Sunday, November 22, 2009

News from the noveling world

NaNoWriMo is in full swing, which means I'm working on my November novel and there is so little time left over for things like eating, sleeping, thinking, seeing people . . . and blogging.

In fact there was a wonderful ten-day (twelve-day?) trip to California, with time with my family, a glorious all-family get-together and a celebration of my father's 80th birthday, and time with dear old friends in Berkeley, and time with much, much older friends even in southern California. I want to write about all of that but in the meantime I just wrote my sister an answer to a nice e-mail message and question, and I thought I wanted to share it with you as well.

She asked me: "Are you allowed (or do you feel comfortable) to tell me the rough theme of this year's novel? I don't think you ever told me last year's."

And much later, I wrote her back. So here is my news of my novels!

Hi sister, you are already going into school week mode now I'm sure, sorry I didn't write you back sooner [sis is a schoolteacher]. But I was desperately trying to catch up a little on my word count for my novel while at the same time keeping my editorial work going (I have still a bunch of stuff to do before we leave on Wednesday for Chicago to go to David and Claudia's).

You asked about the novel(s). I'm allowed to tell whatever I want! I tried to not talk about last year's while I was doing it because it felt easier to me then. I told Felix about it before and during, and at some point told Max, and much later told hubby. Not because it was so fabulous, I just felt vulnerable and fragile.

Long story short it was about a mother and daughter and mother-in-law who together run a matchmaking agency, and they live in the studio building out behind my friends L & K's house in Berkeley (I asked L's permission to set it there), and the mother also has two little boys like 1 and 3 who are tandem nursing (the daughter is about 12), and the 12-year-old and the little boys have different fathers, both of whom are AWOL in different ways, and the mother-in-law is the long-lost mother of the only temporarily missing father of the little boys, and at some point the whole family, including also the 11-year-old boy who lives down the street from them and is the 12-year-old girl's buddy, fly to Berlin to find a wife for one of the matchmaking clients, and they find her on the top of a double-decker bus where she is singing in German a lullaby to her little girl, and the client (who if I remember correctly was originally from South America) had some childhood connection of his own to that particular lullaby, and so how could they resist, and the connection is made and the singer (conveniently enough a single mother) and the client are connected up and all is good. Also the 3-year-old belatedly starts speaking and the 11-year-old gets the cast off his leg. But the novelist's guilt at creating a straight-people-only agency in her lesbian friends' house while California was undoing gay marriage never got fixed, and the AWOL father of the little boys never got discovered, and various other things were imperfect.

And on a whole other level of course the book was about many other things, it was about the 12-year-old not wanting to be alone, and about tandem nursing, and about connections and love and marriage, and about my sentences.

This year my book is about me feeling more confident about my writing, and it's still about my sentences but it's also about me having some sense of being able to write dialogue, and a little more mastery of how to make plot move forward, and a lot more flexibility and looseness in sitting down to write. It feels more fun and less strained and cramped and forced, so I hope it might read that way too.

On the level of plot it is about three different women who live/are in Bloomington (I say it that way because one is plopped down here for a month while the others have lived here long-term). One is 25 and one is 55-ish and one is about 40, and the 40-year-old one is a little bit modeled physically on GE, with whom I am corresponding on Facebook [GE: you know who you are!], and the 25-year-old is physically modeled on Michal Rose, and all of them are in some way me but not me also, and the 25-year-old has three older brothers who live at her father's house and 4 younger brothers who live at her mother's, and the 40-year-old has 2 young children who are sometimes sons and sometimes daughters in my mind, I'd better decide.

And the plot is emerging as I write it but the structure of the book is based on two things, the poetic form of the ghazal, which is in some ways unrelated couplets having to do with love and the desert, where the last line of each couplet has repeating and rhyming parts, and I spent some time thinking about how to translate that poetic form into prose, and I don't think I succeeded perfectly, I can imagine doing it better and differently maybe in the future, but it was an interesting exercise. The other structural piece is the braid, I set up a braid of these three women through the book.


