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7 posts from September 2010

TeeVeeSeptember 27, 2010

I've been grabbing spare bits of evenings when I can and putting them to good use: sitting on our couch, covered in animals, knitting, watching television. I've been so busy for so long that I was behind in everything I liked (which wasn't much, granted).

So now I'm all caught up on my guilty pleasures: Gossip Girl, America's Next Top Model, the Vampire Diaries (the latter hasn't really caught me this season yet -- should I keep watching, you think?).

And I hear the Amazing Race just started! I didn't know, so it's not on the TiVo yet, but it certainly WILL be.

On Netflix, I'm watching season three of Dexter -- oh, that show is good, and way bloodier than anything I usually watch, so it's rather intense. I don't always enjoy intense, honestly. I just finished The Hunger Games, and I have to say, as I turned the last page, I was satisfied, but unsure if I can read the next two books. I think I'll take a break and perhaps one day I'll be brave enough.

So the question is, what wouldn't you miss on TV right now? What makes you smile when you see it on the DVR? What makes you grab your knitting and head for the couch?

(Don't you love fall? While, yes, we  in the Bay Area ARE having our traditional fall heat wave, something about the shorter days make me feel like I have more time: to hang out at the house with La, to relax, to watch TV, to bake, to cook. I don't think that's actually true, and indeed, this week I'm working 88 hours (transitioning back to day shift soon -- woot!), but the time is there somewhere, and I'll grab it.)

I Have Heard the Servers SingingSeptember 22, 2010

I love the following madly and deeply. It's worth moving from the excerpt to the whole thing, because it's genius. Enjoy. (Thanks, Lala, for sending it to me.)


with deepest apologies to T.S. Eliot


And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the desk,
Rubbing its back upon the Windows PC;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the icons that you meet;
There will be time to murder and respawn
And time for all the Chrome and Firefox
That drag and drop a website on your plate;
Time for .doc and time for .ppt
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred fanfics and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the players come and go
Talking of their scores on Halo.


I grow old... I grow old...
I shall add some links to my blog roll.

Shall I change my default pic? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall play some World of Warcraft, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the servers singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen cats talking in capslock on the web,
All up in ur fridge, eatin' ur food
When my laptop lights the darkness white and black.

We have lingered in the tubes of internet,
By URLS wreathed with info, loaded-down
Till cellphones ringing wake us, and we drown.

MistakesSeptember 21, 2010

Today I'm writing at the PensFatales about mistakes, and specifically, a mistake I made a long time ago in dealing with someone I loved.

Hop over there and leave me a comment about something you screwed up, wouldja? Maybe it'll make me feel a little better. Or maybe it'll make YOU feel a little better, to admit it (you can even do it anonymously). 

I think I feel a little better, having written that. Again.

The Night of Writing Dangerously! September 16, 2010

NanowrimoEDITED TO ADD ONE MORE THING: Bethany thanks our fairy godmother HERE

EDITED TO ADD  - OMG!!! Bethany made her goal for fundraising. And she BEAT it. Already. This is true: We have a NaNoWriMo fairy godmother watching over us. It's official. And there's something so lovely about that, that someone who, for these three Nights of Writing Dangerously in a row, has donated enough (MORE!!) to send us to an enchanted evening while remaining anonymous . . . Well, it made me choke up and laugh out loud in delight at the same time. Which was a little difficult, but I managed it.   Dear Fairy Godmother, thank you. With all our hearts. xoxox


My little sister Bethany is fundraising again for the Night of Writing Dangerously (a NaNoWriMo write-athon that supports NaNo's free creative writing programs in hundreds of schools)! If she raises $200, she gets to go to the SWANKY night at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. If she raises $300, she'll take ME as her guest, which she's done for the last two years (lucky lucky lucky me). (It's just the coolest night -- a couple of hundred people dressed to the nines, writing their brains out between sips of wine and coffee and bites of chocolate.)

And I can't stand how cute the picture she put up over there is -- she's probably about six or seven in that picture, standing behind our little concrete house on Saipan. I love that you can see my mother's carefully gardened strip of earth next to the house, and how groomed the lawn is. Saipan is a tropical island in the Northern Marianas, and the annual rainfall is 84 inches -- my mother was out there ALL THE TIME with the push mower, going back and forth, back and forth, while we kids ran around like maniacs. I loved living there (scorpions, centipedes, and typhoons notwithstanding). We snorkeled in the afternoons. My parents let us play wtih machetes, for pete's sake. One of our favorite hobbies was chopping into fallen coocnuts with the dangerously long blade. We felt like we were living on the edge of the earth, and in a way, we were.

Can't you just see mischief in Bethany's eyes? Can't you just see the novels that she is yet to write in that photo?

