Tuesday, July 19, 2011

As you know, Bob, you like to read

I'm reading Five Odd Honors, the last book in Jane Lindskold's latest trilogy which started with Thirteen Orphans, and am distressed. The entire series has needed tightening, writing-wise--way too much chattiness and wishy-washyness of word choice and as-you-know-Bob-itis. I feel certain that the phrase "or whatever" should not appear nearly so much in fiction as it does in real life, especially when not in dialogue. Now in the third book, there's an as-you-know-Bob of such proportions that we've actually got one character telling a second character about the events in that second character's history. And it's not as if the second character has amnesia or anything. He was there, and he remembers. And we already got this information in a previous book. I can think of at least two other ways this could have been handled. I've been extremely fond of Jane Lindskold's books up until now, and so I'm deeply distressed by this. (There was also the issue early in the first book of a character saying she knew instantly that a particular person was Chinese, and then went on to describe his clothes and said she couldn't see his face--but that could have been the character's own problems, of which she had many.) I'm still interested in the story, and I'll still buy her next book, but I'm going to be a lot more wary about it, and that saddens me.

Nursing gives me a ton of time for reading...or would if I didn't have a toddler trying to climb up my knees all the time...which is one of its few advantages. For me, I mean. I've gotten through a bunch of books of Eric's, and several new ones of my own. I'm finding it difficult to get through the nonfiction reading I want to finish, though. I think it's because fiction is comfort reading for me, and the newborn months require a lot of comforting. I feel like a bit of a wuss, but that's the way it is. I also feel a bit like Rory from "Gilmore Girls," in that I have three or four books open at any given time now. Right now there's Women and Gender in Islam in the nursery, and Mirage (about Napoleon's expedition to Egypt) in the bathroom, and Five Odd Honors floating. Perhaps my real problem is that I don't like to focus.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On not moving

I dreamed last night that I was making my way from here to Seattle, broke and on foot, like in a video game. Sometimes I had companions, sometimes not, and we got into all kinds of adventures and distractions, and if I made the wrong choices I'd just fade out and end up back at the beginning, not always knowing what I'd done wrong. I'd just about made it and was noticing that the mountains made me a little uneasy when I woke up.

I've stopped talking about moving with my family. We're still trying, or still trying to try; but the house isn't selling and job-hunting isn't easy in the current economic climate and particularly not when your two-month-old is crying whenever she isn't feeding at night and your two-year-old wants to be played with all the time and wakes up at six. I don't know if my family figures I've given up or is bored with the topic or is just trying to give me a break. I hate that we're not leaving. The house isn't right for us and neither is the climate, either geological or sociopolitical, and Eric doesn't want our daughters in the local school district and I miss my family more than Eric seems to think he'll miss his; but we can't go. I've already wasted my youth in the Midwest (why did I decide I wanted to experience the Midwest?) and it's so much harder to move with a husband and two kids.

Blah. I will try to get to the job-hunting as I can. I will continue with all the little things that are nice about our life. Maia is now stopping in the middle of nursing to smile up at me. It's inconvenient, but it's very endearing. Chloë can do complicated sentences and minor reasoning and her hair is long enough to put up into pigtails. It's ice cream and tomato season. And work is slow enough that I can write every day. These are good things.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It just takes the cake

Let's talk about cake. My aunt decorates cakes as a serious hobby--she made them for her daughters' weddings and would have for mine if she hadn't lived 2500 miles away. (Should have asked her anyway, though. My wedding cake was lousy. It tasted fine, and that was about all that could be said for it. Luckily we also served homemade ice cream.) My sister-in-law got interested in cake-decorating a couple of years ago and produced some awesome cakes for her daughter's birthday parties. Personally, I've never been that big into cake (ice cream and brownies are my preference), so I admired from a distance until it came time to make Chloë's first birthday cake. Because of course I had to make it from scratch and decorate it. That's what moms do, right? Or at least that's what moms who like to cook and bake and fancy themselves quick learners do.

So I made a lemon cake from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, with lemon curd filling and Italian buttercream frosting (I had to go online for that one--and was thrilled because I'm not fond of American frostings as a rule), and decorated it just before serving because there were issues and I couldn't get to it earlier, and it was nothing special looks-wise but it tasted good, and I was pleased. I decided I would get more interested in cakes--mainly the baking, since I didn't want to be seen as competing with my sister-in-law. Eric got me The Cake Bible for my birthday this year, and I made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and ate about half of it myself. Then I got out the Wilton decorating books my aunt gave me for my wedding shower long ago, which I'd brought out for Chloë's cake but nothing since.

And now? Now I'm fantasizing about the truly awesome cakes I could make and frost. Chloë's birthday this year is water-themed, kiddie pools and a sprinkler and water balloons for the kids to play with. I was going to make an underwater cake, with cookie fish and seaweed and maybe some sea stars and piped shells and graham-cracker sand, but then I saw this cake and decided that I must make a backyard cake, complete with kiddie pool and sprinkler and hose.

Luckily, this idea is actually going to be less strenuous, piping-wise, than the fish one, which is good considering I have a two-month-old and a two-year-old and no time to sit down and actually practice piping. It will involve constructing a pool, probably out of pie crust, and cutting up some licorice and other candies, but that I think I can do.

So I don't think this will become a new hobby, but it's definitely a new interest. I have to go out sometime in the next two weeks and get a grass piping tip. And when will the next cake be? I don't know, because our nuclear family's next birthday is in April and anyone else would probably be covered by my sister-in-law. Maybe a fall cake is in order.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Being back

I realized yesterday that I've been working on Shoelace for ten years. This is absurd. I was single when I started it. Now I have a husband and two children. Admittedly those have been distractions, and also admittedly the story has gone through some drastic changes since I started. But seriously? Ten years? What idiocy. I'm finishing it this year (didn't before Maia came, obviously) and putting it away, for gods' sake.

So yes, I have two children now. I've realized I hate the newborn stage of life. I mean, not hate exactly...no, maybe that is what I mean. I resent walking the halls with a screaming baby every night. (Lack of colic would make the newborn phase easier, I admit.) I resent nursing every hour and a half--though that's gotten better recently. I do like her portability, and her smiles, and the way she snuggles up to me when we fall asleep together (though I don’t like the frequency with which we fall asleep together, though this is mainly because it hurts my back). And I know that things get much better from here. Chloë continues to get awesomer, though at the moment also more histrionic. Still, she's great fun. I'm having a slight rocky patch with Eric at the moment--totally one-sided, and totally due to the new baby and the adjustments (and maternity leave) that came with her. Life is crowded but good. I'm just now starting to get back to writing--and I want to really get back to it and put this away. This is ridiculous. Ten years!