End of letter to sister. It occurs to me I should have said that I think the novel this year is also about men and women: relationships between, differences between. Me being a person who has known and liked and connected with women for so many years, trying to think about men in a more rounded way. But it still, of course, comes back to women.

More blogging later I hope! Novel news in the numerical mode: I'm way behind because of my travels to California and my editorial responsibilities, but I'm catching up. As of today, I'm at 28,314 words (wrote more than 3,000 today) - I have to average a little over 2,700 words every day for the rest of the month to make it to 50,000. But I can do that!

Love to you all, and Lisa, thank you so much for your comment and thoughts last time, sorry I never wrote back!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why blog from the doldrums?

On this beautiful November day, with a sky that, when we were walking in the park before, was the deepest, most saturated blue you could imagine, and making a background to a few trees that still had their yellow stories and stories of branches on . . .

On this beautiful November day, I did want to come back to the question of: why blog from the doldrums?

A faithful reader was asking, as a follow-up to my last post (what she said was, "So why do you want to blog from the depths of your frustration?"). And I thought: this is something I want to blog about!


Why blog from the doldrums?

First and foremost, I think, because at that moment when I am there, that is the only place I can possibly blog from, because that is the only place I am. And I do want to blog, I want to be writing and thinking and forming my thoughts into words and my words into thoughts, possibly even more the latter than the former, so if I allow the doldrums to silence me, they have defeated me even more than they were defeating me before.

And because I spend so much of my time trying to impose control on my world and my days and my eating and my writing and my happiness, and I write about that, and I am trying to be honest about that, then it seems as though to understand how that works, and how far it is possible (creating order and discipline and happiness and productivity all the time) then I need to look clearly at the flip side as well.

And because I am in some ways preaching to others (in my weight loss coaching, in my writing coaching, or in daily life and parenting [children, are you reading this?]), then there too, to be honest and true about what I say and think, I need to look at what the doldrums are like or the frustration or whatever we choose to call it: the times when I am not the person who gets up i the morning with bustle and energy and carries out her plans.

And because I have given up something in my weight loss efforts, particularly (given up a carefree happy way of socializing with others; given up a guiltfree way of creating happiness, however fleeting, at any given moment; given up a certain kind of rebellion against the prevailing norms of female appearance), but also just in my efforts to impose order on my life overall, for that reason too I feel as though I need to look clearly at what is going on in those times when I am drifting, and think about what is happening. (It is also a therapeutic thing: aside from the fact that blogging itself is therapeutic, there is the fact that the doldrums are self-replicating and the guilt and the blahs and the sense of non-self-worth just feed on each other, and if I could look at all of that critically in that moment then I think it would be likely I would be climbing out right there.)

And then, my dear faithful blog reader who asked me, there is the oh-so-human component. I don't want to be too much of a Pollyanna in my efforts at self-improvement, and I don't want to become a robot, and in fact it turns out some of my other readers had immediate aha! reactions to the few things I did say about the doldrums, so it's a way to swap stories and experiences and find out I am so not alone!

(And finally, in my attempts to be various kinds of a writer including possibly a novelist, I guess I need to be able to write about all sorts of human experience, and the doldrums qualify for that!)

Love to y'all
- the blog lady
(whose self-improving, productive version wrote 2,759 words of her November NaNoWriMo novel this morning - 47, 241 to go!)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

When not everything is rosy

Dear dears,

It's All Hallows' Eve and National Novel Writing Month eve to boot (more about that later), and it's now or never (my fingers first typed Now or November) if I want to blog once more in October.

I was thinking a lot about some things I wanted to blog a couple of weeks ago - I went down into a kind of difficult and not so productive, not so happy, place. And it occurred to me that I am usually relentlessly up, upbeat, trying to be productive and better myself, and that everything I do is in the service of that - or at least that is the narrative being produced around here.

