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10 May 2011 @ 01:59 pm
It goes without saying that I haven't been writing so much this year. Good thing it goes without saying, then. Still, I say it to kick off this rare moment of actually writing something because I'm trying to fix the problem by first identifying the problem. I seem to be lacking something: Is it inspiration, or time?

Lately I've been feeling less breezy, less witty. When I peruse my most recent blog posts I find myself saying, "Man, have I gotten boring."

Today, however, I started off not by writing, but by reading. I was reading a few of my old posts, and because they were tailor-made for my own way of thinking, being from my very own brain, they got all those brain gears spinning anew. There I was, all set to write some new witty, amusing blog post...

And then I said, "just let me go push a screwdriver into my lawn first."

Yes, really. You see, I'd read some magazine article that said one way to check the health of your lawn is to see if you can easily push a screwdriver in to a depth of six inches. Yes, really, and you're not alone in thinking that borders on some kind of awesomely sophmoric joke, which, if I were my former, breezy, witty self, I could fashion for you now. But these days, it would seem I am nothing more than a boring old housewife, and I the only thing aroused was my interest in whether or not our lawn needed watering. How dull.

Maybe it's a little more outside the box, so to speak, to think of myself as a house-husband, because isn't lawn care the husband's domain? But, no, this tidbit was in Good Housekeeping, so it was clearly meant for me, the dutiful housekeeper, who, like most of the folks pictured on the magazine pages, is a woman. And for whatever reason I felt that I had to attend to the state of our lawn, so I dutifully went outside and conducted the test-measurements on the lawn's less-lush patches. They failed, but that's not really the point.

No, the point is, I read my old blog, I got all inspired, I opened the blog-posting page -

And then, staring at the blank screen, I said, "But first, let me go out and do that screwdriver test on my lawn!"

I seem to be a bit at war with myself these days. I suspect lurking behind all of it is midlifery; I'm midlifing all over the place. It's another chapter in the old story: Just who the hell do I want to be? Do I want to be a witty, breezy, but disorganized person, the sort of person who foregoes chores in favor of thinking out loud for her mostly own amusement? Do I want to regularly reflect on my life and how it's going, and mostly, Not Going? Or do I want to be proactive and practical, and refuse to sit down here until I've gone through the list? Laundry, check. Phone calls to schedule Things Of All Sorts, Check. Picking Up Around Here, Check. Belong to the Outside World, Check. And so on.

Try as I might, I just can't figure out how to do both.

It seems that these days whatever I do first sets the tone for everything else. Am I going to have a get-it-done day, or a bloggy day? I have to pick. Inertia, momentum, all that stuff seems to play a very large role in my behavior; I'm not good at switching gears, even after several hours, the time when most folks would need a break. No, if I stop, well, I'm stopping, dammit, and I'm not likely to return again any time soon.

Lately, I've been opting for the get-it-done. Which is working for me, but only up to a point. Just as having a long run of bloggy days works for me, but only up to a point. I can't sit here in the mess of my house for too long before it all gets to me, but the same goes for my brain. After a while you've just got to clean it out....

But where's the balance, what's the proper ratio? If I let the writing lie dormant for too long, it suffers. To write well, you've got to write frequently. Especially here, in this journalish format. Otherwise you spend half your time on the whole sorry-I-haven't-written business, which has got to be the most boring subject of all. Just get on with it, Susan!

I don't need to tell anybody that if you let the housekeeping go too long, everyone suffers.

So where am I at? I don't know. Right now I've got a lawn that needs watering, but supposedly the ideal time to water a lawn is first thing in the morning. Coincidentally, first thing in the morning is when the brain's language ability is highest. Yes, it's the perfect time for writing as well.

First thing in the morning I am usually asleep, not being a morning person.

And there you have it.
19 April 2011 @ 09:58 am
Maggie took the pictures, I made the slide show!

15 April 2011 @ 11:03 am
One reason it took me so long to post that exhaustive essay about our Disney World trip was that at the same time I was putting together a slide show - an idea that came as a whim and ended, as all things do, as a giant project. It was meant strictly as an exercise for myself in learning the myriad possibilities of Movie Maker. Somewhere along the way my nine-year-old son took an interest and began egging me on: "Yeah! Put that in - it's so COOL!" The result is a video with a rather lavish amount of stupid effects and visual trickery.

