10.25.2005 mail

One of the perils of living on a different continent is the perpetual conundrum of mail. It is never certain that anything will arrive at all, let alone in a timely fashion.

Today I received a package mailed on August 13 from the states. Stella returned a book borrowed long ago, and presented me with a new cookbook. The note attached mentions that it is the end of their time in Olympia, that they are about to move to upstate New York. She scrawled Thanksgiving....?

I can't wait to see their new home.

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10.25.2005 independent

Hip Mama has been nominated for an Utne Independent Press Award. Congratulations to Ayun and my friends at Punk Planet for their nominations!

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10.25.2005 oncology

Upon hearing that my referral for testing never went through, the GP pulled up the file, glanced through it, and agreed that I should have been seen more than a year ago. The fact that the referral was for oncology didn't seem to strike him as an unusual glitch in the system; in fact, we had quite a nice conversation about the structure of health care trusts and the sneaky habits of a certain teaching hospital. I now have the direct phone number for the oncologist, and approval to invoke my private insurance if there is any further delay in getting an appointment. Which is all well and good, except the bit where I really do not want to do the tests.

In more interesting news, we spent the weekend in London and showed my mother all sorts of things, including but not limited to Kensington Palace, where we had a tour of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon's shabby 60's era kitchen. I was very impressed that the private stairwells all had the same sort of rub and skid marks that haunt my own walls. Apparently the royals can be somewhat lax when it comes to home decoration upkeep.

We left the children with their grandmother and the televised celebration of Trafalgar Day to meet up with Iain and Xtina for dinner and drinks. We had a fantastic time; they are hilarious and have excellent taste in restaurants. The pub they chose even featured a photograph of the Queen Mother pulling pints with extraordinary glee.

Byron left for Paris this afternoon; on the way out the door he said that he couldn't wait to get to the hotel and sleep. I retorted you aren't going to stay in, you are going to go to a cafe and get picked up by strangers who will take you out to fabulous clubs and parties. He opened his eyes very wide in an expression of mock innocence.

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10.20.2005 appointments

I'm very annoyed that I have to go to the doctor next week; the appointment conflicted with my Paris trip and I am losing a day in France in favor of berating my recalcitrant GP. But it must be done: I am now three years overdue for one of my routine cancer tests. Mostly because I dislike the test. I also dislike doctors, hospitals, and, well, having cancer.

This morning in the bath I remembered that when I started driving (the day it was legally possible, mostly because it was necessary to take myself to medical appointments) I had to wedge such things into my social routine. It was normal to pick up assorted friends to go to a show, stop at the clinic on the way, tell everyone to wait for a bit, and pop in to have a couple dozen cancerous lesions sliced off my torso. Then back to the car without a word, and onward to see some random band. From what I recall and what the more dependable witnesses report, I never mentioned what happened in the clinic, and certainly never let the whole stupid thing halt my schemes.

My behavior probably warped my personality, but what were the other options? Staying home, or crying? It was better by far to keep moving.

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10.19.2005 view

Living in Cambridge has turned me into a curmudgeon: spending large portions of my daily life stepping around tourists with cameras has proved quite tiresome. If I'm just trying to go to the grocery store for milk, why do I have to dodge (on average) two dozen attempts by strangers to get a picture of their head with the Trinity college chapel in the background? Usually I just trudge straight through the shot without noticing. This is, after all, where I live. If I accommodated every tour group I would never make it past the Round Church.

But then again, most of my trips over the last few months have been to quaint old towns. I'm just as guilty as any other tourist when it comes down to the collection of personal souvenirs. Though arguably I am also much more lazy; I never take more than a handful of photographs, and usually those feature things like Soviet observation towers rather than my own knotty head.

Our week in Granada was great fun. Byron hadn't been back since he lived in the Albaicin twelve or thirteen years ago. The place has changed - Sacromonte, for instance, appears to have been at least partially gentrified. But the city is quite lavishly beautiful. We took lots of reading materials and some work but remained far too busy walking and talking.

Some images:

The Alhambra at night with a full moon.

How I normally look when walking around town, as taken at the Abadia del Sacromonte.

