Saturday, August 29, 2009

Read Olive Kitteridge, please

Looking for a book to read this weekend? May I suggest Olive Kitteridge, the novel in stories that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction? I just finished it an hour ago and it is the most deeply human, empathetic, smart novel I've read in a while. I'm sort of speechless in its wake, actually.
You should try it. You won't be sorry. Thank me later; we'll have a good cry and a cup of General Foods International Coffee.

Friday, August 28, 2009


May you stick all your landings this weekend!
xoxo Samantha

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What I learned in school today

This is what I learned at my kids' first day of nursery school today:

1.) I have a distinct tendency towards nervousness. Okay, to be fair, I totally knew this. But this experience really sealed it. It was crazy. Butterflies galore. Heart palpitations. Nervous what-ifs driving the Mister mad (what if the blueberry bars are considered junk food? What if kids are mean to them? What if they are the weird kids? What if we don't like it there? What if no one will wipe their butts after they poop?). You'd think the twins and I had been asked to address the U.N. Naked. In one of those dream-states in which you can't stand up.

2.) In San Francisco non-Japanese parents pack nori in their kid's lunches. And the kids eat it.

3.) I really like name tags. And if they are supplied and then some people are too cool to wear them, I feel slightly peeved all day and it is hard for me to like the non-adherents.

4.) Three-year-olds are wonderful. I knew this too, especially as it pertains to my own kids. But hanging out this morning with 20 other three-years-olds was pretty awesome. First of all, they are really funny but also, they have not yet learned to express disdain. There is no "duh" in their vocabulary. No eye rolling. They are just funny and eager and bright. And, baggies of seaweed aside, they have good snacks and are easily distracted.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unemployment: A Love Poem

How was my writing week, you ask? Well, in a word, it was fan-freaking-tastic.

A partial list of what I got done in my five free days:
- I cleaned out the bathroom cabinet and finally threw away those humiliating Slim Shots I bought during one especially low and vulnerable trip to Wallgreens.

-I made lentil stew so that I would not waste the bone from the pork shoulder I bought to make "shot-and-a-beer" pork. Very thrifty.
-I wrote about 30 pages of fiction, which is more than I've written in the last six months.
-I threw a potluck brunch for the neighborhood collective.
-I went running (everyday).
-I submitted two short essays to Babble.
-I gracefully received two rejections from Babble.
-I accepted a freelance gig.
-I submitted a short essay to the New York Times.
-I, together with the Mister, cleaned out the garage. Trips to the dump were made. It was awesome.
-I translated some immigration paperwork for my kids' wonderful daycare teacher.
-I played with my kids
-I hung out with the Mister.

Three times this week I have paused—I'm in bed or at breakfast, maybe I'm alone in the car—and had the surprising and utterly distinct feeling of contentment. Not the absence of complaint (which, for me, would be surprising enough) but the presence of contentment. A bodily feeling of contentment.

It's weird I tell you. So weird that I do this mental scan, looking for things that might be wrong. And, nope, nothing bugs me. I'm like the Dali Lama over here. Frankly, it gives me the jitters.

I am reading the amazing and wonderful novel Olive Kitteridge right now and there is a line in which one of the characters says, "I wonder what it was that made her so distrust happiness?" and it sticks in my memory because it is the only line thus far that has rung absolutely false.

Doesn't everybody distrust happiness? Isn't that what happens when you live into adulthood? It's absolutely just a fact that happiness, like the common cold, is fleeting and reoccurring. You're up. You're down. It's just the way of the world. And I'm ok with that.

From here

What gives me the willies are the days upon days of total contentment. Nothing is wrong. I love everyone (well, except the Republican members of congress and Sarah Palin). And really, it can only be one thing: unemployment. And let me tell you, if I had had even the least inkling of how great it would be to lose my job, I would have done it a long time ago. Like this guy. He might be on to something.

On a completely different note: There is still time to enter the "guess the date of the first egg" contest (I really should have come up with a snappier name). So far, we've got nothing, so you could still get lucky.

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