Not to mention more views of my hideous attire.


07 April 2011 @ 10:43 am
Finally getting around to this. Brace yourselves, here comes the slide show...
Read more...Collapse )
01 April 2011 @ 02:36 pm
I can't decide whether my personal productivity has hit an all-time high or an all-time low. Lately I seem to have a whole lot of half-finished projects around the house. One of them is the Disney travelogue, complete with pictures, which currently sits as a private entry in a three-quarters-written state waiting to be finished and brought forward for your picture-viewing pleasure. It was maybe three or four days ago that I remembered it, but when I saw the date on it I realized what had happened to it. It was originally dated March 10, right before that whole earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis happened, and ever since I've spent a good portion of my days rather news-obsessed. I wish I could say it was out of deep familial concern for various in-laws that live in Tokyo, because there are several (all are fine), but for the most part it was more of a horrified fascination with Things of a Catastrophic Nature.

In between refreshing the CNN home page I've been doing things like: painting my daughter's bathroom; straightening the office so Jeff can do the taxes; trying to get down to the surface of my oversized bathroom vanity (currently covered in a layer of "Why don't you throw this AWAY???"); and reading books about ADD. Seriously. It was on a whim, really; I was browsing in the library for books about something else (sports injuries, I think - want to hear all about my sore hip? No, didn't think so) and it sort of jumped off the shelf: Delivered from Distraction. Whoa, I thought, I am nothing if not distracted. But am I ADD? Probably not, but that's just this week's self-assessment. Last week, having read about half of the book, I was totally convinced that I was. Tune in next week....

By far the most time-consumingwasting project has to be the conversion of my collection of cassettes - and perhaps, down the road, records? - into MP3s so I can: 1) play them on my iPod; 2)play them at all. For various reasons this has not been a simple process, but I keep at it, because I've found that truly nothing gives me a lift like music does, and to wear it around my head and weave it through my brain all day is not just intoxicating, but amazingly invigorating. So it's assumed this sort of weirdly high priority, far above things like Straighten the kitchen and Find a beach house we can rent this summer. I'm kind of afraid to leave in that line about the beach house, because now I'll get all sorts of spamments attached to this entry. Anyone else having troubles with that? Certain subjects seem to attract them. The one about strange dreams seems to be particularly attractive for some reason.

Anyway, don't give up on the Disney entry. It may yet make an appearance. I mean, I finally figured out how to re-size the pictures, and that was the hard part!
14 March 2011 @ 11:44 am
Or I might not. In any event, it's on a local channel, so if you don't live in the DC area you won't be able to see it tonight, but at 8 p.m. on WETA, Washington's PBS station, the WETA Guide to Montgomery County will include footage of Woodlawn Manor Living History Museum's Underground Railroad program, and, yes, I was working the day they filmed, so it's possible you might catch a glimpse of me if you tune in. I haven't seen the show myself, so I have no idea knows what's included - judging from the long list of places they're visiting it will probably be a very short snippet - but you never know! They shot a *lot* of footage the day they came. If you feel like playing Where's Susan? I'll tell you that I was wearing a red checked dress. I'm pretty sure I had a white bonnet on as well.

The show is going to be re-broadcast three or four times, and it might be available online, so if you miss it tonight (after all, there's a new House episode on in the same time slot!) you can catch it later on - if it turns out I'm in there I'll post those times.

I'm fairly certain it will be available online as well - so stay tuned for more info!
04 March 2011 @ 10:42 am
As travelogues go, writing about going to Walt Disney World presents some unique challenges. For starters, you're starting from the idea that most everybody has a fairly good idea of what is to be found there, even if they haven't personally been. So to lavish one thousand words on, say, what you'll see when you drift through The Pirates of the Caribbean, seems unnecessary.

Which has the rather peculiar effect on me as Your Storyteller. I feel like the stereotype of ages past, the boring relative with the giant carousel of slides. What if I just go through them really fast? Hard for any of us to get excited about that sort of thing, I'm thinking.

