Friday, March 18, 2011


Well, New Orleans turned out to be absolutely fabulous. Stayed one block from (the not-family friendly) Bourbon Street, at the Hotel St. Louis. Ate tons of awesome Creole and Cajun food.

FYI: these are not the same. Creole were the Spanish/French settlers and the Cajun came down from Canada.

Went on a swamp tour and saw gators. The kids were delighted to be in flip-flops, or at least toddler rain boots, which were super-convenient for spring weather.And swampy weather.

The only snag was a 1 am trip to the ER. J had a croupy-scary cough. But he was fixed up pretty quickly. Oh, and we almost lost our cosco car seats. Which would have made the drive home from the airport legally impossible. But....we got  them back an (sadly) arrived home.

Now I'm trying adjust to my life here by stocking up for our next trip. Online, of course....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Guilty Pleasure

I've been indulging in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: reading chic-lit. I'm in the middle of a Susan Isaacs novel (As Husbands Go) and loving it. I'm also embarrassed that I love it, and that "The Middle Ages", written by an eminent scholar, is lying dusty by my bed. I tried to read it. And I really did like it. But it wasn't amusing. And I think the single most shallow thing about me (not the single, but the single most) is that I like to be amused.

Which is why, for example,  on Sunday mornings, I reach the for the Styles section of the NY Times first. Or the Week in Review, for the Laugh lines. Or the Magazine. My husband has, on more than one occasion, said, "going for the important stuff, first, huh?". That makes me see red. And be red.

I'll admit that I'm a little hypersensitive about this. A few weeks ago, after stocking up on novels at the library (and the sort-of-intellectual, "The Obama Diaries", which I've not yet cracked open), I was happily reading, "The Perfect Husband" (this was a Lisa Gardner crime/mystery novel, another one of my favorite genres). The  husband walked by and said, "you should be writing that". Mistaking his comment as a suggestion that I write rather than read, I snapped at him. He backed off (literally), saying ,"it was a joke. You know, the perfect should be writing it". Poor D. That would be the guilt in my guilty pleasure making me see things that aren't there. Plus living with a man who thinks fiction is a waste of time.

Anyway, the upside (for the part of me that wants to do more than waste my days reading novels) is that reading always makes me want to write. I actually want to write a novel featuring a Catholic middle-class wife/mom. The chic-lit genre is absolutely saturated with really wealthy Jewish wife/moms, so I think there's niche. The problem is, of course, that writing is not amusing. Reading is. And (*sigh*) I do like to be amused.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Rid of Those Blues

So, remember that trip to New Orleans I'd passed up? I've decided to do it, mostly because of a deal my husband and I made. The deal was that if we lived in Buffalo, where I have tons of family and friends (and an awesome hair stylist and mechanic), we would travel. We made this deal because David, who spent ten years in California, simply cannot stand many of Buffalo's less lovable traits. For example, one of the first winters that he was here, he was chipping at the ice shield on his Jeep's window one fine, January morning, when something cracked. Actually, more than one thing cracked. He started laughing kind of hysterically, not sure whether it was the glass or the ice that had given.

It was after that that he started telling me legends of this far off land, where "there are no weathermen because it's always 70; nothing changes". Or "the ocean is on one side of the road, and the mountains on the other" (that would be Route 1, I believe).

Being a sturdy, sensible Buffalo girl, I pointed out to him how in that same land, the American dollar does not go nearly as far as it does in Buffalo. If we were to land a job in this far off land, our housing costs in Santa Cruz (for example) would be pretty much triple what they are in Buffalo, for about half the house. Balmy weather does not offset empty pantries and no car. Even a plane ticket there would be more than our current monthly mortgage bill.  

So, even despite his printing up page after page from Santa Cruz' own homepage, I stuck to my guns, and we struck a deal. We would stay here if we could TRAVEL. And so, in virtue of a deal that I am very glad I made (and very glad I'm honoring ), we are off to New Orleans in the dead of winter. And we'll have a house we can afford to come back icy windshields. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The February Blues

At least once a day, I come across another symptom of the February blues. It's kind of a crazy, loss-of-perspective-and-good-common-sense, cabin fever.

Right now, for example, I am watching a silent film starring Cameron Diaz. As if she's not boring enough with the sound. I muted it (while grading) and just left it off. And don't really care. The whole situation is a symptom.

So is the fact that I watched it while eating a dinner of rice cakes and Wegman's lime flavored water. I'm still smarting from that Christmas comment. I've even challenged a certain mean queen to a 10 pound shred. Not that she needs it. But I do. David is still under the illusion that we can handle 4, even 5 (even 6!) kids. We can, but nothing else. So, I've got to get back into shape...