And so I really wanted to try to blog from the depths of the (let me not dramatize too much - it can't have been too terrible because I don't even exactly remember it right now, I just remember it because I remember thinking about the blogging) formless, somewhat frustrating place I was in.

Aha, I remember now what it was: I didn't have any editorial work from outside for a couple of weeks. I had been working on some websites with the help of my friend/mentor/consultant Ellen, and I had told her I was going to continue on my own for a while, but that was proving difficult. And so, after I got Felix off to school and went for my (WONDERFUL) morning walk with my ladies, there was no particular shape to my days, no deadlines, nothing exactly and specifically and particularly I had to do just then.

So I puddled and dawdled and overate and futzed around online and was dissatisfied with myself and thought about blogging from that state. But blogging was one more productive and positive thing I wasn't doing!

Here's the Alice in Wonderland part - of course, as soon as I was meeting Ellen again and getting the websites in shape and the editorial work was also coming in and I was feeling happily bustly again and had the energy, the good positive energy, that would have let me happily blog - well then there was NO TIME! (Alice in Wonderland reference in brief: when she's small enough to fit through the door to the garden, she's way too short to reach the key; when she's tall enough to reach the key on the high table, she's way too big to fit through the door.)

So there it is. Tonight I am suspended between one time pressure and the next, and tomorrow a grand new adventure begins, so I wanted to send out word before I went sweeping down into it. Tomorrow is November, and with it begins NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, so wish me luck please as I am about to go try to write 50,000 words in 30 days again like I did last year (except hopefully better!).

And tomorrow is also the beginning of the month in which I am going to visit my parents in California for 10 days, and belatedly celebrate my father's 80th birthday (happy belated birthday again, Daddy!), and stop in on friends in Berkeley.

And tomorrow also starts the month when I'm on jury duty for a week.

So the good news is - there's lots to do and not so much time to go wallowing in any doldrums. Bad news is - not quite enough time maybe for all there is to do. The ankle I twisted six days ago now is healing well, the many pounds I gained in the first four days of not walking on it I am trying to embrace for now and get ready to send back out into the world again, this morning I worked for a couple of hours on plans for the November novel and I'm ready, I'm ready!

I still don't know how, necessarily, to write from the doldrums. Maybe next time they come around I can grab the downbeat moment and wrest some words from it. There has to be a way, I was going to say a trick but I don't even really mean a trick, just a way to do that without it being about asking for pity. But I don't know that way just yet.

Still juicily awaiting the future, such topics as:

- balancing sociability and aloneness (thank you Beth for many wonderful conversations and modeling on this topic)
- writing as a mood-altering process and therefore how can you write about a mood? (see above)

For now, it's Halloween. Slowly outside the light is getting darker and the clumps of trick-or-treaters are getting more frequent - little groups of two to five tinies with two to five grownups, and candles and flashlights and treat bags. This year we're hiding out and hoping against hope they don't come here, since we're going out a couple of different directions but haven't left yet. The porch light isn't on, the Jack o'Lantern isn't out, and the walkway is absolutely covered and smothered in thick loads of brown crackly leaves, and so far everyone has crossed the street and gone over to sociable hospitable Jenny and Michael across the street instead - we haven't had to turn off all the inside lights and hide in the basement the way we thought we might, but that may still come.

Happy Halloween all, and happy November!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The people in Hamburg

I just wanted to add - thinking about Kim's birthday - what did we DO all those days and hours and months together in Hamburg?

And I realized - it was so all about the people. Sabine and Florian, and Anja and Alexander, and Klaus and Bettina. Parties late at night, and hours sitting around a pizza or a big pot of Persian rice, and plans that fell through because Michel had to make yet another one-minute video for Luxemburg TV. And more parties.

Sabine, if you're reading this, here's a poem I've been meaning to show you for years and years and years. (The you in the poem is not you, or Kim for that matter, but that becomes obvious I guess. And Sabine, you're living in a different shape these days! Those were other times.)