What about leading off with those experiences that made our trip unique to the Lin Family Disney World Visit of 2011? Well, that would be good, except the thing that first jumps to mind is when Teddy threw up in the bed in the middle of the night. The bed he happened to be sharing with Gregory.

Yes, that makes for a good first impression, doesn't it? Yeah, I probably should include at least some of that tale, but I'd rather not lead off with that, even though, effectively, I just did.

Why not then do a nice modern version of a slide show? Slap some snaps on up here along with some witty captions. Two problems here: One: I am awaiting a call from my technical adviser (you know him as The Hubby), and Two: I can't post any pictures that happen to have me in them, as I dressed entirely for convenience and not for others' viewing pleasure. Consequently I am wearing a bright red fanny pack around my gut, where it clashes nicely with my purple shirts. Oh, and let's not forget the blue and maroon Mickey Mouse hat which shields me from the Florida sun and also from any notions that I am fashionable. So there will be a slide show, but some work needs to be done first.

In the meantime, the Extremely Short Version: Fun was had by all, when not vomiting. Things went essentially as they were supposed to: We went on most of the rides we wanted to. It's easier to list the rides we missed, at least in the Magic Kingdom. Tiki Room: Closed for renovations. Space Mountain: Missed due to fraidy-cats. Star Tours: Closed for renovations. Actually, the word they used was "re-imagining," which I find amusingly creative. I might have to use that term for various self-improvement projects: "I re-imagine myself to be a total hottie." For clarity's sake I should point out that Star Tours is actually not in the Magic Kingdom, but rather in Disney's Hollywood Studios park - but was it always? I have this vague memory that it used to be in Tomorrowland. No matter, since it's not anywhere at the moment. In any event, I was sorry to miss that one, although I'm betting that the "re-imagining" will include a lot of prequel and TV series nonsense that I'd just as soon skip. Not just a geek, but a curmudgeonly one, I am!

And no mention of rides not ridden would not be complete without stating once again for the record that Maggie and Gregory were both tremendous scaredy-pantses and would not open their eyes during the ENTIRE visit to the Haunted Mansion, with the exception of Maggie grudgingly seeking a peek at the ballroom scene. In all fairness, we'd been trying to convince them in advance that it was all a whimsical sort of scary, and in actual fact it really is fairly creepy at times. Still, it was a bit of a letdown for us as parents to insist that our absolute First Stop would be the Haunted Mansion, since it was THE best attraction of them all, and then have our kids refuse to even look at the thing.

I'm not sure whether it's more surprising to see things that have changed, or things that have not. The Country Bear Jamboree, for instance, is the same exact show, right down to Big Al's "Blood on the Saddle." The jungle boat ride seems awfully familiar as well, as do the tour guide's corny jokes ("Don't sit there, sir, or I'll have to rename the boat 'Eileen'.") The Hall of Presidents has been updated with new narration by Morgan Freeman, and of course there a few more presidents in there than when I was a kid. Overall I'd say Tomorrowland has changed the most, which makes sense, although it still seems strangely quaint - a past vision of the future. For a more updated vision of the future, please visit Epcot's Future World!....

To Be Continued
01 March 2011 @ 12:44 pm
I've been sitting here all alone in my office cackling with laughter. Yes, all by myself. Yes, I'm in my pajamas, if you must know. Noon, OK, fine, it's noon, but I did eat lunch. It was a Luna bar, and don't say How Appropriate!

I'm laughing because I've been reading my old blog entries. Yes, laughing at myself. With myself? Whatever. I'm funny, damn it. Every once in a while I get scared that I'm the only one who thinks so, which is of course how you know you're ready for a visit to the Luna Bar.