And I knew it was the blues when I spent some valuable free time on fb hunting down a creditor that had crossed (read "legitimately tried to collect a debt") from a loved one. Let me tell you, Darrell Charrington has crossed the wrong person. This loved one is going to sic a certain Parliamentary-minded British man(?) on poor Darrell.

I knew, too, when, in one sitting, I confirmed 23 friends on fb. That I let them pile up is a symptom (ok, so maybe it's not the February Blues. Maybe it's the Winter Blues. Or the All-Season Buffalo Blues).

And, I turned down a trip to New Orleans. I had good reasons, that I can't really remember, but I think that when I (really) emerge (not this dashing in and out, trying to stay warm) from the house in the spring (read: late June), I'll wonder what exactly I was thinking. It will all seem kind of hazy.

And, obviously, I don't pay any attention at all to this blog. I can barely write now. But, it's that or my Cameron Diaz flick.

As my reluctant follower, Emcy, said, I have the February Blues. She pronounced the first "r" which made me laugh so hard I forgot all about them blues.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Are you Skype-hot? (Or, The Victory of the Pear)

[skahyp -(ht)] adj. informal: hot/attractive from the shoulders or neck up
variation: Skype-hotty (adj) (antonym: Skype-dog)

I've discovered (invented) a new word. Like most words, it was borne due to a need in the language for a description of a certain slice of reality. Here's how I came upon this need:

Situation 1: On Christmas day, I was happily heading towards the brunch table, when a relative of mine sidled up to me. He started talking about his daughter's diet, how she had "ballooned up to 195" but was now down to a decent weight, and still headed in the right direction. I nodded at him, and thought it sweet that he was such a doting dad. He trailed off, for some reason, and left for a few minutes, but came back with more info about the diet. He then told me that he thought I might be interested, given my WEIGHT. As though it is an entity unto itself. As though it warrants a mention. Suddenly, I was no longer an attractive woman wearing a nice (LOFT) ensemble, with pointy-toed slingbacks. I was Miss Piggy, with little hooves. I was (am?) a woman who appears to be struggling with her weight. Beyond depressing.

Situation 2: At (ironies of ironies) the Mighty Taco drive-thru the other day, I had no choice but to block a jeep from leaving as I waited in line. One of the men accepted my apologetic gestures, and then motioned for me to roll down my window. When I did, he yelled to me, "You're hot, so I don't mind". I laughed sort of hysterically, and felt good for about 3 minutes, until I realized that Miss Piggy probably looks pretty good from the neck up, too.

Situation 3: Each year, the American Philosophical Association has its annual meeting, which involves hundreds of academic job interviews, on Dec. 26th. This year, the meeting was cancelled, due to the east coast snowstorm. And it so happened that this revolutionized the philosophical world, because, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Since very few people could make the interviews, the philosophical world resorted to Skype interviews. And they discovered that this is a great way to save money. My husband, who is Chair of his dept., also pointed out that it's less sexist: people are only seen from the neck up. (As my follower, Emcy, said, a lot of smart pear-shaped people are going to get hired). He actually told me this when I got home from Mighty that day. And so, it gelled: I'm Skype-hot. Hot (if you will) from the neck up. From what you see in a Skype interview, or the car door window, I might warrant a second look. But, alas, get me out of the car, or meet me in person, and my WEIGHT has a life of its own, apparently.

Don't you think that the English language needs this word?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Which Jane Austen heroine are you?

Take the Quiz here!
I am Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! I am practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though I am tremendously sensible and allow my head to rule, I have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

Can this be true??!!?? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Importance of Paper Airplanes

      Last night was my husband's weekly "poker game for nerds". He and some of his colleagues meet at a local bar to have dinner and drinks and discuss an article that they've read over the past week. Last week the article had a substantial part of it devoted to what sort of property the elasticity of a rubberband is. Last night this group of professors from local colleges discussed whether the same piece of paper can be an airplane and a letter. When I wake up at midnight to his dark form in the bedroom, groping through piles of clean (or dirty)  laundry for his pjs, and ask him how it was, he usually says, "terrific".
      That's the problem with philosophy. It can look absolutely ridiculous from the outside (and my description isn't helping). Having my hands full all day with 3 little ones, I see it out of context and can see how people scoff at it. Or run from it. But, for example, when I read Epictetus' writings on Stoicism, or Locke's writings on political philosophy (which, I will say, I am forced to re-read because I assign it to my students; otherwise, I just don't have the time!), I remember why I love it. And why I want my kids to read it. And love it. (Which is the kiss of death). 
        In any case,  I worked a "double" yesterday so that my husband could discuss paper airplanes.