Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saucy Review of Things to Do, 2008, Before Posting Things to Do, 2009

Last year, in the hopes of avoiding the annoying Resolution phenom, I made a List of Things to Do in 2008. Before I move on and make my '09 list, I thought I'd review and see what I can cross off the list from this past year.
  1. New job: No joke. Really need to get me a new one of these. I need to start teaching for a living, or working for a publishing company, or actually supporting myself as a writer (or any combination thereof) sometime this year, because working in the legal department of a major motion picture studio is the opposite of being creative, and it's sucking my creative energy. Done. Quit Fox, went freelance, am trying to work out a more flexible part-time gig. (Mustn't discuss details, lest I jinx it.)

  2. Finish losing the weight I put on during Daddy-Palooza 2006-2007. That's about -- gulp! -- forty-five pounds. On someone who's not even 5'4", that's a whole lotta weight. Uh... yeah... well, this needs to go on '09's list as well. Nuff said there.

  3. Turn fifty. Okay, this one doesn't really need to go on the list, because, hey, it's happening in November. But I want to do it in style -- a party, or an exciting trip somewhere, and I want to have No. 2 accomplished by then, so I look completely hot for whatever I'm doing to celebrate. I plan on buying a very expensive, chic little dress and some very tall, impractical shoes. Check. Fifty successfully turned, birthday party complete success, shoes exceedingly impractical, by God.

  4. Get a literary agent. I'm tired of being told how impossible this is, how hard, how it's nearly futile, how it happens to only the luckiest few budding writers.... Yeah. I get it. Now shut up about it. I don't want to hear that kind of naysaying bullshit from another breathing soul (if they want to go on breathing). It's happening, it's happening this year, and you can either help or get the hell out of my way. (If there's anything ambivalent or confusing about No. 4, please feel free to write me and ask for clarification. I dare you.) This is another carry-over---spent too much time on my book design classes and photography lessons to get much of this done.

  5. Finish the triathlon. In one piece. Undrowned, unscraped, un-shin-splinty. So there. Nope. Not this one either. Had to give it up because I was busy finishing up at Fox. But I'm still thinking of going it freelance, either in La Quinta or Carpinteria this next year.

  6. Get a home. Not just another crappy apartment. A home. As in house. As in, with a yard. With a space to plant bare-root roses (yellow in memory of my godmother, Linny). And room for a boxer (the dog, not the prizefighter). I am through asking permission about what colors I can paint my walls and how many pets I get to have and what kind of showerhead I can have. I'm a grown-ass woman, and it's time I exercised all rights and privileges therein. Well, at least we've decided the general area where we want to move---and rents are a lot more reasonable out there. Wish us luck---moving this item to '09.

  7. Be more patient. Stop the foot-tapping, steering-wheel-pounding, standing-in-line sighing. Enough ahready. This isn't a conspiracy against me. I need to just grow up and get over myself. Likewise, to be more tolerant of people's oddities and peculiarities. You know what, if you want to eat sardine-and-peanut butter sandwiches, as long as you're downwind of me, that's fine. I'll go on loving you all the same. Yes, by Golly. I think I can safely say that, for the most part, I have become much more zen about things. I'm not entirely devoid of passion, mind you, but I am learning to take this in better stride, without the road rage and the queue meltdowns. Mechanical malfunction still makes steam come out of my ears. I'm working on it.

  8. Stop apologizing for being me. It occured to me during the whole ordeal of the past eighteen months that I have spent the better part of my life apologizing to somebody for being me. To my mother, for being born at a time when she wasn't prepared financially or emotionally to have a child. To my father for not being... well... Christie Brinkley. To my ex-husband for not being his mother. To various men* that I've dated for not being, alternately, too virginal, not virginal enough, too opinionated, not decisive enough, too headstrong, too sensitive, too young, too old, too fat, too short, too blonde, too redheaded, too... Well.... shit.... just too "too," really. My new motto when it comes to people in my life, particularly male-type people, is this: "I'm not sorry. I don't apologize. Please don't forgive me. Please don't 'fix' me. Please don't deconstruct, reconstruct, rescue or repair me. This is the package, and if it's not what you want, this town is chock full of 'Acting for Commercials' classes that are chock full of plastic-titted bikini models just waiting for you. The door's thataway. And it locks from the inside."Happy to say, well and truly done. Not sure exactly what it means, except that it might mean I'm single forever and ever. But I think, for the first time, I'm really happy with that arrangement. It gets lonely, but it never gets hurtful and abusive. A definite improvement, for sure. For a deeper explanation of this, stay tuned to 2009's list, when I will further elaborate.

  9. Travel. I want to go to Maui (with Kim) for fun this summer, and I want to go to Prague sometime before the end of the year. I want to see Prague before they start using the Euro, and my weak-assed American dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Unfortunately, due to rising oil prices and airfares, Kim and I never made it to Maui. But we did have a splendid trip to North Carolina's GORGEOUS Outer Banks, staying in Kill Devil Hills (where the Wright Brothers made one of their first historic flights) and seeing the sites on the East Coast. Beautiful. Lovely. It was a fortuitous turn of events that led us on a fabulously unexpected adventure. Travel? Check!

  10. Finish "Vision," the collection of linked short stories about a half-dozen people who see (or think they see) an image of Virgin Mary on a freeway support at the corner of Pico and Sawtelle. An item for 2009's list. Next!

  11. Finish a first draft of "Death of the American Western," the novel I started in the MFA program. It can (and mostly likely will) be, in the words of Ann Lamott, a "shitty first draft," but it has to be finished and ready for revision by December 31, 2008. Ditto. Next!

