Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

My Tiger Mother

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I just started reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.It’s the controversial book on parenting the Chinese way, and I kind of like it. Actually, I really like it and I find it educational. And a little nostalgic. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a Tiger Mother (not one quite as fierce as Amy Chua, though fiercer in other ways) and maybe because I’ve lost her I appreciate her more than I did before she was gone, but I see the positive aspects of this type of parenting.

There are studies that have shown that being outstanding at something has more to do with years of practice and training than with any innate ability, and Chua’s parenting method takes advantage of this to drill sargeant her daughters into what they are: amazing students and amazing musicians.

My parenting method is as Western as it gets. According to Chua, “Western” parenting comes in a variety of forms, and she uses the term “Chinese parenting” to not only mean Chinese mothers (and not all Chinese mothers), but also some Korean, Indian, and other mothers using this parenting method.

The parenting involves strictly regimenting the child’s life, allowing her only limited social time. It includes harsh criticism when the parent’s high expectations are not met, hours and hours devoted to studying and practicing, and an expectation she will excel at everything and if she doesn’t it’s because she didn’t try hard enough and not because she can’t. The possibility that she can’t excel at everything doesn’t exist: a tiger mother believes her child fully capable of achieving what she expects of her. The desired outcome is a child who grows into a successful adult who believes she is capable of anything she puts her mind and focus into. Now, who wouldn’t want a child that grows into that kind of self confident, high achieving adult?

I think we focus on the belittling and the harsh words and forced hours of work, and get caught up in how abusive and cruel those things seem to be. But we see it from a very Western perspective that teaches us that we are all individuals and should be respected to make our own choices. But children don’t make good choices. They’d eat candy and sit in front of the TV all day if you let them.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but so far, I think it may be limited in scope. Chua’s girls are good girls so the outcome of her parenting — whatever we think of it — is positive. But what about those kids who have been parented like this and don’t succeed? I wonder if they exist and if there are any studies about them.

I don’t think I could parent quite like this, but I could definitely benefit from some of the lessons from this book. Because kids do make poor choices and a parent’s role is to prepare them for adult life.

I always say that I was such a rebellious teen because my parents were so strict. And that may be true, but I also grew up into a strong and independent person who believes she can do anything she wants to. But success requires hard work. “Chinese” mothers really just want their kids to live the American dream, just better than everyone else.

CES 2011

Monday, January 10th, 2011

A long time friend of mine saw my Google chat status and said you’re still going to CES?! No, well, ok, yes. I haven’t been to CES in 11 years, but decided this was the year I would return to see their first Sports & Fitness Tech conference and to do a write up of my favorite existing and future fitness tech from CES.

I haven’t been to Vegas in a long time. I think the last time I went it was to see Justin Timberlake in late 2007. That was fun. This was also fun, but much less debauchery. I had a really nice dinner with an old co-worker, drank a very conservative amount of alcohol, placed a $20 bet on red in roulette (and won :) and otherwise spent the time working. Which, oddly enough, was a nice change of pace for Vegas.

I guess it’s been long enough that CES was exciting again for me. I didn’t see the entire floor in all the halls, but it was mostly 3D TVs and cameras, wireless home systems, some touchless user interfaces (all still somewhat rough and imperfect), electric vehicles, health & fitness & mommy tech, and iPod/Pad/Touch accessories out the wazoo. I saw one session for software that lets you touchlessly control your computer using a regular webcam, but the guy was showing a video of it instead of demo-ing it live (it’s not very convincing if you don’t demo it live).

Audi's e-tron at CES 2011
Audi’s e-tron at CES 2011

I saw a couple of the glasses-less 3D tvs and they’re cool, but they have such a limited range of view — you have to stand right in front of it in the center in order for it to work and it’s still imperfect. The GE smart home wasn’t as smart as I wanted it to be, but was interesting from an energy efficiency standpoint. With a little communication module for your energy efficient appliances, you could see, for example, how much each load of laundry costs you in real time. The smart meters utility companies are starting to install signal when prices are at the peak, low, or midrange so your washer won’t run unless it gets the signal that it’s the cheapest rate, and if that rate changes mid-load, it’ll adjust itself to save you money. You can override this of course if you desperately need to wash something. And your city needs to have upgraded to the new smart meters in order to use this technology, but seeing the hard data like that all day long could really change your habits.

