“And so ends another affaire.”

“And so ends another affaire.” The Black Moth, Georgette Heyer

Woke up in a surly mood. No proximate reason, although I ended up leaving the house without my wallet, without washing my hair, and without my laptop’s privacy screen. Sigh.

This weekend was productive in a domestic sense. Carter and I made the rounds to Lucky’s, Safeway, the local Asian market, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Target. I don’t know how we got so domestic, except that we’ve been out on trips for the past few weekends so this was our first opportunity this month to square away some household stuff. We cooked quite a bit, due to his determination to have homemade frozen meals on hand: a double batch of minestrone soup, mini-kale and egg frittatas, chicken tikka masala, baingain bhartha, and rice with peas and dill. The only dud was the frittatas, which turned out rubbery. No cooking at all this week, huzzah, and the Indian recipes turned out incredibly well. The eggplant in particular was restaurant quality, to my joy.

Next I’d like to cook some more Indian rice with chickpeas, in order to get more legumes into our diet. And a beef meatball thing, to be wrapped in garlic naan. We both love Indian food, but damn it all if it isn’t the hardest cuisine to learn. Carter does not like vegetables much aside from tomatoes (and being willing to eat them in soups), so I’m looking for ways to make sure he gets them. Oh God, I’m turning into Jessica Seinfeld.

I didn’t sleep that well this weekend, so possibly that’s the reason for my discombobulation this morning. The reason for that is lack of exercise, I’m pretty sure. I usually work out during lunch at work or go to ballet afterwards during the week, but on the weekend I become slothful.

Advertisements

“Things most people do naturally are often inexplicably difficult for me.”

“Things most people do naturally are often inexplicably difficult for me.” Bossypants, Tina Fey

Unlike most people, I love Mondays. Love them! It has to do with the cycle of emotional states that I experience throughout a week:

Mondays: refreshed by the weekend! Have many many goals to accomplish this week! Aggressively hacking away at the to-do list!
Tuesdays:  a little worn by the sound and fury of Monday; starting to dawn that the weekend is still 4 days away.
Wednesdays: the bootstrap day. It’s hump day! Everything will be ok. Let’s get down to it. Gosh, there is still a lot to do on the to-do list.
Thursdays: there is no way I am getting through this to-do list by the end of the week. But at least tomorrow is Friday. Should I even bother to go to the gym today?
Fridays: morning–rounding off the to-dos. The vital stuff gets done. Some of the extra stuff gets taken care of, especially if there’s a secondary deadline next week. Try to stay awake. Afternoon–total productivity meltdown.
Saturdays: a blur of activity and/or non-activity
Sundays:   a blur of activity and/or non-activity

And, we’re back to Monday. So I really have three days (ok, 2 and 1/2) where I am naturally super productive: all day Monday and Wednesday, and half of Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are decently productive because I force myself to be so. Friday afternoons are kaput.

***
Yesterday I did get more than a few things done at work, and attended a departmental career expo where I talked briefly with an HR person. It was refreshing and reassuring to realize that my company is big and there are other options for me (if I’m willing to work for them). I like my current position and team and have no immediate desire to leave, but projecting 5-10 years I want to make sure that I’m not stuck (unless I decide to be). It was damn hard getting my current position, so I appreciate having it and want to make sure that I’m doing a good job now.

Carter and I talked about my career paths before sleep last night–we always get into these discussions in bed, in the dark, right before we’re supposed to be sleeping; so bad for the sleep cycle. And we discussed the impact that children will have on whether I’d stay in my current position, or why I might want to seek something else, and so on. Two years ago I would not have expected to be having this sort of conversation–mature! Forward-thinking! Serious! What has happened to meeeeeigrewupsomehow.

Today: email HR person for followup, get some work out the door, ballet in the evening.

“Here pause; pause at once.”

“Here pause; pause at once.” Villette, Charlotte Bronte
Monday and Tuesday were productive work wise, and not so much reading or writing-wise, although I did finish formatting asitwas. I think a little more tweaking is needed on Well Read Well Fed–I’m not satisfied with the template–and then it’ll be ready to go. I need ideas for a first entry: maybe the peanut butter whole grain muffins Carter and I made yesterday night, or some old favorite to kick off the blog (leeks and butter on toast?). Or maybe a review of a cookbook (I’ve got a new cookbook on Chinese cooking during the cultural revolution which looks fascinating/delicious). I’ll make Carter a fan of Chinese food yet.
In the past week since I resolved to do more reading and writing, what’s been my progress? It hasn’t been much better than usual, although I believe that the awareness of it itself is some progress. I did get through most of The Sheik, and almost ready to review it soon. And the blogs are set up, although that’s the easy part.
Yesterday work was what work usually is, and I came home around 6. After the wild trip this weekend I hadn’t really had the chance to unpack or organize the 2nd bedroom, so I did a little bit of that. I also shook off the cloudy post-work exhaustion and cooked some bolognese sauce from scratch; Carter came home and got started on the peanut butter muffins, so we got a lot of cooking-from-scratch done for a weekday. He will probably subsist on the rest of the bolognese for the rest of the week, and the muffins for breakfast. The rest of the night I spent with Carter in front of the TV; we saw the new episode of Community and that was that. I took my evening shower on the early side.
Aside from the usual work stuff, today my goals are to finish blog formatting, finish The Sheik, and pull together a review of Villette…I’d also like to pick a new book to start, and do a little tidying of the living room–it’s Beast-tastic, with toys and assorted puppy stuff strewn everywhere.
Schedule-wise: work, meeting, gym, lunch, work, meeting, shuttle home.
Currently reading: The Sheik, Villette

“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil.”