Thank you, for anything you feel like giving. This is our favorite time of year, and that night is the MOST fun a NaNo-writer can have. 

Why Some People Don't Drive in San FranciscoSeptember 12, 2010


That is, bar none, my favorite street sign in San Francisco. Click for big and crazy-pants-edness. Which way are you going? (ATTN: NICOLE PEELER: That sign is mere blocks -- BLOCKS! -- from the House of Meat Prime Rib.)

I remember when I didn't like driving in the city. I hated it. I was scared of it. I'm not one of those drivers who worries I'll go the wrong way on a one-way street -- I just didn't know where things were. I was worried I'd accidentally end up on the freeway and shunted out of the freeway into Daly City or something (oh, wait, that happened once).

But somehow, in the past five years or so, I've gotten so that I like driving in San Francisco. There's a kind of thrill to it. When I was growing up, we spent some years in the East Bay, and I remember my dad driving us around the city in one of our many VW vans, careening up and down hills, yelling that old Bill Cosby line, "Come around, idiot, come around!" One of those vans lost its bumper and Dad made one out of wood. I remember thinking that was cool. And he always said that driving in the city took a certain amount of daring, and said that people who drove in San Francisco were CRAZY.

Well, they are crazy, but not including the taxis (who are out of their frikken minds), they're no crazier than anywhere else, and Oakland has WAY crazier drivers. I've lived in Oakland now for thirteen years, and nowhere in the world have I seen some of the things I see there on a regular basis. So when I go to the city, it's almost relaxing in comparison. Sometimes, when I'm a little lost, I get on the tail of a taxi and make their moves, following in their wake, and it's like a carnival ride, all honking and ahOOgahs, and I usually end up figuring out where I need to go eventually.

And I just realized this: I think the reason I'm more relaxed about driving now is the fact that I always have an interactive map in my pocket. When I get lost, I can pull over, figure out where I am, zoom in and out, look at satellite images, and figure it out. Isn't that AMAZING? When we were driving back from Yosemite the other day and took that back road, it wasn't until we were kind of lost that I realized we had neither a cell phone signal nor a California map in the car. So we followed our noses, and asked the advice of a very nice woman at a gas station (just like in the old days!) and found our way home.

But it's nice to be (mostly) unafraid of driving in San Francisco. And I love that crazy-pants sign.

Dear Rachael of the Future,September 6, 2010

I'm writing you a little note here to remind you of some things that you would do well to keep in mind for camping at Strawberry Music Festival next year.

#1 - Three cases and six 6-packs of beer is too much. I know you ran out of beer in 2009, but dude, you won't run out if you bring two cases. Not even close.

#2 - Along the same lines, five boxes of cookies were too much. Three would have been enough. A metric crapload of potato chips, however, especially the Salted Kettle chips, is appropriate. 

#3 - Start the drive at 6am. Not kidding. You almost didn't get a good spot this year because you left at 7am.

#4 - Arlo Guthrie is never, ever to be missed. Remember when you wrote in a blog post about the Strawberry Festival of 2001:

My best memory of a festival (and I have so many) was when Arlo Guthrie sang "City of New Orleans." I remember standing in the kitchen, years ago, and the song came on whatever radio show Mom was listening to. I said, "God, I love this song. I don't know why I love this so much, but I really do. It's weird." Mom just stopped, and stared. She said, "You know, this was our song. I used to dance you to sleep to this every night." When Arlo sang it, I was sitting next to Mom, who had just been diagnosed with colon cancer (in remission now, thank God). We held hands while he sang, and I was so happy, to be there next to her, in the dark, the moon behind us, the family around us. Couldn't be better.

Well, when he sang it this year, your heart broke wide open and you cried like a baby in the dark. You were the only Herron to make it to Strawberry this year, and you missed your family something fierce although you were happy to camp with people who are also, in another way, your family. 

#5 - When you are called upon to perform "Hungry Like the Wolf" in front of hundreds of people at the Chickwagon stage, it's best to do so in full wolf face paint (picture of face to follow in another post -- the camera is buried in a bag somewhere right now). Also, howling helps.The audience has been drinking free margaritas and will help.

#6 - That night, it's best to take off the face paint with a wet wipe before you go to bed. Trust me on this.

#7 - Do not, under any circumstances, buy a goldurned pool toy to use in the lake. You always buy one, you always blow it up, you never use it, and you always throw it out as you leave, because you never remember this rule. 

#8 - Make sure that in your camp you have at least one player for each of these: banjo, guitar, accordion, stand-up bass, and ukulele. If you can get a fiddler also, that's nice, but not necessary. The aforementioned combination ensures your site will RULE, and no one will ever get to sleep before 3am (except on the last day when you're too cumulatively hungover to stay up past 10pm. This is the night the teenagers rule the campground). 

