Monday, July 23, 2007

it is done.

I finished the last Harry Potter last night. I am sure I'm not saying anything new here when I say that it's a fitting finale to the series. Now I have an urge to reread all seven books to pick up on everything that I missed the first one or two times.

The best "children's" books - and I don't even want to call them that because it's a limiting label - are the ones you have on your bookshelves when you're well into adulthood. I for one have the "Wrinkle in Time" trilogy and the Narnia books from my youth and the "His Dark Material" trilogy [Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel - nice bit of casting in the upcoming movie version of "The Golden Compass"] and Harry Potter from the recent past. And as I'm typing, it hits me that these books deal with alternate worlds and realities inhabited by very human characters. All are variations on the classic hero's quest construct as popularized by Joseph Campbell.

Reading is an immersive experience. We expect to take something away, be it raw knowledge, escape or a different perspective. Phrases stay with you. Visuals inhabit your waking life. You reference the book in everyday conversation. I'm not expecting to call anyone a Muggle anytime soon, but I do love the "Voldemort Votes Republican" bumper sticker I saw on a beater of a car recently.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

brb

Like practically everyone else, I'm reading the new Harry Potter. I expect to finish it in a week. Smell ya later.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

sky blue sky

the view from the lawn
the view from the lawn,
originally uploaded by urban mama.
The best part about Ravinia: laying on the grass after a little vino and seeing this above your head.

Friday, July 13, 2007

cooking = love

I read an article on nytimes.com today, where the writer, Leslie Kaufman, discusses how to cook meals for entire family consumption with the understanding that certain younger members of the family will eat one thing out of the seven you bring to the table.

The one line that resonated with me was:

"I committed to cooking a family meal when my first son was born...not because of any psychology study about the well-being of children, but because it gave me comfort."

Cooking for la familia is a means by which I express my love. Even if we're having hot dogs, there will be fresh fruit and maybe a vegetable or legume snuck in there. I put a lot of thought into balancing flavors and food groups. By cooking, I feel as though I'm extending a part of myself to those who consume the meal. Through the meal, I'm saying, "I want you to enjoy this meal in the present, and it's okay if you don't remember it in the future. When you eat what I prepare, I want you to feel comforted, loved, relaxed."

I work full-time, so my time spent at work is vague and incomprehensible to the minis. It doesn't make an impact, yet, to discuss things like wages, inflation and the cost of living. But if I can manage to assemble dinner daily - okay, we get takeout every so often - I'm hoping that I'm establishing a ritual of sorts. Long after they've left for college or other pastures, they will retain some internal memory of mama providing something to eat almost every day. It'll be part of my legacy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

everything they say is true.

Proportion
Proportion,
originally uploaded by urban mama.
1. They grow up so fast.

2. They're frickin' cute kids.

3. O looks like me, and Z looks like D.

4. Boys are from Mars, and girls are from Venus.

5. At least Z isn't wearing pink this year.

Monday, July 09, 2007

today's playlist: music for deadlines

Sound of Silver | LCD Soundsystem
Renegades | Rage Against the Machine
Is This It? | The Strokes
Decksanddrumsandrockandroll | Propellerheads
Paul's Boutique | Beastie Boys
Hot Fuss | The Killers
Beaucoup Fish | Underworld
Reggatta De Blanc | The Police
American Idiot | Green Day

set adrift on memory bliss

I've been the proud owner of a Mac Mini for more than a year, and I love that li'l white box. Its predecessor was a bondi blue G3 tower with a now laughable 6 gig hard drive. We had wonderful times, the G3 and I. That's a post for another day.

Last night I finally pulled my personal work off the G3 - portolio, tax returns, cover letters and resumes, and the piece de resistance: fiction and columns spanning nearly 20 years. Twenty! I reread the novel, a work in progress since I was 18. I looked at articles written for webzines and friends' websites. I found a chat transcript from 2002 where W. and I were attempting to resurrect our '90s webzine; five years later, we're still talking about it.

I came away with a single happy thought: I found my voice around 2000. The voice hasn't changed, but the writing, I'd like to think, has become more fully realized and complete. And the voice is one of wryness, honesty, rapidfire wit, passion, a "screw it, I'm going to say this, and people can take it in whatever way they want" mentality, a little precious, maybe too much in love with being clever.

I miss writing. Specifically, I miss the luxury of time + energy + inspiration that jumpstarted the flow. Looking over my past work last night has relit the fuse. I've a book in me yet. Or, I'll collect my various bits and bobs and label it a collection of my best of.

Friday, July 06, 2007

why I love the peeps at America's Test Kitchen

Today's e-mail newsletter had this wonderful, genius tidbit of advice:

KITCHEN ADVICE: Leak-Free Ice Cream Cones
The real tragedy of a dripping ice cream cone isn't the mess, but the loss of the last little bit of ice cream. One solution to a leak-free cone is to create a barrier between the melting ice cream and the cone tip. Two kid-friendly obstructions are an upside-down Hershey's Kiss and a mini marshmallow.

Brilliance, I tell you. Sheer brilliance!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

snapshot: today's iPod playlist of music for working girls

Feels Like Home | Norah Jones
Corinne Bailey Rae
Poses | Rufus Wainwright
Plans | Death Cab for Cutie
various NPR Fresh Air and Music podcasts
The Mix-Up | Beastie Boys

Monday, July 02, 2007

parlez-vous fran├žais?

I am pleased to report that one of Z's favorite songs right now is "Sympathique" by Pink Martini. Lyrically, I think it's about ennui; my French skillz are less than poor, so I'm not the most reliable translator. There is something about smoking: "Et puis je fume". But the tune is catchy so we sing the song phonetically in the car and call it a day.

In related news, O has a huge aversion to Prince in all of his incarnations. Any Prince or The Artist Formerly Known As Prince song elicits shrieks of dismay and protests. And a general, emphatic "no!"