The thing I was most excited about was Omek, a gesture recognition engine that is faster than the Kinect and versatile. It’s vendor agnostic and hardware agnostic. With any 3D camera and their engine + SDK, you could develop killer gesture recognition apps. They’re working on a fitting app so home shoppers can virtually try on clothes. I’m so excited about that. My short little ass’ll have an easier time finding clothes that’ll fit :)

I love words

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Clearly, I love words. And I love any use of language that makes me laugh. Especially when it includes lots of dirty words — because words aren’t inherently dirty; it’s the way you use them that makes them so. I’ve only seen this commercial once on TV recently, but it’s been on YouTube for 2 years so it’s not new. But my gosh it’s funny. Just listen to the actual words they’re using. My favorite is lint licker and cootie queen. Oh my god does that sound dirty. It just goes to show you that the right sized word with a hard beginning, middle or end (or any combination of the afore) and said in the right tone can make even the most mundane words (like kumquat) sound dirty and bad.

Birthday GRE

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I took the GRE about 2 weeks ago on my birthday and just got my scores today. Well, I saw them when I finished, but got my analytical writing scores for the lame ass essays I had to write. Shockingly low scores. Or, I should say the scores themselves are OK, but the percentile ranking seems awfully low given the scores.

I’ve heard the computer adaptive test, you know, adapts to the way you answer you questions so if you answer incorrectly, the next question is easier and vice versa*. So imagine my horror when over half way through my verbal test, I get a question with “disappointment” as one of the words. Now, I can’t tell you the actual question, but the word in the analogy was on par in difficulty with “disappointment.” I was heartbroken. I thought, holy god, how could I have fucked up this badly on the test so far that they have to give me baby words?!

But it turned out to be ok because I got the scores I wanted to get on both sections. In one week of studying, I boosted my combined GRE scores over 300 points so that week of studying was well worth it. I focused on practicing math problems over and over again and learning new vocab. I had some old Kaplan GRE workbooks and used those to study, but I wonder how much, if anything has changed in the past decade. I think the books I had came from early 2000.

Not that I care anymore cause I doubt I will ever have to take the GRE again! Woohoo!

* I say “I heard” because the GRE books I studied from were old. I have no idea if the current GREs are the same, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say they were the same.

Writing for the examiner.com

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Right after I left Google, I got a job writing for examiner.com as their Fitness Tech Examiner — a natural combination of my tech savvy and the writing I was already doing on my personal health blog. But almost as soon as I got it, I began to regret it, thinking it was cutting into my creative writing time. It took so long to write my first few articles. I did a lot of research and testing of tools and applications, and I only managed to write about 13 articles before I called it quits and took two months off. Plus I was making so little money. The pay rate is roughly a penny a page view and unless you publish regularly and get a lot of traffic, you’re literally making pennies a day. But writing for the examiner.com has been an interesting experience from a writer’s point of view.

News comes to you

I hadn’t been writing for very long when I started to get publicists emailing me to pimp their clients’ products. It was great because it took some of the leg work out of it for me — instead of searching out new things to write about, people were actually coming to me and basically giving me news to write. I tend to try to keep my personal opinions out of my articles (I save those for my personal fitness blog) so I’ll write about (almost) anything fitness tech related including gadgets, apps, online tools, etc. It’s been an interesting non-fiction writing experience in this way.

I’ve always known companies have marketing departments, but I never knew publicists reached out to writers to spread the news. I wonder now if this was always the case or if the current internet environment where anyone and everyone can have a say has encouraged this type of grassroots marketing. I saw recently that Heather Armstrong of dooce.com tweeted about her bad experience with Maytag (after a futile struggle with them to fix her new machine) which 1. got her issue resolved immediately and 2. had Bosch offering her a free machine of her choice (which they ended up donating it to a charity instead). Armstrong has a massive audience, but you get the picture of what’s possible.

I’m writing again

So examiner.com changed their payment policy recently so that if you don’t publish in 30 days, you don’t get paid until you publish again. This actually makes sense because it builds credibility for you and for them. Because of that I’m writing again (my favorite new post: tongue patches to lose weight!) but I have a different method. I’m a wiser non-fiction writer now. I have google news feeds set up (where I get my own articles sent to me after I publish them because they fit my search criteria), I scan all the relevant sites. I do a little bit of research, but am not going to spend days researching an article anymore. Publish more, work less. Sounds good to me.

Image by Nourish Interactive I usually add photos to each of my articles that I find under the Creative Commons license for commercial use on Flickr and this is my favorite recent image. It’s a nutritionally balanced plate of food by Nourish Interactive, a fun looking site to learn about nutrition for kids, parents, and educators.

My fear that writing all this non-fiction would eat away into my fiction writing time turns out to be unfounded. Actually, I’ve found that the more I write — of anything — the more I want to write. Turns out that writing for the examiner.com and my other blogs is good for me. Instead of giving me less time to write fiction, it gives me more motivation to write stories.

Ahh…teenagers

Monday, September 14th, 2009

I was just down in Southern California in the city where I’d spent my teen-aged years and I found my old high school yearbooks. I looked through the one from my sophomore year and was completely fascinated with the signatures at the end of the year. I didn’t have many, but half of them were poems about satan. Imagine what kind of lovely child I was then, in my 16th year of life. I wish I had my yearbook so I could scan some photos and poems for you.

In the summer before my sophomore year, I went to Andover, Massachusetts and had my first taste of freedom going to summer school away from my parents. I hung out with some privileged kids cum hippies. Very educational. But it was also the first summer I spent in a serious creative writing course. I would not say I excelled at it then, but I did write some creepy, depressing shit. Nothing at all like the depressing shit I write now. Now it’s more serious. And award winning!

High school isn’t something or some place I think about often, but being back in the home that I lived in when I went to high school spurs on these nostalgic memories. I think about people I haven’t thought about in a long time, I remember events I’ve forgotten for years, and when prompted, I remember being someone else…that teenager that I think I’ve outgrown but have never fully outrun. Part of me is that same person and most of me isn’t, but you are who you are and the past is part of what makes you who you are now. I like the person I am now and the past makes for good stories. As well as the heart wrenching pain and agony any good writer needs to shed the tears that’ll dampen the drying quills ;)

Drug King Pins & Mobsters Need You

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I saw this on craigslist the other day:

Writer Wanted For Ex North Idaho Drug Kingpin: Looking for someone to write life story, unique story, unique Individual. Story consists of dealings with Colombians,Cubans, Mexican Federallies, 16 years in prison hanging out with mafia members from the Phildelphia Scarfo gang, Charlie Iannache, Anthony Pungitore, Gene Gotti-brother of John Gotti of the New York Mafia, being successful jail house lawyer. Story begins with the consequences for a boy with a gifted IQ who deals with uniagnosed ADHD and the path he takes in life through taking over the underbelly of the drug world,prison,self inflicted extrodinary rehabilitation efforts to his succesfull entrance back into society. This isnt some run of the mill drug dealer story! I SHOULD BE DEAD A HUNDRED TIMES OVER. GOD HAD HIS HAND ON MY SHOULDER TO GET THROUGH IT. ps: All Statue of Limitations are finished and all prison time completed. The story just needs to be told by a gifted writer. TO SEE 6 PAGE SYNOPSIS GO TO: http://bobbyconvict.blogspot.com If interested, please submit writing proposal/compensation plans. I would prefer to give the writer a portion of proceeds, but would pay the right writer to do the story. Follow up to the book would be self help videos/books for children-parents-educators-inmates to not go down the path I took, or to change an inmates life through education. please email me at: write4me87@yahoo.com

It made me think of the contest Neil Strauss just recently ran on his mailing list. It was a call to writers for samples for a chance to be a ghostwriter for some old mobster who wanted to tell his story. I’ve mentioned this before. He sent out an MP3 with a 30 minute-ish long interview segment and you had to write a story based on the audio. There were no restrictions and you could write whatever and however you wanted. It was a pretty cool and real opportunity to get a chance to work with an established writer.

I did some research to see what kinds of fees ghostwriters get and they varied wildly. Anywhere from $45 – $200/hr. Variables include whether the ghostwrite gets attribution or not and how long the project takes, but looked like about $25,000 is relatively reasonable fee to ghostwrite someone’s book for him/her.

John Sundman loves me

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I finally opened The Pains by John Damien Sundman (aka John F.X. Sundman, John Compton Sundman). I ordered the book in mid-March so about 4 months ago. When I opend the front cover, I was surprised to see this:

John Damien Sundmen signed book

“Dear Kat – I love you madly, but it has to stop here — painful as that will be for both of us. To continue on as we have been doing would be MADNESS!”

Then I remembered that in the order form you got to write the inscription you wanted Sundman to write when he signed the book you ordered. This idea fascinated me so I requested “Dear Kat, I love you madly.” Thinking how funny it was to make someone you don’t know tell you they loved you madly.

I love what Sundman did with it. And I’m glad I waited so long to open it just so I could be surprised by it.

The book starts off with a) a bible verse, b) quote from an IEEE Technical Committee, and c) a definition of sigint. In short, geeky. It’s hilarious so far and I haven’t gotten that deep into it yet. It’s also licensed under a Creative Commons license and is available for free to read by chapter (though you miss out on the great graphics).

Writing on the interwebs

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

I love this current trend towards a grass roots type artistic movement — self publishing, self producing, self promoting. A friend of mine published her own book on lulu.com (which contains dark and fantastic stories — she has an amazing and diabolical imagination). I was amazed at the speed at which she wrote her book and continue to be fascinated with what she is doing to promote her book (you can follow her on twitter if you’re interested in what she’s doing too).

Just recently, Neil Strauss had a “search for writers” for his and Anthony Bozza’s new publishing group, Igniter Group. I loved this because it gave the average Joe/Jane Schmoe the very real opportunity to possibly write a book with an established author. It was a specific book and the challenge was to listen to an interview and write a compelling chapter based on that interview. I submitted, but wasn’t a finalist, but the mere fact that it was a possibility is awesome.

The internet has allowed this. Much as it has allowed self publishing of film and music and writing of all forms. It gives every person a means to self promote and have a global audience. This isn’t a novel concept — in fact, it’s a well established concept by now, but I think because lately I’ve noticed trends that touch so closely on what I really care about (writing), it’s reminded me what a wonderful place the internet can be.

The Moth

Monday, March 16th, 2009

I don’t know if this should get catergorized in “writing”, but there’s no place else to put it and it is inspiring for me so it seems appropriate.

And old friend of mine turned me onto the The Moth Podcast. The Moth is a nonprofit storytelling organization and every week they put out a story (sometimes 2) of the best stories told at one of their shows.

The podcast is fabulous. They’re real stories told by people with no notes. A lot of the storytellers are writers, some are comedians, some are just normal, average folk. Most of the stories are funny — I only recently heard my first mournful Moth story.

We almost always have at least one big, lazy breakfast on the weekend and I look forward to my cleaning up ritual in the kitchen afterwards because it includes listening to the Moth podcast stories. If you’ve never heard of it and you love stories, go subscribe to the (free) podcast. Now that I’ve been hooked on their stories for a while, I’m looking forward to checking out The Moth website and finding out what else they do and where.

Can you guess the author?

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I saw this on a mailing list last week and was immediately interested. One page of fiction, you guess the author. I read all the pages first without looking at the available authors in the pulldown menu. I wanted to see what I could glean from just the text.

I didn’t recognize the first couple at all, and after reading a few, I classed the books someplace between literary fiction and trash fiction. My interpretation of literary fiction is something beautifully written, something that makes me think beyond just the book’s narrative — usually about my life, society, culture, happiness, grief, and anything and everything else. Trash fiction is only a good story. The plot moves fast, there’s usually lots of action. It doesn’t resonate and is easily forgotten. I consume it quickly because I want to know what happens, but I don’t think about it, I don’t want to savor it. Literary fiction can move fast too, but even if it does, I don’t read it as fast because I might lollygag in my enjoyment of it, roll the words around in my mouth, taste them, sniff the pages…you know, that kind of lollygag.

Then there are a wide array of books in the middle by authors of varying skill. If you’re lucky they’ll have interesting plots and characters. Maybe you think about them for a little while, maybe you don’t.

It wasn’t until I got to the last page in the list that it clicked for me. I immediately recognized the author and selected from the menu. And when I saw the other authors, I recognized the two above because of their pop culture value, and could guess the rest based on what I thought they might write from what I’ve seen of them in the bookstore. Of the 7 pages, I’d only read one of the books and two of the authors before, but I guessed every one of them right on my first try (go me! :)

There’s another page of authors here. I haven’t done the 2nd quiz yet, but suspect it’s similar to the first.

Poe apologizes for being drunk

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I saw this on Danan’s status message. Desperate for money, he wrote to his publishers in 1842 to ask them to buy his article and apologized for drinking too much.

His birthday is on the anniversary of my mom’s death: January 19. Poe was an amazing writer of the macabre and as a big fan of dark and psychological fiction, I have a great deal of admiration for him.

The exhibit in celebration of his 200th birthday (of which the above letter is but one piece) is called “From Out That Shadow: the Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe” and is at the Univ. of Virginia until August 1st, then at the U of Texas from September 8 – January 4, 2010. I think it’ll be worth a trip to see it.

Pulp fiction

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I love this BBC article about trashy books. It’s interesting to note that the article claims that people often pretend to have read literary books in order to be more sexually attractive, not to seem more intelligent which implies that intelligence is sexually attractive. Which of course, all of us geeks know.

I am an admitted book snob, but I’m not ashamed to be caught reading erotica in public (I’m a big fan of the Best American Erotica series which has been discontinued as of last year — but it’s actually not trashy as in not worth the paper it’s written on — most of it is actually quite well written). Nor am I too proud to pick some trash fiction at the airport. I like Neal Stephenson, have read several Stephen Kings, and Dan Brown can turn an interesting tale. Sometimes I purposely read something that’s immensely popular but lacking in eloquence just so I can be like the cool kids and stay up on reading trends. And I love graphic novels.

I didn’t recognize any of the books mentioned in the article, but now I’ve got a reading list of trash for my next trip! Oooh! I can read them on my Kindle!

Why reading makes you better

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

This sort of piggybacks on the last paragraph of my last post. I love that books expose you to things you might never get a chance to experience in real life. I might never get to live in another country, but I can read about other people that do and get a feel for what that would be like. That’s why books make you more empathic because you read about other peoples’ lives and how they feel and you learn to understand people better because reading literary fiction extends your empirical knowlege of human beings with theoretical knowledge of human beings and their motivations and behaviors. And when you can emotionally understand why people do what they do even if you’ve never experienced it yourself — well, there you go, that’s empathy!

Years ago when I was traveling through Costa Rica, I went on a weekend trip with a bunch of people I had met at the Spanish school. There was one girl in particular that I thought was a little prejudiced and it made me dislike her. But after spending a few days with her I realized that she wasn’t a bad person or an unlikeable person, she just didn’t know any better. Her experiences in life were so limited she honestly didn’t know how else to be. I gained empathy for her and with that new knowledge of her, I realized that there wasn’t anything cruel about her naive notions of the world — she just needed to learn more about it.

Graffiti is not a form of writing

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I have a weekly Wednesday night writing group that I’ve been meeting with for about a year and a half now. To get to the pub I get off the shuttle at Civic Center and have to walk through the Tenderloin. Normally that walk is interesting site seeing but pretty tame. Tonight was more entertaining.

First off this young guy with his baseball cap askew and wearing baggy pants and a huge long sleeved t-shirt (all the rage in apparel these days) comes up to me and starts walking and chatting with me. Just making small talk at first, then says something about getting together at Starbucks which I laugh off. Then he asks where I’m going and I tell him I’m headed to a bar to meet with my writing group.

“So what, like graffiti?”

Which made me laugh! “No, short stories.

“So for reals, can I call you up sometime to meet at Starbucks?”

I tell him I have a boyfriend and he says he’s not going to disrespect that and we part very amicably.

No, for reals though? Is graffiti seriously considered a form of writing?! I might consider it art depending on the graffiti, but writing, no. And is Starbucks some de facto first date joint? If I was single I would’ve been one of those old ladies that says, “Kid, do you have any idea how old I am?” He wasn’t that much older than my son.

Right after that I had some drunk guy point somewhere at my middle and say, “Are those real?!” And I thought to myself, what is he talking about because it certainly is not my breasts. The he said something vulgar, but it wasn’t just rude, it was completely and utterly baffling to me — so much so that I couldn’t even respond, I just walked away trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with more stories from tonight, but let me share with you this New Scientist article on how novels help to uphold social order which says that storytelling serves an evolutionary purpose. It claims literature conditions people to be social creatures concerned more for communal benefit than individual gain because these classic stories (the ones in the study) tend to stigmatize and punish those characters that are power hungry and selfish. Well that seems like, duh, to me. This reminds me of that study that said that people that read fiction were more empathic than those that didn’t. Duh.

The joy of writing

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

The weeks that I have to turn in a story for my writing group are good because they force me to email out something that’s somewhat “complete”. I haven’t turned in anything longer than 3 pages and none of them I could really consider complete, but that I’m writing fiction at all is a delicious thing.

Lately I come home at night and I’m compelled to write and it feels good. I was talking to a good friend tonight about how when you hate work, it’s a really tough thing because you spend so much of your time there. And until fairly recently, I was miserable at work for many months. And all that time I was trying to sort out what it was I wanted to do next. I have a lot of interests, I considered a lot of different things, but in the end what I love and have always loved is writing. The only reason I haven’t pursued it is because I’m scared. I look at what Marg has done, and what Ineke is planning to do, and look at the other independent women on the periphery of my life, and I find what they’ve done, or are working on, inspiring. Fear is a silly thing to let get in the way of something you really want to do.

Now that I have a long term goal — something I haven’t had since I moved to San Francisco — I’m content. I’m still not crazy about work, but everything’s tolerable when you know you’re working towards something better.

I haven’t really written fiction since I graduated college. I half assed wrote one complete, new story when I applied to graduate writing programs years ago, but nothing since then. My new stories lately weave in bits and pieces of my real life in a way that’s entirely new to me. My stories in college were complete fictions, and while imaginative, are completely different from the stories I’ve been writing lately. It’s still fiction, but drawing on the pieces of my nonfiction experience has been interesting.

I obsessively read over a submission several times before I hit send. Part of it is the editorial process, and the other part is just hearing it over and over again in my head because it pleases me, and because I’m trying to hear if it’ll please other people, too. So many people know I write and so few have read any of my fiction. Somehow it’s ok to present it to less initimate people to critique, and scarier to give it to someone you care about to read. An intimacy and trust I’m not confident enough for. Yet.

Ten years of blogging

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Well, back then we didn’t call it blogging. I just got my old “blog” back online after a couple of years of absence and I realized that it’s been 10 years since I started blogging. Ten years!

It’s just not the same not having my site around — even if it is only for archival purposes. It’s got journal entries dating back to June 1996, that weird fiction I used to love writing, and my old fascination for fetishes. My older websites are somewhere in my files, but I think 1996, 1995 is probably about as far back as the journal entries go — I used to love bitching about college.

So ten years of online journaling…has anything changed? I don’t think my online writing style has changed much. I swear a lot less than I used to. My interests have varied; my life has changed. But journaling had nothing to do with that, it merely publicized it.

The best thing about blogging for so long has been that it’s a good way for old friends to keep in touch with me. And it keeps me sane.

Grief

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

I had to make this a whole new category because I figure I’ll be writing in it often for some time. My mom died in a pretty nasty car accident on Thursday. I was at the mall to pick up something I ordered when my dad called. I couldn’t hear him. All I heard was “bad news” and “mom” and “accident” and I thought, oh shit, she got into another car accident, or did he mean some weird accident at home? And I ran outside to call him right back where I could hear him and he asked if I was sitting down so I did, and he told me my mom was driving home from her mom’s house and got into an accident and rolled the car into oncoming traffic and had died. I asked about other cars, I asked if he saw her in the hospital. No, and no. She didn’t even make it to the hospital. I was already bawling, but somehow these things made it seem even worse. And I haven’t really stopped crying since. All I keep thinking is, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Sorry that I hadn’t spoken to her since Christmas. Sorry that I never called again when I left my Happy New Year’s message and told her I’d call back since I hadn’t gotten a hold of her. Sorry that I hadn’t called her the day before on my sister’s birthday, though that’s something I would never do anyway. Sorry for millions of little things — sorry for all the hurt and sadness and loneliness she’s felt over the last two and half years, sorry I didn’t call enough, sorry I left her out of my life. I loved her as unconditionally as she loved me, but while I knew she loved me so much, I wonder if she ever knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me.

She wasn’t perfect, she could drive me crazy. But this last Christmas, I felt like she’d softened and she’d been starting to look and sound happier in the last few months than she had since my father left, and I had a really good time with her. And left wishing I’d gotten to spend more time with her. I drove around the car she died in when I was home, and remember thinking, this car’s a junker, my mom shouldn’t be driving it. She deserves a new car. And then I went home and forgot about it. I was always afraid she’d die in a car accident. Always thought she was a slightly careless driver. But drifting off the shoulder doesn’t seem like it should be the death of you. And part of me still blames that car, and I wish I’d just bought her a new one like I’d been thinking of doing. I could get caught up in regrets for the rest of my life, but then how would I continue living?

I so badly wanted to see her, but the coroner’s office won’t let you come view the body. And now I won’t see her until Monday at the earliest. I need to see her. I want to touch her, to kiss her one last time. Everything I do, everyone I see here, reminds me of her. Of how I’ll never again share a meal with her, or enjoy something she cooked especially for me. How we’ll never go shopping together again, how I’ll never get to run another errand for her, or sit at the table and have tea, or watch another movie with her, or learn her recipes. The thing that kills me is that I never really got to know her. Neither one of us spoke a common language fluently enough to really share with each other. And I’ll never hear her stories in her words. Never really know what she thought or felt, or what she was really capable of. Or even what she was really interested in. I haven’t had the time or the energy to really start going through her things yet, but I’ve been sleeping in her bed, on her side, because I can’t sleep anywhere else and the things I see around me break my heart, I can’t even tell you how or why, but it hurts me so much, I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to get through it. Who can live like this?

Umma. My mommy. Mom, mother. I’ve lost the one person in the entire world who thinks that I am one of the three most important people in the world (my sister and father being the other two). And there will never be another person in my life who feels the same way about me. And I blew it with her. I keep thinking to myself that everything is just too little, too late. Life with my mother had its hard times, but I would go back to the most difficult of them and relive all the hurt and anger and sadness of that time if that meant I could be with her again. Nothing is too little, just don’t let it be too late.

News articles:

None of the news stories are quite entirely correct. I don’t think she was ejected from the vehicle. She was travelling on the southbound 261 when she drifted into the shoulder, tried to correct, but over-corrected and went across the freeway and into the center divider, flipped the car over all the lanes of opposing traffic to land on the right shoulder of the northbound 261. She died of blunt force trauma (from hitting the A frame) and pretty much died immediately. I’ve been obsessing over lots of details, and one of them is the terror and fear she must have felt as the car went out of control and until she became unconscious. I would do anything in the world to be able to take that moment of fear from her.

I blog, you blog, we all blog

Sunday, November 6th, 2005

A friend of mine is reading Blink, which I also recently picked up after seeing Malcolm Gladwell speak at Google. He said that is was the first time that he’d read anything that promoted trusting your intuition. I think it’s been popularized. Intuition is now scientifically sanctioned so we can talk freely of it without resorting to condescending language.

Blogs are funny little things. You can’t talk about the band you saw last week and try to promote their upcoming show if you wait four days to blog about it. You can’t save up “blog” stories and then expect to be able to write them just the way you originally told them to yourself in your head as you were trying to keep yourself from forgetting to blog about it.

Btw, Tsu Shi Ma Mi Rae rock.

Book burning

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

A few weeks ago, Human Events Online (The National Conservative Weekly) came up with its list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. I find the list really interesting — a few communist books, one of the core feminist books, a couple philosophy books, a book on male sexuality, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and a couple of others. It astounds me that in this day and age, in our country, people still figuratively burn books. To me, this is the equivalent of having someone say you’re too dumb to be exposed to the dangerous ideas in these books. It assumes you don’t have the power or the ability to think critically for yourself. Writing a non-fiction book is like having your say, sharing your ideas with anyone who’ll read it. For a site that puportedly supports individual freedom, having had this list created seems somewhat ironic. What is it that Jesus calls his followers? Oh, sheep.

The other irony is that lists like these only make books on them that much more tantalizing. By the way, the 15 judges that came up with this list were 14 males:1 female.