Nights, that Year

The streets came together in half-circles, no-car

zones with potted palms, Italian ice cream,

gardens strung with car-lot Christmas lights and people talking

German low in busted armchairs with their bottoms

almost to the sidewalk. We would go arm-in-arm when the time

zones and the Northern angles kept the night balmy late.

I tried stiletto heels, fraying the points.

I tried a sip of red wine. I kept trying to marry you.

I tried dressing you in my clothes, tried

riding barefoot on the train from Berlin. I tried

everything. We kept going back to the place with the busted armchairs.

We ate corn salad at one in the morning.

We slept on the floor and played pingpong in the bedroom.

We watched Sabine sink giddy into her pink pear shape. Our parties

were famous. We still have the pictures. I don't think

you remember it this way.

Kim in Hamburg, a birthday slipping past

Here in Bloomington, Indiana, it is still Kim's birthday, but Kim is in Hamburg, where her birthday was yesterday already. Happy birthday, most faithful reader of all! 'Twas wonderful to see you in Berlin in the springtime.

Memories: the bank in St. Pauli where we met, you thinking my darkling German boyfriend was the loud American among us, anyway we were talking English and you recognized him from a university class in Berlin / hours, hours, hours, just sitting and talking, walking and talking, both of us a little at sea in Hamburg with our German boyfriends, what we were doing there? underemployed, undercommitted . . . so much time to talk.

hours in the choir under Johannes's direction, hours in the pub playing Kutscherskat and Klabberjas.

Your stories: meeting Christian in Paris, moving in together the day you met, ten years later when I met you were still together and you'd followed him to Hamburg, living a life amid the windy streets and little-old-lady hole-in-the-wall shops and high-ceilinged rooms.

Your apartment: the funny things on your walls, little sculptures/paintings/self-made things that went in three-dimensional directions, all of it impressed me with its self-assuredness.

The cafe around the corner from your place on Stresemannstrasse where we spent eternities - was it called Unter den Linden? Ordering the little bowls of tricolor ice cream, and lemon juice drinks, and discussing whatever there was to discuss under the sun. Off to the movies on the subway in the middle of the night with Michel and Christian, watching some weird strange thing - did we all fall asleep except Michel? Or all stayed awake except Michel? Anyway, I do remember it was even farther into the middle of the night at Hoheluftbrücke when we had to come sleepily home. I know you remember that night too, you mentioned it recently.

The American women's club of Hamburg - those ridiculous meetings we went to, you and I so did not belong but we went anyway, and it turned out some of the other people didn't really belong either. We went to a Tupperware party - it felt surreal.

Suddenly you had a baby. And suddenly you and the baby were gone, Chernobyl had happened and you wanted to take him to the States for a while where things were maybe not quite as contaminated. I think you and Martin were actually out of the country during most of the anti-nuclear demonstrations we spent our last few months in. And by the time you came back we were gone.

Now twenty-five more years have gone by, there you and Christian still are, three boys grown up and going/gone, you making a bilingual home for yourselves and for so many English-speaking women/mothers who've moved into and away from Hamburg. Always there for me/us to touch base with when we come to Germany. You thinking your thoughts, going through your own internal revolutions, reading and watching and thinking.

Showed a friend our wedding album night before last, there was a beautiful close-up of your face, glowing and beaming. Standing right next to my big sister, in fact, also glowing and beaming, and you looked so much alike! And you always were a little big-sister-like to me.

Happy birthday, dear Kim!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The big black chair and the little white book

I wanted to write about this book I was reading, I've been wanting to write about it for a while now. Today was the day but first I had to find a place to sit. You'd think in a house there would be a place to sit. But in my own house, in which there are, among other things, a kitchen, a bedroom, a lovely large office all my own, and the world's most enormous living room, I don't have a place I'm so happy to sit because my big black chair has been moved out of the living room for no reason other than its unintentional crime of being unsightly. Poor big black chair, and even more so, given that the big black chair really has no feelings: poor me!

For several weeks, the chair was positioned in my office in such a way that I couldn't really lean back in it, defeating 9/10ths of its purpose. About a week ago, I did reposition it to lean back, and I can see out both windows now (green turning to yellow, reflected overhead light in the one windowpane, wonderful snatches of cold silver cloud-sky dancing/peeking through the shifting leaf canopy, dripping wetness residue) - but it's just very hemmed-in feeling, compared to sitting in this chair as if on a throne surveying the endless landscape, the way I used to in the living room. So I'm in mourning for my previous seating. And maybe I'll manage to get it restored.

In the meantime: The elegance of the hedgehog! Or, perhaps more pertinently: L'élégance du hérisson. Because I think probably at least 9/10ths (there's that same fraction again! a pattern in the universe?) of the pleasure I had in reading it was because I was reading it in French. After my year in Berlin immersed in German (when I wasn't, in fact, around English speakers, and you can guess what fraction of the time *that* was!), what a pleasure to find I can easily read a novel in French (depending on the novel, not so easy in German - I might know all the individual words but it's unconscionable the order they put the darn things in, so twisty-turny it takes forever to read).

Book group is this Sunday and I'll compare notes with my friends who have read it in English. I already know, because hubby read it in English and got stuck on page 100, and I myself peeked at the English sometimes when I got stuck on a word in the French (which I did frequently, more about that later), that the English is a little stiff and wooden.

And the weird thing is: for all I know, the French might be too! I somehow don't think so, but it's not like I read in French that often and so it's hard to compare. It was just so much fun to sit here and read. There were things that brought me up short - OK, right about now I guess I need to say what the deal is with this story.

There's a concierge who lives in a big building of rich people, and the concierge herself, though poor, is tremendously intelligent and very very well-read, but she feels she has to hide that from the other people in the house. (This was the first thing that brought me up short: that seemed very unmotivated, the fact that she had to hide her intelligence and erudition. But it turned out that was an important thing that got explained later.) Meanwhile, upstairs, there lives a little rich girl, 12 years old, who is also tremendously smart, and lives with her smart family but they're all smart in the wrong way or about the wrong things and don't understand her nor she them, and she feels there is no meaning and she's just going to grow up to live an idiotic life, so she has decided to kill herself on her 13th birthday.

That's the premise. There you go.

And I read it very happily.

The thing is that I was brought up short on every single page with long complicated or just unfamiliar words I didn't understand at all, or at least didn't undersand at first.

I tried gliding past them.
I tried looking them up.
I tried rereading the passage, sometimes many times over, to make it out and understand the troublesome words from context.
I tried, later on, going to read the same passage in the English translation (as I said: kind of wooden - really made me feel like going back and attempting my own translation, or at least my own edit of the English - but realistically - is that going to happen?)

All of the above worked at various times, and I got more and more hooked. Weirdly, this book has a smallish element of people who are into Anna Karenina and name animals after characters - and we just read Anna Karenina last month in book group.

After I'd read a few pages, I decided to go back and write down some of the things I'd had a hard time with. Here they are, just from the very first pages:

que par hoquets propres et sans vices
un diable qui s'appelle CGT
je marmonne (I wrote: "murmure"? - that turned out to be right)
scindé (I wrote: "probably 'divided' ")
les oignons aux pieds
rouages ("gears"? I wondered)
revêches ("something negative")
ces relents plébéiens
mon cabas à filet (I figured out: "string shopping bag")

Finally, all of the above I either, as I said, looked up, figured out, or glided past - and now I have forgotten again what at least half of them mean but I got enough of the meaning in the moment to keep moving through.

Funnily, sometimes when I went to look at the matching English sentence or passage, which I did towards the end of the book more, the English often used a word I didn't know either! So it wasn't my French exactly.

I do want to try to say why I enjoyed reading this book so much and I feel like I'm not quite getting at it. It's understated. I think I liked that. It didn't feel like it was working too hard to please me, and the pleasures it afforded were really in the individual sentences, and the characters I ended up caring about somewhat and the plot that unfolded kind of came on me unawares while I was untangling the sentences - not at all how I usually read.

So that's pretty much it. Now I'm reading the book she wrote before this one (sorry, I didn't say who "she" is: Muriel Barbery). The book before this one is called Une gourmandise and the two are connected - Une gourmandise is all about the rich snobby food critic who lives upstairs in the concierge's building and actually, in the central turning point of L'élégance du hérisson, dies, in order to make possible new and interesting changes in people's lives and relationships. In Une gourmandise the death is also the central event but the whole book I guess is about the 24 hours leading up to the death (I've only just started the book).

So here I am sitting in my big black chair with my striped blue toe socks on, feet in the air in front of me, both of the little white books now next to me (because I just went and got Une gourmandise a moment ago to remind myself of the exact name) and as I intimated before, it's a wet day out, but the threatened floods have not quite hit us yet, so I will get a little editorial work done.

Ladies' walking continues to be a wonderful anchor, this morning four of us, in shifting groups of three, eventually found each other in the neighborhood in spite of the threatening rain. Yesterday a Rumanian German author got the Nobel literature prize and this morning Barack Obama got the Nobel peace prize, so there's all of that to think about and sort through, and indeed so much more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Odds and ends - the thirty-minute post

So in the spring I tried the fifteen-minute post occasionally but I think today that's too restrictive - for one thing I still have the lopped-off finger (I'm exaggerating and dramatizing, but it really is painful to type with it) slowing me down. I alternate between using it anyway (half the time the letter doesn't express itself and I have to redo anyway) and trying to type those keys (they are r, t, f, g, v, and b, for the record) with other fingers, such as the middle finger of my left hand. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

So here they are, the odds and ends of my sometimes-way-too-busy, sometimes-dangerously-idle mind:

- this morning I was making a list of things to do before taking myself off to the library to work there for the day on some web sites, and I made this list:

1. newspaper
2. smoothie
3. make lunch
4. pay German bills

and suddenly I was overcome by the thought that I should make a list item that said "drink poison". Why????? I have no desire whatsoever to actually drink any poison, it just seemed like the very right thing to put next on the list.

And indeed, I did put it on the list. The list now reads

1. newspaper
2. smoothie
3. make lunch
4. pay German bills
5. drink poison
6. write [hubby] re credit card
7. pack up
8. go

and numbers 1-4 and 6 are checked off, no. 5 is crossed out, I have a little "1100" in a circle at the top right and "1200" a little lower down, both of those indicating numbers of steps I wish to get to, and they are both checked off as well. I was going to blog from the library too but decided to do it at home with the timer.

But still - I was thinking - what was that list item about? Is it like standing at the viewing windows of the Empire State Building and concentrating really hard on not jumping, or thinking: thank God I am not holding a baby or small child because I would surely lose my concentration briefly and toss it out? Seems related but not identical.

- yesterday morning was super foggy, I was trying to get tons of steps on the pedometer before I ever even left the house for ladies' morning walk, and so I went downstairs to be Felix's walking snooze alarm multiple times, and went outside early for the Herald Times knowing I'd have to go out again a little later for the New York Times (and while inside the house I walked in place constantly in the kitchen while making Felix's breakfast and lunch and my own oatmeal - ended up with 3500 steps before I went off to ladies' walk). Anyway, both outings to the end of the walkway for the newspapers ended up funny/magical. Outing #1 for the H-T netted me the H-T itself in its usual bright orange plastic bag, but there was something shiny on the sidewalk a little further out. So I went over - thought it was some kind of plastic shining there. And no- it was an enormous shiny, glittering star. Turned out to be a little group of leaves connected by twigs/stems/whatever you might call the little things that hold little groups of leaves together, and they were indeed arranged in a perfect star pattern, covered in dew, and reflecting the street lights that were cutting through the fog. Glorious! // And then when I went back for outing #2 for the NYT, the little star thingy was still there but I was smarter now and knew I didn't have to go right up to it, but still I walked around a little - NYT where? (In the past it has been found in the branches of the Japanese burning bush or whatever it was hubby planted at the end of the walk, but also at various places up and down the sidewalk.) Putting steps on the pedometer while looking for the paper, love that multitasking, you know I do. And finding it nowhere, so I looked down the street to where headlights were just then emerging out of the fog, such unusual thick fog for us of a seven a.m., and briefly thinking, that could be the NYT delivery man, but no, the car was coming on way too fast, but I stood there because I was there and I hadn't decided to go back inside yet, takes me a while to decide things.

I also thought this couldn't be the NYT delivery man because in the past, a lot of our neighbors got the NYT too and he would have been stopping at all their houses. But no, he came zooming up and slowed right at my house, obviously him at that foggy hour of the morning, no other cars anywhere and slowing right by me, so I raised my hand to thank him and he hesitated I guess, and called out "dont want to hit you!" - pulled up a little further yet, tossed the paper (in its trademark blue plastic bag) out the window and roared off on his way. I hollered "thanks!", collected my paper and stepped back into the house, very pleased with the magical morning.

Oh, and when I got to Weight Watchers yesterday morning, not having been for two weeks (I was all primed to go last week and have great results but then I sliced off the tip of my finger the night before, which kind of interrupted things), I had lost 2.6 pounds on their scales since the previous weigh-in. Two pounds to go before I don't have to pay as a lifetime member.

So ladies' morning walk continues to be fabulous. This morning we talked about connections and boundaries between us and our nieces and nephews (hi, Amani! - I actually didn't mean you this time!), and helping family members talk about things that get worse with isolation - and then Ellen told us about a book she's very excited about called The Belly Fat Diet and Beth and I are both rushing off to get it today. [Correction: this afternoon now, written from the library - I knew there was something wrong with that title. When I got to the library I asked for the Fat Belly Diet. That was wrong too. It's The Flat Belly Diet. Whatever!]

But meanwhile I'm still on the Step Diet, or rather I bought the book, read part of it, and am tracking steps and upping them every week and doing some of the things the book says to do, and of course I'm a Weight Watcher as always. So I guess I'm layering the oomphs that come from each of these places.

Night before last hubby spontaneously said: you look skinny! Now when does that ever happen?! (I was wearing my yellow sarong with the black salamanders all over it [my first sarong of the many I now have (purple with yellow and green frogs, blue with yellow butterflies, red with black geometries, and black with big splashy dragonflies, sadly ripped but I wear it anyway) and in fact the one that was given to me by hubby and the boys], tucked up around over my chestiness and falling down straight from there [the pedometer was clipped over my right breast because where else was I going to put it? - and I had to be getting those steps, you manage what you measure and all that] and so now I think: can I recreate that look in an item of clothing that won't be falling off every three point five minutes the way that tucked sarong does? Alex????)

Honey bunnies, the timer is ticking super fast towards zero, and it was lovely to hear back from some of you (you know who you are, Sabine and Annette and Kim and Lisa!), and I'm going to put a couple more people on the automatic-e-mail send-out thing now that I know how to do it.

Crazy thought (another one) of today: fussing in the kitchen, remembering this morning's walk where we were united in the interest in the belly-fat-busting diet, I resurrected an idea I've had in the past: since there doesn't seem to be a Weight Watcher restaurant anywhere I can just go to, how's about *I* make food here every day for me and all my friends and they come here to eat good wonderful Weight Watchery food, all fresh and yummy and handmade and point-labeled and nutritionally balanced.

(This thought, in case you didn't know, is crazy a. because I can barely cook for the people who's here already [although a lot of that is because their eating needs/desires are at odds with mine] and b. there is no time - and yet still, still, somehow I'm wondering/wishing.)

The timer has not only dinged now, which it usually does with a minute to spare, but actually also wound down its ticking and stopped making noise entirely, so I'm going to say hasta la vista and start going for items 7 and 8 on the checklist. Maybe I can also get to 1300 steps before I leave the house.