“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates.” My Life’s Sentences, Jhumpa Lahiri

I spent this weekend with Carter, Beast and my old middle school friend Skye in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. I had arranged to meet him and Skye Friday in San Francisco for the long drive; it was raining cats and dogs when my company bus rolled into downtown. I could actually hear the beat of the rain rising in volume as we pulled into Civic Center. I made my way through the rain with umbrella in one hand, tote bag in the other, and backpack on my shoulders. We had a nice, abbreviated meal at King of Thai Noodle and got on the road as quick as possible.

The drive to the cabin was unremarkable (if rather wet), and Carter’s dad was already at the cabin, so it was warm when we finally arrived and hauled up our luggage (backpacks, tote bags, dog supplies, and ski equipment) through the rain and into the cabin. Carter and Skye lingered to sip wine and gin & tonics with Carter’s dad, but I headed straight upstairs and showered and got into bed. Altitude makes me tired.

Saturday everyone got up fairly earlyish; I followed suit to make some pancakes and scrambled eggs for the intrepid skiers. I spent the rest of the day watching the snow fall, and typing idly on my laptop, and eating pate and crackers. It was blissfully quiet. Once the adventurers returned, we headed to the Williams cabin for a meal of meatballs, enchiladas, chile relleno and refried beans. Skye became enamored of the German friendship cake that was served after dinner (must remember to follow through on her request for the recipe). Good fellowship and conversation was enjoyed by all, and I even drank a margarita. We didn’t stay long at the cabin on account of Carter’s irritated eye and general exhaustion.

He had already made plans to ski again on Sunday with his brother Sam, so he roused himself at 7AM. I pondered getting up with him, but just ended up taking Beast out for a pee and going back to sleep for two more wonderful hours. Once I woke up I sat in the cabin’s breakfast nook and watched the snow fall. I did a little bit of fiddling with this blog. Once Skye came downstairs we made the same plain pancake-and-egg breakfast and chatted with Carter’s dad. The rest of the day at the cabin was spent curled up on the couch, gossiping, munching on brie and mandarins, watching the snowfall, and waiting for the boys to return. It was again a blissful nothing.

We came home late Sunday, after a pit stop at a burger joint. We were both pretty useless by that point, and spent the evening flopped out in front of the TV.

***

I like that Jhumpa Lahiri essay about sentences, and am looking forward to this new NYT series on writing. It always seemed impossibly unfair that a writer should be both so talented and so accomplished and so beautiful at the same time. I read a few of her short stories back in college, and was always struck by how carefully crafted her language was–this word juxtaposed to that, this paragraph made perfect, this story designed such and such a way.

On the (decidedly lowbrow) reading front, aside from the Real Simples and the People Magazines I consumed over the weekend, I spent most of my time breezing through The Sheik. I realize it’s quite the problematic novel, but it’s a classic of the romance genre and useful for outlining what gives pulp its juice.

Currently reading: The Sheik, by Edith Maude Hall

“Maybe I’ll just wait until I’m fifty and give birth to a ball of fingers.”

“Maybe I’ll just wait until I’m fifty and give birth to a ball of fingers. ‘Merry Christmas from Tina, Jeff, Alice, and Ball of Fingers,’ the card will say.” -Tina Fey, Bossypants

Earlier this week I attended a talk and signing by an up-and-coming romance novelist, who used to work at the same company that I now do. In fact, I had halfway forgot about the talk, remembered that my best friend Keke had asked me to get a signed book, and so I slipped in late to the small but cheery crowd. The author made some great points; 1) romance readers are voracious readers, and it’s easy to establish an audience among them since they are such a large market in the first place 2) she writes as much now as she did when she had a full time job, only now she devotes the time that she would have otherwise spent on work in marketing herself and her writing. 3) romance writers work in a community, as do most genre writers; it’s really only the literary writers that tend towards lone wolf-ism. While she was signing the book, I mentioned to her that my best friend was an aspiring romance novelist and she promptly offered to introduce her to the romance writing circles in the bay area. That’s enormously generous, I think, and no literary fiction writer would have done as much, in my opinion, as they are just so much more prickly and parsimonious with themselves. Speaking generally, of course.

In the simplest terms I found it inspiring; as someone who’s always felt that I was not eternally meant for the high-flying, file-organizing life of a corporate minion, to actually see someone who escaped the honeyed siren song of free lunches and a 401k match was reassuring. And she herself waffled back and forth: she left my company for a six month leave, and then returned, and then left again. And reading her blog, I can see that she wrestled with the decision more than a little.

I do need to start working in reading and writing to my day to day. I make-believe in my mind that it was easier when I was single, which is somewhat true. I’d not worry about looking decent, what Carter and I were going to eat for dinner, what household chores need to get done, who’s going to feed Beast, and so on. I would eat unseasoned mung beans and rice, frozen Trader Joe’s soups and dumplings, and tuck the dust bunnies under the rug while passing off hunks of dumpling to Beast, lurking beneath the table. And I would wear nothing but fraying sweatpants and t-shirts from college. And I would read without ceasing, except to pen some essays and short stories of my own.

Except that I know better. One makes time for what matters. But, as an adult, that becomes more burdensome given the greater sum total of responsibilities.

So I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my ballet class, sucking on a chocolate smoothie and thinking about how to make space for writing in my life. This is a start.

Currently reading: Bossypants, by Tina Fey; The Sheik, by Edith Maude Hull; Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli