Friday, July 08, 2005

What makes home?

Not a home. Just home. Home is, famously, where the heart is. But it's also where your stuff is. Is home a place, a building, or just a state of mind? And how does one decide.

As we travel to Portland this weekend to consider it as "home," I find myself thinking about my home here. Not the house, although I love that old place. But it's not mine. No, I think of home as where the people I love are. Where I know the best places to get pot stickers and used CDs. Where I know the backroads in case of traffic, where I have my favorite radio stations, where I have a doctor I trust, a dentist I like, and a favorite place to walk.

In order to be home, does home need all these things? If we left here, we'd have a house -- the one thing I've always, always wanted and the one thing that always, always seems impossible here. But would I have home? Is being able to paint walls, plant flowers and say "ours," worth not having anyone to invite to the housewarming party?

I don't want to go. But if I don't, I'm admitting to "never" in terms of a house. It seems ironic that poor people can, with help from the wonderful folks at Habitat for Humanity, achieve what I cannot do -- in spite of being gainfully employed at a salary that is overpaid compared to the rest of the world.

I feel like I'm in a no-win situation. If I stay I get to keep seeing the people I love, but I never get a house of my own. If I leave, I get the house, but I have to leave home. And yes, it's possible to make a new home, people do it all the time. But is it worth it?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Please do yourself a favor...
And buy Up & Down by The Palm Wine Boys. It's my new favorite CD. They're a local band, and their music is sweet, joyful, fun, light, playful, and perfect for summer. I really love this and I think you will too.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Guilty pleasures
On this quarter's application for a show on KZSU the random question was "what's your guilty pleasure?'

I don't know about you, but it's hard to name only one. I mentioned three. The first was La Mujer en el Espejo on the Telemundo network. It's a cheesy Spanish-language soap opera that I can't understand (not speaking Spanish being a great hindrance in this case), but to which I and my husband are completely addicted. The discussion board for this show is a riot, and includes comments from some very funny, very smart people.

My other guilty pleasure....Oreos. No explanation needed.

Musically my guilty pleasure is Garth Brooks. OK, he's a mega star and nothing to be ashamed of. But hey, when you're a world music DJ and you're surrounded by people to live and breathe music, admitting to liking Garth Brooks is like admitting to liking Fear Factor. (Please, no irate mail from Fear Factor addicts.

But my list of guilty pleasures is really huge. Captain Crunch cereal, cozy British mysteries I've seen dozens of times, ice cream, naps, popcorn, mummy movies, reruns of I Love Lucy, Jeopardy, trashy books, sometimes reading only the comics in the morning paper, country music, watching documentaries about cute animals...

So, what are your guilty pleasures?

Monday, July 04, 2005

What's in a noun?
The National Commission on Writing (why is there a National Commission on Writing?) has issued a report stating that poor writing skills costs Americans millions of dollars a year. To which, as a writer, I can only say, "duh."

Why is it that everyone thinks they can write? Nobody assumes that they can sit down at a piano and, without any training, practice, or experience, bang out a piece of Chopin. And yet put people at a computer, tell them to write, and everyone thinks they're Hemingway. Guess what folks? It doesn't work like that.

Writing is a skill and, sometimes, an art. And like all skills it must be learned and you must practice to keep your fluency. It's not enough to learn in 3rd grade what a verb is and where it goes. You have to learn how to string words and phrases together in a way that makes sense and is something people want to read.

Somewhere along the way, I completely lost my fluency. I used to write every single day, and I was good at it. Now I rarely write and I'm as rusty as the Tin Man. I mourn the loss of my words, but at least I'm not deluding myself that can still write. Oh sure, I can be coherent, but that's not enough. At least not for me.

I've been looking for a new job for a few months now, and not finding anything. Very few people want to hire writers (even rusty ones), because they assume anyone can string those words togather. And yet these companies would never assume that their receptionist could do some programming for them just because she uses a computer.

People, stop assuming and start recognizing that a good writer is not a luxury, it's a neccessity. Then hire me, dammit.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

On wild cats and other peeves
I love animals. Pretty much all animals with the exception of ants and cockroaches. So it always bothers me when I spot yet another wild cat in our yard.

For years now the backyard has become a home away from home for the literally dozens of homeless cats in the area. We think it's the house two doors down that feeds them, and so they stick around the area. The problem is, none of them are fixed and every year our yard gets turned into a kitty nursery.

A few weeks ago, we spotted mama cat with two completely adorable kittens. One a little plaid one with a white face and a curious nature. The other, mostly gray with white feet. He was very small, and beyond adorable. Since my husband is also an animal lover, we went into our yearly worry over unsupervised kittens running free on a high-traffic street.

The day after we both pretty much fell in love with the little gray one, we were awakened at 5 am by angry, unpleasant noises in the backyard. My husband went out to investigate and scared off a rather large racoon. But it was too late. There, curled up next to our back fence was the little gray kitten. He was dead.

Having to wrap up and dispose of an adorable, newly-killed kitten at 5 am is not the way anyone should start the day.

Mama cat and the other kitten have staked out our yard as their private space and spend most days, all day, lying in the sun and chasing leaves. The kitten is growing, and having a lovely time curling up under a rose bush and generally being a cat. But whenever I think of his cute sibling, I just want to cry.

I know people think that feeding feral cats is a good thing. And I certainly don't want them to starve. But if you do that, could you also please try to catch them and get them fixed so that they don't keep breeding more generations of cats. We remember mama cat from when she was a kitten in our yard a few years ago. And last year we had to dispose of a cat that had been run over in front of our house.

We don't want to deal with your dead cats. It's upsetting and inconsiderate. Please, if you love animals enough to feed them, then love them enough to try and prevent this from happening. The local SPCA has lots of suggestions for trapping wild cats. They'll even rent you the traps and provide discount spay and neuter services. Please?