  12. Get the publication arts certificate. This will hopefully provide me with certain skills that will allow me to accomplish No. 1 and (spoiler alert!) No. 13. Can't cross this off yet, because I'm still in the middle of the program, but I'm on track for it. Will be completed in June of 09.

  13. Be financially secure. Need I elaborate? I thought not. Ironically (or because the Universe has a twisted sense of humor), my inability to make a decision about investing my finances, and thus turning to temporary solutions to stash my nest egg, like Certificates of Deposit and money market accounts, has all but ensured that I will come through this current financial crisis relatively intact. Had I invested the money in bonds or mutual funds, I'd be royally screwed. (We won't even discuss the sad and sorry state of my 401K.)

  14. Get more sleep. Done.

  15. Eat less crap. Done.

  16. Take less crap. Done.

  17. Have more fun. Definitely done.

Not so bad. Ten out of seventeen accomplished. I'd say it was a pretty productive year. It was a big year, in all respects. In many ways, it sucked, in a few really brilliant ways, it rocked the heavens. But here I am, for better or worse, trying---still, in spite of the wisdom that fifty brings (ahem!), trying to figure it out. That means answering a few really big questions for myself. Like, what do I want to be when I grow up? Like, I am alone, but am I lonely? Like, is it really possible for me to spend the rest of my life only taking jobs I want and like? (No. Seriously.)

At least I'm asking the questions, though many answers remain as yet undiscovered.

Stay tuned for the List of Things To Do, 2009, in which we shall ask these and many more earth-shattering questions. For now, though, I'm ready to put the past to bed and say good-bye to the list for 2008.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sadly, The Search Is Over

The remains found in the marshy area a mile or so from Casey Anthony's parents' home have been positively identified through DNA as being those of Anthony's missing three-year-old, Caylee Anthony. I wish I could at least feign shock and surprise, but it is the outcome we all suspected was coming.

Casey, who was charged with first-degree murder back in October and has been in jail ever since, has been refused the right to attend memorial services for the child whose absence she neglected to tell anyone about for one month, and then whose abduction she blamed on a Hispanic woman who lived in her apartment complex (the woman has been cleared of all charges when the FBI established her solid alibi).

During the 31 days between the time Casey says Caylee went missing and the day her "abduction" was reported to authorities (by Casey's mother, mind you, who also reports in the same 911 call that Casey's car smells "like a dead body in the damn car"*), Casey was spotted and (courtesy of CCTV security cameras) photographed shopping and partying as if nothing were amiss. She also put her time without Caylee to good use by stealing and forging her mother's checks and committing petty theft.

The marsh where the little girl's remains were found was apparently a favorite burial ground for Casey Anthony for her childhood pets. Searchers say they had been previously unable to search the area because the rainy season from the previous spring had put the whole area under water.

My heart bleeds for Casey's parents who have lost a grandchild and a child to this mess. I dread the day they suddenly come to the realization that somehow, in spite of what I'm sure were good intentions, they managed to raise a monster.


* Cadaver dogs later gave a "positive" on the trunk of Casey's car for the presence of human decomposition. Further tests of the air in the car confirmed this finding.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CORALINE -- Coming in February

Neil Gaiman's novella, Coraline, is coming to the screen in February. It is a strange amalgam of traditional stop-action model 3D, and digital 3D, and it looks really fun. Since I first was exposed to the story through the audiobook (read by Gaiman), it'll take a little getting used to to hear Coraline talking with an American accent.

Still... here's the trailer.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas, 2008 Edition

I decided today that it was time to let go of the summery colors decorating my little one-room apartment, and move this sucker toward winter. Don't laugh. No sooner had we here in SoCal decided to put our fans away and take down the window sun reflectors, ninety-five degree weather would return and we'd be sweltering. (But global warning is a myth, and Sarah Palin would like you to know that.)

But I think we're safe now.

I changed my sofa decor and set about to making this place smell---if not look, exactly---like Christmas.

For this we refer to the "Christmasification List." It lists the following steps be taken:

1. Replace summery, beach umbrella--colored slipcover and bedspread replace on sofa and bed with more neutral, deeper shades. I found a dark brown microsuede quilt on sale at Target, and complimented it with some lovely throw pillows. My existing red throw goes nicely.

2. Buy real pine wreath from Trader Joes, which can be cheaply replaced once it dies, sometime in the next two weeks.

3. Bring out Christmas decorations. I have gone with a lit ceramic Victorian street scene, and a Jack Sparrow-like pirate nutcracker. A ceramic Christmas tree is to follow, but Target was out of them until next week.

4. Cinnamon-soaked pine cones. Lots of them. As potpourri. Yum.

5. One Glade apple-cinnamon scented oil candle for the kitchen to complete the effect.

Things the list has barred this year? Real or fake plastic Christmas trees. As those of you who have been reading for a while already know, this is a cat zone, and therefore, sacrifices must be made. In 2006, the horror of a real Christmas tree with the many decorations from my and Savannah's childhoods, and the many shattered glass shards swept off the tile floor, convinced me that a fake tree would go over better in 2007. In 2007, I went with a tiny fake tree, the real pine wreath, and tiny ornaments I was sure the cats couldn't get off the tree.

I was wrong. Sweeping up tiny shards of tiny glass ornanents.

This year, it's all good. Ceramics and plants. I'm not going as far as George Bush did when he encouraged terrorists to "bring it on." But I'm pretty sure I've hit on a winning combination.

Happy December, people.


(cross-posted at MySpace)