Sunday, May 22, 2011

Alice update

What has she been up to?

Walking confidently.  Starting to mangle words into something coherent:  "Mama" and the like are pretty solid.  References to me include: "Dada," "Didi," "Dee," and sometimes "Gagy."  She is pretty good with "Shoe."  She seemed to be on the brink of "Cheese" this morning.  Recently, during our morning bus rides, she has been insisting on sitting in her own seat next to me, her shoes reaching the lip of the seat, her head leaning downward on her chest.  This is reminiscent of one of her favorite perches at home, resting against all of the pillows on our bed (we call it Mt. Pillow, as she enjoys climbing it). She likes to splay out, reclining with her belly out and her legs crossed daintily.  When I see her do this I see a streak of laziness and indolence that I know came from me.

She loves gnawing on her toothbrush, although she is resistant to let anyone actually brush her teeth.  She gets upset when L tries to change her diaper, but she's calm when I do it.  Now that the weather is nicer and I'm wearing shorts around the house, she is very interested in my legs.  Earlier this week, we lost one of her shoes for two days because she had put it in the recycling bin, and we couldn't find it.  For Easter, my parents got her one of those storybooks where you can record your voice reading the text.  Yesterday I opened it up and my parents' voices started reading the story out loud, and Alice walked over and sat in my lap and listened to the whole story.  Lately she has been enjoying drawing at her little white table, and she figured out how to lift one leg to get herself up into the chair.   The other night on the walk home, she stopped to wave at some people drinking at the bar, who waved back, and then she clapped for herself and waved again. 

A genius, our girl.

Jury duty

I was on jury duty this week.  Unlike my first time as a juror, six years ago, this experience felt a lot more...coerced.  I felt like I had been conscripted into something unpleasant.  At every step of the way, people reminded us that it was our duty to be there, that it was an inconvenience, that we may be occupied for the next several weeks, that they would let us go as soon as possible but not yet, and that the fate of our democracy depended on our presence in the sad little waiting room.  It was like a hostage situation, but more principled.

I had two close brushes with juryhood.  The first case was an attempted assault.  Someone was accused of beating a Christmas tree vendor with a bicycle chain.  The second case was a murder and at attempted murder.  That trial would last several weeks.  The death penalty would not be an issue before us.  We were not to look up this case on the Internet.  There had been media attention before, and there would likely be more attention to come.  Can we handle that?

Well, I guess I could, probably, but it's not really a good time for me to spend a month as a juror.  Not when we're going to Spain and already got Alice a passport, a hellish process involving four post offices in two states.  When I made this excuse before the judge I felt very spineless and pathetic, whimpering my way out of jury service.  I was excused and sent to a different room upstairs where I got my letter stating that I was done with jury service until 2017, which so far is convenient for me.

Last week was exhausting, with graduation activities and jury duty.  This coming week I have two work retreats, and the slow transition into the summer season of the academic calendar.  I'm also trying to submit a story to a few publications/contests with a May 31 deadline, so that should keep me occupied too. 

Thursday, May 05, 2011


My beloved writing class ended this week.  When it's all said and done I have one brand new story I'm really excited about, one new story I'm worried might be a noble failure and a set of revisions/suggestions for a third story in draft form.  My plan for the summer is to work on revisions for the latter two stories, and maybe try to submit the first story and see if I get any bites (and of course try to kick around some new ideas).  One lesson from the class: writing requires discipline and regularity.  I need to be better about writing consistently throughout the week, rather than binging for a few harried, exhausting nights in a row.

I had been planning on trying to take the next-level workshop in the fall, until I learned that I have somehow won a spot in the lottery for this year's New York City marathon.  So now I think my fall will be devoted to running the marathon.  When I did it in 2007 (copiously recorded on this blog) it was one of the best experiences of my entire life.  Back then I had to run 10 races in the preceding year in order to guarantee my spot; this year I fell into it through the dumb luck of a random drawing.  I think I could use this kind of long-range goal, this kind of physical challenge; something to remind me that I'm more than a brain with an email account.  (Plus, this year I can actually take ice baths after my long runs, since we now have a bathtub.)

I don't think I can swing a writing class as well as marathon training.  That's one too many selfish endeavors for someone who is still trying to do a good job at work and be an equal partner at home.  I'm excited to get some good writing done over the summer -- this is the year of writing, after all -- but the jolt of this marathon entry is an opportunity I can't ignore.  Not this year.