How I ruin my tough demeanor by routinely doing silly things like getting my fingers tangled in my own hair.

Byron, although he also dislikes being photographed, is nevertheless coaxed to smile.

A view of the city from the top of Sacromonte.

The city wall and the moon.

We saw a parade.

Some graffiti I liked

The Palacios Nazaries gardens

Apparently I have brown hair. Who knew.

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10.18.2005 slasher

His arrival in this world was a bit like a slasher flick, but luckily that afternoon was in no way symbolic. My thoughtful, eccentric son turned nine today.

We're off to London to see Mary Poppins

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10.10.2005 fortune

I've been running (up or down? I do not know) to London recently. During one trip we stopped at a restaurant and the children exclaimed that our waiter looked exactly like the lead singer of Belle & Sebastian. But that is impossible they added.

Why? I asked.

Because he is famous!

Lots of famous people have regular jobs.

But that is impossible!

I stared at them in amazement. They have met scores of people who are well-known for their creative work, but still need to keep their day jobs. I reeled through examples, and eventually they understood.

But if my kids don't get it, what about the rest of the world? This is a simple concept: fame and fortune are uneasy bedfellows. The amount of money a person earns from a book, album, or art very seldom has anything to do with the importance of the work.

Anyway, Byron has many interesting stories about his recent trips; he is a notorious (some would say infamous) flirt. His exploits are highly entertaining, but I just realized that we are going to Spain in a few hours, so must rush off and pack.

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10.08.2005 clarity

Clarity (if one could call it that) on the Tori incident: Jeff reports, the Stranger has photographs, and Jeff has a few more comments.

I asked Byron did Tori sit on your lap?. He stared vacantly at me, thought for a minute, and replied I don't think so. But her sidekick sat on Jeff.

Ah, youth.

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10.05.2005 punk

The book shows up in such interesting places. I was on the Forbes book list for awhile but this is more entertaining:

http://punk.idoneos.com/

I like the definitions.

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10.05.2005 calendar

I just looked at the calendar and realized that not only will Marisa be here on Thanksgiving, I'll be at Stella and Al's house a few days later. So our long-standing holiday tradition will continue for another year!

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10.05.2005 chat

I'm scheduled to do a Mothering Magazine live chat on October 19: click for more information

Hope some of you join in and ask me good questions!

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10.04.2005 game

The tricky part of having a two-career egalitarian relationship is all in the details. For the most part we take turns traveling and rarely have any conflicts. Unfortunately, we both have events and meetings in the states in November and December.

No matter how we tried to arrange the schedule, there was simply no solution available. We can't take the kids out of school and our friends here are all busy with work. Normally I refuse to play the if we were in Portland.... game but could not resist the allure this time. If we were in Portland, my friends could help...

But wait! If I asked, wouldn't they help me regardless of where I live? And might one of them actually quite enjoy visiting the UK?

The answer is yes: Marisa cheerfully agreed to come stay with the kids for a bit, and spend some time with us upon our return.

This is so unbelievably great! Marisa is one of my all-time favorite people.

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10.04.2005 gossip

Byron has been hanging out with Jeff and sending me random texts containing gossip about the indie rock underbelly of Seattle. None of which is appropriate for public dissemination, except a muddled brief report about a karaoke bar and Tori Spelling, but I couldn't make out the details.

Texting is not a very sophisticated mode of communication.

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10.03.2005 hit

Last night we went to see Howl's Moving Castle; the children attended the world premiere during the film festival this summer, and insisted that I should not miss seeing it in the theatre. I resisted because I'm a cheapskate but they persevered; they said that we would have fun. Walking home from the (very good) movie, we stopped on the Jesus Green to look at the stars. I saw the Big Dipper for the first time.

It is "Walk to School Week" and my son interprets this to mean that he must not ride his bicycle. This morning on the walk to school we watched as a cyclist was hit by a car. It could have been much more bloody than it was; the bus that could have run over him stopped.

I would have preferred not to have this object lesson to reinforce my fundamental views, namely, that it is important to strive for safety but also enjoy life when possible. Anything could change at any moment.

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