Actually, the whole reading-my-own-blog bit was a bit of a tangent. I started the day intending to do all sorts of cool things with my computer, like send emails with photos to my family, and record all my old cassettes, and my computer just won't do anything I want it to, not one damned thing. As in, it said my email message was too large, so I deleted a photo, and then it was still too large, so I deleted another photo, and so on, until I'd deleted every photo and it WAS STILL TOO LARGE. What the EFFING EFFING EFF EFF? I mean, sure, I typed a message, but it wasn't like Tolstoy or something, it was three tiny boring paragraphs, the kind of unevocative writing you would use if you knew you were going to just go ahead and put snapshots up. What made the whole business a real kick in the (pajama) pants is that I'd spent an eternity looking, with my middle-aged eyes, at all these photo thumbnails trying to figure which ones to put in, and then working out, with my middle-aged brain, out how to upload and resize them, and the whole thing took something like an hour, but I coaxed myself along with "at least I'm finally getting around to this project, usually I NEVER send the snapshots out" and then EFFING EFFING FAIL FAIL FAIL.

That was already after the Adventures in Audacity (Audacity being the sound recording software) that involved an overlong Google search, dozens upon dozens of attempts at recording a song, each time with a different box checked or unchecked, and finally a resigned post-a-question-in-a-forum (Hello....Helloooooo....Helloooooo) that I'm sure will never be answered.

Not sure how that led over here to the blog, but I do know that the first thing I noticed was, well, not that I'm funny, but that I seem to be getting a lot of really annoying blog-comment spam all of a sudden. I wanted desperately to believe the one that said I want to send you a dozen roses for what you have shared with me but common sense tells me he just wants what all the other bots want.

Then, of course, I had to go sifting through a few old entries to delete a few more spamments, and that's when I started reading some of my old posts, and I realized, Hey, I'm funny!

And then I realized, Hey, I said I was going to tell you all about Disney World.

Damn, that means I have to get this picture mess sorted out. OK, I'll be back later.
24 February 2011 @ 12:20 pm
The following is an old story I've previously posted in a friends-only version in this blog, but for various reasons I needed to re-post it for any and all readers to enjoy the beautiful moment fondly remembered here.

Back in 1987, I was a senior in college, and my younger brother was a sophomore at the same college (it just happened; it’s not like we were inseparable or anything). We both sang in the same choir, and the choir was doing a spring break tour of Florida, and there was a stop in Disney World planned.

We were supposed to sing at the Tomorrowland Theater at midday and then we’d have a few hours of free time in the Magic Kingdom, which already struck me as a raw deal – we had passes for the whole day, but our trip planners scheduled another concert that evening, so we were going to have to leave the park at about three or four o’clock.

So upon arrival, our buses pulled into a big satellite parking lot, and after sitting there on the idling buses for a while, the choir president got on the bus and announced that we had to wait there for a park representative to come escort the buses to the proper place.

So we all poured out of the buses, and everyone was jovial; we were a bunch of college kids from up north, after all, and everybody was just happy to be off the bus, enjoying the late-morning Florida sunshine, and the Frisbees and the hacky sacks started coming out, and people were romping all over the place.

And me, I was sitting on the ground on some low thing, some little parking curb or whatnot, with my head in my hands, all by myself, because I was in the midst of some stupid soap-opera anguish over my rapidly disintegrating romance with a tenor, a guy in the group who had been doing a lovely job of ignoring me the entire trip, a guy who was now also hacky-sacking, and flirting with some other chick in the group, and generally having a grand old time.

So Will, my brother, spotted me being so incredibly mopey, as I had been pretty much the entire tour, and he became totally fed up. He marched up to me, and squatted down low so that he was right in my face.

Now, my brother is ordinarily the sweetest, gentlest soul you can imagine, and a perfect gentleman at all times.

This same brother looked me in the eye, and in total exasperated anger threw up his hands and hissed at me: “Would you cheer up? We are in fucking Disney World!!!”

And I just looked back at him, and, mirroring his gesture, and with each measured word more intense than the last, I snarled back, “We are not in fucking Disney World, we are in a fucking PARKING LOT!!!!”

He left me alone after that.
24 February 2011 @ 12:15 pm
While this entry is about our just-completed visit to Disney World, it has no fun snapshots or family videos. It is heavy-laden with YouTube clips, and there's plenty of my trademark introspection, but for now, not so much in the way of travelogue. I'm hoping to get around to that in a future post, but for now we have....the long and rambling afterthoughts of a Walt Disney World vacationCollapse )