out to make sure there were no more. Phew.

Then in the other room I noticed a lot of ants. I sprayed and cleaned up (the smell is overwhelming, so I wouldn't be able to watch tv and eat my dinner if I left the spray without cleaning it up--even then the smell was bad). I killed a few more ants during the evening, but the spray got them for the most part. Then I went to bed. I noticed a baby grasshopper on the wall and I promptly killed it. Then I noticed another, and another and another. Then I moved the bed out and noticed several more around the window. I killed a bunch of baby grasshoppers and shook out my blankets and pillows a lot. I didn't want to spray because I was afraid that I couldn't sleep with the smell, but I stayed awake a long time trying to "hear" the hop of a baby grasshopper on my bed. Fun times.

I would hurry up and move and sell my house, but who would want to buy it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Art of Giving Thanks

There was an article in Reader's Digest about how saying thank you and being thankful makes you happier. The formula for prayer is to say thank you as though you already have what you want. There is a budist prayer that I really liked in which you were supposed to make a wish for someone you love, someone you know and someone you don't like (the formula for that prayer actually said your enemy, but in real life do we have personal enemies? I don't.). I remember getting a great deal of delight wishing a particularly mean judge downtown something wonderful, but I digress.

Anyway, I am president of Glendale Beautiful, but I don't really have time to do everything the past president (who is retired and lives for this stuff) did. Many other people are stepping up and I feel like I should be sending out thank you notes. I bought the notes, but I haven't actually sent any yet.

Since I had the notes right there on my desk, I wrote one out to someone who invited me to a party last weekend. It was a short and nice little note to say thanks. I was so proud of myself when I popped it right away into the mailbox. Then I remembered the article about saying thank you. It talked about making the thank you personal and sincere. My little note was not personal and while I am sincere about saying thank you, I don't think that note really hit the mark. In my head I composed a much better thank you, with personal little stories of what made going to this party special to me and how much I enjoyed myself. I really need to write this stuff down.

I've received a lot of thank you notes and I try to explain to people that I'm not very good with that kind of thing, but I aspire to be better at it. I've only received one or two really good thank you notes--but they were pretty memorable.

Another thing that the article talked about was giving something up, so that you would appreciate it more. Well I've given up diet coke. I used to drink more than a 2 liter per day. Now I drink water instead, but I still have a diet coke when I have a meal out or sometimes as a special treat at my desk in the late afternoon and a couple of times as a treat on a friday night. I appreciate the heck out of diet coke. Not drinking as much diet coke has not helped me lose weight though. That's right, I was told that if I stop drinking diet coke that I would lose weight. The idea is that diet coke has an artificial sugar which makes you crave the real stuff and eat more. Myths and fairytales.

Anyway, the reason that I am writing all this junk is that I really want to go downstairs and buy a diet coke. It is a dollar a can and one can is such a puny serving that I know I'll want more when I'm done. I should just open a can of v8 and give myself a cheer that I've had a serving of vegetibles today. (For some reason I do not want anything after I've drunk a can of v8--it is a real appitite killer.) OR I can go and get a diet coke and a bag of chips (have I mentioned the wonderful chips that they sell downstairs) and come back and eat a bag of chips with a fresh cold delicious diet coke. I would be so thankful--I know it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Good News

Every morning I awake to news on the radio. Sometimes its an earthquake in Japan or Indonesia or a tsunami in Samoa or a bomb in Afganistan or Pakistan or Iraq. For weeks a few years ago it was terrible bombs in Iraq every single day. There were several days that it was news about North Korea having nuclear bomb capabilities. It has been anniversaries of wars and milestones of the number of casualties in the war. Sometimes it is about scandals in politics and sometimes someone really famous has died. It is a rare day that I am awoken to good news.

Today is that rare and wonderful day. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone seems to be surprized and so was I. But I am pleasantly and wonderfully surprized. I knew that the committee were thoughtful people who take their task very seriously, but I guess I was so busy being proud of our president that I didn't look up to think that others were proud of him too. When a room full of conservatives cheered that the United States lost our bid for the Olympics, I guess I felt kind of lonely in my admiration.

The commentator quoted the Nobel committee as saying that the prize to Obama was for his approach to world conflicts, by engaging in dialog--for the hope that he brought to the world. Anyway, if he wants to escalate the troops in Afganistan, I am not opposed to that. I hate the taliban. If he takes another approach, I am not opposed to that either. He's the one surrounded by people who know what they are doing. I trust him plain and simple. If anyone can lead us into peace, I think he's the guy that can do it. We've been at war for 8 years (yesterday was the anniversary). It's time.

Our president is the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. Now that's really cool.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Special Diet

So I was at a luncheon meeting this week and I brought my chicken and a small bag of chips the way that I do for most luncheons (except when it is at the Hilton--they intimidate me so that I can't carry in my chicken, so this time I brought peanut butter crackers--worked like a charm--oops, I digress). Anyhow, the chicken tasted awful. It got warm from being carried in my purse. I was so happy to get my purse empty enough that I could just throw my lunch in my purse, that I know I won't get to the next level of actually bringing an insulated lunch bag. So I threw it out. I ate a bag of chips and a cupcake for lunch--not good--I mean it tasted good, but not good for me. What do you think that they were serving that I had already turned down--chicken. I hate when that happens.

So I am the president at that lovely luncheon for Glendale Beautiful, who was not eating the lunch provided, so I'm hanging in line with some of the members to socialize. That's very important for a president to socialize and be part of the group--not the elitist attorney who is too busy for such mundane things (which is what I probably seem like most of the time). Anyway, I'm hanging out in line and I have to explain that I am not eating the meal and that I brought my own lunch. So the first person that I say this too, says, "oh, are you a vegetarian?" "No" I have to explain, "I am definitely NOT a vegetarian." And this leads to the discussion of the limited things that I eat: fast food hamburger, fries, pizza and chips--a plain chicken breast every day for lunch. Are chips a vegetable? I like to think so, because it is just too Reagan to call my only vegetable of the day ketchup. Eventually, I am passed to a new group and have to explain again that I am not eating. The newcomer innocently asks "oh, are you a vegetarian?" I hate this job.

So there is a sandwich place downstairs from my office. I don't really like sandwiches, but I do like tomato and bacon on white toast dry. I get a half sandwich to limit the bread. It is quite tasty and it doesn't matter if it is warm or cold. It doesn't fit in my purse, but they will actually give me a brown bag to carry it in. I never take the brown bag--I don't know why. I always throw it into the bag I carry for Kiwanis (with the check books, etc. since I am the treasurer). Anyway, this is a great solution for Wednesdays. It is a little pricey--4.25, but then my chicken is not so cheap either. It is the chips that will kill me though. The sandwich place has absolutely wonderful fresh chips that come in nice huge bags--over 320 calories and believe me, I cannot eat just one serving. My little bag of chips from home (single servings that I am sometimes lucky enough to find at the grocery store) should suffice, but as soon as I walk into the sandwich shop, somehow, the little bag just will not do.

Such dilemmas. I am going to try peanut butter crackers for Soroptimists and the blt for Kiwanis, but Glendale Beautiful--I have no idea--it might be easier to plug my nose and eat what's served. Naaa.

p.s. today I had the best lunch of all--one of the guys had a coupon for Outback. Steak and fries. If I were rich, I'd eat that every day. Of course, karma being what it is, tomorrow I am going to lunch at a co-worker's home. I'm going to bring my peanut butter crackers in my purse and I'm rehearsing my speech of "no, even though I only eat chips and ketchup, I am not a vegetarian..."