#9 - When you leave, drive 30 minutes away from camp and then make that left turn toward Coulterville and follow 132 to Modesto, then north on 99. What an incredibly gorgeous drive -- exactly what your dream of California looks like -- without that terrifying drop down Old Priest Grade and none of the backup at the 120 turn. You made the right choice taking that one. (Except this: If you ever get the teardrop trailer of your dreams, stick to 120).

#10 - Always hire Josephina if possible to petsit the menagerie. They looked almost disappointed to see you when you got home because you weren't her. 

#11 - When you get home, write yourself a list of everything that's in both the camping box and the camp-kitchen box, and then write yourself a big note to put in there that says READ BLOG POST 09/06/10. Because you'll never remember you posted this if you don't.

That's Where the Party IsSeptember 1, 2010

Good morning! After this evening, I'm going OFFLINE. (I know -- what lurks out there in that wasteland? I have no idea. It's been a really long time, and I'm looking forward to it.) So if you need me, send up a flare or call one of my sisters, because I'll be camping, without even so much as a single bar of cell reception. (Attention burglars: We have a fantastic petsitter who isn't scared of anything, and our pit bull Clementine doesn't like intruders. That said, the tomatoes are finally getting ripe -- please don't enter the house (as stated, Clemmy won't appreciate it), but if you take a tomato or two, no one will mind.) 

(Wait. On second thought, don't take the tomatoes. I've only had four.)

While I'm gone, I'm posting this great bit on genre vs. literary fiction. It's a battle I still fight within myself, because I'm trained in the literary tradition -- I feel like I know what it's supposed to look like, taste like. However, my tastes (and my writing style) run right to genre and plop down crosslegged, pulling out the knitting and staying a while. So when Jenny Crusie gabs with Jennifer Weiner about genre and Franzen's new book (which I don't think I'm going to read, but feel free to try to change my mind), I listen. (I LOVE Crusie's writing workshops. Oh, but had I attended something like that in grad school. Seriously. My mind would have BLOWN. She is good at craft.)

Excerpted from the excellent and much longer blog HERE:

Have you been following the controversy over the praise and attention lavished on Jonathan Franzen for his new novel, FREEDOM? Are you planning on reading the book? Do you think there’s a difference between the way women’s stories and men’s stories are perceived, and reviewed? Do you think things are getting better?

I’ve had my knife out for Franzen ever since he dissed Oprah viewers as Not His Kind, so no, I won’t be reading his book since he made it very clear he didn’t want me (“Hi, I’m from the Midwest, I’m female, and I wear a lot of knits!”). I haven’t read the reviews, but didn’t somebody call it the best book of the twenty-first century? Making the next ninety years irrelevant? That’s fanboy stuff—“BEST BOOK EVAH!”—so I’m not paying much attention, but it appears to be part and parcel of the whole Literary Group Think, something I got more than my share of doing an MFA in fiction. One of my profs said, “Jenny, you write so well. Have you ever thought about writing literature?” I said, “No,” because it was easier than explaining that literary fiction is just another genre, not God’s Library. The people who say, “I write for the canon” have forgotten or never knew that the canon doesn’t read. People read. Fiction is not beautiful writing although that’s wonderful; fiction is storytelling. It’s putting narrative on the page that moves and transforms people, and because there are many, many different kinds of people in the world, there are many, many different kinds of fiction. There’s nothing wrong with The Literary Group—they know what they like when they read it—until they start insisting that what they like is what everybody should like, and refusing to teach anything but literary fiction in creative writing programs and refusing to review anything but their definition of literary fiction in their publications. That’s a mistake: I think they’ve marginalized themselves and are becoming more and more irrelevant. Jon Stewart sells more books than a rave review in the NYT. Nora Roberts and Stephen King reach more people than Franzen ever will. There’s the real world full of a multitude of readers with a multiplicity of reading tastes, and it’s thriving and alive and interacting on the net, changing and growing and exciting because of its fluidity and passion, and then there’s the New York Times Book Review which is born ceaselessly back into the past by the literary version of the Tea Party who keep moaning that they want their America back, oblivious to the fact that their exclusive white, male America died with Gatsby. I’m much happier being part of the “All right then, I’ll go to hell” bunch. That’s where the party is.

* Rachael, back again. I agree with all of this, wholeheartedly. However, there's a subsection of writers she doesn't mention, and that's the one into which Cari Luna fits (along with others, I'm sure) -- Cari writes gorgeous literary fiction and still appreciates moderately-well-written genre fiction (into which category I hope I fit). Yep. (And then there are the readers who gobble up both literary and genre fiction -- me again -- and and and...) 

Anyway. Food for thought. Offline soon, and have a good Labor Day Weekend!